GENERAL COUNCIL F.I.C. - Prins Bisschopsingel 22, 6211 JX Maastricht, The Netherlands  Phone: *31 (0) 43 3508373
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04.01.2016 01:58:50 1549x read.
The present and the future of the Congregation, the hope and the reality.

“According to the commission of God given to me I laid the foundation. Let each man take care how he builds upon it” (1 Cor. 3:10).
To be open to the spirit of our Founders means we must rekindle in ourselves the impetus of the beginning and allow ourselves to be filled with the ardor of the apostolic preaching. The zeal of forming the church in the beginning came from the experienced presence of the Spirit of our risen Lord, like our Founders did.  To view the contemporary from within that perspective is to find courage and motivation within ourselves and from someone who faced all that life could do to him, including crucifixion in the presence of his mother just to bring us the Good news. 
Faced with contemporary relativism in a consequently fragmented society, we as FIC would have so much more to offer and so much for ourselves to believe in, if we realize that holiness is a message that convinces without words as the living reflection of the face of Christ.
Recalling the old days of religious life of FIC, lies in idealizing the past with good memories. Balancing our lives in view of our religious commitments especially as an FIC brother is more challenging, most of the time because our energy as an apostolic religious congregation are invested in our apostolic tasks. This is important, given the fact that as FIC we are committed to continue the mission of Jesus in the spirit of our founders. Nevertheless, we need to remind ourselves from time to time that each of us has only one limited pool of time and energy.
Too easily we can fall out of balance by expending the maximum of our quality time and energy in our apostolic tasks, or on something else and simply neglect community and prayer. While that might never degenerate into complete negligence, we may gradually adopt a very minimalist approach to community. From time to time we may feel shocked that those with whom we live everyday have changed or rearranged this or that without our having been consulted. Conveniently we might forget to task ourselves if we were sufficiently present, available and interested when those decisions were being formulated and then implemented. 
Community life can be joyful and it can be painful; at times it can be the greatest of blessings and at times the heaviest of burdens. But never has there been a guarantee that it would be easy. As long as we are human, working to live closely with other people, appropriateness and balancing in approaching our community life will continue to be of significant challenges. Hence community life  can be healthy or dysfunctional. 
A significant challenge facing brothers is to decide if this present time is blessed or burdensome. The ambiguity of the present cannot be lightly dismissed; it is a reality we experience. As brothers we know our past, we believe in what we have done, and we celebrate the value of the contributions we have made. It could be assumed that knowledge, belief, values and celebration would provide some clarity and sense of direction for the future
As brothers we must make an interpretative decision about what we have experienced in recent years, and then decide if it is for us a death unto death or a death unto life. Is our present experience merely the skeleton of a life committed to the Lord or is it a living celebration of the Paschal Mystery? How we interpret our experiences and which decision we make based on that interpretation are critically important for the quality of our life in the future. If we have experienced life or a death in religious life, we must acknowledge that and continue our journey towards the future, lest we become like scavengers circling the body of the past looking for salvageable morsels. 
The quality of our common life will have significant influence in shaping the future of brotherhood within the church, if life together can be a powerful and prophetic expression of hope for a world which appears to be losing its ability to believe that people truly can live peacefully with one another. Even more, brothers must give this witness to a world in which accepting and trusting one another are increasingly important elements of our lives. Our common life has the potential to proclaim the essential goodness of humanity and to affirm the fundamental value and importance of building and maintaining relationships on the basis of that goodness. The intensity of that proclamation and the integrity of that affirmation depend upon the quality and authenticity of our community life.
Common life and relationships are integral to the identity of the brothers. The very title “brother” articulates a primary relationship, a commitment to be and remain in relationship with others, a dedication to building community. If people do not see us “brothering” one another in community and then in our apostolic tasks, why would they believe what we claim to profess? Why then would anyone ever be attracted to our way of life as a serious means of following the Lord and continuing Jesus’ mission?
Our common life as brothers is also a place of hope. Community can be a source of energy from which we refresh our efforts in ministry. It can support our convictions that those efforts do make a difference in this world, even though very often we do not see immediate results in our ministries. St Paul reminds us, “If we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience” (Rom 8:25). The waiting is easier if we support and build up one another in patience. As brothers, our life together must demonstrate our belief in the value of the religious life.
In shaping our lives as FIC for the future there should be some elements which would encourage brotherhood: the nature and practices of our vows, the specific ministries we choose, our ability to sustain them and how we plan our lives as religious in the light of our changing demographics.    
Bro. Patrick K. Binneh

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