General Congregation 2016 - Final Statement
General Congregation Final Statement
"...more by our life than by our words"(Const. 24):
Missionaries of God's tenderness and love
- We, the members of the Carmelite Order, gathered for the General Congregation meeting at Casa Sao Nuno, Fatima, Portugal, from 18-30 September 2016, give thanks to God for this opportune time of review and discernment during this extraordinary Jubilee Year of Mercy.
- We give thanks to the members of the General Commissariat of Portugal for their warm welcome and hospitality.
- We commend our brothers and sisters who live in diverse situations where they courageously witness to the Carmelite values of prayer, contemplation, fraternity and service. Translating the Charism in diverse cultures requires the active, creative, generous and enthusiastic involvement of individual Carmelites and communities.
- We were deeply touched by the input of our speakers. From the richness of their sharing we pass on to you what we have heard, reflected on and prayed about. We recognize the brokenness of our world in which we share. We need to come to terms with our own brokenness and the brokenness in our communities in order to be more attentive to the brokenness of the people around us. Wounds call for healing. This has to take place in our own lives, the lives of our communities through fraternal correction and reaching out to see and touch the wounds of our brothers and sisters in the world.
- The majority of our peoples share in the experience of suffering, pain and woundedness due to the ravages of war, violence, exploitation and manipulation. Left to ourselves we would feel overwhelmed and crushed by these contemporary challenges. We however look to Jesus Christ our Lord and Saviour for inspiration, strength and healing. Jesus, by his life, ministry, death and resurrection, effected a revolution of tenderness and love. He refused to be indifferent, hard-hearted or join in the heartless exploitation and manipulation of peoples. During the Last Supper Jesus transformed a night of betrayal into a night of grace. In the Eucharist we experience our Risen Lord as the source of our life and of the life of the world. He shows us his wounds and invites us to touch them in our own wounds and the wounds of those around us. He sends us to be missionaries of tenderness and love. In response to his tender love we make a clear preferential option for the grieved, and anguished, especially of those who are poor or afflicted (cf. GS.1) by attending to their cry and walking in solidarity with them. We are called to the ministry of evangelization by the witness of our lives testifying to the fact that God looks out for every lost person because he loves and cares for each one.
- This year we celebrate the 450 anniversary of the birth of St Mary Magdalene de Pazzi. According to her teaching it is said that we do not know and desire the gift of Jesus Christ enough; if we did we would learn to know and love - Love and do everything for Love. If we realized the love of God we would go out of ourselves as missionaries of the Gospel of love to share and witness to this love in our geographical and existential peripheries.
- In the figure of the Prophet Elijah we draw our inspiration of prophecy reaching out to the halls of power as well as the peripheries through his dual passion for God and the people. Like Elijah who prophesied from the intimacy of his relationship with the God of the Covenant so also must our personal relationship with God be the foundation of our mission. In the person of the Blessed Virgin Mary, our Mother and Sister, is revealed the image of a contemplative woman who reaches out with haste to be of service to others. This example of the Blessed Virgin Mary challenges us to hear the cry of the poor. In these inspirational figures of Carmel we recognize that each Carmelite is being challenged to cultivate a personal encounter with the Lord Jesus Christ and serving him 'faithfully from a pure heart and a good conscience' (Rule # 2). It is from this encounter that we can learn to experience and witness the call to being wounded healers by being missionaries of God's tenderness and love to those who live in both the geographical and existential peripheries. We believe that in going out to the peripheries we will find Jesus Christ there ahead of us (cf. Mt 28:10; Jn 4:4).
- Being here in Fatima, we are aware that we stand on the eve of the centenary celebrations of the apparitions of Our Blessed Lady of Fatima. We remember that during the last apparition on 13 October 1917, Our Lady manifested herself as Our Lady of Mount Carmel. We entrust ourselves to her intercession that we may evangelize by living our Charism in fidelity Christ and in the power of the Holy Spirit.
 Geographical peripheries are places far from the centers of power and influence and existential peripheries are situations of marginalization and need - material, spiritual, psychological, etc.