From April 17-21, we held the third module of the Berceau School, the theme of which was “Biblical foundations of Vincentian spirituality.” On this occasion we met at the Nazareth Retreat House of the Daughters of Charity, which is located in the city of Luján, Buenos Aires.
In this formative session, which included the participation of thirty-three members of the Vincentian Family from Argentina, Paraguay, Uruguay, Chile, Bolivia and Uruguay, we developed different themes according to a previously elaborated plan. The methodology was expository with various workshops that attempted to deepen our understanding of the various themes. The participants were given work to do (reading, evaluation and feedback that they do on their own time and between the various sessions).
The themes were directed by different people who collaborated in making the stated objective a reality, namely, to offer the opportunity for formation in the Vincentian charism to the lay people and other members of the Vincentian Family with whom we carry out the task of evangelization in our communities and to provide tools that will lead them to become dynamic participants in spreading and promoting the charism in their respective situations.
On Monday we were accompanied by Brother Nicolás Trotta, CM, who shared with us the post-synodal apostolic exhortation Verbum Domini, of Pope Benedict XVI, on the Word of God in the life and mission of the Church, helping us to see that the Word has a face, a voice, a home and a way; therefore we are invited to discover it, to listen to it, to build it and to walk it. On Tuesday we had the presence of Mrs. Claudia Mendoza, laywoman, biblical scholar, teacher, who shared with us a biblical and pastoral exegesis on two central texts of our charism: Lk. 4, 14-30 and Mt. 25, 31-46. In the afternoon, in spite of the cold day that accompanied the whole week and the wind that blew through everything, there was free time to visit the Basilica of Luján, the crypt, the museum, etc.
Carlos Javier González, CM, led us in a reflection on the encyclical letter Fratelli Tutti, by Pope Francis, focusing on the second chapter of the letter, which analyzed the beautiful text of the Good Samaritan and its implications for our spirituality.
On Thursday and Friday we accepted the Lord’s invitation: “Come away by yourselves to a lonely place, to a deserted place, to rest a while” (Mk. 6.31). The proposal was to reflect on the path of holiness as proposed by Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount and the Great Protocol as proposed by Pope Francis in Gaudete et Exsultate, an apostolic exhortation on the call to holiness in today’s world. This session was directed by Fr Gustavo González, CM.
Clearly there was no lack of time for prayer, celebration of the Eucharist, reconciliation, community and recreational activities that strengthen the bonds of community.
In addition to the speakers, we were accompanied by the Visitors, Fr. Juan Carlos Gatti, CM. and Sister María Elisa Ortíz, HC. Sisters Juana Araujo and Natalia Romero were also part of the team organizing and animating the liturgy. In the house were Sisters Lilian, Clementina, Andrea, Stella Maris, etc. collaborating in everything so that we could dedicate ourselves to work that had been planned. Finally, Fathers José Luis DeFina, Daniel Bogliolo and Hugo Aguayo also accompanied us in the celebration of the Eucharist and Reconciliation.
“The Lord has done great things for us and we are overjoyed” (Psalm 126,3); the words of the psalmist are our own because of what we have experienced during these days and when we hear the testimonies of the participants.
We can see that the objectives established by the Berceau School are becoming a reality when we listen to the response of the participants speak about there experience:
- “To go deeper into the Gospel, through an interpretation that goes beyond the literal”.
- “All the themes that were presented were very important both personally and as a community”.
- “St. Vincent always grounded himself on the texts of the Gospel.
- “The approach and the analysis of the different encyclicals from the point of view of the charism”.
- “To analyze and understand the Bible and to put it into practice in everyday life”.
- “The importance of deepening the Word of God in order to illuminate my life in Christ”.
- “The exchange of experiences from the perspective of the same charism”.
- “The contact with the Word.
- “I have learned that I have to read the Bible more, enjoy it, analyze it and go deeper into it.”
- “The importance of the Word of God in my life and the need to reflect critically on the situations raised, seeing beyond a few simple words.”
- “Some things were truly surprising … like a wake-up call”.
- “I would like to go deeper into the exegesis part, I was passionate about it.
- “The best thing that happened to me was the Retreat part. I find it very difficult to be silent, to listen to myself. For me it was very positive.
There is one more module ahead of us in which we will work come to a clearer understanding of our charism. For this, in addition to the topics that will be given, the participants will have to work in groups to draw up a plan which they will then have to present in October.
According to what has been discussed with the Visitors, it has been agreed to start the Berceau III School next year. Later on, Fr. Juan Carlos will send information and requirements regarding this subject.
From the memoirs of Brother Ducourneau I have taken these texts on the importance of the Congregation taking up the words of St. Vincent de Paul; I believe that they are of fundamental importance for the Berceau School, because we cannot leave the treasure of spirituality that our Founder bequeathed to us buried:
“Certainly, the centuries to come, who will have reason to admire what he has done, will be surprised to see nothing of what he said, and will rightly complain of those who heard him, for not having communicated to them the words of wisdom which came from his mouth….
It is important that the talks of Father Vincent be perpetuated in the company, so that, if God wills to maintain it, they will discover at all times and to all nations what is the spirit of this apostolic man, who will be all the more appreciated the more he resembles the evangelical spirit, and this esteem, necessary for the founders of communities, will contribute notably to multiply and sanctify ours”. (at Saint Lazarus, on the glorious day of the Assumption of Our Lady, 1657).