To learn to LIVE, is the constant rain shower produced by the Itineraries to soak my whole life… It has been an unexpected gift, with which I am able to be aware of the presence of the Spirit of Jesus.
It’s been 25 years since I had the opportunity to experience the Exercises for a Better World, with Juan Bautista Cappellaro. At that time, some of the persons that today are part of the Spanish Promoting Group, were in attendance. My memory is vague, because I was unable to be there all the time, and secondly, because the years go by and my memory too. I remember part of the analysis of reality at that time, an exercise for which we were provided with a great deal of statistics and data to work with … We saw how all this influenced our reality, and how we tried to carry out a discernment in light of the Gospel, to detect what was the path that God expected us to take. That experience allowed me to broaden my view of humanity, to transcend my concrete world. We understood how the renewal Project that we were working with in our parish, –which was truly a boost and a transformation of the parish—was part of a broader global process for the renewal of the Church and its service to the World.
The changes in the Spanish Society, the disappearance of the sense of Christendom, the process of globalization, the influence of migrations, the uncertainties of the church in particular, together with the arrival of new parish priests, broke down that parish reality in which we all grew, and where we learned about the Good News of the Gospel as a reality that could transform the society in which we lived in.
After twenty years, our reality is completely different. The idea of parish is totally different, I have no yearning, however, for what it was before. At this moment in time, it is what it is; a reality and a structure with a great difficulty in adapting to the current situation. Time has allowed us to see that the project through which God, at that time acted in the midst of the community, and was good and worked, today is not viable. It is difficult to maintain the ecclesial renewal service that MBW offered at that time with the projects, as a concrete service towards the construction of a Better World.
The prophetic vision of Fr. Lombardi was being adapted and updated, and from what I have been reading, he dealt with a certain reluctance at different moments of his life, regarding the circumstances of the moment and history in particular. However, in my opinion, I believe that there are three key points that this service needs to consider in order to be faithful to that [original] vision: internalizing, discerning the signs of the times, and the presence of the Reign of God. An exercise in the Spirit of Jesus with these three key points, could be, or is the best contribution that we can offer the church so that together, we can be a true sign of the presence of Jesus for the construction of Humanity.
And in this sense of service, today, after a few years in which a group of persons together with Nacho, have shared together the experience of the itineraries, I must recognize that they have definitely contributed to a novelty in my life. I have been integrated IN LIFE, making me much more conscious of my personal reality. I have learned to take my life into my own hands. The anguish of seeing myself involved in a turmoil of external circumstances, that led me to feel the sensation that others were controlling my life, has disappeared. We have stopped concentrating on the reality that surrounds us. I have begun to be conscious and to begin to live from myself; this has been the first step to place myself in life and in the concrete situations that affect me directly. This process of internalization has helped me to get to know reality [in different way], because the first filter of perception is myself. That is where I must begin to position myself. I ask myself, how do I live both the extraordinary and the everyday situations and circumstances that I encounter? What sensations and feelings are provoked within? What fears and hopes emerge? These questions, instead of analysis, justifying, judging…, allow me to understand others, to be more understanding and compassionate with myself and with them.
The itineraries have been a discovery for me, as a means and an instrument to experience something that I can also share with other persons. The Itinerary is a time in which the shared word, in total liberty to share with each other and meet each other, is the best way to discover ourselves and discover with whom we share the wealth of reality that we experience and the hopes of a humanity that we yearn for. In light of the Gospel and through listening to others, we can help each other to DISCERN, what is important and essential, and what the Spirit is telling us regarding what life presents before us, and to search together for new ways to LIVE in a more human world in the style of Jesus.
This experience, after many times of carrying out the exercise, I am ready to affirm, that it is a “spiritual itinerary”. Each one of us participants, through what we have lived and shared, have had the opportunity of being transformed in a free and gratuitous manner. We are able to intuit what the spirit lives and feels, by means of this itinerary. The foundation of the itinerary is the pedagogy of experience, that allows us to be in the midst of reality, and shy away from theories; we begin with life, our own life, and the events and situations that affect us and concern us, in order to understand them, to take them on and, in our case, see them in light of the Gospel.
The Itinerary is not a formation course. It is not an analysis of the situation with a concrete proposal for change. The Itinerary, as its name suggests, offers a path to walk through, in which the main actors are the participants; there is a minimum of information necessary given by the animator, therefore we always feel that we are in charge, and not just the addressees, because the animator accompanies us in the trek, he/she walks with us, and is never a teacher at the wayside.
Reflection and sharing:
- Have you lived the experience of an Itinerary?
- What changes have occurred in my life and in my service with the Promoting Group?