The Prior General addressed the young synod members at the beginning of the first JAR Synod, which began on July 21 in Spain.
The JAR Synod has already begun. From this Friday, July 21, more than 30 young men and women religious from 11 different countries are meeting in Salamanca (Spain) with the aim of revitalizing the Augustinian Recollect youth movement. Five days of reflection and dialogue await them in order to define proposals that will help to continue the journey that began on July 20, 1995.
The Prior General, who will preside the meeting, addressed the youth at the opening of the Synod. Friar Miguel Angel Hernandez started from the story of the blind Bartimaeus to reflect with the young people on the difficulties and challenges facing the Augustinian Recollect Youth. In his speech, he shared with the synodal members fifteen requests about the present and the future of the Augustinian Recollect Youth.
1. Sharing life
“I would like, and this is the first request I make, that in our community meetings there would always be opportunity and space for this, to share life, because we are not a study group, we are a group of brothers in faith who share life, who shake hands and feel the problems and sufferings of others as if they were their own”.
2. Go out to meet young people
“I ask you to go to those crossroads of life, I ask you not to wait for young people to knock at the doors of our groups and parishes, but to go out and look for them on the paths of the roads of life where they are. Also the Augustinian Recollect Youth must be Youth going out if they want to be in tune with Pope Francis. And go and look for them to tell them that there is hope for them, that there is a reason to get up and stop being passive spectators of life, and that this reason is called Jesus Christ and can change their lives as it changed Bartimaeus’. What can and should the JAR do to reach out to these young people?”
3. Build from one’s own effort
“And I also ask you (third request) not to beg: do not beg for affection, do not beg for attention, do not beg for recognition, do not beg for anything you can build with your own hands, do not beg for anything you can get with your own effort, do not beg… fight, work, go after your dreams, strive to make your desires come true, prepare yourselves, do not look for the easy, the cheap. You are valuable for what you are, you are precious to God, you do not need to lower yourselves, you do not need to beg, you need to value yourselves, respect yourselves, trust in yourselves and do not accept manipulation or blackmail of any kind, wherever it may come from”.
4. Make a good diagnosis of reality
“I ask you to make a good diagnosis of the reality of our ARBs so that the treatment can be accurate, correct and have positive effects. A good diagnosis not only of our weaknesses and threats but also of our strengths and opportunities, so that we can look for the necessary tools to respond to and solve the weaknesses and threats and continue to enhance and work on our strengths and opportunities.”
5. Work on personal commitment
“I would like, (fifth request), to work on the personal commitment of the young RAY, that is, also from Monday to Friday I have to be a committed Christian who lives his faith, who prays, who gives testimony, who serves with joy, who is nourished by the Word of God, who continues in contact with his community…. We have an itinerary by stages that we live in community, in group; probably it would be necessary some type of orational or applicative that provides me every day the spiritual nourishment that I need, or at least that it is established which are the daily commitments of a young JAR. We Augustinian Recollects have our daily commitments, what are the daily commitments of the young Augustinian Recollect? Do we have them clear or do we just have weekend commitments?”
6. Ongoing formation so that there is no permanent disappointment
“Perhaps it would be good (sixth request) to provide and propose readings to our young people so that in their daily life they may grow and be formed. Do you know why? Because without permanent formation, disenchantment is also permanent. The Council says in Perfectae Caritatis (No. 18a) that the adequate renewal of religious institutes depends to a maximum degree on the formation of their members. If the renewal of religious congregations and orders depends to a great extent on ongoing formation and if what the Augustinian Recollect Augustinian Recollect Youth is seeking with this Synod is precisely renewal, then I think it goes without saying that we cannot do without a good ongoing formation, which I think is quite absent from the life of our young people and this Synod must find a solution to this lack.”
