The morning prayer was prepared and animated by the Major Organisms of ASCLA West. During this prayer, the 52nd birthday of Luis Armando Valencia was remembered and celebrated in a special way.
The session began at 9:00 a.m. with prayer based on the song “Your Word gives me life”, listening to the Word of God (Matthew 1:18-24) and the prayer taken from Missionarii Sumus nn. 53 and 57. Joseba Kamiruaga reads yesterday’s chronicle.
Carlos Verga proposes a short evaluation of the atmosphere, climate, fraternity, dynamics, timetable, participation, theme?
- we are doing well, good rhythm, nothing overwhelming, the methodology and reflection are being fruitful,
- everything is going well, the dynamic is good, but there is a lack of time to think about the questions that are so important,
- after the last session, take a longer break – 45 minutes -,
- give more time for the assimilation of the questions and the answer to them.
The session continues with the screening of the video on the life and mission of the Korean Major Organism.
Gonzalo Fernandez begins by recalling the four stages of the journey (discovering, dreaming, designing, committing) that are being followed to remember where we are. The fruit of the work done yesterday (the seeds of life – which were worked on yesterday, January 15) will continue to accompany us in this reflection (as well as the illnesses and the calls of the world and the Church – which were dealt with on January 14).
We are going to dedicate today to imagine and dream. And Gonzalo invites us to make a journey into the future by offering us a small theoretical framework that helps us understand what we want to do at this stage.
The dreams are key to interpret both the past and the present, and open / build future. When we say “key” we mean “key”. The dream consists of taking a key, discreetly opening the door, and seeing / glimpsing what is beyond. From the biblical point of view this is evident: dreams are places of God’s revelation, as places or means through which He transmits His will, what He wants from us. Among so many beautiful passages in Scripture, Gonzalo recalls Isaiah 25:6-8; Isaiah 26:1-3; Revelation 22:1-5; Luke 1:51-53. Also the dream of St. Anthony Mary Claret (Autobiography 488, 490 and 491). We are sons of that impossible dream.
There are also dreamers in our time who have carried out great enterprises and projects of all kinds… Gonzalo recalls for example: Mahatma Gandhi (the dream of an independent India by a non-violent way), Nelson Mandela (the dream of “one person, one vote”), Martin Luther King (the dream of an egalitarian society). And, as an example of these dreamers and dreams, there is a video of Martin Luther King’s speech (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q_AoP5izcQs) during the march on Washington for jobs and freedom on August 28, 1963.
Gonzalo Fernández proposes the first exercise and invites everyone to take their notebooks to think about and answer this question: which people and which dreams have motivated me most in my personal life? After a time of silence for the individual exercise, the answers are shared in the groups.
Gonzalo invites everyone to say aloud, without any further comments, some names that have appeared in the dialogue of the groups.
To end this first moment of the morning, Gonzalo reminds us that there is a field in which there were great dreamers: art (the union of the artistic dream with faith). There are artists who have also dreamed in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Like, for example, Antonio Gaudí (1852-1926). A short video (shown on 8 January 2020 at the Vatican Film Library) produced by Animaset about the Sagrada Familia in Barcelona (Spain) is shown: “The Sagrada Familia. The Bible in stone” (http://animaset.cat/la-sagrada-familia-la-biblia-en-pedra-de-jordi-roige-premiat-a-buenos-aires/). Gonzalo concludes the vision of the video with some explanations of the architectural work of the Sagrada Familia which is a complete catechesis of the history of salvation. One more example, this one in the field of art, that there is nothing more practical than a good dream.
At 10:30 there is a break.
At 11:00 the session resumes.
Gonzalo begins by saying what it is that makes a person inspiring, offering horizons, nourishing dreams… Is it a special charism? Is it an experience? What does this power of attraction consist of? Even Pope Francis invites us to dream. In this regard, an excerpt from Pope Francis’ homily on December 18, 2019 in the Chapel of St. Martha is projected: “Do not lose the ability to dream about the future: each one of us. Each of us: to dream of our family, our children, our parents. To look at how I would like their life to be. Also the priests: to dream about our faithful, what we want for them. To dream as young people dream, who are “shameless” in their dreams, and there they find a way. Do not lose the ability to dream, because to dream is to open the doors to the future. Be fruitful in the future”.
Gonzalo distinguishes the word “illusion” (the illusive one is the one who is distant and absent from reality) and “dream” (the dreamer is the one who anticipates the future to the present). In the north of Chile there is the driest desert in the world, the Atacama Desert. In this regard, the video that serves as an example is shown: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Aii9Iqy6XV0 .
Gonzalo recalls some words from the interview with an Argentinean psychoanalyst, Luis Chiozza (https://es.wikipedia.org/wiki/Luis_Chiozza): “ideals are not to be reached but to guide life”. Heaven has begun on earth. Knowing in which direction we are walking generates meaning and energy. We want to explore in which direction and towards which horizon we are walking. Without dreams we lack the compass that tells us how to orient our steps.
Gonzalo projects a video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i07qz_6Mk7g . Do we dare to dream in the Congregation of the future (2030)? Today we are working on the dream of the Congregation, of the General Chapter, of a more distant horizon, for example, 2030.
