Anchored in Hope (Heb 6:18-19)
“If we want to build communities in which there is an abundance of life, then we must recognise who and what we are and what it means for us to be alive... Religious communities are like ecological systems. A rare frog will need its own ecosystem if it needs to flourish... If the frog is threatened with extinction, then one must build an environment, with its food and ponds and a climate in which it can grow up. Carmelite life also requires its own ecosystem, if we are to live fully and preach a word of life, it is not enough to talk about it; we must actively plan and build such Carmelite ecosystems. A Province will therefore have to develop a plan for the gradual renewal of communities in which the brethren may flourish. Unless a Province plans the building of such communities, then it dies. A Province with three communities where the brethren flourish in their Carmelite life has a future, with the grace of God. A Province with twenty communities where we are just surviving may well have none.” (Timothy Radcliffe, Sing a New Song: The Christian Vocation, Dublin 2000, 121-124) [Carmelite meeting of major superiors,Sassone, 2006].
1. Rethinking our sense of identity:
To be Carmelite: This is a providential moment for us in Europe; it is a time when we can rethink our Carmelite identity. Teresa of Avila said it is important to ask “Who should we be?” (W.P., 4:1) The classic Latin saying, Operari sequitur esse, states “Our work follows from who we are.” Our identity will always condition what we do. Who are we? What can we, as Carmelites, offer to others? In our Provinces, is there great diversity in our understanding of what it means to be Carmelite? Creative fidelity to our charism encourages us to regenerate and renew the fraternal life of our communities.
2. Renewal of Fraternal Life:
The renewal of fraternal life requires evangelical courage (parresia). We need to regenerate our communities so that they:
a) are welcoming and open: It is important that our communities be places of welcome, to lay people, to members of the wider Carmelite family, and indeed to potential vocation candidates.
b) have good leadership: It is vital that local community leaders seek to maintain a healthy balance between apostolic, prayer, and community life and facilitate a process of dialogue which is respectful of individuals and diversity and which is open to change.
c) have a number which encourages good community life (5?)
d) encourage growth: it is important that our community life allows and encourages ongoing formation, especially for those who have just made their Solemn profession.
This renewal of fraternal life requires a mature process of discernment.
3. Establishing Creative Processes of Discernment:
We realise that there are often difficulties which arise in our communities, due to the natural generation gaps. From our vantage point, at this time in Europe, we have an opportunity to establish processes of discernment, on individual, local, Provincial and Order level. We should open ourselves to the future, not with pessimism or perfectionism, but with a sense of hope. In this process of discernment, there are four questions which it is important to consider: Who are we? What do we do? Why do we do it? Why do we do it this way?
4. Enhancing the Richness of our Internationality:
With a renewed sense of mission, we need to be open to international co-operation, reaching out, and breaking the boundaries and limitations of our geographical realities. The formation of international or inter-provincial communities provides a very practical expression of our re-envisioning of Carmelites life; seeking to do little things in a big way. Two key points are necessary to enable this:
a) The availability of brothers for international projects and communities.
b) The integration of language studies in initial formation.
Solemnly professed young European Carmelites (within last 10 years)
Community of S. Andrés (Spain),
Salamanca 4th to 7th April 2013