Today Little Brother Arturo Paoli passed on to the Lord he loved so much – at the age of 102. Arturo Paoli was a member of the Little Brothers of the Gospel, a community founded with the spirituality of Blessed Charles de Foucauld.
|Cross of Charles de Foucauld|
The Little Brothers – as well as the Little Sisters – live a life of poverty among the poor, working as the poor do, living in community among the poor, with a deep devotion to Jesus, incarnate, present in the Eucharist, and present among the poor.
Little Brother Arturo brought the Little Brothers to Latin America in 1959 and spent much of his life in our continent. He lived in Argentina where the Little Brothers suffered under the dictatorships, several of them martyred for their solidarity with the poor.
In Venezuela he lived in community of Bojó, in the western part of the country. For a time he shared his home with Pedro, an un-churched twenty-year old. In response to this he wrote a book for Carlos – and for all of us, Gather Together in My Name. Published by Orbis Books in 1987, it is regrettably out of print.
I had decided to spend today as a day of prayer and personal retreat but I had no idea what I would read.
Opening Facebook I discovered that Little Brother Arturo had died. I quickly sought out this book which I had read many years ago and which I had brought with me to Honduras.
I went through the book, looking at my notations and found myself challenged, but filled with joy. I found some responses to questions on how I am to live here.
Who am I – as a Christian?
Christians are persons who discover that they are loved, and find that the best response they can give, the only way to say “thanks” for the love they receive is the response of loving. The very need to love leads them not to refuse any proposal, any path that seems to them to be a good one for building communion….
if you really love, if you been captured by the love of Christ, you throw yourself into the battle for communion, but you’re on the lookout jot to lose the essential thing: love for human beings. (pp 137-8)
It all starts with God’s love –not with any ideology, not even with any doctrinal content. It all starts with the fact, with the experience of God’s love which urges us on (2 Corinthians 5:14).
What does Christ want us to share?
Today I’d say that the important thing is to share in Christ’s ideal, which can be summed up in one phrase: “to build communion by taking cognizance of uncommunion.” This is crucial, and I want to stress it with you: Christ’s ideal is to make communion where there is uncommunion. (pp. 81-82)
All around me I see uncommunion: poor families suffering for lack of land and work’ farmers worrying about the lack of rain and what that might mean for their families; victims of violence who feel alone and without any source of help, especially from the government and police; people in the streets frustrated by the lack of accountability of government officials in the light of serious monetary scandals; people in church separated because of those leaders at many levels who don’t want to share or allow others to participate; and so much more.
How can I be present so that communion may become possible?
What am I called to?
… all whom Jesus calls are called to one thing alone: to discover a relationship with our Father by building a communion of brothers and sisters, to bring it about in some way or another that human relationships change….
Our betrayal of the Gospel is such that we have failed sufficiently to reflect that Christ’s interest is not so much that of getting the hungry something to eat as it is of taking a diabolical relationship and making a love relationship of it. (p. 183)
And what to do?
First of all, one ought to form a clear notion that life has not been bestowed on us in order to make money to be well off. Our raison d’être, as the French say, our reason for being, is to become brothers and sisters…
The second thing is not to refuse political tasks that bear directly on eliminating justice in the world, and helping human beings to become brothers and sisters…. what counts is live. What counts is the real desire to struggle for communion.
The third thing to do is to “be compassionate” (Luke 6:36(. Well, it’s not actually something to “do,” because we don’t get to be compassionate just by making up our minds to be so. Being compassionate is a result of something…. The “compassionate heart” — particular sensitivity toward sisters and brothers who have been left behind, been left out — is the gift of Christ to his friends, and is the most characteristic sign that someone is Christ’s friend. (pp. 26-28)
Where do I go from here?
The first step I see is to keep reminding myself of God’s love and opening myself to my brothers and sisters her.
Only God knows.