How does the human psyche function? How do groups function?
There is a magical zone / what we can call the “charismatic zone”. There is another zone, which we call the “learning” zone. Another is the zone of “fears”. And another, finally, the “comfort” zone. The comfort zone is the zone of our habits, routines, our ways of doing things, our works,…, that is, of everything we control. All of us have professed a state of life that throws us into the charismatic zone (this is a magnet that attracts us out of our comfort zone). In practice, it happens that between the charismatic zone and the comfort zone there is a barrier which is the zone of fear. Fear of lack of economic resources, of aging, of lack of personnel, of not knowing how to connect with society, of undertaking something that we then have to leave… With such fears, sometimes the dream remains a mere illusion. That is why it is necessary to widen the learning area in order to reduce the fear zone. A Congregation that wants to realize its dreams has to do fundamentally:
- Cultivate its own charismatic spirituality, re-enkindle mysticism,
- Cultivate a lot of continuous training, i.e. “skills”.
These are two keys to thinking about the next General Chapter and the more distant future.
Another interesting thing, says Gonzalo, is to be aware that in this process of change we move between two tensions: emotional tension (which pushes us into the comfort zone – emotions prevail over reasons -) and creative tension (which pushes us into the charismatic zone – ideals prevail over emotions -). If we are aware that these tensions exist, and that they will exist, what we need to know is that everything will depend on which tension we feed the most. Which tension will win? Which General Chapter do we want: one that accentuates emotional tension or one that accentuates creative tension?
After this necessary theoretical framework, Gonzalo presents the practical work. One can dream from one’s own tastes, or one can open oneself to God’s dream. What is God’s dream for the Congregation of the future? Lord, which Congregation do you dream of so that we can collaborate with this dream? This will be the second exercise which will consist in carrying out a Lectio Divina.
Each group has been assigned a biblical text. In concrete terms:
Group 1: Matthew 1, 18-25.
Group 2: Luke 1, 39-56.
Group 3: Acts 2, 1-11.
Group 4: Acts 2, 41-47.
Group 5: John 13:1-15.
Group 6: John 17:20-26.
The exercise will take place in one hour, ending at 12:30 with a break, and will be carried out in the place that each group chooses in the Claret Center.
Gonzalo Fernandez suggests some indications for the realization of Lectio Divina:
- to begin with a moment of prayer invoking the Holy Spirit,
- to perform the Lectio itself (perhaps with some echo… perhaps by reading the text a second time…),
- to be in silencet,
- to share:
- or first of all, the feelings that the Word has produced, that is, by reading the Word I have felt..;
- or secondly, this question: does this Word in any way illuminate God’s dream for us, is this Word pointing in any direction, is it offering us some sign?
- to conclude with a moment of prayer, thanksgiving, and prayer around Mary.
Each group will choose an animator to accompany / determine the moments and times of Lectio Divina.
The horizon of this exercise is to open up to God’s dream for us.
The session ends at 11:40.
The session resumes at 15:30.
It begins with the prayer from Missionarii Sumus nn. 58 and 63, of the prayer of the Hail Mary and concludes with the song, in the form of a canon, “Today a new work begins, the spears become pruning hooks. Out of weapons come plows, and the oppressed are set free”. The videos of the life and mission of the Major Organisms of Mexico and Northeast India are shown.
Gonzalo presents the material that will be worked on during this afternoon. The objective was to illuminate from the Word the road we have to travel. Now he presents the third exercise entitled “Journey to the future“. He begins by inviting those present to move around and change their place in the room. We are in the second stage of our journey, illuminated by the light of the Word of God. It is about travelling to the future but connecting this exercise with the exercise carried out in the morning.
Illuminated by the light of the Word of God that we have discovered in the exercise of “Lectio Divina“, we are going to travel to the future. We close our eyes. We relax and imagine that we are sleeping a very deep and serene sleep. When we wake up, it turns out that it is already the year 2030, that is, ten years have passed, and each of us and the other members of the Congregation have succeeded in living our ideal. That is to say, we have learned to:
- to cure the diseases we suffer from,
- to respond to the calls that God addresses to us in the world and in the Church,
- and to cultivate the seeds of life that we have discovered.
We now discuss the journey into the future that we have dreamed/imagined. Each of us chooses another person at the table who is not the same as in the previous exercises. First, one interviews and the other is interviewed. We have 15 minutes to ask the questions (always referring to the imagined and dreamed), and then the other person is the one who interviews for another 15 minutes (30 minutes in total).
- How are you? How do you feel personally?
- What is happening in the Congregation? How is it going?
- What tone of life is perceived in the persons, communities and Organisms?
- How has missionary enthusiasm increased?
- What attracts you most from the new situation?
- What have you done to achieve these results in 2030?
- What main innovations have been introduced with respect to the Congregation of 2020?
Once the interview with these questions is over, the roles are changed. The interviewee becomes the interviewer and vice versa.
