Prophecy, Proximity and Hope
The Canonical Erection of the Camillian Province of India
Io adoro Te (Signore!), io adoro Te
La ragione per cui vivo è quella di adorare Te!
I worship you, I worship you
The reason I live is to worship you!
In recent days, during the celebrations of the Eucharist that we participated in, the above-quoted refrain particularly moved me. And it is the refrain of a song that is typical of the moments after taking holy communion when each one of us cultivates an intimate time and space with the Lord Jesus whose body and blood has just been received in the Eucharist. This thought, in my view, condenses the meaning of the celebrations that we are living together with our Camillian religious brothers of the new Province of India: to live to worship the Lord, in his creatures, those with whom he himself identifies (cf. Mt 25).
Today, 2 February 2016, the Church is celebrating the Feast Day of the Presentation of Jesus at the temple; in some regions ‘Our Lady of the Candles’ is being celebrated, with the blessing of the new flames of candles which dissipate the shadows of the long winter nights; in addition this is a special day dedicated to thought and prayer for all consecrated men and women so that they may be increasingly faithful to their vocations: to represent through their existences that form of chaste, poor and obedient life that Jesus, the Son of God, chose for himself; and this is also the day of the canonical erection of the new Camillian Province of India.
The feast day of today had a very thrilling premiss on the afternoon of 1 February with the visit to the community of Snehagram where about fifty little girls and boys with HIV are welcomed, cared for and accompanied in their human, cultural, spiritual and relational growth. The spirit of St. Camillus, who during his own epoch placed himself at the service of the outskirts of human society and the heart of man, is especially alive here! The ‘reward’ is very evident: celebrations, smiles, peace, serenity, a wish to love, to tell and to tell others about oneself…
The ‘mother’s heart’ which Camillus lived and taught here becomes particularly impactful, and to the point of organising what every authentic ‘mother’ constructs: a ‘family’. Here, as in many other Camillian contexts, the ‘reason for living is to worship Jesus’ in his objectively more frail, more exposed, flesh, which in India, but also in many other areas of the world, only with difficulty has upheld its right to respect for human dignity, respect for that divine spark that makes us ‘the image of our Creator’.
The space of the early morning was dedicated to a spiritual meeting of formation when Fr. Aris Miranda offered some coordinates on consecrated life today, with its lights and shadows, with the expectations that people, and especially those who are in need, have of religious, and with a look at the most burning emergencies of our post-modern society and the specificity of religious life in Asia. The Superior General, on the other hand, established an interesting connection between the Marcy of God, which struck the wandering life of Camillus and transformed him into a ‘Camillian’ (this happened on 2 February 1575), and the Jubilee of Mercy which we are living through and which calls us at a deep level to return to the very sources of our Camillian spirituality – we are the sons of a convert – so as to then bear suitable and consistent witness to that spirituality.
The afternoon experienced its celebratory apex in the Holy Mass that was presided over by the Superior General and during which the act of the erection of the new Camillian Province of India was solemnly proclaimed. I would like to cite only some suggestions from the augural message of Fr. Vittorio Paleari, the Provincial Superior of the ‘Mother’ Province, that of North Italy, and the homily of Fr. Leocir Pessini.
Fr. Leocir – with a certain emotion – defined the new Province as ‘shining star, in the sky of Asia, in the eastern part of the world; a star that shines sending out new hope, the freshness of youth and enthusiasm in charity and compassion’. Speaking with reference to the daily style of our Indian religious brothers who are very involved in providing direct assistance to the sick, Fr. Leocir invited us to rediscover the value of the practical exercise of works of corporeal and spiritual mercy which constitute the incandescent and magmatic core of the Camillian charism.
The Providence of the Lord has really worked wonders in India: young religious who have grown with enthusiasm and passion and who are able to create in an inventive way prophetic synergies of cooperation with the Church, with other Provinces of the Order and with other religious institutes.
He ended with a wish, citing Pope Francis’s words that were spoken during his meeting with religious in Rome on 1 February 2016: the three pillars on which we should build and build anew, and constantly convert, our consecrated lives are prophecy (to be, in the world, those who point to the advent of the Kingdom of God and the construction of human fraternity); proximity (to live in fullness the feelings of the heart of God who hears the cry of the poor and becomes their neighbour in the incarnation); and hope (to be men who dissipate the shadows that oppress and depress men, that impede them from living up to their vocations as loved sons).
Fr. Vittorio Paleari in his augural greetings to the new Province, which today has officially taken on the responsibility for its own spiritual and charismatic maturity, laid strong stress on the need for we religious to ‘imitate Jesus, who in order to reveal his true identity as God the Father accepted the logic of the incarnation to the point of its extreme consequences: the cross, death, the descent into hell, so that no man could from then on feel abandoned by the compassion of God’. ‘Do not hesitate to offer up yourselves as a free gift to God and other men. Our consecration to the Lord will be fertile if we manage to extract love from our hearts, whose potentiality we will be able to know only starting with an intense spiritual and fraternal life’.
Ministerial choices for the poor should also be monitored constantly: ‘the choice of the poor should be lived not so as to appear grand in front of other people or to control the freedom of others with programmes, projects…where there is self-worship, self-exaltation, there is neither evangelisation nor humanisation’.
Only when the level of love and compassion reaches a burning temperature in our religious lives will people be able to say sincerely: ‘look at how they love each other and look at how much they love people’. And he ended with a healthy and evangelical provocation which applies to every disciple of Jesus: ‘I pray that the mercy of God be extended in a limitless way in our lives: may it not find resistance in our hearts, in our security, in our comfort, in our lives…Those who offer/lose their lives for other people, for their freedom and dignity, will discover a new life, rich in meaning, in peace…’
In the imitation of Christ, which cross will we accept? Into which ‘human hell’ will be agree to descend in the imitation of Christ, and freely remain so as not to abandon any man who has been relegated to it, and work with them, and for them, while awaiting the Resurrection?
May God continue to bless India!