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News
Mangalore (India)

1st Mission Congress
of Asia and Oceania
( 9 )

 

 

1st ASIAN OCD MISSION CONGRESS

 

Message and Orientation for Praxis

 

Introduction

 

1. From 24-27 September 2007, we, the Major Superiors of India, East-Asia Oceania, the Mission Delegates of Kuwait and Tanzania, and the Masters of Theology Students of India and East-Asia Oceania, gathered for the 1 Asian Mission Congress of the Order at Ryshivana in Mangalore, India. The proceedings of the Congress were blessed by the leadership of Very Rev. Fr. Luis Arostegui-Gamboa, Superior-General, ably assisted by Very Rev. Frs. Xavier Jaya Raj and Angelo Madelo, Definitors-General for Asia through the efforts of Fr. Damaso Zuazua, the Mission Secretary of the Order. Aided by the resource persons: Frs. Domingo Fernandez, Paul D̓Souza, Michael Amaladoss, SJ and Felix Wilfred, we reflected on the reality of the Asian context with the objective of discerning and reorienting the mission of Asian Carmelites in the light of the rich and deep missionary tradition of our Order and the teaching of the Church today. By doing so, we have come up with Orientation for Praxis towards an effective mission in Asia responding to “the cries and tears” of our Holy Mother St. Teresa of Jesus as heirs of her charismatic missionary maternity.

 

Inspired by the Order̓s Rich Missionary Tradition

 

2. The objective of our Mission as Discalced Carmelite Friars is to witness to and proclaim the centrality of God as revealed in the Person of Jesus Christ, living the contemplative ideal in order to facilitate the integral transformation of society.

 

3. As baptized and consecrated persons, we already participate in the essentially missionary nature of the Church (Ad Gentes 1.2; Redemptoris Missio 1.3; Ecciesia in Asia 9)

 

4. The Teresian Carmelite ideal of consecrated life while truly contemplative is also explicitly and totally missionary. As Discalced Carmelite Friars, we are heirs to this charismatic tradition.

 

5. As sons and missionaries of our Holy Mother St. Teresa of Jesus, we are graced by our vocation to participate in her vision and yearnings concerning the ecclesial, apostolic and missionary needs of the Church. (Way of Perfection 1,2; 1,5; 3,5; Foundations 1,7). Her words describing her visit to the house in Duruelo leaves no place for doubt: “As indeed, I understood that this foundation was a much greater grace than the favor He granted me to found houses of nuns.” (Foundations 14, 8-12).

 

6. Our Holy Mother St. Teresa sent the first Discalced Carmelite missionaries to Congo through Fr. Jeromino Gracian. Fr. John of Jesus-Mary (+1615) writes that it was the expressed desire of our Holy Mother St. Teresa “to have the missions more eagerly than martyrdom itself.” (Fr John of Jesus-Mary, Missionary p. 12. no. 11). This sentiment is beautifully summarized by Fr John Vincent of Jesus-Mary (+ 1943) as the vocation “to be profoundly contemplative and decidedly active”, “contemplative to the maximum and apostle until you can do no more”. He also adds that “action without contemplation would not be Carmelite; contemplation without action would not be Teresian.”

 

7. Thus this missionary spirit is essential to the Carmelite vocation. This is explicitly articulated in our Constitutions and Norms (C. 94, N. 58). This mandate challenges us to continually reexamine our understanding and living of our Carmelite identity and mission.

 

8. We have much to learn from the history of the missionary endeavors of our Order from the 16th to the 20th Centuries. Invited by the Popes, it is clear that our first missionaries in Asia were imbued by a deep love for the Church and the Teresian spirit. Their endeavors were characterized by the proclamation of the Gospel in the continent of the great world religions. They had at heart the formation of the local clergy while putting themselves at the service of the people. Blessed with the presence and support of the Cloistered Carmelite Nuns and the inspiring witness of the martyrdom of Blessed Denis and Redemptus, scores of Carmelite Friars have served as inspiring models for the Teresian ideal in Asia.

 

9. The emerging challenge that arises from this review of our missionary endeavors is the call to harmoniously blend the two realities of our Charism: a life of prayer and a total apostolic-missionary life. Both a gift and task, fruition comes in the creative blending of these two realities in the concrete

circumstances of our lives as Carmelite Friars.

