Lucía Aurora Herrerías Guerra, FMVD, writes on the closing of the Jubilar Year for Verbum Dei.
Rome, April 1st, 2013
Dear Fraternity and the whole Verbum Dei Missionary Family,
On March 25, 2013, we officially closed our Jubilee Year at the Santa Lucía Sanctuary, with the Eucharistic Celebration presided by Mons. Javier Salinas, bishop of Mallorca. This year has been a year of grace, of renewal, and of mission. In that chapel, so meaningful to all of us, in a simple and moving ceremony, in the name of the whole Verbum Dei, we renewed our thanksgiving to God for so many gifts and so much grace that we have received throughout these 50 years; we also asked forgiveness for our faults and sin, and we experienced that Jesus renewed His call, inviting us to follow Him and leave everything behind, to go and preach His Gospel all over the world.
Celebrations will continue throughout this year 2013 in many of our communities; the feast goes on, in the joy of experiencing God's mercy present in our life. His Love raises us up and invites us to look to the future with a heart full of hope. Verbum Dei has walked throughout these 50 years, and we keep on walking. Jaime Bonet, together with the first missionaries, set up in 1963 the foundations of what Verbum Dei is today; we, who form the Verbum Dei Missionary Family nowadays, have been passed on the torch, to care for this small and fragile plant, that it may always bear more and more fruit.
When God led a small group of hebrews out of Egypt to make them become His people, He told Moses at Sinai: “You will be a priestly kingdom, a people consecrated to me” (Ex 19:6). God's promise reaches its fulfillment in the Church, with the words of St. Peter: “You are a chosen family, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people chosen by God to announce His marvels; God called you to come out from darkness and enter His marvelous light” (1 Peter 2:9).
In the same letter, Peter invites us to abandon “all malice and all deceit, insincerity, envy, and all slander” and to long for pure spiritual milk, “like newborn infants [...] so that through it you may grow into salvation” (1 Peter 2:1). Only by being a Verbum Dei of much prayer - always more and better prayer, as Jaime told us when beginning the 2007 Congress - we will be able to “live the Gospel, participate in it, and share it” (Breve Ideario).
Number 9 of the VDMF Constitutions marks a clear program:
We are all united by the same vocation, ideal and mutual commitment of aspiring to the perfection of love 1 and to spreading throughout the world this same fraternal love, the vital nucleus of the Kingdom of God, 2 by means of the ministry of the Word. We commit ourselves to mutually help each other in our radical following of Christ and to reproduce Him in his way of life and mission.
Everyone in the Verbum Dei Missionary Family has received the same call to aspire to perfection in love: “Let your love for one another be intense, because love covers a multitude of sins.” (1 Peter 4:8). This is our ideal, and the commitment that we have with one another, according to the different ways of belonging to the VDMFa. This call to Love is inseparable from the call, the ideal and the mutual commitment of propagating fraternal love by means of the ministry of the Word. Love is the nucleus, the essence of the Kingdom of God that we wish to extend throughout the whole world. We want to help one another to follow Christ with radicality, to be Christ, to reproduce Jesus’ way of life, and his mission: “The testimony of the apostle is strong, when he points joyfully to Jesus, without much other apparatus, poor as the Holy Family of Nazareth and without any structure other than the finger of the Baptist; when his life is Christ and death is a gain." 3
In the letter that Antonio Velasco sent us on January 1, 2012, he invited us to fix a grateful gaze on the past, to revive the grace of God in the present and to open ourselves to the future. I truly believe that this year for the Verbum Dei has been “a propitious occasion to strengthen our roots, deepen in our charism, make it known and project it towards the future”. 4
We have before us, without a doubt, many challenges: those that the world of today presents to us, which demand of us a constant creativity to share the Word of God, and those that stem from our Verbum Dei identity, marked by tensions: Fraternity-Branch (cf. CVDMF 4 and 7), Fraternity-Family (CVDMF 8). These tensions are fruitful, like the chain of a bicycle, which needs to be tense in order for it to advance; these tensions only harm us when we do not live them in the humble daily conversion to love that believes all, hopes in all, forgives all; the love that is not jealous or proud (cf. 1 Cor 13:1ff), and which does nothing out of a spirit of rivalry or competition (cf. Phil 2:1ff). Ultimately, the Love that Jesus manifests to us throughout his whole life, and especially in his passion.
This year, March 25, the date officially marked as the end of the Jubilee Year, coincided with Holy Monday. Is it not an invitation from Jesus that the Verbum Dei shares his path of love to the extreme? That love which on the cross makes Jews and gentiles into one people? Jesus calls each and every one of us to love like this:
The unity of the Fraternity [essential part of the VDMFa] in fidelity to the specific vocation and mission is a challenge and a permanent task of each member and of each Branch, called to make present the missionary communion of the first Christian community. (CVDMF 6).
What is God expecting of us, the Verbum Dei Missionary Family, in this new time? I think that his greatest desire is that we might give abundant and permanent fruit (cf. Jn 15:16), obeying that which Jaime Bonet considers the supreme commandment of the risen Christ: “Go, then, and make disciples of all people, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to fulfill everything I have commanded” (Mt 28:19-20).
Pope Francis has spoken to us constantly of “going out”, of going to the outskirts, to those poor of bread, to the poor of faith and hope. I think we can apply to ourselves the words that he addressed to the priests in the Chrism Mass on March 28:
It is not precisely in one’s self-produced experiences or in a reiterated introspection that we are going to find the Lord: courses for self-help in life can be useful, but living our priestly life passing from one course to the next, from method to method, leads us to become Pelagians, minimizing the power of the grace that is activated and grows in the measure that we go out with faith to give ourselves and give the Gospel to others…
It is not a time to look at ourselves but to look up and see the fields, which are ready for the harvest (Jn 4:35), “we do not only feel obliged to preach the Gospel”, said Jaime in the Synod of Bishops, “but also to form preachers, disciples, who at the same time, form others capable of preaching the Gospel of Jesus throughout the world." 5
Mary, Mother of God and our Mother, will help us so that each member of the Verbum Dei Missionary Family, in the measure of his/her personal talents, but withholding nothing, may dedicate him/herself, with Jesus, to bring fire to the earth (cf. Lk 12:50).
In the joy of the Resurrection,
United in prayer and in the mission,
Lucía Aurora Herrerías Guerra
1. Cf. LG 40.
2. Cf. Jn 13:34-35; 15, 12. 17.
3. Jaime Bonet, Consecrated life in the Church and in the world, Intervention of Jaime Bonet in the Synod of Bishops, Rome 1994, in Meditaciones, p. 115.
4. Introduction to the Letter opening the Jubilee Year.
5. Jaime Bonet, Consecrated life in the Church and in the world, in Meditaciones, p. 115.
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