The Prior General addressed a letter to the youth of the Recollect Augustinian Youth on the occasion of the feast of Saints Alipio and Posidio, patrons of the RAY.
On the feast of Saints Alypius and Possidius, the patron saints of the Augustinian Recollect Youth, I would like to address all the RAY members to share some thoughts and feelings with you.
Alipius is, for Agustine, the brother of my heart, his faithful friend, his soul mate, his confidant, and his refuge and rest in the great battles. Alipius is, together with Monica, the person who made Agustin a Saint Augustine. His great personality, purity of spirit, and radical defense of justice to the last consequences surprised those who knew him. Like Augustine, he also decided to become a servant of the Lord, that is to say, a monk, leaving behind all the aspirations and ambitions of this world. And together as bishops, they tried to drive the wolves from their flock.
Therefore, when we speak of fraternity and community life in the Augustinian Recollect charism, we are not speaking of mere theories or utopias but of something that has profoundly marked the life of St. Augustine, of all the Augustinian saints who have lived this charism, especially those closest to St. Augustine, and continues to mark the life of many men and women who have also embraced this same style of life in its most diverse forms. Based on this friendship, they will build a project that is still alive today: common life, fraternity, and unity of the souls and hearts of many in God. Authentic friendship, lived from the Gospel and Augustinian values, should teach us to go out of ourselves, to think of the other, of the one who travels with us along the path of faith.
How nice to observe that the testimony and concern of a friend can change my life and lead me to God. This is how it happened between Augustine and Alypius. What each of them is before God is due in good part to the friend God placed in their lives. Friends can drag us; therefore, try to choose your friends well so that they drag you to God. That is, to some extent, the ideal of the life of those of us who live the Augustinian Recollect charism, to unite many souls and hearts into a single soul in Christ, to have everything in common, to share life and especially God who calls us every day to follow Him with joy.
Another thing that attracts me to Alypius is his radicalism. He does not like “halfmeasures,” ambiguity, lack of definition, or mediocrity. Enrique Eguiarte recalls in his book Santos Alipio y Posidio, patron saints of the young Augustinian Recollects, that in his struggle for justice, he played to the last consequences and that, on many occasions, to defend the faith, his life was in danger.
Lord, we need that courage and passion in the Order and in the RAY; we need that fearlessness, that boldness, radicalism and courage not to put anything, not even our own lives, before your plans, Lord.
Possidius was seduced by God, at a very young age, through the words full of the fire of Augustine, his solid personality, his fervent love for Christ and the sweetness of his friendship. Possidius is the biographer of Augustine. He wrote the list of works signed by Augustine, and to him, we owe the preservation of the works of St. Augustine after his death. Possidius probably took a complete collection of Augustine’s works into exile.
As the bishop of Calama, he almost met his death at the hands of pagans who broke all the emperors’ prohibitions and organized a procession to the goddess Flora. When Possidius rebuked them, they stoned him, burned the Church, killed one of his clerics, and he saved his life because he was able to hide. Also, the more extreme Donatists left him badly wounded and almost ended his life. When Augustine learned of these events, he travelled to Calama to give him support. What a beautiful gesture of friendship and humanity!
Possidius admired Augustine; he even imitated him, learned with him and put his teachings into practice, and sometimes risking his life. Today, we declare ourselves admirers of many people: singers, sportsmen, tiktokers, YouTubers, etc. It is an admiration that does not lead us to a more significant commitment; it is an admiration that does not change our life; it does not transform us. Jesus does not want admirers; he wants followers, people who commit their lives and put them on the line, people who risk everything because Christ, and the Augustinian charism, as a way of following the Master, is not only worthwhile but worth living.
Possidius life is an invitation to get involved, not to be mere spectators, not to sit back and watch life go by.
Lord, give us the determination of Possidius and commitment to the Kingdom, that nothing and no one may turn us from your path.
On the other hand, I want to tell you that we are very excited about the preparations for the following international events, in which you will be the protagonists: the Synod and the WYDAR, to be held in Salamanca in July, and also the WYD in Lisbon on the first week of August. A lot of time, effort, human and economic resources are being dedicated so that these events will mark the future of our Augustinian Recollect Youth.
At a time when the Church approaches us with the microphone and asks us to speak and to do so with freedom, the Order of Augustinian Recollects wants to listen to us and wants you to be the first to have the opportunity to speak to us from the heart and with freedom.
Therefore, we need to go to Salamanca with our homework done and not just to see what happens. “Going with our homework done” means having participated in the Synodal Oasis organized by the Order and having reflected profoundly together with the friars on the proposed themes. It also means having sought the opinion and reflection of those who may not be able to participate in the international meetings, but who do have much to say and contribute, because let us not deceive ourselves, the success of the Synod will depend on whether we have prepared it properly in the previous stages.
Remember that the purpose of these meetings is to reflect and pray, and to see if we are on the path that God, the Church, and the Order expect of us.
I pray to the Lord for the fruits of renewal and new impetus expected from these meetings.
May the celebration of the feast of St. Alypius and St. Possidius be more and more frequent as an opportunity to gather, pray, reflect, and celebrate what God is doing in the life of our caravans, pre-communities and communities.
We also take this opportunity to present the new iconography of Alypius and Possidius created by Mexican Bernardo Ramonfaur. At the JMJAR, we will give you a new and brief biography of our patron saints.
Happy Feast of St. Alypius and St. Possidius.
May the Lord bless us with his peace.
Panama, May 12, 2023.
Miguel Ángel Hernández OAR