Cardinal Joao BRAZ DE AVIZ meets the General Council of the Little sisters in Tre fontane

May 3, 2012

Around a year ago, Cardinal Joao Braz de Aviz was called by the Holy Father to take over responsibility for the Congregation which takes care of Religious men and women throughout the world. Monsignor Braz is Brazilian, a former archbishop of Brasilia. He is not a Religious himself. He is very close to the Focolari movement. This past May 3, Maria-Chiara and the little sisters of the General Council invited him to Tre Fontane for a meeting and friendly time of sharing with them. Next, we all joined them for Vespers, in the course of which he spoke to all the little sisters present in Tre Fontane.

We're transmitting to you the essence of both these beautiful encounters. (The following notes have not been reviewed by Cardinal Braz.)

Meeting with Maria-Chiara and the General Council

Speaking of a Marian congregation in Poland which had only one Brother left, and so seemed about to come to an end, the Cardinal told us that today it has quite a few members, and that a single person was enough for a congregation to flower again... We have to "put to death the old man" in us, and not the charism. I think we're in a totally new point in time. The world has changed a lot. There is much to be gained. Today's world carries a contradiction within itself. We have developed the most advanced methods of communication, but globalized humanity has chosen individualism. Other people are looked upon as threats, they are "used" but never "loved." It is necessary for us to transform these types of relationships to the point where they become as beautiful as the relationships within God.

The Trinity is fundamental for this. We've learned to adore the Trinity, and to talk about it in very precise language...but we've also learned that it's a "mystery" that must be lived! And it's become like a mathematical equation: 3=1! Now, it's not possible in philosophy to synthesize unity and diversity. So maybe we have to understand love in a different way. We have been created in the image and likeness of God. Saint Augustine had trouble expressing it. He said God is lover, beloved, and love...and he was afraid. Philosophy is unable to express non-being...God is Love. Love "is born" in God.

Relationships cannot be looked on as something secondary, as philosophy thinks. Without relationship, being does not exist. Otherwise, how can we make "fraternity?" Then, casting a glance at the community of the General Council – each one from a different country, he added: how do we form the Fraternity with such enormous differences?

We've looked at diversity as though it were a problem, when in fact it's a necessary condition for self-realization. It's only with the other that I can "be." Only God can teach me to "be" with the other. It's a school. But the most difficult part is to figure out how to do it. We don't accept that the other is greater than ourselves. And it's not right either to be "littler." So, how do we do it? We have to find a deeper reason. The only one who can tell us how is Jesus, Son of God, who comes from the Trinity.

We have to observe which road he took. The only path God found to reach his creature was to make himself little. Before God, it's not hard to recognize ourselves as creatures. But in front of our brothers and sisters is another story! God became less God in order to find humanity!

How can we understand "being little" in a positive way? The only way is to take up the way of the Cross once again, or that of the Incarnation, which is the same thing. The cross is not God's place. The cross kills, God is life. The cross is sin, God is holy...St. Paul speaks of the foolishness of the cross or the wisdom of God. Why wisdom? Jesus cries out the meaning of his life. In the cry of Jesus there is a mystery, because God puts himself in a very special way on humanity's side, on the side of what was not in God. Jesus does it because God wanted it! - No one takes his life away from him. He gives it himself - His death is the fruit of sinful structures: the sin of the Sanhedrin, and that of the Romans - But this death is also willed by the Father. It is what gives us to know for sure what love is. God asks Abraham for Isaac, but he doesn't let him die, while for Jesus it's a different story.

If the Cross is not understood as the greatest act of love, it is not understood. Suffering is a place of maturity. God works in those He loves. He leads them to something deeper. If we can love God in this way, we enter into God. Saint Bonaventure said that no one could enter into God except by way of the Crucified. It is a great mystery of freedom

Vespers in Tre Fontane

Jesus said that we know the way to go to the Father. After, he said, "I am the way, the truth, the life." The Holy Father said that today we have to be able to bring together "truth" and "charity." That means not having a life of outward appearances and one that is our actual real life. And for that to happen, we have to become disciples of Jesus once again, Jesus's sisters. How do we do this? Maybe we have to deepen our understanding of who God is for us...discover God as a lived experience, like an adolescent who falls in love with his beloved...return to this God who is Love. Everything can crumble, but the light of our loving encounter with the Lord cannot crumble.

Today, this encounter is alive if we feed another encounter. Men and women must understand that we have met the Lord because we have changed the way we relate to them. And there we have a long way to go. If the saints were able to say that community life is the greatest penance—and they are right—we must discover that for me, the other is my greatest opportunity. Others give me the possibility of discovering love. But if we don't become "little" before the other, as God became with us, then we will never reach the point of this new kind of relationship which allows us to give God to others. It would be very beautiful if all our communities—and also the communities of the little sisters of Jesus—could enter profoundly upon this adventure which is "fraternity."

I think the name of Jesus, who is Truth and Life, is the most precious pearl we have to give, if we are capable through love of becoming close to others, including those we don't find attractive, who don't seem very nice to us, whose culture is so different from mine...for they are the ones who permit me to experience God, because then I can love.

I would say this: learn anew to love always, to be the one who takes the first step in loving, to love everyone, to love Jesus in each person, and let God do the rest.

We all have need of conversion, conversion to community life in order to be like God. And then there can be all kinds of sinners, and it's just fine, because God has loved us just like that, and we believe in God.