The vocation of the brother is part of the answer that God gives to the absence of brotherhood which is wounding the world today. At the root of a brother’s vocation lies a profound experience of solidarity that essentially matches that of Moses before the burning bush: he discovers himself as the eyes, ears and heart of God, the God who sees the oppression of God’s people, who hears their cry, feels their anguish and comes down to liberate them. In this intimate experience, the Brother hears the call: “Come, I am sending you to Pharaoh to bring my people out of Egypt.” (Ex 3:7-10). Therefore, the dimension of communion is closely linked in the brother to a fine sensitivity for everything that affects the least privileged of people; those oppressed by various forms of injustice, abandoned on the margins of history and progress, those who, ultimately, are less likely to experience the good news of God’s love in their lives.
The first ministry that brothers develop in the Church as religious is “to remind the baptised of the fundamental values of the Gospel” and “the need to respond with holiness of life to the love of God poured into their hearts by the Holy Spirit (Rom 5:5)”. All other services and ministries offered by the various forms of consecrated life make sense only when rooted in this first ministry.
This purpose, of being a sign, is essential to consecrated life and determines its orientation: it does not exist “for itself”, but as a part of the ecclesial community.
Religious consecration itself, which presents life as a witness to the absoluteness of God, and also as a process of openness to God and people in the light of the Gospel, is a call to all the faithful, an invitation to each person to orient his or her own life along a radical path, in different situations and states of life, open to the gifts and invitations of the Spirit.
Religious brothers have emphasised the dignity of services and ministries related to the multiple needs of human beings. They carry out these ministries from the unity of their consecration, making them the centre of their experience of God and performing them with quality and competence. (Identity and Mission of the Religious Brother in the Church, 4 October 2015)
Fr General Arturo Sosa SJ affirmed the role of brothers in the religious and apostolic body of the Society of Jesus in a letter to the whole Society on the 400th death anniversary of St Alphonsus Rodriguez SJ, the patron saint of Jesuit brothers. “Jesuit brothers offer a prophetic witness within religious community, in the Church, and in the diversity of social situations in which the apostolic work of the Society of Jesus is realised. Following Christ in the evangelical radicality of religious life, they give clear witness to the free gift of the whole person to the service of other human beings,” he wrote. “Brothers in the Society today engage fully in a wide variety of ministries and hold positions of leadership in them. They remind us, not so much of functions, but of the depth of consecration, the loving, joyful dedication of one’s whole self to the Lord in the vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience. It is as consecrated persons who are not clerics that brothers become a prophetic sign to both ordained members of the Society and lay partners in mission.”
Word of God
For all who exalt themselves
will be humbled,
and those who humble themselves
will be exalted.
help me to enter into dialogue with you.
In this dialogue may I grow in self-knowledge,
open and receptive to your call
to come and serve.
Our Lady of the Way Pray for us.
St Alphonsus Rodriguez Pray for us.