The exercise ends at 4:40 p.m. and Gonzalo Fernandez offers a briefing on the history of Malabo Cathedral – written by the General Archivist – which yesterday suffered a fire. It is a Cathedral closely linked to the Congregation, in which the remains of two Claretian Bishops rest.
The fourth exercise begins: “Group work: dreams. Visions of the ideal future“. At first, each member of the group briefly shares the dream of the person he has interviewed. And, in a second moment, it is about that, as a group, we imagine ourselves in the year 2030 and, trying to visualize the new situation of the Congregation and the atmosphere that is breathed in it, to answer this question: What is happening again, better, different?
Before the break, Gonzalo reports on the next steps in this same exercise. At the end of the break there will be a 15 minute space to choose a creative way to present the dream/vision of 2030 as if it was happening right now. The dream will be captured in an image and a slogan on a white cardboard. Presentations should not last longer than 5 minutes.
The session ends at 17:00.
The session resumes at 5:30 p.m.
The groups work as indicated in the last moment of the previous session. At 17:45 the presentation begins. Gonzalo invites us to place ourselves in “game / dream” mode because it is not a conceptual / mental presentation but with slogans and symbols.
Group 1: Juan Carlos Bartra-Fausto Cruz.
They present the Congregation as a tree – the roots, the seeds, the sap, the fruits Interculturality and inculturation are mentioned as the sap. Six continents are included (also the digital continent). Sowers of life and hope.
Group 2: Enrique Mascorro-Marcos Aurelio Loro.
They present the Congregation that is growing in spirituality; in its intercultural experience (through the exchange of personnel, through the sharing of projects…); in the generation of economic resources and the communion of goods; in its capacity to attract young people; in its fraternal life, warmer, more open to the world to share; in the quality of its missionary life… This growth came about in a Chapter of madmen and dreamers who dared to enter the zone of learning where fear was overcome by enthusiasm.
Group 3: Lawrence V-Jude Thaddeus Langeh.
They present the Congregation that is growing and flying high (presided over by the General Government and each of the Conferences). It is a high flight moved by the wings of the Holy Spirit who takes us higher and higher. The higher flight means: more communion, more sharing of members and resources, a more transcendent spirituality, a mission that reaches more to the peripheries, a more shared mission. Flying higher.
Group 4: Carlos Candeias-Mario David Gutiérrez.
They present the Congregation that functions as a compass. On the one hand, with a deeper identity, more rooted, and, on the other hand, more open, creating bigger and bigger circles, based on a charism that generates joy, communion, with a greater closeness to the People of God, with a being more a witness of community, with a greater strength as Claretian Family, with a more inter-provincial, more intercultural, more inter-charismatic mission, with a greater universal presence, working more with others, opening circles to the peripheries and the most marginalized, always open to reality… A rooted and risky Congregation.
Group 5: Francisco Carín-Joseph Mbungu-Mutu.
They present the Congregation as a heart lit by the fire of God’s love: full of life, rooted in the charism, ready to go forward with our dreams, directed towards the poor,… We are Claretians. Hearts on fire.
Group 6: The whole group.
They present the Congregation as a space of shared mission. A map of Korea without barriers or divisions. The power of the Holy Spirit brings peace. We dream of a mission established for the first time in North Korea. It means that we have grown so much in the Congregation that the Word of God is every Claretian missionary. The whole ministry is centered on the Word of God. It is present in every ministry, in every community. The Eucharist is the center of everything. Walking together in shared mission (interculturality, synodality…)
After the presentations, Gonzalo Fernandez summarizes that tomorrow we must try to translate all this energy and enthusiasm into a project that will lead to the XXVI General Chapter. From tomorrow we are going to focus on this question: What can we design and project between now and the General Chapter? In a certain sense, says Gonzalo, it can even be said that the General Chapter: about 30% of the capitulants are present in this room now.
Gonzalo leaves open a space of time for those present to share spontaneously and briefly some reactions: what does our heart say?
- Enthusiasm, God invites us to take another step.
- I want to be part of this Congregation.
- This invites us to be more authentic, we must not go outside the roots and the charism that we have received and that give us life.
- The seeds of life that we spoke about yesterday have been gathered in a different way.
- Each one of us has contributed to the drawing of the presentations… This capacity to accept ourselves with our talents, limits, we are flying high together,
- I’m glad we can dream together. Let’s keep dreaming together.
- I feel that all this manifests a positive, luminous attitude, and that it generates energy, a living dynamism.
- Rooted in Christ… and risking for Christ…
- Dreams allow us to see the past, live the present and dream the future.
Gonzalo Fernandez concludes by saying that when we ‘play’ together, a miracle of creativity occurs. And he asks and calls out: would there be any way that our brothers could ‘play’ in the preparation of the General Chapter, generating enthusiasm, not boredom, as we have ‘played’ today?
It is announced that tomorrow the Eucharist will be at 07:30 because in the afternoon a Way of the Cross will be celebrated.
The session ends at 18:15.
The Eucharist is prepared by the Major Superiors of the ASCLA West Organisms and presided over by Luis Armando Valencia.
Father Joseba Kamiruaga Mieza CMF
Pictures of the Meeting: