« To believe that the other is our brother or sister
and to greet him or her as such is not meaningless.
The most concrete thing each of us can do. »
Our monasteries have in common that they live in a predominantly non-Christian environment, at the crossroads of the three great monotheistic religions and the plurality of cultures. They are thus stimulated to bear together a testimony of unity.
They are inserted at the heart of each particular Church whose graces, sufferings and aspirations they carry.
The words of Pope Francis during his various visits to these regions are a light for them to move forward together on a path of fraternity and spirituality.
On June 10, 2023, Pope Francis said:
In the Encyclical Fratelli tutti, I wrote: “Fraternity necessarily calls for something greater, which in turn enhances freedom and equality” (n. 103), since the one who sees the other as a brother or sister sees in him or her a face, not a number. The other is always “someone” who has dignity and merits respect, and not “something” to be used, exploited or thrown away. In our world torn apart by violence and war, tweaks and adjustments are not enough. Only a great spiritual and social covenant born from the heart and centered on fraternity can restore the sacredness and inviolability of human dignity as the core of relationships.
This does not require theories on fraternity but concrete gestures and shared decisions that make it a culture of peace. The question to ask ourselves is not what society and the world can give me, but what can I give to my brothers and sisters. When we return home, let us think of some concrete gesture of fraternity that we can make: reconciling with family members, friends and neighbours, praying for those who hurt us, recognizing and helping those in need, speaking words of peace at school, university or in society, “anointing” with closeness those who feel alone…
We should feel ourselves called to apply the balm of tenderness within relationships between persons and peoples that have become gangrenous. Let us not tire of crying out “no to war”, in the name of God and in the name of every man and woman who aspires for peace. I am reminded of some verses written by Giuseppe Ungaretti. In the midst of war, he felt the need to speak of brothers as “Trembling word/in the night/Leaf just born”. Fraternity is fragile and precious. Brothers and sisters are the anchor of truth in the stormy sea of conflicts that spread falsehood. To evoke brothers and sisters is to remind those who are fighting, and all of us, that the feeling of fraternity uniting us is stronger than hatred and violence. In fact, it unites everyone through the same pain. We start and start again from here, from the sense of “feeling together”, a spark that can rekindle the light that stops the night of conflicts.
To believe that the other is our brother or sister and to greet him or her as such is not meaningless. The most concrete thing each of us can do. Indeed, it means freeing myself from the poverty of believing that I am the only child in the world. It means, at the same time, choosing to overcome the mindset of partners or associates, who stay together only for the sake of personal advantage. It also means knowing how to go beyond the limits of blood or ethnic ties, which only recognise similarities and reject differences. Here, I think of the parable of the Samaritan (cf. Lk 10:25-37), who stops with compassion before the Jewish man in need of help. Their cultures were at odds, their histories different, their regions hostile to each other; but for that man, the person in the street and his needs came first.
When people and societies choose fraternity, policies also change: The person once again takes precedence over profit and the home we all inhabit over the environment to be exploited for one’s own interests. A just wage is paid for work, welcome becomes wealth, life becomes hope, justice opens up to reparation, and the memory of evil done is healed in the encounter between victims and perpetrators.