“Let us welcome the Augustinian Recollect vocation of the lay faithful as a gift from God, let us share together the riches of our charism and accompany each other”
Dear brothers and sisters:
As we celebrate the Solemnity of Pentecost, let us open our hearts and ask in faith so that the Father in heaven may infuse His Holy Spirit in us. Let the Spirit dwell in our hearts; let us be inspired and moved by it. He calls us and leads us toward Jesus, to be united to him and to be prophets of the Kingdom with passion and simplicity. Receiving the joy of the Spirit is a grace and it is the force that allows us to live in fraternal communion and to announce the Gospel. The Spirit heals the wounds of our hearts and gives us strength to come closer, like the Good Samaritan, to help those who suffer and are in need in these difficult times of the human race.
For many years now the word has been spreading that the hour of the laity in the Church has come. Let us remember that, already in 1996, Saint John Paul II said in Vita Consecrata:
And he added:
As far as our Order is concerned, we have been all hearing for a long time about the Secular Augustinian Recollect Fraternity. But the question remains: Do we really believe it?
I invite the religious to value the vocation of those lay people who feel called to live the spirituality of the Augustinian Recollects and the mission of the Order. These lay people have the responsibility to embrace their lay vocation, to assume their identity and autonomy, and to commit themselves to being part of the Augustinian Recollect Family. On the part of the religious it is their responsibility to welcome, encourage and accompany them.
On this feast of the Holy Spirit, I want to make a call to the religious to welcome the Augustinian Recollect vocation of the lay faithful as a gift from God. And while I encourage you to share with them the riches of our charism, I ask you to accompany them in their journey of formation and spirituality, especially on the basis of their Rule of Life, the Manual of the Secular Augustinian Recollect Fraternity, and the Formative Itinerary Pilgrims.
To all of us, religious and lay people, we share the undertakings and plans of the General Secretariat for Spirituality and Formation, as well as the initiatives that have arisen within the fraternities themselves.
1. MEETING OF NATIONAL PRESIDENTS
Between the 3rd and 6th of last December, the national presidents of the Secular Augustinian Recollect Fraternity held their first meeting in Ariccia, Rome. The Prior General, the President of the General Secretariat for Spirituality and Formation and those responsible for the fraternities of each of the provinces also participated in it.
Under the general title Sharing the Charism and the Mission, they reflected on the identity of the laity, the organization of the fraternities in the Order and the preparation for the upcoming international gathering of our fraternities. The presidents look forward to an encouraging future for the fraternities, in view of the concern they have to become disciples and missionaries living the Augustinian Recollect charism.
2. “JOYFUL IN HOPE” (Rm 12, 12).
The result of this First Meeting of National Presidents is the document that I am attaching to this letter, Joyful in Hope, where religious are asked, among other things, to get to know the fraternities, taking into account their identity and autonomy.
It also suggests that major superiors and advisers prepare to accompany them in their Formative Itinerary Pilgrims. And, with conviction and confidence, it proposes three lines of action:
- establish a vocational, personal and community program that contains processes in prayer, formation and coexistence;
- consolidate national councils and create them in countries where they do not exist;
- co-responsibility in the annual project and in the training processes.
Following these proposals, I make a call to all the brothers and sisters of the fraternities so that, rooted in listening to the Word and aware of the reality of each fraternity, they reflect on the proposed action plan and share their wishes and experiences..
This document Joyful in Hope will be our guide and program for the revitalization of the vocation of the lay Augustinian Recollect in the coming years. In this journey we are all involved, religious and lay.
3. MANUAL AND ITINERARY "PILGRIMS"
In June, the new Fraternity Manual will be sent to the fraternities in electronic format, in a provisional presentation, so that they may read it carefully and send their proposals and suggestions before approval and printing.
Modifications have been made that we believed are necessary for the best experience of the Augustinian Recollect lay charism and with the intention of making it more practical. As you can see, it has three parts:
- Rule of life and Statutes
I ask that you distribute it to all members of the fraternities and use it as soon as it is received. The deadline for submitting all suggestions and corrections will be Easter next year (April 4, 2021). Proposals will be sent through the national presidents to the General Secretariat for Spirituality and Formation.
Anyway, I also inform you that volume 2 of the Formative Itinerary Pilgrims has already been completed and is in the process of being edited. It's about the Rule of Life. It is made up of thirteen themes to deepen and internalize one's lay vocation as an Augustinian Recollect. It will be sent to them for the feast of Saint Magdalena of Nagasaki (October 20, 2020). We hope that it will continue to consolidate the community process already started.
4. CALL FOR THE INTERNATIONAL MEETING
The First International Conference of Secular Fraternities has been organized from the Fraternities Section of the General Secretariat for Spirituality. We had it scheduled for November this year, but given the current pandemic situation we have decided to move it to November 2021.
The central theme will be the Identity and Mission of the Lay Augustinian Recollect. A week of meetings, prayers, processes in formation and deepening in one's vocation.
The organization, exact date, participants and financing will be determined later on after consultation with the Priors provincial. This congress will be preceded by a preparatory work in the fraternities, in such a way that the representatives come on behalf of their brothers and return to them with new drive and dynamism for the communities.
Both the Program and the proposals for a prior work in the fraternities will be sent around the next feast of Saint Magdalena of Nagasaki (October 20, 2020).
Together with Mary, the mother of Jesus, like the disciples at Pentecost, let us ask in faith for the gift of the Holy Spirit that revives the charism we have received, so that, joyful in hope, we bear witness to the presence of the Lord among us.