Marcel Caron, ispx
Easter, Spring of God!
Easter, Spring of the world!
Easter, Spring of the heart!
Easter of Jesus Christ!
It seems to me we’ve been waiting a long time to sing out loud with confidence these few lines of a song from our friend, Robert Lebel. These words proclaim a Good News: Christ is risen! Alleluia! He is truly risen! Alleluia!
Winter was long… The news from the Church and the world seem to feed our hopelessness… Political debates make us doubt of our place in this society… The actual state of our parishes can provoke anguish in many as to what awaits our future…
But, we are entering into the great holy week! The week that, 2000 years ago, changed the course of history! The week that, still today, calls us to life instead of being swallowed up in death! It’s an invitation to believe, more than anything, that death does not have – and never will have – the last word! The Lord has come out victorious from the tomb and hope awaits us! With Pope Francis, we can say “Christus vivit!”, “Christ is alive!”
An Exhortation to Read and Meditate
In the middle of Lent, Pope Francis presented his last apostolic exhortation, “Christus vivit”. This exhortation is addressed as a letter to the world’s youth and to the entire people of God. With a hope-filled inspiration, our pastor revisits the great themes that were studied during the last Synod on the young people, faith and vocational discernment.
I will not gloss over the great lines of this marvellous document; rather, I invite you to read and meditate it so as to draw from it a new hope, especially in regards to our approach with the younger generations. In the following paragraphs, I want to underline one of the great means available to all Secular institute members who wish to accomplish their apostolic mission: listening.
Pope Francis underlines that, in listening, “the first kind of sensitivity is directed to the individual” (CV, 292). Foremost and above all, it’s the person that counts! We must listen to the person with extraordinary attention! That takes time – lots of time! – and a loving patience to listen to the other till the very end, without judging, without becoming tired. Then, this listening opens us to a wonderful discovery: a heart thirsty for an encounter, burning to receive the Word that saves!
During this time of listening, we need to know when to seize the Kairos moment, the moment of grace. It will be a tear, a silence, a word that says it all.. Will we be able to discern the truth that imposes itself or the temptation that invites one to flee? For this is the role of the one who listens: to discern and invite the person who opens his or her heart to recognize the signs that are being revealed. Pope Francis reminds us: “It takes courage, warmth and tact to help others distinguish the truth from illusions or excuses” (CV, 293).
Finally, the third sensitivity in listening is “the ability to perceive what is driving the other person. This calls for a deeper kind of listening, one able to discern the direction in which that person truly wants to move” (CV, 294). Sometimes, God wants more than we are ready to give, ready to offer. And yet, this nostalgia already carries a desire that embraces our full happiness. It is there, in this hard core, that the definite “yes” is played out so as to adjust to God’s plan! Then, and only then, can listening create the necessary space for an answer to the great divine call!
Following the Risen Lord
Is that not what the Risen Jesus did with his disciples? Throughout the different apparitions, he becomes the model who knows how to express the true sensitivity for listening. On Easter day, during more than 30 km, the Unknown pilgrim listened long to the two companions on the road. He not only tended his ear, but mostly his heart to listen and understand. Eight days later, with Thomas, Jesus will know how to invite him to discern, leaving aside his doubts, to proclaim loud and clear: “My Lord and my God!” And finally, with Peter on the shore of the sea of Galilee, one morning after breakfast, the Master will invite him to answer the big question: “Do you love me more than these?” Three times, the question will be asked to arrive to the only possible answer: “Lord, you know everything, you know that I love you…”
As Secular institute members, we are called to become men and women who listen. Before the upsetting scenes of the Passion of Christ being played out in today’s world, will we know how to become men and women who listen deeply to the cry of pain and suffering of so many of our brothers and sisters? Will we dare to listen until this cry becomes the birthing cry that opens us to a more beautiful and joyful life, overflowing with hope? Only men and women of faith can reach this point! We, Secular institute members, we are of this calibre for we believe that the dawn of Easter has forever opened the doors of hope for our world! In the Risen Christ, everything is transformed!
During this Easter time, the executive council members, Thérèse Bolduc and Raymonde Haché, as well as the CCSI secretary, Marie Martineau, join with me to offer you our best wishes. May the Risen Lord allow us to rediscover Easter in the heart of every person, every event, every encounter! Together, let us become witnesses of New Life that will make us choose God unceasingly and love the world with passion!