(Madrid, 20 September 2021) – “It is necessary to contemplate the project of the architect God in his studio and then move on to the workshop to realise it with our celebrations and work”. Santiago Agrelo, Archbishop Emeritus of Tangier (Morocco) and a Franciscan religious, at the meeting of the Redemptorist missionaries in the monastery of Espino (Santa Gadea del Cid, Burgos) from 13 to 17 September.
This year, it was possible to have the retreat because it was prevented by the Coronavirus pandemic last year. A total of 22 participants from various communities and one lay collaborator took part. The presence of postulants and deacons should be highlighted.
According to Fr. Miguel García Leyva, CSsR, “in developing the themes explained by Mgr. Santiago Agrelo, what most attracted our attention and challenged us was the spirit, the life, the experience of being ‘evangelised’ which he transmitted, always supported by God, Christ and the Spirit”. And he added: “It is impossible to think of our Christian life without the mystery of the Trinity”. For this reason, in the words of García Leyva, “Agrelo insisted so much on moving from a Christianity of ideology (of norms and rites) to vital experience, to the encounter with Christ”.
“Our vocation is to learn to be Christ Jesus, in the body of Christ, which is the Church. We are chosen, blessed, called, called, sent… to be, with Jesus and like Jesus, the place of God’s compassion and mercy, the image of God in mission,” explained García Leyva.
The Redemptorist missionary also recounted other relevant questions that they reflected on in the monastery of El Espino with Agrelo: “Christians need a mystical, Trinitarian, ecclesial experience. Identity is given to us by God with his grace, by the Son with his call and by the Church with its recognition”. In the words of Santiago Agrelo: “It is urgent to know God’s love, to remember it, to celebrate it, to imitate it, to allow ourselves to be evangelised and converted”. And he insisted: “We have not forgotten our way of believing, hoping and loving, disfiguring the face of God and Christ in his Church”.
The Archbishop Emeritus of Tangier continued: “The Church cannot be separated from Christ, the body from the head. The Church, as God’s project, is born believing, listening, learning and obeying… One cannot speak of the Church without communion with God and with humanity”.
And he concluded: “The recipients of our mission are the poor, those who have always been excluded. The poor and compassion belong to the landscape of Christian and religious life. We received the Gospel because of the poor and to bring it to the poor. We can never fail to evangelise them so that we can evangelise”.
According to Miguel García Leyva, the dynamic of the retreat was the classic one: celebrations in the church, conferences and personal work. In the church, each day, we prayed Lauds in the morning, the Sixth Hour at midday, and the Eucharist celebration before supper. The lectures were two a day: one in the morning and one in the afternoon—the rest of the time, personal interiorisation work. The monastery of El Espino and its surroundings greatly facilitated this task.
“On Tuesday, instead of the Sixth Hour, the burial of the ashes of Fathers Jesús Ibáñez, Cipriano Chaverri and Eulogio Belloso took place in our cemetery. It helped us to renew our historical memory as envoys and brothers, and to make it present as an evangelising commitment”, he added.
“Santiago (as he called himself) proposed to us the general theme: ‘Evangelised, to evangelise’. And this double reality appeared as an illuminating focus in all the talks: on the one hand, the observation of a Church without Christ, a Christianity without Jesus, without a community of believers, without a sense of community, without faith as a commitment to fight against evil, without ideology (norms, rites, traditions, customs…); and on the other hand, the faith of a Church without Christ, a Christianity without Jesus, without a community of believers, without a sense of community, without faith as a commitment to fight evil, without ideology (norms, rites, traditions, customs…).; and on the other hand, faith and the experience of a God who is creator, redeemer, sanctifier; that is to say, the mystery of the Holy Trinity, the Trinitarian dimension of all Christian life, the mystery of the folly and the excess of mercy with which God has loved us”, the Redemptorist missionary explained.
The topics covered were the following: God in mission (missionary God); Jesus, presence of God’s compassion; The religious community, sign and instrument of God in mission; Evangelised to evangelise; Love as a way of life; Return to Christ Jesus; Love of Christ in the Church; Called to be Church to make Church; Contemplating the Church we have to be; Let them make us Church; Blessed in hope. After the lectures, the preacher invited dialogue, and at times it was enlightening. The liturgical preaching was centred on the psalms and the readings of the day.