The letter written by the General Delegate of the Nazarene Fraternities in 2018 on the occasion of the 25th anniversary of its creation gives a broad outline of what this Association is and what motivates us to live it in the concrete of life
Dear Brothers and Sisters, members of the Nazarene Fraternities.
With fraternal greetings, I invite you to celebrate with joy the twenty-fifth anniversary of the official creation of the Association of Nazarene Fraternities. On behalf of the General Council and our Institute, I would like to encourage each member and each Fraternity to bless and thank God for the graces he poured into the Institute and the Church over these twenty-five years through our Association of Nazarene Fraternities and with the charism of Venerable Brother Gabriel, which we share as a family, inspired by Nazareth.
I think it’s worth recalling Article 1 of our Life Project, which fundamentally defines our presence in the Church:
“The Nazarene Fraternities were born from the radiance of Brother Gabriel Taborin’s charism around the Brothers of the Holy Family and from the spiritual sensitivity of certain Lay people who, having come into contact with this charism, perceived in it a sure, accessible and up-to-date way of living out their own vocation to holiness, inspired by the mystery of Nazareth.
It is a sign of the times, a gift of the Spirit to the Church, which we have discovered in the Church since the Second Vatican Council.
The Nazarene Fraternities are constituted as an Association of the Faithful in the Church, associated with the Institute of the Brothers of the Holy Family of Belley, in accordance with C.D.C. canon 677, 2.
The General Council of the Institute, following an orientation of the General Chapter of 1989, decided the creation of the Association Fraternités Nazaréennes, in its meeting of 7 and 8 January 1993. Their existence and their relationship with the Institute are recognised in art. 9 of its 1995 General Directory”. (Life Project, 1)
When we contemplate the life of the Nazarene Fraternities in the panorama of these twenty-five years, with a joyful heart we can sing today with Psalm 125: “The Lord has done marvellous things for us; we rejoice”.
I invite you to recall the beginning of our Nazarene Fraternity associated with a Religious Community of Brothers, when we were looking for ways and means, how to do things and how to organise ourselves, to understand the proposal made to us and arrive at the Christian charismatic response that the Institute offers us. There were times, sometimes long ones, when we experienced the uncertainty of setting out on the road, of not knowing what to do. The first years of uncertainty in the life of the Nazarene Fraternities came to mind, when we even had to agree on the name the Association should have, a name definitively decided at the International Meeting in 2003 at Villa Sagrada Familia, San Antonio, Córdoba, Argentina.
Many times we discussed amongt ourselves that we don’t know for sure why we joined the Fraternity or how we managed to stay in it! And with a strong sense of family, we discover that today Christ is fulfilling his words: “These are my mother and my brothers. Whoever does the will of my Father in heaven, he is my brother and sister and mother” (Mt 12:48), and we find ourselves with the gift of a new, unsuspected, wonderful family that knows no horizons, sponsored in Nazareth. It is the family of God, filled with all kinds of gifts and people, without distinction of race or colour: brothers, sisters, friends. What a profusion of graces! What a wealth of people, encounters and places! What Nazarene harmony in the most disparate distances and the most diverse cultures! It’s as if we had grown up in the same house: Argentina, Brazil, Ecuador, Colombia, Mexico, Uruguay, Burkina Faso, Benin, the Philippines, France, Italy, Spain, a geographical Babel that speaks the same language: that which is learned in the Family of Nazareth, which expresses the same familiar gestures of prayer, work, love and peace.
We can appreciate the fruitfulness of the Spirit which covered Mary in Nazareth and which, transcending all calculations, race, situation and gender, is manifested today in 44 Nazarene Fraternities, with 190 brothers/sisters committed as associate members of our Institute and a total of 500 members spiritually resident in Nazareth. We can truly say: thank you, Father, for the gift of your family. Thank you, fruitful Father.