 

10. The memory of these illustrious and unforgettable missionaries who labored on Asian soil from the l7th to the 20th Centuries challenges us today. It is evident that the Providential Hand of God guided these men in their untiring missionary commitments and brought them to fruition. Their example of unflagging dedication and creative effort in the midst of difficulties and challenges testify to the triumph of God̓s Grace in the midst of discouraging situations and human weakness.

 

Challenged by the Actual Context of Asia

 

11. Any reflection on mission must help us look at our roots and move us to apply that vision to our times. Our Asian culture which by its very nature is God-centered and contemplative is also blessed with a deep spirit of community and service to others. This presents a historical creative challenge to our Teresian-Carmelite Charism. The basic elements of our Asian cultures wonderfully intertwine with the vital elements of our Carmelite vocation. This presents to us a challenge to find an Asian way of evangelization.

 

12. Despite the fact that Christianity is born in Asia and that the Order finds its roots in this great continent, the presence of the Church and the Order in this largest continent of the earth is a thin minority. The presence of the great world religions in Asia invites us to reflect the new vision on the value of religions found in the documents of the Second Vatican Council and the Church̓s magisterial teachings. The rise of religious fanaticism and fundamentalism as well as the enactment of policies and laws supporting religious intolerance undoubtedly present serious problems.

 

13. Asia is also a continent of many ancient cultures, languages and traditions. It is a place of diverse mindsets and philosophies. This unique situation creates many creative possibilities for us to transcend the frontiers in favor of a healthy pluralism and authentic universality. As missionaries, this gift of variety should be an impetus for the growth of true communion.

 

14. However, the new culture of globalization and info-technological development while awaking hopes and mediating progress is affecting Asian society in very powerful and often irremediable ways. Individualism, consumerism, gender discrimination, and exploitation of marginalized castes, disintegration of families, etc. are among the areas demanding an authentic Carmelite response.

 

15. Widespread poverty and massive impoverishment paradoxically existing side by side with massive material affluence plague many of our Asian societies. This sad state of affairs cannot be separated from injustice, corruption, exploitation, oppression, terrorism, violence, communalism and marginalization which have become endemic to many Asian nations. This reality calls for a paradigm shift so as to help us come up with an authentic Carmelite response.

 

16. The paradigm shift in the understanding of evangelization and salvation is an important area demanding a reorientation. Evangelization is viewed in terms of living the Gospel to the level of experiential witness, its proclamation, inter-religious dialogue, inter-cultural openness and commitment to social justice. Salvation is understood on the basis of the Kingdom of God as experienced and lived by Jesus in His relationship to the Father. This salvation is expressed in the teachings and subversive actions of Jesus as expressed through His parables and miracles. This salvation culminated in the Paschal Mystery.

 

17. Unfortunately, there is no awareness regarding the tremendous revolutionary resources available in our Charism for the transformation of society.

 

18. Further we are challenged by the lack of authentic apostolic and missionary spirit in our formative process both initial and ongoing, so as to form genuine and generous missionaries.

 

19. The revitalization of the Carmelite charism as deeply contemplative and actively apostolic without polarization is an urgent requirement.

 

On the Path of Gospel-Culture Encounter

 

20. Given the multi-religious and multi-cultural situation of Asia, we, as Carmelites are called and sent to be agents of Gospel-Culture/Religion Encounter in view of transformation.

 

21. In order to qualify ourselves for the same, we, Carmelites need to allow a change in our thinking patterns and world vision in conformity with the new paradigms of mission centered on: Kingdom of God, Dialogue, Service, Universality and Harmony.

 

22. Thus qualitatively transformed, we will be empowered to focus our priorities on a contemporary expressions of our spirituality in new humanism, the work for peace, the common good specially for the poor and the afflicted even by challenging the rich.

 

23. The reorientation of the mission of Asian Carmelites can thus be realized through contemplative Presence, Prophecy, Dialogue and Transformation/Liberation.

 

24. Effective inter-religious and inter-cultural dialogue is possible only when mission is identified as dialogue articulated as collaboration towards the Kingdom, respect and appreciation for other religions, without a hidden agenda and with an openness to conversion. It is of relevance to remember here the 50th death anniversary of the Servant of God, Fr Zacharias of St. Teresa (+1957), who spent 47 years walking the path of inter-religious dialogue as a missionary in India.

