My itinerary in the Fraternity

So here are a few extracts from my itinerary, traced out in the everyday towards a destination that is ever distant, ever mysterious – but always there ahead of me! Until when? card for my 70th birthdaycard for my 70th birthday

I am seventy-three years old. I have been a part of the Fraternity for thirty years and have been retired for seven. The only newsletter that I have ever written was in 1983. At the time I was in Tanzania, in a socialist village, as it was in the time of Nyerere.
Today, in Turin, I live in the multicultural district of Porta Palazzo. I would like to share with you how I felt when I went from a 'normal' life to the life of a 'retired person'. So, this is more than a newsletter, it includes some reflections on how I envisage living out the charism of Nazareth as a 'retired person'.
Nazareth turned my life as a missionary in Africa, at the end of the seventies, upside down. So I left the Consolata Missionaries to join the Little Brothers of Jesus.
I do not want to say very much here about those long years of the past, I want to focus on the context of my life today which, I believe, has an exciting side to it.
As a retired person I notice that the lack of a regular job, for example, upsets the rhythm of life. Relations with other people are considerably reduced. My physical and mental capacities are no longer what they once were. One feels less all-powerful and a kind of mental 'fog' reveals several kinds of fragility to me. My experience of life, on the other hand, makes me more careful, less trusting. Fraternal life, at the end of the day, is like a - sometimes merciless - crucible through which the dross of a person come to the surface, so one discovers a 'self' which up to that point has been unknown - and one accepts it with difficulty!
I believe that the most arduous challenge is to recapture the 'inner me', the true self, which has been revealed to me by being shoulder to shoulder with my brothers and with the ordinary people who are my neighbours and work colleagues.
I feel less 'all-powerful'I feel less 'all-powerful'

I can say that Nazareth, as an ordinary life, is an exciting and gratifying one. “To share the life of people” and the "prayer of poor people” have been the two intuitive truths which have most influenced my life during these last thirty years in the Fraternity. I re-live the enthusiasm of journeying with the African village of Murugaragara (Tanzania)in order to survive the poverty and become self-sufficient with the means at our disposal. I have been intoxicated with the human and religious challenge of Nazareth and I have been blessed with it. My prayer also was filled with meaning, enriched by the events and faces of daily life.

After Tanzania there were the people of Calabria, in the south of Italy, my experience in the village where I was born, accompanying my mother, my return to Turin to the present fraternity in Porta Palazzo - yes, it is these places, cultures and faces which have enriched my life. It is like the 'hundredfold', promised in the Gospel, which has been given to me day after day.Porto Palazzo, the daily multi-ethnic marketPorto Palazzo, the daily multi-ethnic market
Now I am 'retired' I feel the need to dig deep within myself to see the heart of what has given meaning to my life during the last thirty years. I see there a common thread which unites relationships and faces, work and commitments into 'a unified heart': it is Him and it is myself. Obviously, commitments, relationships, the way of sharing in peoples' lives and even the motivation for my prayer are different today. So, in order to see the meaning in it I need to have a genuine inner revolution, to give me a new order for my values and new mental categories. It means, I believe, welcoming positively this revealing of my limitations and fragility, accepting them as part of me and not as a failing to be pushed away.I also feel that this experience of limitations is not only my own experience or just the experience of those who are retired, it is also the experience of the Fraternity as a whole which is having to live through the experience of growing older for the first time as well as recognising its limitations as an institution.

Thirty years ago I dreamed of an ideal Fraternity aiming for 'the ideal vision of fraternity' that I had envisaged. I dreamed as well of becoming 'an ideal little brother' in my own way (how pretentious!). Alas - and fortunately - life opened my eyes to a greater realism and more objective truth. This realism and this truth have shaken my convictions and my certainties, have led me to reconsider and reinterpret the expectations which I had of myself and of others, as well as those laid on both myself and others. And yet that never obscured my love for the Fraternity and for Jesus of Nazareth.brothers in Cameroon; Bruno second from left, front rowbrothers in Cameroon; Bruno second from left, front row
Now I know that the Fraternity can only exist in fragility and through the limitations of its members which give it 'flesh and bones', and it is precisely this Fraternity which I will love till the end. It is a real treasure, but it is shaped by fragility, by humanity and, often, by sin. So the true charism is to be happy, to belong to the crowd of poor people and sinners whom God loves. So if there is a prophetic message from the Fraternity it is the testimony that in the banality of ordinary life the Kingdom of God is revealed. Ordinary life is the place where God comes to meet us and where we see Him in the faces of our human brothers and sisters.
This charism of Nazareth does not belong to us; it exists sown in the furrows of the lives of the millions of poor and 'little' people who do not even know that they cause Nazareth to be ever present in space and time throughout their lives. We have to let ourselves be evangelised by them and accept the revelation that God addresses to us through these many Nazareths through which life meanders and the Kingdom bursts forth.
But, in our world, do we not still ask each other today as we did before: “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?”. Perhaps. But then, isn't the warning that Jesus gave to those who listened to him 2000 years ago even more valid today: “The coming of the Kingdom of God does not admit of observation, and there will be no one to say Look here, or Look there it! For you must know, the Kingdom of God is within you” (Luke 17:20).Do I believe in this Nazareth? Yes, - I try, I want to believe in it; but wisely and humbly I pray: “Lord, I believe, help my unbelief” (Mark 9:24)
Fraternally Bruno