Letter to the Prior General from the young people of Europe
To the Most Reverend Prior General
First of all, we would like to express our enormous sense of gratitude. The Pilgrimage of Hope was a truly amazing experience. In today’s world, it is often difficult for us to find a space to explore our faith, to ask questions, and to be heard.
Your letter spoke to each of us, challenging us to recognise the faith which God has given to us, and to gently discern the implications of this gift. Initially, many of us were apprehensive about where this exploration would take us. In this sense, we are very grateful for your gentle leadership. You walked with us not as a superior but as a brother and a friend.
On the pilgrimage, we came to realise the importance of silence and lectio divina for developing our relationship with God. In silence, we come to a deeper knowledge of both God and ourselves. As such, we learned that our relationship with God requires nothing more from us than to be ourselves. Although our relationship with God is nourished by silence, our faith finds its greatest expression in community. In Rome, it was wonderful to meet so many young people from different countries across Europe. We came to recognise that we are not alone. Many people struggle with the same issues that we do. Yet, in coming together, we become conscious that we are part of something bigger, a faith community. This community gives us strength and courage to live out our faith more fully. Faith has many expressions and embraces many different aspects of our lives, it is important to realise that faith can even find expression when we are simply having fun. Through music, prayer and creativity, we discovered that faith is a language which transcends all boundaries; whether geographical, cultural or economic. It is important that we learn to communicate this message through the way in which we live.
If we are to live our faith more fully, we realise we will need much support. We believe the Carmelite tradition is a very rich treasure and we ask that you continue to share it with us. There are so many difficulties facing young people today. At times, it feels our voices are not being heard within the Church. In Rome, you listened to us. We want to continue the dialogue which you began. You revealed the treasures of the Carmelite tradition for us, how can we share these riches with other young people today? You instilled in us a sense of pride to be part of the Carmelite family. At a time when many young people feel isolated in their faith, often in hostile or increasingly secular environments, we know that the Carmelite tradition has much to say to them, but how can we communicate this? It is important that we live by example. Our faith must be authentic. We recognise that, like Angelo Paoli, we have a duty to show solidarity with the poor and the marginalised. It is difficult to discern the best way forward, we ask you to please help us.
In order to grow, it is important that any family nourish and care for their youth. This is also true of the Carmelite family. We ask you to prioritise the young members of your family. We believe that the vision of the Order should be youth-orientated. We, for our part, will contribute in any way we can. We know that the dialogue which you began with us will be a rich source of inspiration, energy and spiritual power both for us and for the Order. We ask that the Pilgrimage of Hope not be an isolated event, and that we continue to journey together. You have called us from many places and united us as one family. Please do not leave us to disperse again. Continue to support us, and to challenge us to seek new ways in which to express our faith.
To conclude, again we would like to thank you for this wonderful experience of hope, for the many friendships we have gained, and above all for your support. We are proud to be part of the Carmelite family. We look forward to discerning the best way forward in dialogue with you, the brothers, and the entire Carmelite family.
In friendship and anticipation,
The Participants in the Pilgrimage of Hope, Rome 2010.
(This letter is a synthesis of the letters written to the Prior General
by the participants in the pilgrimage.)
SELECTED QUOTATIONS FROM THE INDIVIDUAL LETTERS
CITAZIONI SELEZIONATI DA LE LETTERE INDIVIDUALI
CITAS SELECCIONADAS DE LAS LETRAS AISLADAS
“I would like to thank you and all the friars, brothers, priests and staff for the Carmelite Order for what can only be described as an unforgettable, heart filled experience. You see, four years ago I lost my faith due to a lot of family pain and anguish. I had convinced myself that there was no God - that no one cared. But thanks to the Carmelite Order and staff, you have all shown me that God does not only care but also loves each and every one of us. You have brought my faith back to me in a very special and fulfilling way, and for this I am ever grateful.”
“I think this pilgrimage was a wake-up call for many of us, to return or even find the path God has called us to go. I got encouraged and was strengthened in my faith this week and I will take this home and will try my best to spread the Gospel.”
“Spiritually and personally I feel really at peace with God, more than ever. I really hope it could be this way forever. I came to this pilgrimage because I really needed hope and strength to continue strengthening my faith in God as these past few months have been a little hard for me. Some of my friends don’t believe in God despite the fact that they are born Catholic. They made it a little harder for me to believe – I started having doubts. Life for me is so busy that sometimes I just forgot to pray. After this pilgrimage I am going to try and do everything I could to pray better and include God in my everyday life more.”
“This week has made me realize that I am part of something bigger and I have appreciated more and grown in Carmelite spirituality, as well as meeting new friends from my own country and abroad.”
“There is something very refreshing and assuring about a gathering of young people like me, from all over Europe, in order to show our common belief as Christians. I feel that my faith is God has grown stronger due to the reassurance of my peers. You have also played a part in the rekindling of my faith, by reminding me in your letter: ‘God is faithful to the promises made, God is present and always near.’ I now feel safer in a conflicted world due to this, and for this I thank you from the bottom of my heart.”
“It was also helpful to learn more about the Carmelite Order and what it means for us to be young and a part of the Carmelite family. I think that the future of the Carmelite family will be so much if the youth provision is better.”
“Like this week we can enjoy spending time with other young people who share the faith and at the same time learn more about the faith, the Order, etc. We would like better catechesis because coming here we realize how much many people know about the Catholic faith which we have not been taught.”
