We have arrived, dearest Sisters, at the conclusion of the Interchapter, this congregational appointment that we have lived as a privileged time, inhabited by the Spirit. The Spirit, in fact, has been the great Protagonist of this event of grace, it was He who guided us in the itinerary of these days that have passed, and who made us feel ourselves to be a “community of pilgrims who walk on earth with their gaze turned toward heaven” (Pope Francis).
Along the way, we have crossed roads and paths that, at times, we wished were different, but the Spirit comes from the four winds… he blows where and how he wills. And it was the same Spirit who convinced us of the need to open ourselves to the new things that the Lord is already bringing about. In this time of disorientation and of profound uncertainty about where humanity is going, what the Spirit asks of us is vigilance and spiritual attention to the new that is being born, compassionate awareness, hope. Because life is conceived, generated and grows in hearts that are open, creative, trusting, and eager to venture out on new paths.
For this, we need to always begin and begin again from the Spirit, memory and guide who opens new and unimagined ways, where we thought that the roads were closed or blocked.
Let us not be afraid of our small numbers, advancing age, fragility and poverty: God loves littleness and loves to fulfill great things precisely through littleness, as Mary testifies, as our charismatic history testifies. Let us make an act of faith in the symbolic capacity of that little bit of yeast that ferments the dough, and of the light placed on high to enlighten everyone present in the house.
Let us stop repeating cries of death; rather, let us bless the Lord and lift up our praise to him for a vocation that has within itself the seeds of newness and of future.
Let us leave this place, this oasis of listening and of sharing, of prayer and of reflection, as women of the Spirit who resume their journey, “pilgrims” who look upwards together, in order to find the path of our journey on earth.
Let us place our focus on a profound experience of God, a sisterhood nourished and made fruitful by affection, a bold and incarnated mission, a growing presence on the peripheries and frontiers, a clear option for communion, for prophecy and for mysticism.
And perhaps the first step to take is not that of building, organizing, doing… but to allow it to be done in us, to follow along with the movements of the Spirit, according to that characteristic of apostolic mysticism contained in the DNA of our charism.
Mysticism is to live contemplation in action and action in contemplation. It is a call to a more profound interior life and to a vigilant attention to the signs of the times, carrying out an evangelical discernment of these signs. It is arising and going on the journey together, alongside the men and women of today, in a “contemplative” attitude before the world that God loves and in which he continues to act with the transforming power of his Spirit. It is to make hope visible, demonstrating the beauty of a God who is poor and weak, and totally immersed in what is human.
Because of this, apostolic mysticism proceeds from a journey of profound intimacy with the Lord, from an intense prayer that opens the heart to the love of God and thereby expands it to love for every person, and does not take away from the commitment to build our story according to the plan of God. It is a prayer within life, then, that expresses the grace of communion.
The priority chosen to illuminate the journey opened by the 11th General Chapter and to relaunch our programming for the 2023-2025 biennium moves in this direction: Listening to the Spirit, we commit ourselves to live a greater harmony between our life of prayer and our interpersonal, communitarian and apostolic relationships.
Together we recognized that our effort is necessary, but it is not enough. We need to put ourselves “in an attitude of listening to the Spirit” that directs and draws forth a prayer that is vital, that makes us dwell in God while it opens us to the grace of communion; a prayer that listens to the cry of humanity while it is also concretized, first of all, in closeness and welcome toward those who share our daily life, a prayer that inspires us in a synodal discernment, opens up paths of peace and hope, generates life.
For Fr. Alberione and Maestra Thecla, prayer is “as necessary as breath is for life,” it is an act of love, a sap that penetrates all the dimensions of life, color and texture of our whole existence. The time “concentrated” in God enlightens and unifies, makes us grow in the capacity of living in intimacy with the Lord in the moment-by-moment living of our life, of assuming a style of life that “narrates” the Gospel, that allows a contagious joy to shine through, that enkindles in others the desire to draw close to Christ.
The insistence, the supplication of our Founder that we always remain faithful to apostolic prayer is a precious heritage that we have received; that we always remain faithful to our dialogue with the Master, notwithstanding the fatigue of the apostolate and the little time at our disposal: “What you can do, do; and if you cannot do it, then do it with prayer.” Because it is not possible to carry out the apostolate without the light and the strength that come from prayer, without renewing our interpersonal encounter with Christ. For the apostle, this signifies a more intense awareness of the mission.
If this is true with regard to “everyone,” should it not, with greater reason, be essential, even connatural, in the daily life of a community of sisters? Can prayer be vital if it does not take on the tenderness and compassion of God toward those who walk with us and with whom we share life and faith, aspirations and weaknesses? Should it not be our prayer, that we nourish at the living fonts “of the Eucharist, of the Gospel, of the contemplation of Jesus Master” (Const. 71), that is a “school” in which we learn how to welcome the other, to care for her as a gift, to encourage her, feeling ourselves responsible for her and in need of her presence?
The greatest test of the authenticity of our prayer is the quality of our being together. It is a path of holiness and of full realization of the human-relational dimension, the place where God dwells, just as it is for our creativity and apostolic dynamism (cf. Const. 70).
Our common yearning to harmoniously blend prayer and life, prayer and relationships, is often frustrated by the concrete situations we experience on a daily basis. How can we achieve this unity and rise above the lament of our 8th General Chapter that our life of prayer does not “evangelize” our way of relating to one another and of living in communion with one another, nor does it give direction to our communitarian and apostolic choices?
To the priority that was chosen we have not connected practical way to implement it, because we hold that only together, in community, can we investigate the reasons for this distance between prayer and life, prayer and relationships. And together, listening to the Spirit, we will help each other to identify ways and strategies to rediscover the harmony of a life that is transformed into prayer and a prayer that gives life (cf. Const. 69).
Dearest Sisters, I carry in my heart all that we have lived with so much intensity in these days. I make my own the longings, the hopes, the desires for good that you all have expressed. Once again I reiterate for you and for myself: let us not be overcome by fear and resignation, but rather let us have faith.
Thank you for your presence, and for the presence of those who joined us from a distance. Thank you for your witness; thank you for what you will do to communicate the gifts received in these days. With confidence, I entrust to each one of you, the mandate to transmit above all, the experience you have lived, and to involve the sisters in the topics we have discussed and in embracing the priority we have chosen. Only by pushing the “cart” of the Congregation together will we be able to go yet again towards that place where “The Lord makes all things new” (Rev. 21:5).
Many thanks to all the sisters who have contributed in various ways to the successful completion of this event. Thank you to all the sisters of the world, to the brothers and sisters of the Pauline Family, and to all those who accompanied and sustained us with prayer, messages, and daily offering.
Transformed by the Spirit, we continue to walk together to generate life!
With profound affection and gratitude,
Sr. Anna Caiazza
Città Regina (São Paulo), 19 September 2023