The experienced guys meeting takes place annually in our Community. After about two and a half years of our journey in Community, we gather from all the different Cenacolo houses around the world in a place of pilgrimage, like Lourdes or Medjugorje, for a retreat based on true prayer, silence, and listening to the catechism. Here we can reflect and dig deeper within ourselves and see what level of our walk we are at. It enables us to return to our own fraternities more at peace and refreshed. It is also a school that teaches us why we do certain things in Community and enables us to return to our own fraternity more aware of our rule of being a guide to the less experienced guys in Community.
After a flight from Manchester to Lyon, journey to the middle of the French/Italian Alps, and through different dialogue with the brothers from the fraternity of Bari we arrived at Ars where the annual meeting of the experienced brothers was taking place. The theme chosen by the community was “The Encounter”, the same encounter as when the Cure d’Ars met the young shepherd where he indicated to him the road to the village where he had developed in holiness his ministry. The purpose of these days is to look inside ourselves and our souls and hearts so that we can understand our encounter with the community, with God, with ourselves, with our brothers and with the people “of the world”.
At this time different catechisms from Mother Elvira were chosen and were commented about by some of the priests and consecrated brothers of our community followed by moments of prayer, Eucharistic adoration, songs and dancing. During the meals and the free time we lived in silence in order to continue to think about what we had heard and in order to answer the many questions that in our past made us run away and hide ourselves in the false reality of our addiction. I particularly dug deep to understand my will to live, my awareness of my re-birth into a new life, to understand which are the doors still closed to the mercy and love of God, what is the quality of my prayer, of my charity and of my forgiveness ……….. briefly it was as though I saw myself reflected back, inside out and completely turned around. I can say that I have lived some beautiful moments, sometimes sorrowful and painful because I was weighed down inevitably by bad memories but at the end, thanks to a profound confession, I returned to my fraternity in Kendal aware of how much the rediscovery of faith has changed and saved me and finally helps me to look inside me without fear.
I thank the community once more for all it is enabling me to live and I thank God for the gift of a profound and consoling conversion.
I want to start by thanking the community for the opportunity to attend the experienced brothers meeting. It is marvellous to rediscover again and again how true it is that the community is a family. To meet again with joy the brothers with whom I spent the earlier part of my journey in community and to confirm that friendships built with God remain firm. It was a full week with many catechisms from our priests and guys who had chosen to live in community permanently. The thing that touched me the most was the prayer: a simple and poor prayer but that when prayed with heart makes us feel better, makes us more aware of the situation we are in and makes us better people. Throughout this week I could live everything closely thanks to the several, intense times of prayer. I am always astonished when I visit places like Ars, places of prayer, because they make me think of the people who left a big sign on history with their passage like the Cure d’Ars. People who don’t follow the world, who don’t try to do all that the world proposes only want to be remembered. Instead simple people poor and good who know how to love and for this receive so much back will be always remembered.