During a recent meeting with the parents of our seminarians, one of the mothers present told me: “I have the impression that our children are going towards martyrdom. There is a kind of persecution that is invading many places where the Fraternity of St Charles is through media and Ideologies. They will have to work in a society that is against them. How do you prepare them for these conditions?”. This is a question that constantly accompanies us.
I am convinced that the first and fundamental attention we must have in the educational work we are doing is that of rooting people in a living relationship with Christ. A priest is first of all a man, according to the provocative definition of Fr. Giussani. But a man really becomes a man in the experience of a personal relationship with God, when his whole life is put under the light of his vocation. The meaning of life is God who calls me.
The development of the abilities and gifts of each, the acquisition of competences of every kind, including theological ones, and the growth of one’s personal culture are all precious aspects of a humanizing journey that we wish to enhance to the highest degree. It is beautiful to study because it makes one grow. But what we are called to bring into the world is something far more radical.
A few years ago, Benedict XVI invited us to propose to the seminarians an experience of life that reactivates in them the dimensions most proper to being men, those that the Christians of the first generations called “spiritual senses”. Realizing one’s own humanity means opening oneself to faith as a living experience. Becoming men means knowing and loving a God who has the face and name of a man, who is present among us, who loved us first. A God who now sends us to other men with the task of telling them that all of this is a present reality.
Our life has value only because it is lived as a response to his call. If a man is aware of this, he will also be prepared to face the courts of the dominant mentality. He may be derided and slandered, he may tremble before the violence of injuries and be deprived of everything, but he will not lose the pride of calling himself a Christian.
Perhaps these possibilities frighten us a little, but we are not alone. We are accompanied by a people that shares with us the same faith and the same hope, and we are part of a home that has welcomed us.
We therefore want to educate each of our seminarians in a sincere love for the Church, for the Movement of Communion and Liberation from which we are born and for the Fraternity of St. Charles. In fact, a man who loves his home and his family enters the world with a different solidity: generous and happy in peaceful times, when he is called to spend his energies to building, courageous and firm when he must show his loyalty in the dark moments.
(In the image, Claudio Pastro’s “Crucifix”, found in the Basilica of Our Lady of Aparecida, Brazil.)