At a recent family gathering one of my brothers cheerfully informed us that the word siphon has been defined wrong in countless dictionaries. Another brother quickly produced a dictionary to verify his words. Sure enough, the concept of gravity had been left out.
It’s odd to think that what many a gasoline thief so easily grasps has been improperly defined all these years. But who would thereby call into question siphons themselves? While lexicons are straightening themselves out, people would still do well to keep their gasoline tanks locked in shifty neighborhoods. That’s because the reality of something is not the same as its concept. In fact the latter is dependent upon the former. You define things that exist.
In his May 1st Vatican Communiqué, the Holy Father spoke of “the need to redefine the charism of the Congregation of the Legionaries of Christ”. He didn’t say the Legion has no charism at all, or that its charism is somehow up for grabs. Rather, right then and there he put his finger on the heart of the Legion’s charism by identifying its “true core, that of the ‘militia Christi’ that characterizes the apostolic and missionary activity of the Church.”
In his June 16 letter naming Archbishop Velasio De Paolis, CS, as his personal Delegate, the Holy Father words were slightly different, while maintaining his same line of thought. He spoke of “the need and urgency of a path of in-depth revision of the Institute’s charism”. Certainly an in-depth revision implies the serious matter of culling; but it’s with the aim of protecting and perfecting what’s already there, something good that underlies and inspires the entire process.
I remember well the dislikable family undertaking of culling blueberries from which nobody was easily excused. The u-picking part was fine, as we kids would amply sample the warm fruit off the branch while we filled our buckets. We were often cranky and tired by the time we got home. Nobody felt much like beginning the next lengthy step, though we knew we were doomed to complete it that same day. All hands were needed for the painstaking process of first washing the berries, then sieving them while picking out the rotten, green and squashed berries from the good ones, next patting them dry and lastly sealing them up in ziplock bags. Of course there’s also the very pleasant recollection of the many times we dived into the freezer in the middle of winter and successfully pulled forth yet another bag of frozen fruit so that we could have mouthwatering blueberry pancakes. The berries always seemed so fresh. Those happy memories would be enough to convince us to repeat the whole routine again next summer.
In all, the action of being culled is a very wholesome process. When the Legion has been culled it too will have fine fruits to offer through many a cold winter. But even now, the Church has acknowledged the abundant fruits of the Legion and Regnum Christi Movement. That’s because the founding charism, which is in fact a gift of the Holy Spirit (cf. John Paul II’s Apostolic Exhortation, Vita Consacrata, n. 36), is already living and active within them.
This sheds light on why the Legion and Regnum Christi Movement remain open to new members and to ordaining deacons and priests. You don’t revise what’s rotten: you simply throw it out. Our precious blueberries didn’t suddenly turn sour and inedible while we were culling them. The good ones remained good throughout the whole process and were the whole purpose of the culling in the first place.
How is this culling going to take place? Above all through an in-depth revision of the Legion’s Constitutions, hence the specific mission of the Delegate of the Holy Father. The July 9th decree, approved by the Holy Father and signed by Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, Secretary of State, specifies that “the paramount task of the Papal Delegate is to initiate, accompany and complete the revision of the Constitutions.” It makes sense that this is to be the pathway for the Legion’s renewal since the authentic tradition of an institute is “present in its rule, constitutions and statutes” (Apostolic Exhortation Vita Consacrata, n. 36). This same decree specifies that members at all levels of the Legion are to participate in the revision of the Constitutions. No doubt it will be challenging to consult so many people, but the results should be very enriching.
As a consecrated member of the Regnum Christi Movement, I feel deep gratitude towards the Holy Father for appointing a Delegate to see this delicate process through, in all its stages. The Pope’s fatherly interest and closeness to us along our current purifying pathway, provides great security and peace that what’s good will be kept safe and what needs to go will be duly culled.