And during these twenty-five years, we have discovered that it is He who takes care of the family so that every day it lives in the newness and fruitfulness of the Gospel. And in the new family of the Fraternity, through each member, he invites us to discover that in communion, united, it is very easy to have only one God and to adore him, and at the same time he warns us that, when God is lacking, everything can be God. And to take care of us, he gathers us regularly in the meetings of the local Fraternity, he waits for us in the eyes of the brother and sister, he cares for us, he talks to us, he embraces us, he comforts us. And every 6 years he brings us together for an International Fraternal Meeting to show us, with paternal tenderness and a variety of experiences and intuitions, the lines that guide and orientate our journey, the attitudes and gestures that, with fraternal attention, soften awkward situations, the proposals and experiences that aim to break up monotony or encourage life. And we have travelled with joy and hope to Cordoba in Argentina (2003), where we defined our life project, then to Valladolid (2009), where we deepened our spirituality, and finally to Buenos Aires (2015), where we reviewed the progress of our Fraternities. With joy, we feel that the fraternal impulse reduces the distances and annihilates the inconveniences. Always as a family we say: thank you Father for the meeting.
We can discover in each local Fraternity that in the family spirit, by virtue of being in Nazareth, it is there that God the Father shows himself to be close, where he seeks the heart more than the mind. In this way, our Nazarene home reminds us, through the vital gestures of the Holy Family, that the fruit of life is spiritual childhood. We must be like children, so that the greatness of God, who dwells in the house of Mary, in our house of Nazareth, can act. In a family spirit, he reminds us that to live as an adult, calculating results, programming tasks, is to remain in bloom without ever bearing fruit. We can say: thank you Father for silent efficiency.
And we can also thank the Father for the Brothers of the religious community to which we are united. Let us ask them to show us, and that we may discover in these Brothers, the love of God the Father in living gestures of dedication, simplicity and service; in gestures of brotherhood. May we help each other, Brothers and Lay people, to grow and encourage each other to accept God’s call to live our faith in a vocational response of love, in a charismatic community expressed in simple gestures of brotherhood, faithful to the charism of the Venerable Brother Gabriel. Let us ask the Father that together we may know how to update the service of our charism today in the Church and in the society in which we live.
On this anniversary, we beg the Father to continue to call young people and adults to appreciate the ecclesial charism given to us in the Nazarene Fraternity. In the simplicity of the Nazarene Fraternities, we can see that Christ is trying to reveal us the mystery of the Kingdom of God, so hidden from the wise and powerful. May we accept it and enjoy it as a family. Thank you, silent and surprising Father.
And bless the Father for the members of the Fraternities who have gone before us. We saw their firm trust in the Father’s mercy, their serenity as they left to receive the last merciful embrace they were waiting for with faith. With such perseverance we united as a Nazarene Brotherhood in prayer for their health, for their state of mind, for those who cared for them! We can see in the simplicity of their lives in the Fraternity that the Lord’s words are fulfilled: “Whoever wants to save his life will lose it; but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it”. (John 16:25). We have been able to experience the value of prayer, its importance in our lives, its miraculous effectiveness in accepting the transforming power of the Spirit and the strength of the divine presence. We thank him because in them, so freely and so surprisingly, God so often stimulates our response and revives our call. Thank you, good Father.
As brothers and sisters, we can ask the Father to show his love in all families, especially in those who come into contact with us, the same ones he meets in our lives. In our brief encounters with these people, may they perceive God’s presence in their lives, their loving presence in the family. I invite you to ask him to show his boundless generosity: May our Fraternities allow Christ to manifest himself alive and fruitful in initiatives and commitments, so that we can see that he is the one who accompanies and guides our charismatic mission. We are called to offer to the Church and to society the humble service of the Nazarene Fraternity, which manifests itself in catechesis, education and liturgical worship, as the charism of the Institute impels us. May our local Church rejoice in the Nazarene benefits of our availability. Let us remember and present to the Lord our blood relatives, so many silent witnesses to the gifts and presence of God. Let us not forget the friends who accompany and share so many facets and experiences of our vocational journey. Thank you, Father of the Fraternity.
Let us therefore celebrate in each local Fraternity, in the humility and simplicity of Nazareth and always in a family spirit, this SILVER JUBILEE that our Association is accomplishing. That in our personal prayer, in the National Meetings, in the spiritual retreats, we express our gratitude to the Father for all his gifts and the supplication entrusted to the Holy Family so that it can prolong today in our lives the response of love that it offered familiarly in Nazareth. May Venerable Brother Gabriel help us to live in the Church and in society the service and gift of the charism that he received with such dedication and joy.
Happy 25th anniversary.
Rome, 26 February 2018.
Brother Francisco Cabrerizo (Brother Paco)