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International symposium on Consecrated Life.
From the 3rd to the 6th May, 2018, was held in Rome, in the auditorium of the Antonianium University, an International Symposium organized by the Congregation for the Institutes of the Consecrated Life and the Societies of Apostolic Life, with the theme: Consecration and consecration by the evangelical counsels. "You will be my people and I will be your God" (Ez 36,28). At this Symposium, where there were many Consecrated from all over the world with many different styles of Consacrated Life throughout the world, I was there -Sister Olga Rachel Eléonore Kiendrebeogo, Daughter of the Holy Spirit- as a delegate of the Union of the Major Superiors of Burkina-Niger and invited by the Congregation.
The Symposium began on Thursday afternoon, May 3rd, with the welcoming words of his Excellency Cardinal Joao Braz, cardinal of AVIZ, Prefect of the Congregation. Just after him, Mademoiselle Nuria Calduch-Benages, Professor of the Old Testament and Biblical Anthropology at the Pontifical Gregorian University of Rome, developed on the topic: Consecration. Biblical dimension. The irresistible power of the Word, biblical inspiration of the consecrated life. For her, consecrated life finds its source of inspiration throughout the Bible. From the Old Testament, she drew our attention on the prophet figure and the teachings of the wises... From the New Testament, she only focused on the figure of Jesus "The consecrated by excellence" she particularly developed the relevant parts of the Gospel where reflect the essential dimensions of the consecrated life: the consecration, the vocation and common life. Followed by a debate/dialogue. The second lecture of the day: Consecration, the stages of a journey, given by his excellency Monsignor José Rodriguez Carballo, OFM,Order of the friars Minor, Bishop (secretary) and Sister. Carmen Ros Nortes, NSC Sister of our Lady of consolation, (Assistant-secretary). They developed the reflection on this subject in relation with this congress' goals... At 6pm we headed to the Basilica of St John Lateran for a prayer vigil presided by Monsignor Carballo José Rodriguez.
On Friday, May 4th at 10.30am, we started the day with Pope Francis in the Paul VI room in the Vatican, where he granted us an audience. The Pope spoke to us about the three P's, "Prayer, Poverty and Patience are the permanent pillars in consecrated life", he says. Prayer, is always returning to the first call; for a consecrated it's always going back to the Lord who invited me to be near him. By taking as an example Mother Teresa, who prayed two hours a day in front of the Blessed Sacrament in spite of all her occupations, he said "We cannot discern what happens in the world if we do not speak with the Lord". Regarding poverty, he said that it's non-negotiable. "Poverty, is the mother of the religious life, without poverty, there is no fertility in the consecrated life. This is the wall that defends us against the spirit of worldliness. We know that the devil enters by the pockets." He added that there are three steps from religious consecration to religious worldliness: Money that is to say the lack of poverty, vanity and sufficiency, pride; it's from there that all vices enter. Finally, when speaking of patience as a pillar, he invited the consecrated ones to "enter into patience" like Jesus who had a lot of patience to reach the end of his life. "When after the Last Supper, Jesus goes to the Garden of Olives, we can say that he entered into patience. Patience is the attitude of all consecration, it goes from little things in the community life, for example, giving a smile when I want to say bad words, the little tolerances... to the self-giving sacrifice of oneself, of one's life... entering into patience is to have the capacity to accept sufferings, to take the problems and the sufferings of the world on our shoulders. We should also have an attitude of patience towards the lack of vocation. We must avoid accepting "spiritual euthanasia" as do some congregations who let themselves die." In the afternoon, "Consecration: Theological and Charismatic dimension", conference given by PHD Jose Cristo Rey Garcia Paredes, CMF (the Claretians, Congregatio Missioneriorum Filiorum). According to him, the charismatic consecration is connected and nourished by the infinite variety of charisms aroused by the Spirit, the divine counselor. "The charismatic consecration is the radiance of the divine beauty within us: the beauty unifies variety, it doesn't suppress it". At 5 :15 pm, "Consecration: Legal dimension" by Father Sebastiano Paciolla. He invited us to consider that canonical norms must always be in the service of the abundance of life. "Thus, he says, the law follows life, life is not at the service of the law". We finished the day with the Vespers prayers.
On Saturday, May 5th, Eucharistic celebration in the Basilica Sant'Antonio at the Lateran, presided by Monsignor José Rodriguez Carballo, OFM. Then until the end of the afternoon, we directly gathered in small groups at the Antonianum, the participants met up to work together according to the various experiences of consecrated life: - Religious institutes of Apostolic life - Societies of Apostolic life - Secular institutes - Order of Virgins - New Institutes, New Forms - Associations and Movements. At 6 pm, we met again in the auditorium, in plenary session, to share the content elaborated in the different vocational realities: what is common to us and what is specific to each form of consecrated life.
On Sunday, May 6th, his Excellency Joao Braz Cardinal of AVIZ, gave the final words. At 11:30 am, Eucharistic Celebration in the Basilica Sant'Antonioa at the Lateran and a meal which ended the symposium.
The fruit of an experiment
Astonished and moved to see so many consecrated men and women, invited and who came from diverse backgrounds, get together to have a better understanding of our consecration! What a beautiful unity of diversity in this amphitheater of the Antonianum Pontifical University that sheltered us. I felt in me an inner movement before the complexity of the expression "Consecrated Life". Like a river with many branches, this expression "Consecrated Life" encompasses all the different specific ways of being a disciple of Jesus Christ to follow him more closely, it is thus a receptacle that makes unity in diversity. However, speaking of the consecrated life does not mean that I distinctly distinguish the different forms of Consecrated life and what unites them: the experience shows that new forms of Charismatic life often take on many features of the older ones.
This beautiful experience of Pentecost brought "fruit" into my heart by: on the one hand, Pope Francis' call to the consecrated to be docile to the Holy Spirit, at the same time, author of diversity and Creator of unity: the Holy Spirit invites us to a creative fidelity to our spiritual sources (Charism and traditions); and on the other hand the call to better discern what is happening and to be fruitful through: Prayer, Poverty, Patience.
Sister Olga Kiendrebeogo, DHS - To contact Olga: Email - Published on 4/06/2018
For those who can, it is possible to visit the website of the Congregation for the Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life. www.congregazionevitaconsacrata.va. The Pope's speech of May 4th is available on Zenith.
Photos: - Meeting with Janet Audu, Nigerian Daughter of the Holy Spirit, in training in Rome. - Shared joy of a meeting between DHS in Rome May the 6, 2018.