Today we have come together for the first recollection day of this 2018 General chapter. And I was asked to speak to you about discernment in our founding generation. The way I understand this is to draw you into the discernment process of our founding generation in as much as this is possible.
However, I have to narrow the topic down. I will concentrate on our founder, St. Arnold Janssen. And the reason for that is very simple. He saw himself as the God-chosen founder who had the task to lay the foundation of the SVD and SSpS with its two branches, the active and the contemplative one, and to do it so soundly that future generations could build on it. You will hear me speak mainly about our founder, but the other members of the founding generation are included; that follows from the way in which I collected my material: from letters he wrote to members of the founding generation: letters to superiors and individual members: these are letters published by Fr. Alt and the letters of the correspondence of Mothers Maria and Josepha with Fr. Arnold, published by Sr. Ortrud Stegmaier SSpS. I decided to let him speak as much as possible.
In this short hour of reflection I intend to go about it in this way:
I first invite you to reflect on the man Arnold Janssen – from the point of view of his own self-understanding. For this is the root of his way of doing discernment. After that I will look at the principles which he followed in the discernment process and which flowed out of his basic self-understanding. The principles are like a skeleton which has to receive flesh: that is, the words of Fr. Arnold and some other members of the founding generation which I bring as examples.
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