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89° Capitulum Generale Ordinis Carmelitarum Discalceatorum
Avila 28th April 18th May 2003
Information * N. 12
News Issue. No. 12 - 7 May 2003
Avila awoke to a light dusting of snow this morning: the white stuff appeared unexpectedly on roofs, on cars, and on the grass lawns around our retreat center.
Some snow flurries fell during the morning, and it turned to rain this afternoon and evening.
Father Luigi Gaetani, who has moved from Provicial of Naples to Definitor, described the changeover in the lives of the early Christians when they had to leave Jerusalem and go to other locales where they took pains to adapt the Gospel message to new groups in different circumstances. This occurred amid tensions and sometimes led to failures, but eventually the Good News spread throughout the ancient Roman Empire, establishing a benficial inculturation as it took root.
The newly arrived definitors, Frs. Zacharie and Robert, took their oath of office at the beginning of this morning’s session and were confirmed in office by Father General.
A sign of the times marked this ceremony: they read the oath in French since they both come from francophone countries. (Fr. Robert—could it be thanks to the proximity of publicity mavens living to the south of old Quebec? je ne sais pas—distributed little candies made of maple syrup in the Chapter Hall that bore the imprint of Canada’s maple leaf and therefore of Canada’s flag. In all events, they were sweet and it was a nice of him to offer them.)
The main feature of the morning’s session was to listen to a conference by Father Luis Gonzalez-Carvajal, a diocesan priest from Madrid and professor there. His topic was “Aware of the Signs of Our Time.” He considered the topics of (economic) global- ization, secularization, and the new evangelization. He pointed out that the challenge of the inculturation of Christianity or of an Order’s charism is not limited merely to non-European countries, for if “in China Christianity looks like a religion ‘from another place,’ it is in Europe a religion ‘from another time.’” He then said that “the big challenge of the present moment is to live, think, and give shape to Christianity via a real insertion into contemporary culture even as we criticize it just as our predecessors criticized in the past the Greco-Roman culture.”
The language groups formulated responses to two questions accompanying the con- ference: the first concerned our place in this globalized world, the second formulated our thoughts about what specific contribution the Carmelite mystical tradition can make to this secularized age. The responses were read out in a plenary session late in the afternoon, receiving reactions from Fr. Carvajal. Then the groups met early in the evening to continue work on the Working Document of the Chapter. The Italian group directed Evening Prayer, just as they had led the entire group at Morning Prayer and at the Eucharist.
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