The Meeting is the excuse. The gathering represents that moment in which all of us want to share what we are carrying inside. The meeting comes from God. God comes to meet us. During the weekend of the 11th-13th November, God came to meet us in Madrid. Surely, He wanted to tell us something if so many Lay Claretians have responded to His call.
There is no doubt that the Holy Spirit acts, calls, interpellates... And for all of us, under the topic “Make new all things”, we have been trained in the caring of the Common House, in the caring of the Creation that the Father has granted us and that, on so many occasions, with big or small gestures, we contribute to its gradual destruction.
Every three years, all the Lay Claretians of Spain, from the two regions of Betica and the North, meet in Madrid to hold a training meeting. It can be said that 100% of the lay communities of both the Betica and the North regions have attended. And there have been communities which have participated more and others less. But that is of less relevance at this point. The really important thing is the response that the Lay Claretians have given to this God´s Call.
When we think of being trained on the Laudato Sii, written by our loving Pope Francis, we perhaps think of unending talks, built around an unintelligible, with proposals of action which are rarely achievable. But this is not the case, because things that come from the Spirit are clear, simple and doable. And this is indeed the case. It has been a training meeting in a different wave, rather linked to the wave of the realities that affect us in our daily life than a training focused on the theological-philosophical.
The III Meeting Betica-North has been for everyone. It did not matter our age, community of reference or socio-cultural level. It did not matter because the Spirit is not bothered by those things.
A good fraternal atmosphere could already be felt on Friday evening, comings and goings of people carrying luggage but dropping it suddenly on the floor to say hello to that brother with whom I had not met for a long time, but when God brings us together in the path, it seems that time or distance do not matter. Because that is part of the fraternity. And that is the atmosphere that dominated the meeting: the fraternity.
That night was the time to rest. While everybody found their places and talked, the Regional Councils of Betica and the North set to shape the last details of the meeting, because distance makes impossible to prepare certain tasks. And they happily worked to give God the biggest space in the meeting so the brothers could best meet Him.
We started on Saturday, after breakfast, putting ourselves in God´s hands. The fact that we are Claretians does not limit ourselves to closed and unmoving identity, because there have been plenty of Saints who have done so much good throughout the History of the Church and it would be a pity to waste that Grace which has been given to us. In the hands of Saint Francis of Assisi, praying all together his “Song of the Creatures”, our meeting starts.
Two talks are waiting for us. Two gifts from God during the morning. In the first place, Pedro Fernández Castelao broke down the most important messages that Pope Francisco gives us in the Laudato Sii. It was a conference full of ideas about the temporal realities, about how we take ownership of Nature without taking it into account. It was that type of conferences in which attention is easily kept. We heard strong sentences such as we are co-creators with the Creator, that we are called to look after creation or that to dominate the Earth is not to devastate it. We learned about how our logic should not mirror the mundane logic and that we should respect the equilibrium between the human being and the Creation.
The morning did not stop here. We continued with the talk by Raúl González Fabre who landed and deepened the meaning that the Laudato Sii should have for our thinking and our behaviour. It is interesting how Catholics do not include Nature in our economic thinking or how we do not realise that whoever harms the creature, he harms the creator. Raúl made us realise that bad things start with bad words. Taking Laudato Sii as one of our references, good things can start despite we might not get to see them: sow good, that there will be someone who will harvest.
The day continues and it it the time to work on the rest of the Laudato Sii. For this occasion, the regional councils have prepared, in collaboration with the Lay Claretians, a number of workshops in which we see how to apply the Pope´s text to our daily live. We start with a video workshop in which we realise that the human being is only bothered by himself and destroys the Earth due to its own ambition. Nobody remained indifferent during the thirty minutes that the video lasted.
After this first workshop, the others followed: Fair Commerce, Ethical Banking, Education for the Consumption, Families and Spirituality. All these workshops were prepared by Lay Claretians, taking as reference the different chapters of the Laudato Sii. It was interesting that, being an intense afternoon of work, and seeing the tired faces both of speakers and participants, the commitment of all lay claretians to those workshops went “in crescendo”. Ideas, proposals, re-cognising... During the workshops, a lot of information was given, which did not go unnoticed. It is sure that went deep into every participant and speaker, who made, from that frantic afternoon, an afternoon for meeting the Father, the brothers and the Creation that has been given to us with so much love.The cherry on top came when the group of Lay Claretians from the community of Pilar of Tenerife, called D2N2 became a musical concert into an intense praying and thanksgiving moment. There was nobody in that room who did not vibrate with the music of these group of young people who, from their commitment, they announce the Gospel to those to whom the others do not reach. Interestingly, this is a sign of our identity as Lay Claretians.
We had to rest, because Saturday was an intense day. Intense as much as filled up. On Sunday, after praying, we had a group discussion session and the evaluation of the meeting. Whether there was not enough time to share and evaluate, it is something that we will never know. But we do now that we did share a lot of life, a lot of experiences and much learning.
During Mass, Tere, from the community of Bishmillah in Malaga became a member of our loving movement. Another God´s moment which will remain engraved in our retina. That Eucharist also had another special colour: the “little lay Claretians”. The sons and daughters of the Lay Claretians had their own parallel gathering, in which they played, enjoyed and learned a lot of things about the Laudato Sii, which they can do in their own homes and settings.
It is time to see off everyone with a see-you-soon, because God´s things are a dots rather than full stops: the best is still to be lived.
Blas SC, Vocal de Comunicación, Regional Council of Bética