How are you preparing for the Order’s next Consulta and what, broadly speaking, is the purpose of this meeting of the world’s Lieutenants?
The Consulta is like a General Assembly: all the Lieutenants come together and compare their experience. Many of them meet for the first time and come from very distant countries. For example, the Lieutenants from Australia and the Pacific, or those from Latin America, who have suffered more than the others from the Pandemic. This will be an opportunity not only for them to hear the Grand Master in person speak about the evolution of our Institution and the programs we are planning to implement, but also to get to know each other, to exchange evaluations and experiences. In a word, to experience the spirit of the Order together, in a fraternal atmosphere. Many of them will leave having gained new friendships, which will then develop and grow stronger.
Opportunities to meet, exchange visits and reciprocal invitations are more frequent among Europeans or North Americans, facilitated by the short distances. But for those who come from further afield, the Consulta represents a unique opportunity to be able, at least once in their term of office, to get closer to brothers and sisters they would otherwise never meet.
I am a great believer in dialogue and the exchange of experiences: I see the benefits in those occasions of meetings between groups of Lieutenants who are similar in language, culture and traditions, which I promote incessantly and which always bear good fruit.
But beyond this aspect, there is the need to promote the Order’s unity, especially after the Covid experience, which has changed our way of living together and relating to each other so much. There is a need to unify, while respecting local traditions, the way of living fully and in fraternity the experience of belonging to the Order of the Holy Sepulchre, of praying together with the same voice. Let us remember, that we are an Order which is not conferred on us by merit, but to which we have voluntarily asked to belong, accepting its spirit and obligations, and committing ourselves to live its spiritual and charitable contents. This is why the Cardinal Grand Master considered “Formation” to be the theme of this Consulta: so that through a common vision of formation, we may reach a unity of intent and fully respond to the mandate conferred upon us.
Members’ formation is therefore the focal theme of the Consulta, but not only spiritual formation. What other aspects of formation will be addressed?
Formation is divided into different successive stages, but we could say they are integrated into a single purpose. Generally, the greatest effort in formation is attributed to the preparatory phase of a candidate for entry into the Order. It is clear that this is an important moment to understand whether the motivations behind the request to be accepted into the Order are sincere and whether the candidate has fully understood the commitment he or she is making.
But the ongoing formation of the Knight and Dame already in the Order is no less important, particularly in helping them to nourish the original flame that determined their entry, and to ensure that negative elements, which have occurred in their lives, cannot weaken or drive them away from their initial commitment. Lastly, the formation of those who are called upon to take on positions in the Order’s hierarchy, and who in turn are required to confer them is equally vital. They must be aware of the responsibilities that accompany every advancement, the need to be an example and a guide for other brothers and sisters, and above all not to fall into the temptation of pursuing ambitions of social vanity. Every assignment brings with it a tremendous burden of responsibility, including operational choices, especially in a pyramid structure such as that of the Church and the Order, in which the assignments of tasks are not the result of an elective process, but a conferral from above, and in which the choices may be – as is desirable – the fruit of consultation, but fall substantially under the exclusive responsibility of the person who assumes them.