On the evening of 3 February, a group of 12 CM sisters and 12 CMS lay people met at the retreat house of the Missionary Crusader Sisters of the Church in Carabanchel Alto, Madrid. The CMS committee of Europe (Clara Palma, José M. de Paco and Cristiana Tamagnini) together with Sr. Lola Jara, provincial advisor of CMS had called us all together.

The Training Itinerary The common agenda for all CMS members had just been approved at the international assembly and we had to know about it. There we devoted a lot of thought to this issue.

CMS is a reality, also in Europe, but we cannot rest on our laurels. It is a reality within the Missionary Carmelite family. This family is called to bear fruit. To be salt in the midst of the mass of this secularised world indifferent to the Christian faith. And to be light, as the Gospel of that Sunday, the 5th Sunday in Ordinary Time, asked us to be.

The lay people integrated in the CMS are aware of their mission. They have been called by the Holy Spirit to live their faith integrated in their personal life as a person who lives in their family, work and social environment as people committed to witnessing and living the following of Jesus Christ.

This objective of IDENTIFICATION with his or her vocation involves following a path that passes through BELONGING and the search that takes shape in the INITIATION stage. This is an important stage, because it is the beginning and the foundations must be well laid so that the work is solid. The counsellors and all the people linked to the Missionary Carmel must take care of it with great care. It is a matter of activating the gifts and abilities that God gives us to awaken the desire to follow the Gospel, to show the joy born of faith and Christian love.

In the CMS Formative Itinerary, the stage of MEMBERSHIP is an illuminating stage in the life of each member of the group. The Charism, the Word of God, the social reality are integrated into a way of living the FAITH with sincerity and coherence.

The stage of IDENTIFICATION lasts a lifetime. The desire to live COMMUNION will be incarnated in each one of those who are on this path. By the fruits and ways of living, we come to know the truth of our word and our personal being.

SPIRITUAL ACCOMPANIMENT will be a suitable means for people to get to know and accept what it means to live the faith in Jesus, as a baptised lay person, inserted in the ecclesial communion, belonging to a spiritual family, born in the Church, according to the charism that the Holy Spirit granted to our founder, Blessed Francisco Palau, to live. This time of initiation into the CMS has a time limit, a maximum of two years. This formative path of knowledge must lead to the personal commitmentsThe membership of the CMS Association itself, according to its own Statutes, began with them.

It is quite a challenge for the Sister Counsellors. We are aware of the value of this CMS reality in the Church and in the Congregation of the Carmelite Missionary Sisters in particular. It has long been said that this is the time of the laity in the Church. We all know what a problem we have because of the deep-rooted clericalism everywhere. In the attempts at synodal collaboration in the parishes and in the dioceses, we see this.  

Listening to the story of the sisters advisors of 15 CMS groups in Europe, we discover the windows of hope open to the Palautian charism. In these lay people there is a future of life and Christian mission. It is a great responsibility that we have. We must take care of this plant that already bears fruit. The seed is cast, but we must take care of it with love and care.

For me, this meeting is a call to collaborate in this care. These lay people have a love for the practice of prayer. They are aware of the need for formation. They appreciate the simple and true witness of the sisters who help and support them.  

I am reminded of the question asked by the first listeners to the preaching of the Apostles: "What must we do, brothers and sisters? It is a proposal that each community and each sister can ask ourselves now, in this time of call to live Synodality.

I believe that our communities, every Carmelite missionary, are called to give a witness of vocational authenticity. The joy of following, the dedication to the mission, the sobriety and simplicity in the use of means, today, I believe, can also be platforms of proclamation.

That is why I believe it is a duty to care for and accompany all lay people who show an interest in living the faith within the CMS. To awaken the desire is also the work of the Holy Spirit. Accompanying and enlightening, praying, helping in the formation and love of the Charism, we can all do it, according to the situation of each sister.  

It was a joyful meeting, a time of sharing freely and from within, reflection and prayer in a fraternal atmosphere. Marta Peiró, provincial councillor, and other Sisters of the community of the provincial house, and we celebrated the Eucharist together.

Mª Carmen Parra Acebes

Santa Teresa Community - Terrassa

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