World Day for Consecrated Life
Circular Letter of the Prior General
The talent of Hospitality
2 February 2017
To all the Brothers and Communities of the Order
As we prepare to celebrate the World Day for Consecrated Life on 2 February, I would like to send my best wishes to all the Brothers of the Order and all the consecrated men and women working on our mission, and forming part of our Hospitaller Family of Saint John of God. This day will give us the opportunity to celebrate our Religious consecration and give thanks to God for our vocation following the charism of Hospitality that we have been given.
Over the past two years we have been constantly insisting on the need to conduct a process of discernment throughout the Order, looking forward to the future of our Institution. It is certainly very important for us to embark on and carry through this important process, to be able to keep alive the charism and mission of Hospitality in the manner of Saint John of God. We have to review and revise everything: our consecration and identity, our mission, and our structures.
Above all else, if we are to make the process successful, we have to conduct a discernment of our consecration, our way of life, and our identity as Brothers of Saint John of God. We must also review and revise our organisational structures, our Apostolic Centres, our Care Services and so many other aspects, while never forgetting that these are the means we employ to pursue our vocation and our mission. They are means, and as such, they can change, and indeed throughout our history this has been done many times. Many Centres and Services have even disappeared altogether, and this will continue to happen for various reasons. But the mission will always be present, for its essence ranges far beyond structures at any given time. As I have said on other occasions, the apostolic mission that we are called to perform will continue to remain topical and relevant in other ways and with other means, even if we have no more Centres and Services of our own. We cannot enclose the mission of Hospitality in a few centres and facilities, even though these have always been the preferred means of performing our mission, but no more than that: just a means to an end.
What will certainly help us to preserve the Charism and mission of Hospitality, and make it live on into the future as we remain faithful to what the Holy Spirit and the Church are asking of us, is to bear witness to our consecration, lived with joy, commitment, and self-giving. In this respect, we are really betting on our future. As consecrated men, we are all called to be prophets, signs of the presence of the Kingdom of God through our Charism of Hospitality. In a sense, we are provocateurs and announcers of God’s love for all men and women, through Hospitality. Today, this is an urgent mission, which is much more than having Centres, and demands simple, but significant, gestures and actions, which tell the world that Hospitality is the only alternative to a hostile, selfish and violent world. This is the way in which, as consecrated Brothers, we can build up the great universal brotherhood that God our Father dreamed of, and which lies at the very heart of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
If we are capable of understanding and living our consecration in this way, my Brothers, I have no doubt that the future of the Order will be guaranteed, in one way or another. I know that sometimes we may suffer from discouragement and weariness. Today, on the World Day for Consecrated Life, I would like to encourage all to hold your heads high, to recover the enthusiasm and joy of our Religious vocation and to renew your commitment to our Lord who is certainly continuing to call us. The Church and the world, our Co-workers and the Guests in our Centres, are all placing their hopes in us, anxious to see us as prophets and witnesses to Hospitality. This is what we are all called to be, each one of us in whatever situation we live in. It is not so much a matter of busying ourselves by doing many things, but rather of being signs, by the fact of being present, with each one of us doing what we are called to do, according to our age and responsibilities.
This will be a year of preparation for the Provincial Chapters. Let us begin there, Brothers. Let us be bold. Let us put away our old self, and clothe ourselves with the new self (Cf. Eph. 4,22-24). Let us put behind us the attitudes which are holding us up, which are making us selfish, focusing only on ourselves; let us shake off fear, and the reasoning we indulge in to justify our positions. The Lord is continuing to call us and is waiting for us to respond to Him. He has given us the talent of Hospitality (Cf. Mt. 25,14-30) so that we can dedicate ourselves wholeheartedly to it, and we must not cheat Him, which would be cheating ourselves.
In 2015, we celebrated the Hospitaller Vocation Year, and when it ended I told you that every year should be a “Hospitaller Vocation Year”. And I want to repeat it again. This year is also one, in which we must live our vocation fully and ensure that, with our example and in every possible way, we will continue to invite others under the motto “Come and see Hospitality”.
Once again, I send you my best wishes for the World Day for Consecrated Life on the liturgical Feast of the Presentation in the Temple, the Feast of light and consecration to the Father. As Brothers of Saint John of God, may we all enlighten the world by bearing witness to Hospitality, as St John of God did!
United in our Lord and St John of God I send you my fraternal and Hospitaller best wishes.
Bro. Jesús Etayo