From left to right: Fr. Juan Enrique, sss, novice master, Fr. Elibien Joseph, sss, lecturer of the week,
Ángel Pereira, 2nd year novice.
The Rule of Life, which came about as a response to the Second Vatican Council calling religious congregations and institutes to return to the sources, is the “Magna Carta” orienting the life of the Congregation, based on the guidelines to understand, deepen and live the whole Eucharist. This is our ideal as an Eymardian charismatic family (RL 1).
From 16 to 27 May 2022, I was at the Latin American Novitiate, Sete Lagoas, Brazil to guide two weeks of formation for the novices: a first week with Ángel Pereira, the only 2nd year novice, and the 2nd Week with the three 1st year novices: Abraham Rabel, Adán Timote and Gecson Araujo. Focusing on the Rule of Life numbers 1-20 the objective was: to approach to the Rule of Life of the Congregation from the perspective of Fr. Eymard’s Charism by rereading Eucharistic spirituality and the SSS mission in the light of the Second Vatican Council in order to discover the rich Eucharistic theology presented by the Rule of Life.
Fr Elibien and the 3 first-year novices
1. An integral vision of the Eucharist
In response to the call of the Second Vatican Council, which was inspired by the Spirit to renew the Church and Consecrated Religious Life, the Congregation undertook the thorough and demanding task during two general chapters, which resulted in drawing up, in relation to the first constitutions, the Rule of Life which were approved by the Holy See in 1984.
This fundamental document presents the spiritual and charismatic patrimony of the Founder to give it new meaning and constantly dynamize the spirituality and mission of the Congregation in a conciliar perspective, through appropriately and thoroughly taking into account the realities and needs pertaining to our historical epoch (RL 3).
2. A form of life characteristic of SSS communities
What is the lifestyle described by Our Rule of Life? Are we in tune with it and faithful to it? What witness do we pass on regarding our spiritual and missionary source?
The Rule of Life is a source that helps sss religious to contemplate the richness and breadth of the Mystery of the Eucharist in order to give meaning anew to life and to reinvigorate spirituality and the Eucharistic mission in the perspective of the Founder’s heritage. This is the goal of religious consecration (RL 15 and 102).
The question of continuing our patrimony entails awareness of one’s own sss identity, dynamically and creatively transmitting the spirituality of the Congregation; sharing through action, concrete works and witnessing in life the whole ideal and the Eucharistic mission in the Church and in today's society.
3. A challenging vision of our Eucharistic mission today
Our Magna Carta encompasses the richness of a Eucharistic theology as regards the Eucharist celebrated, adored and proclaimed (lived) to be visible signs of the divine presence in the world (Mt 28:19-20 / RL 7 and 21).
The challenge requires going back to the sources from the perspective of the Founder so that each sss community becomes truly a cenacle; that is, an atmosphere of fraternity, communion and prayer where evangelical and Eucharistic values truly reign. Furthermore, it will be a place where grace prevails through each brother’s effort to avoid forming structures of sin and diverting the evangelical path traced by the Rule of Life but endeavouring to build up the community (1Cor 12:4-7) .
My invitation promotes taking an interior look so that by each religious and also at the provincial / regional level the following questions are faced: How is the integral vision of the Eucharist being lived in the local community? Is the Eucharistic mission bearing fruit in its particular ecclesial and social context? Are we really in tune with the synodal Church’s proposal regarding listening internally and externally to the province/community?
Father Elibien Joseph, sss
Province of Saint John XXIII