On April 21-23, 2021, the friars of the Provincial Custody of the Orient and the Holy Land met online to participate in three days of formation, guided by Friars Lucian HORLESCU and Virgil BLAJ.

The first day was dedicated to the ongoing formation of all the friars of the Custody. Friar Lucian HORLESCU led the online meeting and gave a presentation on the theme of chastity. During the first part of the day, after clarifying some terms, Friar Lucian talked about the psychological aspects of chastity. He explained how psycho-affective maturity predisposes a person to be able to live his celibacy well and, in addition, his “wanting to do it” (vocational choice) and his commitment to achieve it in a concrete way (spiritual lifestyle) is also needed. This implies the ability to free one’s heart from all egotistical instincts, from wrong attitudes, false desires, and tendencies, in order to open one’s heart to God and to loving God. Thus a purified heart becomes a heart capable of abandoning itself in prayer to the One who loves us and by whom we feel loved.
In the afternoon, the spiritual aspects of chastity were explored. Friar Lucian stressed that the choice to live chastity must be made at every level in one’s life: at a physiological level (a pure body), at a psychological-relational level (a pure way of loving) and at a spiritual level (a pure heart). This way of living chastity must be optimized by adopting some necessary virtues for support, namely, modesty (the way of taking care of oneself, of dressing and expressing oneself through different attitudes), temperance (the way of living sober in everything , finding the right measure for everything), humility (submitting to the Creator’s plan, avoiding self-sufficiency), prudence (avoiding overestimating oneself in one’s relationship with current dangers) and fidelity (living in harmony with one’s own vocational choices and with the Gospel).
On the second day Friar Virgil BLAJ met online with priests from the parish and others who carry out Conventual pastoral ministry. The meeting took place in three sessions and the friars were challenged to reflect on the theme: “Pastoral and Missionary Conversion. In the Gospel, Faith Always Involves Risk.” The meeting was inspired by Pope Francis’ homily for World Day of the Poor on November 15, 2020. In it, the Pope explained the parable of the talents and pointed out the style of service, saying: “Those who do not live to serve, serve for little in this life…In the Gospel, good servants are those who take risks.
Drawing upon two books by two authors, namely: Thomas FRINGS and his book (Italian version) “Così Non Può Più Fare il Parroco – Vi Racconto Perché” [English version: “Over and Out, Amen? I Can No Longer Be a Pastor Like That]; and Alberto PORRO and his book “Come Sopravvivere alla Chiesa Cattolica e Non Perdere la Fede” [How to survive the Catholic Church and not lose one’s faith], the preacher guided the participants to examine the “pastoral renewal after Vatican II” analyzing the current crisis and suggesting a “search for new paths of pastoral action” for a ministry that is welcoming, one that engages in dialogue and promotes faith.
During second part of his presentation, he analyzed what the Supreme Pontiff meant by “pastoral and missionary conversion.” The friars reflected on the attitude one must have in order to guide the faithful in the newness and creativity of faith, with the hope that it might be reawakened in their hearts and consciences. At the end of the day, those who carry out pastoral ministry shared their opinions and difficulties regarding the current situation and their own pastoral hopes.
On the last day, the Guardians of the four communities of the Custody met with Friar Virgil and reflected on ways to deal with various uncomfortable situations in fraternal life.

Friar Anton BULAI
Friar Andrei BEJAN