Gathering of the fraternities in Brussels 8 - 11 May 2014

Ninety-five participants from Belgium and France. To our regret and theirs, the Fraternity of Italy was unable to be with us.

Impressions of this gathering of the Fraternities in Brussels 
Thursday 8th of May: After the journey, during which we were able to talk and share with one another, we were welcomed at the station in a very friendly way by the members of the Brussels Fraternity. At Maison Notre Dame we received our keys and, having left our cases, had a meal. The evening was spent in the large hall where the Fraternity committee welcomed us and presented the programme for the three days. We were happy to meet again because some of hadn’t seen one another since 2012, the date of the previous meeting of the Fraternities, in Rome. Each Fraternity introduced itself in its own way: by a song, a film, a poem etc. It was very varied. 
Friday 9th, morning: We visited Brussels by coach with a guide who explained the architecture and the town planning. We passed in front of the European parliament, the Royal palace and so many other things : it is difficult to retain it all. 
Friday afternoon: We went to COMECE (the Commission of the Episcopacies of the European Community). Johanna Touzel, who is spokeswoman and in charge of communication, explained the work of COMECE. How the jurists analyse the proposed legislation and then intervene in various fields such as the environment, the family, immigration etc. This challenged us: we, Christians, can we do something at the European level? Can the bishops have an impact on the laws, for example, with regard to human rights, work on Sundays, for the rights of emigrants etc? 
This talk was very interesting and Johanna Touzel was able to explain to us what is at stake in Europe and the role of Christians, without it being difficult to understand. 
In the evening we looked at the film ’And now, where do we go?’ The reactions were different: some liked it, others didn’t! We each have our choices and our tastes, and when this is experienced with respect: that’s Fraternity! 
Saturday 10th, morning: We all met for a time of prayer. Three persons gave an account of the meeting of Spiritual Families that had taken place in Lourdes in October 2013. After that, we broke up into groups of ten. We discussed questions that were not very ordinary. For example: What is your prayer like today, why? Each one had their say. Everybody spoke and it was very agreeable. At the end of these group meetings we wrote a word, a sentence or a thought on a paper petal which we stuck onto a picture that represented flowers. 
Saturday afternoon: We met Jean Luc Blanpain, a diocesan priest. 
He shared with us what he had learned from the accounts of the various Fraternity meetings. He highlighted: 
- our attentiveness to the little things of daily life, 
- our attentiveness to the forms of poverty and injustice around us that nobody talks about but where God is present, as for Elijah, ’in a gentle breeze’. God is ’the liberator’ of his people. 
- our attentiveness to the signs of hope: Our God is a God of freedom who desires the happiness of all. Jesus is not in the tomb, He is resurrection. Together we learn to look at what enables us to advance, to share our resurrection experiences. 
Then Jean-Luc questioned us: Why are you in the Fraternity? Your aim is the transformation of the world ’May your Kingdom Come’. Look at this world in your life review in order to act and to transform it, in particular by helping families to build themselves up. The family is a determining place for the coming of the Kingdom of God. 
For that we have two ’leaders’: Etienne Pernet and Antoinette Fage. They had difficult paths to follow, but they dared to take initiatives and, above all, they gave their whole life to it. We are invited, all of us, to walk along this long and difficult road of building up our families so as to build a world that corresponds with God’s project. 
That is what we commit ourselves to when we join the Fraternity of Our Lady of the Assumption. During the Eucharist that brought the afternoon to a close three persons from Limoges made their official commitment in the Fraternity. 
Sunday 11th : A final breakfast together and it was already time for our ’good byes’. We agreed to meet again in two years time. We left to visit the centre of Brussels in small groups, our hearts filled with comfort and resources! 
This article was written by several different persons. 
Our thanks to the Fraternity at Vaulx-en-Velin and at Conflans
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