Joy, gratitude, renewed hope, looking to the future with courage, a return to essentials: all these feelings continue to resound in us in the wake of our encounter with Cardinal Joao Braz de Aviz, Prefect of the Congregation for the Institutes of Consecrated Life and the Societies of Apostolic Life.
Our meeting with him was scheduled to take place before today’s Eucharistic Celebration and we imagined would be a simple and formal encounter. Instead, it turned out to be a moment of extraordinary grace, a true “passage of God” among us that also served to jolt our consciences.
“We are made for God,” the Cardinal declared, “and if we don’t return to him we are dead: nothing has meaning. Our works are not God; they are the fruit of our choice of God. But what if they no longer serve? Then we must have the courage to return to what is essential.”
And a little later in his conversation with us: “God is passionately devoted to you even if you are a sinner. In that case, he loves you even more. Your sins do not matter to him; he wants you. He loves you unconditionally; he wants nothing from you. But this takes place through human intermediaries: that is, we must come to realize that other people can give God to us. Wherever there is domination, fraternity disappears. Are we listening to God, who dwells in the hearts of other people? If we do not return to love, then the Church does not have a future.”
We want to say a heartfelt thanks to Cardinal Joao for gifting us with his fraternity and joy, for leading us to the heart of the Church, and for helping us feel that we are vibrant members of the Body of Christ who want to live and proclaim the love of God. His parting words were: “You have to take good care of Fr. Alberione’s charism because it is a very difficult field [of work] but very precious for the Church.”
Ariccia, 5 September 2013