When Saint Francis discovered in Christ the meaning of his life, he felt the urgency of communicating with joy, the "treasure he had found", because love tends to expand.
We too, Franciscan Missionary Sisters of the Sacred Heart, heirs of the spirit of Saint Francis feel the need to better integrate our life with the laity, offering them our charismatic richness as an instance of growth in love and an invitation to participate in our evangelizing mission.
The experience of the Christian mystery is inexhaustible in the Church: from the integration of the different charisms the face of Christ is manifested to the world.
Religious receive from the laity their sense of the reality, their peculiar way of living the faith, their human richness, and their vision of life. The laity, for their part, expect from religious motivations to deepen the meaning of life, proposals of lasting and transcendent values and an authentic witness of spiritual life.
Briefly we present the life of a community of lay people associated with the Franciscan Missionary Sisters of the Sacred Heart, in the city of Lima, Peru, accompanied by the religious fraternity. During the time of health contingency, there has been an urgent need to develop visual material to deepen, by means of videoconference and other, the accompaniment and the space of formation of our lay associates; extending the invitation to other fraternities present in Latin American countries.
The visual audio material assumes the processing of texts and the choice of priests or other people for the presentation of the topics; in this way it makes good use of social networks, which, in the period of strict isolation, were the tool, as well as for prayer and for the emotional support and spiritual accompaniment of the members of the fraternity, who suffer losses, anguish, loneliness and in some cases depression due to fear and lack of interpersonal relationships.
As a very positive sign, in this epidemiological scenario, people receive the vaccine against Covid 19, which allows the reduction of restrictions, and experience, for the soul and body, the benefit of the encounter in the presence, a true cause of joy both for the fraternity of the laity and for religious fraternity. These gatherings give rise to mixed feelings, on the one hand the joy of seeing one another, of listening to one another, but also the great nostalgia for the physical absence of the members of the lay fraternity, called to the Father’s house.
Like the lay faithful, "they are called by God to contribute, from within in a leaven way, to the sanctification of the world through the exercise of their tasks, guided by the evangelical spirit, and thus manifest Christ to others, mainly with the witness of their lives and with the radiance of their faith, hope and charity..." (Cf. Christifidelis Laici n L 59) The practice of this fraternal dimension enriches the path of formation and healing of the laity associated with the religious fraternity of Lima, under the protection of Our Lady of Perpetual Help, organised to support those most affected by the economic crisis caused by the pandemic.
Following the words of Saint Albert Hurtado, "giving without ever getting tired", they share food, clothes, utensils and even money, delivered by bank transfer. In this way Divine Providence makes itself present and walks through the streets of Lima in the district of San Isidro, through the charity of so many people. The donations are shared with another religious congregation, whose apostolate is social pastoral care in the Villa Maria del Trionfo district, one of the most impoverished sectors of the capital, and also with many brothers and sisters without the necessary, who have manifested their need.
With the necessary precautions, the soul of the people is also nourished, with "The Bread of Life", the Eucharist that reaches out to the sick and the elderly in the sector, when they ask for it. In this way, the communion of the Church with the most vulnerable in the environment, who are the o, is strengthened.
Social networks have made it possible to bring the brothers and sisters closer together in the time of greater isolation, from last year until the present time. This is why gratitude flows to God, the Creator of all good, who moves hearts and inspires, through his Spirit, to do good. In this last period of the liturgical year in which the readings of the daily liturgy make present the second coming of the Lord and ask to be prepared, with a clean soul and hands full of good works, "For I was hungry and you gave me food... sick and you visited me... come, blessed by my Father... "(Cf. Mt. 25:35-44), every resource, well employed, gives glory also to God.
Nothing can paralyze the Spirit. Evangelization continues its journey, often uphill, overcoming its own discouragement and lack of use of social networks. In this context, painful, the wise words of our dear founder Venerable Father Gregory Fioravanti also shine: "Marvellous are the ways of the Lord and no one has the right to ask why in this way and not otherwise…" (F.1, p.16)
For the glory of God and the salvation of souls!