The 46th General Chapter is on the horizon and God continues to invite us to follow Him with fidelity and confidence. We recall the letter that John Baptist de La Salle addressed to a doubtful Brother Gabriel Drolin. The Founder invited Brother Gabriel to bear everything with patience, always believing in God's providence and to carry on with his valuable mission in Rome1. In this beautiful letter, the Founder promised Brother Gabriel that he would never abandon him and encouraged him to persevere.
In the beginning of the Institute, De La Salle insisted that the first Brothers be aware of the wisdom of God, because He does everything for and with us. Today, we remember and rejoice in the presence of God and trust that an awareness of his presence will inspire us to be creative, dynamic, joyful and open to renewal of heart and mind. Now is the time to recommit to Jesus Christ! Now is the time to reaffirm our belief that great things are possible through our fraternal communion and our ministry of human and Christian education!
Recently, Pope Francis wrote to young people about how wonderful it is to see the stars at night and how they invite us to dream, to know where we are and to lead us to the Holy Child. The Pope asks us to be shining stars for the young and to guide them to Jesus Christ incarnated in this world2. The 46th General Chapter is an opportunity to rekindle the lights of those stars and renew our commitment to fraternal communion with each other, our Partners, children, youth, young adults and all those whom we encounter, especially those who are poor. In this way, we will continue to cooperate with Jesus Christ and his mission for the Reign of God in this challenging and complex time in our history.
How might we describe the spirit of this age? Some philosophers contend that our time is fraught with new dangers, some doubt a positive future for humanity; for example, Byung-Chul Han believes that today's society is tired, anxious, depressed, worried about producing and saving money3. We wish that our Institute's response will flow from a spring of apostolic energy to create life-giving opportunities, to develop empathy and to follow courageously the ideals that pushed John Baptist de La Salle to create in his time a new way of going forward4. We are building a new bridge between the past decades and this new one, and our special care is for the young who are vulnerable to the cruelties in our age, those who are lonely, and those whose families have migrated to other latitudes in search of a life of dignity. They thirst for life-giving initiatives that will give them confidence to face the future with hope.
It is in this context that we will assemble in Chapter as the Body of the Society. We will gather in Pattaya, Thailand (Redemptorist Centre)a new location and a new environment in which to renew our hearts and minds and discern a new way forward. In more and more societies, we carry out our mission among varied cultures, belief and religious traditions, economic backgrounds and emerging apostolic demands. Locating our discernment in a new physical place challenges us to question the status quo in a new, even radical way, and to read the signs of the times from a vantage point away from the familiar and at the periphery. In some ways this is a bold change, in others it is consistent with our history and heritage. We are accustomed to using novel approaches to respond to old and emerging needs, and we also know that such creativity strengthens our charismatic dynamism.
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