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Becoming an Assumptionist

de l'Assomption

Fragility, that other name for the human condition…


2018-06-10 - Arusha, Tanzania

« Forgetting fragility is the prelude tof catastrophe » (cf. Jean-Louis Chrétien, Fragility – a book recommended by our superior general)). One might be tempted to lament the fragility of our small Congregation and wish at times that we were stronger, better situated, have more personnel or money in the bank… Well, that is not the case and it’s certainly better that way! As a matter of fact, the PGC is already an illustration of the power of the Gospel which cannot operate but through our weaknesses. When our Assumptionist provinces were strong, or rather let us say, when they thought they were sufficiently strong, they didn’t think they needed anyone else… And when Provinces relied soley on themselves, it in fact led to some real catastrophes and the disappearance of certain Assumptionist realities from the face of the earth. But today we can no longer pretend; we are fundamentally dependent on one another and this creates collegiality, availability, solidarity, international and intercultural communities, in a word something of the Kingdom of God! So, let us rejoice at our weaknesses! As Jean-Louis Chrétien says elsewhere, “So, it is only fragility that forms the abode of what lasts in the world. It is only the fragile barque of the human voice that can drop anchor in heaven.”

Fragility was clearly the word of the day on this 9th day of our meetings… We all stopped to consider together the situation of our presence in Turkey: is a future there possible? If it were solely up to the Province of Europe, probably not; However, if we extend the horizons to the entire Congregation, indeed to the entire Church, why not? An appeal will be launched… Fragility as well of the Church, of religious life, of Assumptionist religious life… Starting with what is going on in the Chilean Church, each of us shared the difficulties and the crises affecting religious life in our respective countries… Far from wallowing in our woes, it was a question above all to underline the challenges, the appeals, the places of renewal, the paths toward the future which these crisis situations open before us. It is not the years of plenty in the Church that produce lots of evangelical initiatives, but rather the periods of crisis that push the Church to redirect its route toward a life that is more consistent with the Gospel… So don’t be nostalgic for the past, but, faithful to the genius of Christianity, let us never resign ourselves to some kind of catastrophic fatalism… It is truly thanks to our fragility that we can be witnesses rather than being masters… «Better to be on the right path limping than on the wrong one sprinting » (St. Augustine), as Fr. Benoît Grière keeps reminding us…

We finished the day by a short reexamination of how the PGC functions; we were of the unanimous opinion this this semi-annual meeting, no doubt born out of our fragility, affords the opportunity to make good progress in the Congregation… Not everything is perfect; follow-up on matters discussed at the PGC remains a challenge; interaction between the PGC and the provincial councils and Councils of the Province need to be fine-tuned… Still, the synodality, that is to say, the journey we have taken together so far, is far from insignificant!

« Reflect, my brothers and sisters, on how fragile we human beings are. Hurry up and run while you’re alive, in order not really and truly to die » (St. Augustine, Sermon 142, 4).

Fr. Benoît Bigard