“For all this, without accompaniment there will be no renewal in our personal life and therefore in our JAR community life, without accompaniment there will be no growth and maturity of Christian life and we will continue to play for fun, to make friends, to entertain ourselves, but not to be true followers, disciples and missionaries of Jesus. And here I need the availability and commitment of the Augustinian Recollect priests and religious and I address myself to them: Working with the Augustinian Recollect Youth is not just going to the group on Saturday and having a good time with them, sometimes becoming one with them, which is not bad and I do not criticize the closeness or trust, but young people do not need the priest to be just another young person who does what they do, They need someone who stresses them, who confronts them, who demands from them, who gives them clues, who shows them the way, who helps them to discern, who encourages them, who enlightens them, who walks with them but without getting confused with them, without losing his identity as a religious. For this reason, brothers, in addition to the weekly meetings of the RAY in which we should always participate, we need to organize ourselves to accompany the life of these young people, to offer schedules during the week where the young people know that there will be someone waiting for them to guide them and accompany them in whatever they need. Accompaniment cannot be left to improvisation and to the good will and availability of the religious.”
8. The formation of companions
“I believe that we have to take steps in… and here comes the formation of companions. Courses on this are being promoted on the Order’s digital platform In imum cordis (to the depths of the heart). We should give some time for the religious to be formed in the art of accompaniment, but there should come a time when no religious who has not participated in these workshops or courses can be an advisor to the Augustinian Recollect Youth. What I say about religious advisors can also be applied to couples or young advisors. The accompaniment of our young RAYs has to be well organized because it is fundamental and because otherwise, believe me, we will be building sand castles. I want to see this reflected in some of the Decisions that will be taken in this Synod. How are we going to do it? You will say.”
9. Care for and prepare the moments of prayer
“I ask you to take care and prepare with care the moments of prayer: the music, the texts of the Word of God, the external environment, etc. And to be able to bring life to prayer. We have to learn to pray life and to bring the events that happen around us more remote or distant as close to our moments of prayer, because as Augustine says, nothing of what man suffers is alien to me.”
“It is absolutely essential that we know what should be the channels of communication so that the projects or anything that may arise from the international coordinating team of the JAR reaches quickly, clearly and effectively to the last young person who has joined the last JAR group that has been created.”
11. To know the testimony of the saints
“Perhaps it would not be a bad thing if, in the Ongoing Formation Program, which I understand should be elaborated, the reading and videos about our saints, especially the martyrs, were included. Thank God we have a lot of material published in this regard.”
12. Regional meetings to learn more about the RAY Itinerary
“Therefore I propose regional meetings for JAR advisors (religious, couples or youth) to study and deepen in the JAR Itinerary and the correct way to implement it, given by well trained people. And probably extending these meetings to other religious who may not work with young people at the moment, but because of age may do so in the future and even extending it to older Superiors would save us a lot of headaches.”
13. Revise, if necessary, the RAY Itinerary
“To see if it is necessary to revise the RAY Itinerary always looking for serious, demanding, evangelical and from the identity of the Augustinian Recollect charism and not light or decaffeinated proposals to satisfy those who do not want greater commitment or demand in their life of faith, and make of the JAR just a space for meeting and entertainment. The RAY groups do not exist to support and second the occurrences of the advisors. The JAR Itinerary cannot be a path of superficiality, it cannot be a proposal of mediocre life, it cannot be a path to go through the wide door. We have not come to entertain anyone, we have come to make an offer of holiness”.
14. Speak freely and without fear
“I encourage you and ask you to speak freely, not to be afraid to express what you feel, to seek together what is best for the Augustinian Recollect Youth. Do not keep anything bottled up in your chests, speak, talk, tell, say, communicate… What do we need? What do we miss? What do we have too much of? Are we on the right path or have we suffered deviations in recent times? Let us be humble, let us recognize our reality so that we can advance along the path of humility, which is the only path that leads to the truth.”
15. Revitalize the missionary spirit
“See what we can do to revitalize the missionary spirit in all the JAR communities.”