Reflections of a Chapter member…rethinking those days

I am not sure whether participating in a Chapter is more of an honor or an onus, but certainly it is an opportunity to share a dream, to lift up one’s eyes, to inhabit vaster horizons. Certainly one can say, “I was there!”—not as a brag but in the awareness of a gift because one soon finds out that a Chapter is not simply rules, documents and motions, but rather most of all a group of companions, an experience, a journey.

Reflecting on the days of the Chapter, above all of the elections, I understand that there are emotions requiring a strong heart, robust coronaries, full of pure adrenaline! No photo, minutes or news release can fully describe those moments: one has to be there. Let’s say that for the members of the Chapter it is a small treasure, a reward for the sacrifice of their work during these days, a potent shot of vitamins from the Holy Spirit. And yes, because the chapter hall becomes a crossroads for a flood of sentiments that only appear to be contrasting, because they unite in the beauty of being together and of experiencing ourselves first of all as men and brothers, besides consecrated members of the same religious family. There is also the necessary logic of numbers and of majorities that at times seem too cruel, there are the moments quiet as a tomb as one awaits for the elected person to say “I accept” and one knows that it changes his life a bit, there are buckets of tears, there are many embraces, not just formal ones, but intense, prolonged with heads resting against the other’s shoulder, or two hands that, as in a double caress, hold a gaze with bright eyes, there are liberating standing applauses that seem to erupt instinctively because one realizes the grandeur of the moment, there are songs intoned almost automatically, like “Nada te turbe” and “Magnificat” and finally there are the smiles and the laughter…the variety of languages is not an obstacle because the language is one and understandable to all. In other words, it seems that the words we use, and perhaps abuse, in our documents, such as fraternity and unity, took form as if by incantation and that what one has often talked about as a “dream” becomes unexpectedly and magically reality.

What can one say about the flags of “our” 16 countries, lined in the chapter hall or carried in the celebrations? 39 little men, who seem, however, to be carrying the whole world and the myriad faces that are in their hearts: confreres, family members, laity, young adults and youth, united in the same ideal.

Forgive me, but also a humble member of the chapter sometimes has the right to dream and must “lift up the eyes…” from his papers or from his laptop in order to encounter above all the faces of his brothers and to discover in them, “a foretaste of heaven”!
And then to get back to his work joyfully.

Fr. MARIOLINO

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