A church that is alive

We are pleased to announce that a weekend experience of 'Pietre Vive' will take place in Malta under the direction of Fr Hernandez SJ in April 2013 as part of the Maltese Jesuit Province's events for the Year of Faith. All those interested to participate are kindly asked to send an expression of interest to Christine Rossi on inygo[at]jesuit.org.mt . 

Michael and some companions having a light-hearted moment!

Jesuit Scholastic Michael Debono writes of his experience in Rome, offering youngsters the 'Pietre Vive' emalgamation of faith and sacred art during the Taize' European Meeting earlier this month.

I (as well as my three Jesuit companions from Padua) had left our scholasticate in Padua without much enthusiasm: after a whole week without touching my philosophy books, and with exams looming just round the corner, I was there on my way to Rome for the 35th Taizé new year European Meeting. It is said that all roads lead to Rome...and in fact on such roads over 40,000 other youths were also on their way to Rome to participate in this edition of the “Pilgrimage of trust on Earth”. 

But, apart from participating in the Taizé meeting, I was also there to help out with “Pietre Vive”. “Pietre Vive” or “Living Stones” is a group composed of ignatian youths who, together with some Jesuits, seek to discover the spiritual depth of Christian art and to announce to everyone the beauty of faith. The Taizé organisers had asked “Pietre Vive” to organize free guided visits to eleven churches or locations in Rome during the European meeting. 

Arriving in Rome, I found some forty youths and ten Jesuits enthusiastic to be “sent out” for this mission. Conditions were not optimum: most of us (including me) had never been guides with “Pietre Vive”... we knew that most Taizé participants and tourists would have asked for English-speaking guides (although most of us did not have a good grasp of English); initially, it seemed that food would have been limited (Taizé organisers had not expected such a number of people!); knowing that sleeping at night would not have been excellent (in typical pilgrimage style, a mat and sleeping bag floor would have been our bed for the following week!).  

Many things indicated to me that this event was going to be a mission impossible. But the courage and bright spirit of the other volunteers gave me the hope and optimism which I lacked in the beginning, such that now, on my return to Padua, I have no regrets at all as to my participation there. Here are some reasons for this positive outcome: 

Considering that the majority of us had never met each other before, it was amazing how such a family and team spirit had been created between all volunteers. Definitely the fact that we were all there for the same purpose – to proclaim to others the Good News found in art – together with the sharing of moments of prayer, moments of fatigue and moments of joy had helped. 

For me, it was also very enriching to be with a group of ten Jesuits working and collaborating together, especially considering our well-known tendency to be rather individualistic in our apostolate at times! 
The Taizé experience in itself was very positive too. I was very glad to observe so many youths singing or seeking silence together during prayer times as well as seeing many of them sharing and looking for answers to faith-related questions during the sharing groups. A couple of youths had also talked to me about their interest in choosing the religious way of life, and this gave me (and continues to give me) much consolation - I am not alone in believing that religious life still is a valid way of following the Lord! 

To top it all, the “Pietre Vive” experience gave me also a clear sign that the Church is still alive today: seeing so many young people believing in the values of our faith, and giving so much energy and time to share the beauty of our faith was for me a clear sign that, notwithstanding the difficulties, there is plenty of hope for the future of Christianity!

Returning to Padua from Rome, I am definitely happy with the outcome of the experience, and I thank God for such an experience. I not only thank Him for the positive outcome of this new way of evangelising which “Pietre Vive” represents, but also for the ecumenical and universal Church spirit which  Taizé embraces.  

Maybe somehow this event did represent the living Church which Peter says will be founded on the cornerstone that is Jesus:  “You also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house” 1 Peter 2:5.

Michael Debono SJ 

More information on Pietre Vive may be viewed here:





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