On April 10th I had a conference call with the Associates Committee (an advisory committee made up of associates and Brothers: Bill Gorman, Gail Dennig, Mike McGeehin, Barbara Ives, Mike Buckley, Bros. Paul Murray, Cornie Hubbuch, and Cosmas Rubencamp [chair]). We discussed several items, one of which was revisions to the original draft of Associate’s charism statement. If you recall, on January 23rd, I sent an email (“Charism Description Reflection”) asking that regional groups take time to reflect upon and discuss the original draft of the Associate’s charism description and make recommendations for revision, where necessary. The Associates Committee reviewed those revisions and have affirmed a new draft of “A Description of the Xaverian Charism as Lived by Xaverian Associates.” (The new Description is below).
Thank you to all those who contributed their thoughts and reflections. And a special thanks to Associate Gail Dennig, who authored this new draft based largely on the original, but also on many suggestions for revision and addition. I hope that individually and as a group we are able to continue our reflection on the charism description to the extent that it contributes to our identity as Associates and our experience of communion with each other and with the Xaverian Brothers.
As always, I encourage any thoughts in response to the statement. If you are so moved, I’d encourage folks to submit a brief written reflection to the new charism description that I can share, either through the next Newsletter or via the Living the Charism site.
A Description of the Xaverian Charism Preamble
(A preamble that captures a general description of the charism for Brothers, Associates, Collaborators)
We, Xaverian Brothers, associates, and collaborators are a true religious family, striving to fulfill the spiritual aspirations that Theodore James Ryken had for his Congregation. Following the path of our Founder, we are called to live ordinary lives that give witness to God’s unconditional love. We believe that the Xaverian calling is a way of being put in our place in the world, a place of humility and simplicity, from which we receive the grace to turn toward God, fall in love with God, and put ourselves in God’s service as followers of Jesus Christ. Within each distinctive life choice, we are further invited to attentiveness, simplicity, flexibility and openness to the common, unspectacular flow of everyday life. We unite ourselves to God through an integrated life of both contemplation and service. Through the Xaverian Way we are awakened by the Spirit of God to our own graced potential and freely offer that giftedness in service to the gospel. Through our ministry, in particular among the poor and the marginalized, we work to help others discover their own uniqueness so they, too, may “share the love of God with the world through their own giftedness.” In a spirit of hospitality, we try our utmost to be approachable and available, as true brothers and sisters who welcome others and accompany them in the joys and sorrows of their lives.
A Description of the Charism as Lived by Xaverian Associates
As Xaverian Associates we believe God is inviting us into the life of the Xaverian Brothers and we choose to accept the invitation to embrace the Xaverian Way. The spirit of the Xaverian charism animates our own vocations through following the ordinary way as exemplified by the founder, Theodore James Ryken. Through our vocation as Associates, we thereby extend the gospel values and diverse ministries of the Brothers through our ecclesial commitment as baptized Christians with the integration of the Xaverian Way into our universal call to holiness.
We endeavor to respond to and embrace Theodore James Ryken’s challenge to be formed by the “common, ordinary, unspectacular flow of everyday life” and recognize that becoming an Associate enlivens our desire to be a part of the Xaverian community and embrace its values which otherwise would be inaccessible to us.
As Associates we accept the Xaverian call with a different expression, yet with the same commitment to its charism, spirituality and values as the Brothers.
We believe that our life of gospel witness, lived individually, with families, neighborhoods and workplaces, is an answer to the call of the Holy Spirit. We are called together with the Xaverian Brothers to share, promote and extend this gift of the Holy Spirit through three commitments:
1. Daily Prayer
2. Outreach to the poor and marginalized
3. Communion with the Xaverian Brothers
As each Associate hears the call of the charism in his or her daily life, prayer forms and the movement toward contemplation will vary. Our uniqueness calls us to pray as we can and we embrace prayer as a conscious communal reflective practice found in the lives of both Mary and Martha. It is with sincerity of heart that we aspire to emulate Mary as we choose the “better part” by turning toward and falling in love with God.
We recognize a prayer life without movement outward toward involvement with the poor and marginalized can become sterile, therefore we commit to ministerial involvement. We embrace Ryken’s vision to “mutually help, encourage, and edify one another” and work together. Like Martha, we are impelled to place ourselves in humble service to others. As Associates we believe the gift we have received we give as gift.
Our association means we accept the Xaverian way and make it part of our lives. In doing so, we express our connection with the Brothers through their history, calling and life experiences. We accept that we are being put in our place to better learn through communion and service.
It is our hope that in communion with the Brothers and through service to the poor and marginalized a mutual and energizing commitment, affirmation and vocation transpire. We feel called, together with the Xaverian Brothers, to share, promote and extend the gift of the Holy Spirit, to work to recognize our ordinariness by acting in harmony with each other and by living with the knowledge that God has placed us here, in our place of holiness, in order to give back that which we have been given.
Version published: April 2013