Advent literally means “coming”or “arrival”, and it refers to God. However there are various ways to express the “coming of the Lord”: His coming at the end of time “to judge living and dead” as we pray in the Creed; His coming into the world, in the weakness of flesh, born in Bethlehem…
Theologically and pastorally we need to complement and update historically the time that reveals the double coming of the Lord, such as the Church Fathers have done. He who came 2017 years ago in humility and poverty and who will arrive gloriously at the end of history is who arrives everyday to our personal, social and ecclesial life. Origen asks: Does it matter whether Jesus was born in Bethlehem if he is not born today in your heart? Luke citing Isaiah 40, marks John the Baptist’s mission and invites us to prepare the way of the Lord, “Every valley shall be filled in, every mountain and hill made low.” Jesus also comes today in a perplexing manner, he does it in the poor, in the immigrants dying in the Mediterranean sea, in the children that are victims of war in Syria, in women that are made slaves and are maimed, raped and killed, in families that have no homes because they cannot pay their mortgages, in the disaster of the climate change.
The lovely liturgical texts (Isaiah 35,1) that tells us that “The wilderness and the parched land shall be glad; And the desert shall rejoice, and blossom as the rose”, invite us to a new view of the Earth. Placing Advent in the course of history is so very important that otherwise we are unable to adequately prepare for Christmas or the coming of the Lord, because we need to discover him in the crudeness and the routine of everyday life as well as in the unforeseen novelty of the events of the church (the new ecclesial spring brought about by Pope Francis), and society (the voices of those that believe that a different world is possible). To hope as signified in Advent, we need to add the exercise of the discernment of Spirit, the discernment of the Signs of the Times. The opportune time (kairos), is not what has happened and what will come, it is the here and now of every day. The present brings forth the coming of Emmanuel and prepares us for the future of the glorious coming of the Lord. Advent therefore, prepares us for the three “advents” of the Lord: yesterday’s, today’s and tomorrow’s.
In our Promoting Group we believe that this is the opportune time because we want the Lord to come, and soon, so we can become aware, from a personal transformation and as a group, of how to update our service. For this we need to keep in mind that to experience hope, we must overcome situations that oppose hope: indifference, holding on to the same attitudes and things, feeling discouraged or disenchanted. If we operate from these attitudes even the most evident signs for updating our service, pass unnoticed.
Secondly, hope requires allowing the future of our group to emerge in our conscience and our hearts, so that individually and collectively we can envision within, that we alone cannot do this updating, that we need to be open to the Spirit of Jesus. It’s necessary, therefore, to be open to what God wants for humanity and what humanity in fact needs. If we don’t wish, we have no hope; and if we have no hope we can’t recognize what emerges…
The General Direction, aware of our limits as persons and as groups, wishes to express our openness and willingness, to the Spirit of Jesus, to recognize it as a guide and light for our service, which, without any doubt, is present in the steps that we are taking since the Cenacle of 2015 held in Krakow up to now. We wish to be present during these special holidays, to each person and each group, so to enliven the wait and the hope in order for it to become visible in signs and gestures.
As General Direction, in the two encounters that we have held, we have made it a point to experience the “Itineraries”. We have also guided some of the local groups that have asked us to assist them in this process. In the end we are moved by the conviction that the diffusion of the “new exercises”, are mainly experiential and less about ideas and concepts, and are spread by contagion rather than conviction. We don’t pretend to translate documents and send them to the local groups, because this is an experience that leads to a personal, as well as a collective (group), change or transformation. We are the ones that need to experience fully whatever we propose to others. Undoubtedly the social networks are a valuable means of diffusion; we also recognize that they bring close those that are far; but create a distance among who are close…
We believe that these new technologies are a means, and for this reason we have created the following international blog:
We hope that the international blog can be a way of communicating up until the next Cenacle of 2019, an event for which we are exploring dates and venues in Rome. We foresee this Cenacle to be an opportunity for updating the “Exercises”, by initially exploring the Itineraries and, from there, to redefine our Service to the Church, for a Better World.
We want to invite each person within the groups to register and actively participate in two areas: the first which has already started, is to share certain highlights from the experiences of the itineraries; and the other, to share information regarding the convivenzas and activities of your respective local groups. It would be a good idea to share a photograph of the local group. Thinking about persons and groups that don’t have internet, we need to know who, in order for us to send the information through other means.
The General Direction wishes you all:
A MERRY CHRISTMAS AND A HAPPY NEW YEAR 2018