Fra a new voice
What are the spiritual features of a community living in diaspora ?
In the spiritual characteristics of the FRA community we find today the intuition and charisma of Elena da Persico, a charisma still fresh and stimulating for the Church of the 3rd millennium, always called to holiness. A community under the loving patronage of the Virgin Mary, like the early community of the Apostles.
Following the footsteps of Elena da Persico, the FRA welcomes as a gift to be cherished and nourished the contemplative dimension which asks her not to leave the world but to remain in it as “yeast” and “leaven” (Mt 13,33)
Contemplation in action becomes simultaneous and habitual attention to God and to mankind . Consequently, the FRA lives her job, her profession, her commitment in history with great spiritual intensity and commitment. She is a discreet presence, without any particular visibility, sharing the conditions of life of her brothers and sisters, struggling for justice and for the poor, reading the “signs of the times”, ready to run the Christian “risk”.
Some elements of this spirituality are
Obedience to God’s will
Apostolic action in answer to the “sitio” of Christ dying on the cross . The Good Shepherd’s attitude
The participation to the mystery of the Church.
These elements are summarized in the words “contemplation in action”, the heart of the FRA spirituality, as the Constitutions state:
“Contemplation in action” represents the synthesis of a life in which action does not distract from the attention to God as the meaning of the FRA’s action and of the values she tries to realize is constantly enlightened by divine revelation.
She is urged by Christ’s love that she finds in the “sitio” of Christ dying on the cross and in His yearning as a Good Shepherd.”.
This spirituality invites her to a particular way of living her baptismal consecration to God. She expresses the total gift of her life to her only Lord, accepting his invitation to follow the Gospel counsels of chastity, poverty, obedience in the specific style of secularity.
A new form of consecration to God
Secular consecration was recognized by the Church only some decades ago and therefore its peculiarity needs to be explained.
Pope Paul VI – on the occasion of the 25th anniversary of the promulgation of the Apostolic Constitution Provida mater (February 2, 1972) – well outlined the profile of a secular consecrated person: two consistent characteristics that can shape a new spiritual dimension for the present times. He states:
Consecration and secularity are coessential ….
Secularity specifies your presence and commitment in the world…
Consecration means the profound dimension of your life and of your activity.
The evangelical counsels of poverty, chastity and obedience have a particular meaning and become a live language to witness the Gospel. In this light and following the example of Jesus poor, chaste, obedient, they are lived by the FRA who consecrates all her humanity to God.
“The FRA do not live in community. Everyone lives where her commitments require. Nevertheless they feel a profound fraternal bond.” (Constitutions FRA).
They live an ordinary life according to their social conditions, without any distinctive mark, sharing the life of their fellowmen, well aware of a world suffering and longing for “new heavens and a new earth”.
The activity of the FRA is the “place” of her contemplation. No human commitment is out of this call. According to her personal situation and talents, the factory, the school, the politics, the office, are the places where she dedicates herself to God and to her brothers and sisters.
The Institute “Filiae Reginae Apostolorum” has no specific activity of its own.
The FRA live in the world and mix with the people of all classes and conditions without disclosing their special consecration.
They have no residential community yet, according to the inspiration of their Foundress, they are united by a profound tie of fraternity and they form a “spiritual family”.
According to geographical basis they are organized in Families. The word ‘Family’ expresses that sense of community which is the result of fraternity, love, mutual help, growth in the common vocation.
In order to support and help members to live their vocation, the Institute organizes meetings dedicated to prayer, study, mutual exchange of experiences and one week’s residential courses. They are a gift of grace and a great mutual enrichment as they bring together a variety of personalities, professions, experiences which give the opportunity of growing in the common vocation.
The history of the Institute FRA
The Pio Sodalizio FRA was first recognized canonically by the Bishop of Trento in 1931. On Christmas eve of 1947, with great emotion Elena da Persico could give the FRA the good news that it had been approved by the Church as a Secular Institute (Istitute Filiae Reginae Apostolorum).
This new way of consecration to God, living in the world the evangelical counsels of chastity, poverty, obedience, is recognized with the Constitution Provida mater (1947). Pio XII approves and legalizes the Secular Institutes, a gift of the Holy Spirit for the new times which will bear fruit all over the world.
For Elena. it is a confirmation of the spiritual insight she had years before and of the path of “sequela” faithful to our Lord. She can now sing her “Magnificat” together with her “Nunc dimittis”.
In its essential language the Canon Law acknowledges the work of the Holy Spirit. The Decree of Approval states:
“The Institute Filiae Reginae Apostolorum devised by Elena da Persico
since 1911 and by her founded, obtained the canonical recognition on the 19th March 1931 in Trento. It was approved as “Secular Institute” in 1948, obtained the “decretum laudis” on the 1st November 1950 and the final approval on 8th December 1954”.
Sacred Congregation of Religious