 

25. In this way, the Asian Carmelites are challenged to be agents of restorative justice, forgiveness and religious freedom by promoting the formation of human communities through a dialogue of life and experience.

 

26. It is pertinent to continually identify the possible areas of collaboration among Asian Carmelites for the promotion of the Kingdom of God in situations that demand continuous efforts directed towards liberation and transformation.

 

Searching for New Vistas

 

27. Taking “Ecciesia in Asia” as the point of departure, deeper reflections on Asian realities in terms of intersection of class, creed, caste and gender, reveal on the one side the complexity of the Asian situation and on the other, a possibility for new vistas in our mission.

 

28. We are urged to reexamine the situation of our communities in terms of communion, lived and expressed in our mutual relationships, cooperation for the common good, and participation in common concerns. This is a strong challenge to go beyond individual programs and personal agenda through a sincere openness and genuine sharing of joys, hopes, griefs and sorrows.

 

29. Proclaiming Jesus wherever and whenever possible, our mission in Asia must also embrace the ability to respond to the freedom of religion of all religious groups, problem of minorities, facilitation of the realization of democratic values and civil societies.

 

30. By resisting the interior compulsion for competition and egoism, we can truly promote the growth a solidarity and fraternity in a continent where oppressive structures perpetuate alienation and strife.

 

31. We are compelled by the reality of gender discrimination in our society to examine ourselves regarding this oppressive structure.

 

 

Orientation for Praxis

 

32. Presence

 

 -Personal Renewal. In the face of new challenges in Asia, there is an urgency to renew our creative fidelity so as to give joyful witness to the contemplative and apostolic dimensions of our Teresian Carmelite identity.

 -Inspiring the Youth. In a continent where majority are young, there is an urgency to live our commitment to the Teresian Contemplative-Apostolic ideal with new zeal and enthusiasm so as to be inspirations and witnesses to the youth of Asia.

 -Availability for the Missions. Inspired by a host of witnesses who embodied the Contemplative and Missionary aspects of our vocation to a heroic degree, we are called to grow in our generosity, evangelical self-denial and courage to respond to missionary exigencies.

 -Sensitivity to Injustice. To grow in sharp sensitivity to the unjust, oppressive and corrupt socio-cultural situations.

 -Openness to the Common Good To make our presence lively expressions of values common to the whole human society and not merely for Christians.

 

33. Formation

 -There is a need to introduce to our Novices the whole Teresian Charism. As early as the Novitiate, formators are duty bound to present to our formees the Contemplative and Missionary ideal reflected in the “cries and tears” of our Holy Mother St. Teresa.

 -As early as possible, our formees are to be made familiar with the missionary thrusts and concerns of the Order. They are to be given courses on the history of our Carmelite missions and be made familiar with the Carmelite missionaries who gave their lives for the spread of the Gospel in Asia.

 -Importance is to be placed in making our formees aware of the socio-cultural conditions of our people. While inculcating in them a love for prayer, great care must be exercised in making our formees specially sensitive to the plight of the poor and the marginalized.

 -To create in our communities the possibility for authentic sincere sharing and growth of communion by cooperating with each other for a common agenda in favor of the people specially the marginalized.

 -To reinterpret more deeply the personalities of the Prophet Elijah, our Inspirer, Teresa of Jesus our Mother; John of the Cross our Father and Thérèse our Sister in order to convincingly experience the unity of Contemplation and liberative Mission.

 

 

34. Prophecy

 -To be agents with unconditional interior freedom that empowers us to be prophetic in relation to the rich, the unjust and the powerful.

 -To do an adequate and deep study through the asceticism of scholarship which is an essential expression of our Charism regarding the new situations such as globalization, gender oppression, religious fanaticism, caste and economic exploitation, etc. in order to sharpen our prophetic personality.

 -To express solidarity to each other beyond the Circumscriptions specially whenever injustice, violence and calamities are experienced by our Brethren.

 -To develop an Asian Carmelite spirituality of Mission.

 

 

Ryshivana,

Mangalore, India

27 September 2007

 

 

 
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