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89° Capitulum Generale Ordinis Carmelitarum Discalceatorum
Avila 28th April 18th May 2003
We are gathered here, in the name of the Lord, to open our 89th General Chapter with this Eucharist. This church, built on the very spot where our holy Mother Teresa of Jesus was born, witnesses our celebration thanking the Lord for the gift she has given to the world and Church, and rejoicing that we are called to form part of her religious family, which continues throughout time her charism and her mission.
At the beginning of the Third Millennium, we wish to come to our maternal home to remember our mother Teresa of Jesus, and to come into her presence: in order to renew the experience of being her sons, of belonging to her family; to ask her, as generations of Teresian Carmelites before us have done, "Holy Mother Teresa, come and visit this vineyard which your right hand has planted!".
We have just listened to the gospel passage about the Samaritan woman, which Teresa of Jesus loved so much, and which marvellously reflects the journey of the human person in search of truth. It is a journey in which God makes himself present and takes the initiative: "Oh, how many times do I recall the living water that the Lord told the Samaritan woman about! And so I am very fond of that gospel passage. Thus it is, indeed, that from the time I was a little child, without understanding this good as I do now, I often begged the Lord to give me the water. I always carried with me a painting of this episode of the Lord at the well, with the words, inscribed: 'Domine, da mihi aquam'". (Life 30:19),
We also desire to ask the Lord to give us this water of his Spirit who comes to quench our thirst for God while, from a deep experience of Him, helping us to reply to the thirst for God in today's world. This living water, symbolizing the Spirit, is offered to us by Jesus himself to satisfy our deepest aspirations; it is the Spirit, a stream flowing internally, not externally like the law symbolized by Jacob's well.
In this opening Mass of the General Chapter, we desire that the Lord stay present with us during the course of our meeting, in which Carmelites from all over the world are taking part. I am sure that our Mother Teresa is proud to see us all here, coming from various cities, races, cultures, nations, and to discover in us the essential traits of her spiritual features. These traits which identify her in the Church are: her experience of a God who is near, present and a friend through prayer; her love for the Church, God's pilgrim people; her contemplation finding expression in life, in history and placed at the service of others.
We her sons, who want to return to what is essential in her experience and teaching, are reminded by Teresa of Jesus that we ought to be witnesses of God's presence in us, in people and in the heart of the world. We ought to live as sons of the Church of our time at the beginning of the Third Millennium. We are called to be contemplatives in the midst of things as they stand: so that we can discover, as she did, God present in us, in others and in everything that happens, so that we can search for his will in every circumstance; so that we give witness to a contemplation that is committed.
Holy Mother Teresa, in finishing twelve years leading your religious family, I wish to thank you for having accompanied me as General of the Order and for having accompanied the journey of your sons and daughters. In all the light and shade, in moments of happiness as well as of suffering, you have always been close to me and to all of us, to remind us that everything is passing, that God alone suffices; that truth suffers but does not perish; that nothing ought to disturb or frighten us!
Holy Mother Teresa, intercede for your religious family: friars, nuns and lay people, so that this General Chapter which we are celebrating here in Avila, where you were born, be truly the Lord's footprint in our history; an occasion to become aware of our charism and mission; how pertinent it is; what replies we ought to make from our identity to the challenges of the signs of times and of places. May this Chapter truly be a "kairos", a time marked by grace launching your religious Order throughout the byways of the world to communicate to everyone the riches of Christian prayer, which places us in contact with a God who is both Father and Mother, who is near to us, a friend, a source of living water capable of satisfying all the yearnings and aspirations of the human heart.
Avila, 28th April 2003
Fr Camilo Maccise,
Updated 28 apr 2003 - Page maintained by O.C.D. General House