Let’s go to “Como” to our DNA -Genesis & Pay heed to our Religious Life!

On June 12th, we will be celebrating the solemnity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, our Guanellian family’s DNA-Genesis born out of the heart of a merciful Father. In fact, in our founder’s life, we can trace 30 little sermons on the Sacred Heart invoked in many titles. In Asia, we begin our new pastoral year from June onwards whereas in America it begins in September, therefore I want to focus on “our origins,” especially the attitude and style of community, the way they evangelize, handle problems, etc.
We look at the panoramic vision and mission of Como: The first generation of our confreres and sisters, along with our poor, stayed under the same umbrella like in Noah’s ark. Kindergarten; educational and professional schools; printing press; homes for the elderly; home for good children; agricultural colonies; parishes; chaplaincies; oratories; after-school programs; assistance to immigrants; homes for orphans, etc.
Analyzing the human resources, the average age would have been 20 to 30 and full of energy and enthusiasm, creativity and joy, they were able to spread the charism and mission through sacrifices and with heroic virtues. But we have to take into account the reality of the two congregations during the time of evangelization – with a different mentality, different people and language, and way of understanding.
Do we think that these communities were without problems? Certainly, our first Guanellian communities had problems due to weak personalities; poor dedication to the spiritual life, meditation, visits, spiritual exercises, and reading; abuses in the area of relationships and in the use of food and alcohol; reckless excesses of grumbling and gossip; tensions in the fraternal life and expense reporting; reluctance in the practice of obedience; excessive autonomy in the mission; difficulty of relationship between the Servants and the Daughters; long silences and scarcity of communication with superiors; mediocre skills; moral issues with even some scandal; lack of tradition, etc. Henceforth, we could notice an underlying problem of “Identity” and “pastoral nature”- what kind of religious do we want to be and which type of ministry do we want to take over?
But in spite of these difficulties and problems, the confreres and sisters were very open to live and absorb the genuine spirit of St. Louis Guanella. Therefore, our vocation, in and of itself, does not consist of merely organizing our lives, but to share it and to be poor like them. For real monks, whose first work is to be always of God, witnessing to our origins with the spirit of “Prayer and Suffering.” The modern monks are those who spend time between contemplation of Christ and service to the poor in action. The importance given by Father Guanella and the tradition of our first common prayer was “when you are not praying you work, when you are not working you pray.”
Finally, the community and mission: Father Guanella always insisted on growing in the “Bond of Charity” and sense of belonging with an attitude of benevolence and courtesy during times of opposition and conflict. I admire the wisdom of our founder to read and understand others in three perspectives: persons are “saveable, redeemable and educable.” Don Guanella was more practical and convinced that there is not much time to waste; the keyword is to do, do quickly and serve immediately because “Caritas Christi Urget Nos”- the Charity of Christ impels us.
Fr. Soosai Rathinam