Holy Thursday Reflection: Poverty and Community (Concha Camacho rscj)

"Whilst in probation - wrote an aspirant [probanist] - I received this picture that helped me and marked my life of prayer. On the back of it, Concha wrote in her own hand."

Jesus saw that a great crowd was following him. He said to Philip,
Where can we buy bread for them to eat?” He said this to try him,
for he himself knew what he would do.  (John 6:5-6)
The disciples when they made decisions were aware of their own inadequacy, but acted without hesitation, trusting that Jesus, although he tried them, knew what he was going to do.  

God tries us also when he leaves us to search out together by what means to act according to the priorities we have set; we must in our turn trust that he knows better than we what he himself is going to do.

[First of all, we have to re-live this process together, following the way that leads to an attitude of poverty, that is to say of hope; since poverty is hope. This path is lived in community, for in community we experience the poverty of searching together.]

We shall try to acquire discernment.  The community must help each individual and all must help one another, to see our situation more clearly; and may everyone feel loved no matter what tensions may arise, balancing our priorities with our respect for persons.

In community we must form one another to be true educators; but we can educate others only insofar as we are genuinely human, simple, united, and so able to react to a challenging world, able to make our influence felt.

The community must, in a way suitable to religious, look on secularization as a fact which can help us live ever more in the Presence of God and meet him everywhere.  But living before the face of God demands renouncing idols.  Only by community discernment can we open ourselves to true values, [and] live before the face of God without idols.

Community will also make us more open in an international way; our own poverty makes us open to others.  Communities cannot afford to be narcissistic; nations cannot afford to be closed in on themselves and self-satisfied; they need others.  The most difficult renunciation we can make is that of our own culture.  This kind of renunciation we must make; we must live in international understanding, eager to learn from others and to be mutually helpful.

We must also be open to the needs of the world, concerned for suffering countries.  Let us be where God wants us, but ready also to help as communities those whom he inspires to work for the most deprived.  

All our priorities are closely related to one another, and all must be put into practice by discerning and loving communities.

At this liturgical season when with Our Lady we wait for Jesus to come and unite us all in a great hope, we are experiencing a religious life which results from our will to renewal in genuine hope —  genuine because it is poverty.

Concha Camacho rscj
Superior General
Closing Conference
1970 General Chapter
** This excerpt and photo are from Concepción Camacho Fernández Cañedo (1927-2014):  Twelfth Superior General of the Society of the Sacred Heart (1970-1982), p. 50, 
written by Mari Blanca de Sivatte Algueró rscj (translated by Clare Balfour rscj).  Used with permission from the author.

Our Spirituality |The Sacred Heart Spiritual Tradition