Change can be confronting and difficult, especially when you don’t choose or initiate it. We often use sanitised terms like ‘change management’ to categorise emotional or organisational change, but while it often generates discomfort, it also provides challenge and opportunity.
With biological and intellectual plasticity, humans are the most adaptive animals on the planet. Despite this, we don’t always do it seamlessly or even enjoy the process. In fact, we often prefer routine, safety and comfort. As Christians though, we are actually called to embrace a life of change.
Over the past 6 weeks, nearly 70 year 11 students have reflected on their life journeys and recent Kairos or Indigenous Immersion experiences while engaging with the 2020 Student Leadership Program. These opportunities for growth and change have enabled them to step back from the hectic nature of daily activities and explore their definitions of self and who they want to become. Both individually and collectively they have been clarifying their values and developing the capacity to making responsible decisions within an environment of healthy, positive and respectful relationships.
Eleven of these young men spoke to an assembly of their peers last week of their aspirations for formal leadership positions next year, and what they believe they can offer the College as servant leaders. It was incredibly heartening to hear them speak confidently, authentically and appreciatively of their Whitefriars experiences over the past 5 years. Their optimism for the future is similarly inspiring. This process will soon conclude, once each applicant has been interviewed by a panel that includes the 2019 College captains.
I was also fortunate to witness last night’s VCAL Speech Night to hear 14 impressive young men speak eloquently of their varied pathway experiences, laced with genuine appreciation of their parent’s and teacher’s efforts in support of their growth and development.
The Gospels regularly invite us to reflect on how Jesus spent his time in ministry and service. What becomes evident is the pattern of: at night in solitary prayer; in the morning forming community; in the afternoon, service with his apostles as he healed the sick and proclaimed the good news.
From solitude to community to ministry. The night is for solitude, the morning for community, the afternoon for ministry. Night, morning and afternoon are symbols for the movement from solitude to community to ministry that Jesus lived out. These are the three disciplines we are called to practice as the tenets of the Carmelite charism:
Carmelites all over the world are very familiar with the Rule of St. Albert. Over the centuries it has been read, reflected on and interpreted in many different ways. The flexible nature of the Rule gives great scope for living it out in the monastery, the active apostolic life or even in the busyness of modern life!
Although we know little about the details of St. Albert’s life, he still brings a message to today’s world from the spirit he has left us in the Carmelite Rule. The words of Scripture seem to flow almost unconsciously from Albert’s pen – he was so steeped in the Word of God that it penetrated his very thinking. This is a marvellous example that Albert gives to Christians today – to live every moment of life out of the Word of God and Gospel values.
Albert can be an inspiration to all in leadership roles. He did not impose all his own ideas on the group of hermits who came to him – he listened to what they told him about their way of life, and he adapted it and gave it structure. By this he shows us his qualities of wisdom and discernment. In the instructions he gave to the first Carmelites, he is careful not to be too demanding or rigid – he stresses the importance of common sense in interpreting what has to be done. This openness and flexibility offers a great ‘human feel’ to the Carmelite Rule.
The theme of the General Chapter of the Carmelite Order, currently taking place in Rome is: You are my witnesses from one generation to the next: called to be faithful to our Carmelite Charism.
Almae in Fide Parentis
Mr Greg Stewart