From 8-10 June the Apostolic Sisters and Brothers of Saint John, as well as the Oblates and friends of the Family of Saint John, gathered together at Paray-le-Monial in France to celebrate Pentecost. The theme of the weekend was “The Spirit of truth, who comes from the Father” (Jn 15:26).
Together we shared in the joy of witnessing the many commitments made over the weekend: four sisters and four brothers made their perpetual profession, and three lay people became oblates. Here is the message given by Br François-Xavier, Prior General of the Brothers of Saint John, to the new oblates:
“I would simply like to read an excerpt from Evangelii nuntiandi, the apostolic exhortation given by Pope Paul VI, which you know is a foundational text for the Community. It is an excerpt taken from number 70, which can be found among the many notes that provide a commentary to this beauty phrase taken from our Rule of Life:
“So it is that, whilst seeking a life hidden with Christ in God (27), through Mary (28), they might be, in the world today, witnesses to the love of God for man and witnesses to the truth (29) that surpasses man’s heart, for it is the very Truth of God (30).”
And here is the passage from Evangelii nuntiandi:
“Lay people, whose particular vocation places them in the midst of the world and in charge of the most varied temporal tasks, must for this very reason exercise a very special form of evangelization.
Their primary and immediate task is not to establish and develop the ecclesial community- this is the specific role of the pastors- but to put to use every Christian and evangelical possibility latent but already present and active in the affairs of the world. Their own field of evangelizing activity is the vast and complicated world of politics, society and economics, but also the world of culture, of the sciences and the arts, of international life, of the mass media. It also includes other realities which are open to evangelization, such as human love, the family, the education of children and adolescents, professional work, suffering. The more Gospel-inspired lay people there are engaged in these realities, clearly involved in them, competent to promote them and conscious that they must exercise to the full their Christian powers which are often buried and suffocated, the more these realities will be at the service of the kingdom of God and therefore of salvation in Jesus Christ, without in any way losing or sacrificing their human content but rather pointing to a transcendent dimension which is often disregarded.”
This is the idea I would like you to take to heart: the world awaits your “Christian powers which are often buried and suffocated”. St Paul VI did not live at a time when augmented reality existed, but we could nevertheless say that the first augmented reality is brought about by faith. Faith enables us to discern in the reality that surrounds us “a transcendent dimension which is often disregarded”. But just as one needs a smartphone with an extreme zoom in order to see augmented reality, we too must attend to the most interior aspects of ourselves, the innermost depths of our soul in which resides the hidden presence of God. Before you engage in the world with your “Christian powers which are often buried and suffocated”, you must engage these powers in your own heart. This is the reason you consecrate yourselves to God alongside a religious community. As you engage in this work, we, your brothers and sisters, recognise that we are called to be servants of this work.”