XAVERIAN INTERNATIONAL THEOLOGATE OF ASIA
OUR COMMUNITY PROJECT OF LIFE: “UNTIL CHRIST BE FORMED IN YOU” (Gal 4: 19)
By Kabundi Theodore
As pilots need a flight plan before taking off for any destination, so our Xaverian International Theologate of Asia gathered three days at the beginning of this year for our Community Project of Life (CPL). In fact, after a well-deserved period of vacation (in the community for some and in their own families for others), the time came for us to reflect on what perspective to give to this new academic year 2013–2014. Hence, all the community gathered around as one family under the protection of our founder Saint Guido Maria Conforti.
In our Ratio Missionis Xaveriana, the CPL is defined as “a necessary instrument in programming our mission and life in the community” (RMX 36). For this most important part of our life as religious and missionaries, we dedicated three intense days to elaborate our plan in various aspects of our life: mission, apostolate, school, incarnation and solidarity with the Filipino people, mission animation and vocation, etc. Our community plan started by a short introduction led by Fr. James, who gave us the main lines for our community plan in accordance with the vision of our delegation and the whole Xaverian Congregation regarding community life and mission. After this short and meaningful moment of taking conscience of who we are and would like to be, the time came to look for the general theme of our community plan. After an open debate and friendly assessment and evaluations of all the proposed themes, we reached the agreement that Ephesians 4:13, “Until we all attain to the unity of faith and knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the extent of the full stature of Christ” would be our general theme and biblical icon. I was somehow surprised to see that the whole community enthusiastically agreed on this proposal, made along with many others. This goes hand in hand with what is written in our RMX 36.1, “Only a clear project which is accepted by every confrere, each one according to his role, can help us promote our unity in diversity and make us grow in mutual respect.” Now, the significant question would be to know why Ephesians 4:13 has been chosen as our general theme.
Among many reflections shared and given to sustain this biblical icon, I would like to point out some suggested by our new rector. In the preface and reflection of our community project of life, the new rector of our international Theologate of Asia, Fr. Everaldo dos Santos has clearly explained the choice of this biblical icon: “Acquiring the full stature of Christ is precisely why we are attracted to the charism of the Xaverian Missionaries. Fr. Everaldo enriched this further by adding that Saint Conforti’s spirituality is indeed such that requires letting Christ to take place at the very center of our life.” In this statement, we find the most significant reason of the choice for Ephesians, since it is in straight relationship with our charism (Christ at the center of our life). Another reason is to deal with psychological and human maturity in the community. Following Christ demands enough maturity, freedom and self-mastery in face of some difficult situations that may happen in our life as his disciples. Jesus himself warned us in Luke 14:26-27: “If anyone comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters—yes, even their own life—such a person cannot be my disciple. And whoever does not carry their cross and follow me cannot be my disciple.” This passage implies that Jesus has nothing to do with childish people who are not capable to make a firm decision on their life, but with mature people who can surrender themselves to Him. This said, we have seen that the choice of Ephesians 4:13 was not made by chance as we may think of it, because we have strong motivations that constitute the background of this biblical icon: God’s call to grow up more and more in maturity so that we might consciously follow Jesus aiming to reach his full stature in perfection.
In our Community project of life, aside from our traditional six dimensions, we set up also three main priorities that we should reach, if possible, by the end of this community year. The priorities are our guidelines towards the aim and they help us to remain focused on what is relevant. To make it simpler and more concrete, each priority has been divided into three parts: something to do, to learn and to celebrate in our community as Xaverians living in the Philippines. This subdivision has a great advantage to facilitate the evaluation of our CPL in due time.
”The first priority will lead us into a journey of basic conversion: from my own ego to the “you” that is God, to the real “me” that God wants me to be; from my personal vision and plans to what “he” wants to do in me and through me. This consists in the decision to say “yes” to God each day without “ifs” and “buts,” open to let ourselves to be guided.
The second priority will lead us into a journey of life in koinonia. A real community life is extremely challenging and, in fact impossible, unless we have love for one another. But if our relationship is permeated by love, the community becomes a vital reality where we evangelize each other; verify our fundamental motivations and actions, help each other in being faithful to the “Kingdom,” becoming a true place of discernment. Our “interculturality” poses an extra challenge: when we leave our countries, the departure is geographical, but it ought to be also cultural and psychological, a matter of the heart, of being in the community with one’s whole self.
And our third dimension will lead us into a journey of responsibility for the “people of God” out there. We earnestly wish that our experience of life here be a “sacrament,” a sign of hope to the world. How great would it be if, because of a community like ours, many more people would come to realize that God, even now, has the capacity to bring people together, making them whole and “innerly” free, capable of long lasting commitment.”
After evaluation, assessment and discussions in a family atmosphere, our CPL has been approved by all on the twentieth anniversary of the foundation of our Theologate and given to each one of us by the rector. As our flight plan, our CPL contains what is necessary for our growth towards discipleship with Jesus and mission. Like in the parable of talents in Matthew 25:14-30, the CPL is comparable to the talent given to each brother in order to bear many fruits by living according to it. Now it is up to each to decide whether he would like to act as a wise servant who produced five more talents or like a foolish one who hid his talent by fear of his master. We implore the perpetual help of the Virgin Mary our Mother and entrust ourselves to God through the intercession of Saints Conforti and Saint Francis Xavier.