Brothers: Diversity of Gifts

Author: Victor Hirch SVD
Subject: Religious Brothers
Language: English, Spanish
Publisher: VivatDeus.org
Year: 2022
SVD Brothers

“Certainly, there are varieties of gifts, but they all come from the same Spirit. There is a diversity of ministries, but only one Lord. There is a diversity of activities, but it is the same God who does everything in everyone. In each one, the Spirit is manifested for the common good” (1Cor.12,4-7)

The Church is enriched with a multiform diversity of gifts. Among them is the vocation of the Brother, men consecrated through the vows of chastity, poverty and obedience, who, responding to God’s call, provide a variety of services “for the common good”, the good of all.

In his Apostolic Letter on the occasion of the Year of Consecrated Life, Pope Francis invites us to take a triple look at Consecrated Life: “look at the past with gratitude, live the present with passion and embrace the future with hope”. Undoubtedly, the three topics fit the vocation of the Brothers within the wide range of consecrated life.

The religious missionary Brothers in the Congregation of the Divine Word laid the foundations of a rich, numerous, present, significant and virtuous tradition since the foundation of the Congregation. The Brothers were particularly appreciated by our founder Saint Arnold Janssen and counted on his special appreciation in community and missionary initiatives.

Today the Brothers, in smaller numbers, live diverse and significant missionary presences. They open the view of the Congregation to renewed mission spaces and provide meaningful services. The Brothers are appreciated in their areas of life and mission and draw the attention of the people of God to consecrated generous self-givng with their diversity of gifts and talents.
Looking at the uncertain future of Consecrated Life -as we conceive it today-, the Brothers are a joyful and hopeful presence. Their particular way of being present in the communities, in ecclesial animation, as well as in the missionary areas in which they are involved, speak of a vitality that comes from being led by the Spirit and that places its trust in Him and his presence in the mission.

Brothers Today

Within the Consecrated Life, the Brothers are a present expression though not well known. They live a double tension in their particular consecration. In ecclesial contexts there is a tendency to clericalize their presence and in socio-cultural contexts there is a tendency to secularize their contribution. However, the Brothers have a particular identity and it has a specific purpose. Fidelity to this identity over time has led to updating its ecclesial presence without changing the fundamental: “Men consecrated to the Kingdom of God at the service of the Church.”

“The first ministry that the brothers carry out in the Church as religious is that of “keeping alive in the baptized the awareness of the fundamental values of the Gospel” and “the demand to respond with holiness of life to the love of God poured out in hearts by the Holy Spirit (cf. Rom 5, 5)”. All the other services and ministries that the various forms of consecrated life carry out acquire their meaning and their reason for being from this first ministry.

This function of sign, recognized by the Second Vatican Council and repeatedly underlined in the Apostolic Exhortation Vita Consecrata, is essential to consecrated life and determines its orientation: it does not exist “for itself”, but rather as a function of the ecclesial community.

Religious consecration, which presents life as a witness to the absoluteness of God, as well as a process of opening up to God and men and women in the light of the Gospel, is a call to all the faithful, an invitation to each one to consider their life as a radical response, in the different situations and states of life, open to the gifts and invitations of the Spirit. The fraternity of religious brothers is a stimulus for the whole Church, because it makes present the evangelical value of fraternal, horizontal relationships, in the face of the temptation to dominate, of the search for first place, of the exercise of authority as power. Communion is proposed today to the Church as a particularly pressing challenge in the new millennium, so that she may become the home and school of communion. The Brothers are active inhabitants in that house and are both students and teachers in that school. That is why they make their own the urgency that the Church poses to herself: to unfold and promote the spirituality of communion.”

Gift for the Church.

The value of a Brother is not what he does but what he is. The existence of men totally consecrated to God who fulfill their consecrated life by putting their gifts at the service of the Church is a message in itself. This message is not measured in quantity and magnitude but in uniqueness and significance.
The Church is invited to receive this gift within her, as well as to value its particular contribution to the ecclesial mission. Her appreciation is expressed in the vocational animation that speaks of it and spreads it to awaken concern in restless young people and those who seek their own way of living consecration. The Church shows her appreciation when she accepts this vocation with her own way of formation in religious and consecrated life. She values it when she discovers the particular contribution to religious families, the church and the mission that the Brothers provide, when she discovers -through them- new mission spaces and strengthens them with presence and resources.
A private contribution.

The contribution of each gift in the Church is its uniqueness. Precisely in this way, the Brothers will continue to strengthen the invitation to fraternity to horizontality and the construction of spaces for dialogue and communion.

The Brothers will contribute to the opening of new mission spaces. In simplicity they will contribute to establishing bridges between the expressions of faith and education, health, social promotion, communications, culture, and the multiform manners of presence in which the Brothers with their gifts and a specific profession can contribute.

—–

Victor Hirch SVD
Victor Hirch SVD

Victor Hirch SVD, Argentina, Religious Brother of the Society of the Divine Word, Lic. in Social Work, President of the Association “Una mano que ayuda” (Helping Hand Association).

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