“I have had so many joyful moments and experiences this week. I have met some absolutely wonderful new people, seen some extraordinary and beautiful places and felt truly alive, happy and content throughout the entire week. I have immensely enjoyed the trips we’ve gone on. I thought the working groups wee quite interesting and worthwhile and I found the prayer services including the singing lovely. This week I have been inspired and when I go home I intend to do my very best as a Christian as my faith has been deepened and I believe so much more can be achieved.”
“Nunca habia sabido lo que es peregrinar, pero a dia de hoy puedo decir, que he sido camiante, una camiante llena de esperanza...”
“Por todo esto quiero darle las gracias por haberme abierto un poco más los ojos, ya que los tenia cerrados por algunos motivio personales, que he conseguido olvidar durante esta convivencia Carmelita, y espero no perder todo esto vivido durante esta vivencia Carmelitana, y por supusto retenerlo bastante tiempo, con todo esto querio decir, que el ser joven Carmelita es un privilegio ya que puedes apoyarte en tu communidad, y sobre todo en Dios. Otra cosa a destacar es el haber conocido a tanta gente joven, y que principalmente, que viva una vida tan parecida a la mia, aunque desde distinto punto de vista, ya que mi experiencia es JuCar y ahora conzco otros puntos de vista, a lo que me vengo referir es a que la unión hace la fuerza, ya que todos tenemos y somos un sentimiento Carmelita.”
“Prior General, I now look to the future with hope and enthusiasm due to the fantastic week that I have had there in Rome. Having seen centuries of exquisite architecture and the belief in Jesus Christ that has grown for more than 2000 years, I am certainly enlivened and happy with this pilgrimage. The only thing that makes me regret going home, is the effort that I will have to make to reassure my own family that the time that I spent here wasn’t absolutesly brilliant – because otherwise they will be very jealous.”
“la vision de la orden deberia de ir orientada hacia los jovenes. Ensenandoles los valores cristianos y carmelitas...”
“Aparte de hacer amigos, tambien he aprendido a apreciar muchas cosas que quizás antes no me había dado cuento que son tan necesarias, como el silencio.”
“Io che sono come una goccia d’acqua nel mare in questa realtà carmelitana, mi rivolgo a voi per suggerire altre esperienze come questa, o anche giornate con la presenza di giovani carmelitani con momenti di preghiera e di conoscenza.
Vi chiedo questo perché credo che solo attraverso l’incontro possiamo capire chi siamo, quanto sia grande la nostra Famiglia e quanto sia bello che tutti i figli del Carmelo si incontrino per scambiarsi amore fraterno.”
“Quello che mi sento di dire a voi pastori e guide Carmelitane è di non abbandonarci nelle nostre realtà parrocchiali… noi ci siamo e siamo pieni di Spirito!! Dateci la forza e l’aiuto fisico per sperare e crescere nel Carmelo! Aiutateci a conoscere la bellezza del nostro Ordine e a credere sempre che momenti di condivisione e fraternità come questi sono fondamentali. Ascoltate le nostre esigenze della vita quotidiana e diventiamo insieme un’unica famiglia che cammina con amore verso Dio e la felicità vera. Con affetto e stima…”
“Sono quattro anni che faccio parte della famiglia carmelitana e da solo un anno sono entrato ufficialmente come Terziario, ma solo adesso, vedendo tanti giovani come me, ho compreso a pieno la bellezza di far parte di questa famiglia. Durante l’incontro di questa mattina mi sono sentito orgoglioso di appartenere alla famiglia carmelitana. Questa è stata un’esperienza fantastica che mi sta dando la carica per spronare la mia comunità a lavorare più duramente.”
“In questo pellegrinaggio, mi sono confermato nell’idea che un sorriso ha il potere di riscaldare il cuore umano. Questa prospettiva mi rimarrà per sempre.”
“Sarebbe stupendo se l’atmosfera che regnava quà, si trasferisse nella vita quotidiana, nei rapporti interpersonali, sia nei paesi singoli, sia tra I popoli.”
“Il Pellegrinaggio della Speranza è un buon inizio per un nuovo cammino verso il futuro, perché mi ha fatto vedere, che non devo e non posso camminare da solo.”
“I giorni a Roma ed il Pellegrinaggio della Speranza mi hanno dato nuova forza per il futuro. Davanti ai tanti progetti che adesso devo affrontare ho avuto qui l’occasione di concentrarmi su me stesso, meditare e trovare nuove forze. In particolare mi ha aiutato la forza spirituale e l’atmosfera che ho vissuto in questi giorni.”
“Mio carissimo Priore Generale,
non posso iniziare questa lettera senza prima ringraziarla per l’esperienza alla quale ci avete permesso di partecipare. Questo pellegrinaggio mi ha portato a riflettere e a riscoprire l’identità carmelitana. Essere carmelitana è un dono preziosissimo e ringrazio il Signore per l’enorme fiducia che ripone in ciascuno di noi.
Con tre parole riassumo ciò che adesso risuona nel mio cuore: incontro, preghiera, speranza. Incontro significa aprirsi agli altri, la preghiera è lo strumento più potente che abbiamo per conoscere il Signore e la speranza infine è ciò che racchiude il senso di tutto ciò che abbiamo vissuto in questa settimana.”