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general

WHAT’S NEW IS OLD BUT BETTER
Reflection on the XXIV General Chapter

By Fr. Benedict S. Dilag, CMF

A bottle of good old Claret, a new skin full of wine – old yet new – is what I carry with me and share with my brothers. I will take a glassful of Claret daily, regularly, until the fire within is continuously burning and the world around me is set ablazed by God’s love. Am I drunk? The scribes and Pharisees asked Jesus, “Why is it that your disciples eat and drink?” Jesus said to them,
“You can’t make the wedding guests fast while the bridegroom is with them…”
My dear brothers, Jesus, the groom is with us, his disciples and missionaries, that’s why we keep on drinking the good old and ever new wine Claret fermented and bottled for us. And no, we are not
drunks; we are just ourselves – men on fire with God’s love!

I’m blessed to be part of the XXIV General. I’m humbled by the experience to be in communion with 77 other
fellow Claretians reflecting and responding on the call of God today in our world, the Church & Congregation. Allow me to share with you my homily during the last mass of the English-speaking group which is a summary of my experience in that Spirit-filled event.
“The Chapter has been asking how do we live our missionary vocation today to better serve the Kingdom of God. In asking ourselves about our identity we are not looking for a new definition … today there are many questions and challenges for which we need new answers. The experiences of the Spirit are not received only to be preserved, but to be deepened and developed, with an openness towards an ever new and creative action.” (MFL 28)
During the Chapter we were rediscovering our new name, new family, new lifestyle, new sending, new way…
New wine, new skin? Obviously this is the easiest way to relate the Gospel with what we have done in the Chapter. From this understanding, we can easily and eagerly
set things anew.
But Jesus also said, “No one who has tasted old wine is eager to get new wine,but says: The old is good” (Lk 5:39). This sounds like a contradiction, a complication even. But this paradox, is what is really new in the Chapter. Not that we are saying something new or going to do something new. As a matter of fact, we are reviving something old…
The quotation from Claret in the beginning of Part III of our new document tells us clearly and concisely what we have expressed in 65 paragraphs and 40 pages on how to rekindle the waning fire of God’s love in us and others: “We need to fan the bellows with the fuel of prayer, meditation, spiritual reading, joy, vigilance of spirit, study and a major effort toward the virtues…”
Old wine … good wine … the Spirit that can make young men see visions and old men dream dreams (Acts 2:17). I have never drank so much wine in my life as I had in Clarehotel [We were served wine every lunch and dinner]. As they say, when in Rome… And in the Chapter, with the capitularcommunity, my cup runneth over…
Even though I was one of the youngest and greenest there, I was intoxicated by the exquisiteness of the vintage of our Claretian Missionary Vocation which I re-experienced and rediscovered in that Spirit-filled event.