Dear brothers and sisters:

Throughout the world, we are currently living in a health emergency. The coronavirus pandemic (Covid-19) has brought us face to face with a reality that none of us could have imagined. This may very well leave many of us confused or unsettled.

Let me reflect, share my feelings, and offer you, as a brother, some guidance at this difficult time.

The first is that we should not minimize the problem. The situation is very serious. Perhaps it is hard for us to accept it and we tend to downplay the issue. Make no mistake. The pandemic is advancing in an apparently unstoppable way and it is contaminating continents and nations, leaving an imprint of disease and death. We are facing an alarming world situation. Therefore, a humble attitude is essential. We must first be humble. From there we can assume the fragility of our condition and the ephemeral nature of worldly security: humanity is not omnipotent, but vulnerable. The harsh reality in which we are living must orient us towards the Lord, trusting in his mercy.

Only from a humble heart can we discern and offer the necessary response as Augustinians and as Christians. Our answer must be based, as has been correctly indicated, on four pillars: prayer, serenity, prevention and responsibility.

"We should not address God with words, but with the feelings we have in our minds and with the direction of our thoughts, along with pure love and simple affection." (Augustine: On the Lord 's Sermon on the Mount 2,3, 13). I thank the Institute of Augustinian Spirituality for convening a day of prayer in the Order on March 20, the third Friday of Lent, which we will share with the other two Augustinian Orders who share a special connection with us: the Augustinian Recollects and the Discalced Augustinians. I hope that all of us, men and women religious and laity, will pray together, especially on that day, as a cry from the heart of the entire Augustinian family (cf: Augustine: Exposition on the Psalms 118,29,1). Let us remember the sick, the health workers, the volunteers. Let us also pray for the deceased. Let us ask the Lord of Life to deliver us from all evil.

May the Holy Spirit grant us all serenity. The Christian response does not come from anxiety, excitement or destructive anguish, but from the strength that faith gives us, which is the encounter and experience of Christ. We cry out, "Lord, save us!" And we hear his comforting response: "Do not be afraid." (cf: Mt 8,25-26; 14,30-31). So be it. Every one of us must confidently place ourselves in His hands and ask for the intercession of the Saints of the Order in these moments of great difficulty .

At the same time, the demand for adequate prevention impels us to collaborate decisively with the measures decreed by the Governments. Several bishops and Episcopal Conferences have also expressed themselves in this regard. Although some measures may seem drastic to us, we must follow them loyally and responsibly. Our prompt and determined collaboration, each one of us and all of us together, is essential.

But let us be careful that physical isolation or other measures that are to be taken, do not suppose an isolation of the soul. It is time to strengthen our solidarity. Let us take care of the health of those who work or collaborate with us; of the people who are in our charge and entrusted to our responsibility. Let selfishness not prevail over justice and our joining together.

And I also ask you not to neglect pastoral care. In this difficult situation, many believers are assailed by doubt and uncertainty. Let no one feel alone, or abandoned, or disoriented in these moments of crisis. Our oneness of heart and mind opens us to our brother or sister, the one who suffers, the one who is afraid. We cannot deny anyone the spiritual help and comfort of Christ, of whom we are an instrument and presence. We make visible the mercy of God. Let us offer creative possibilities. As Augustinian brothers and sisters we are with the world and we share in its sadness and anguish. There is certainly nothing truly human that does not find an echo in our hearts (cf: Gaudium et Spes, 1). Here is where our communities live. May our response, therefore , be a decisive witness of love and from love. "God is love, and whoever remains in love remains in God and God in him." (1 Jn 4:16).

Dear brothers and sisters: with the help of God we will overcome the present situation and we will be purified. From the reality we face, steadfast in faith and generous in charity, let us have renewed hope within us.

We entrust our life to the Virgin Mary, Our Mother of Perpetual Help, and ask her to protect us from all evil.

 

Fr. Alejandro Moral Anton

Prior General  O.S.A.


Between the 2nd and the 5th of March, our Prior Provincial fr Leslie Gatt participated in a meeting for the Superiors of the English Speaking Circumscriptions of the Order of Saint Augustine, which was held on the Campus of the Saint Augustine University in Iloilo, in the Philippines. The meeting was attended by the Prior General, the assistant generals for Africa and Oceania, and the Prior Provincials or superiors of the Augustinians from North America, Ireland, England, Malta, Australia, Philippines, Indonasia, India, Kenya and Tanzanja.
The meeting offered an opportunity to share the different Augustinian realities in the respective countries around the world, together with an effort to find and strengthen different ways of collaboration. In fact the first day was dedicated to the presentation of the present reality and challanges of all the circumpscriptions presented by each superior. Than discussions took place covering various topics such as: Initial formation; Policies of the Safeguarding of minors and vulnerable adults; our reaction in the context of particular political realities and populist politicians around the world; the sustainability of projects in countries lacking basic financial resourses; the attention to the ederly; the presence of the Major Superior in the communities.
Apart from the topics discussed, the meeting offered a good opportunity to share beautiful moments of fraternal communion together. The welcome given by the Philippines and the Augustinian University of Iloilo were undoubtedly a witness of such Augustinian communion.

 


Graduation day at the end of academic year 2019-2020 at the Augustinian Institute Pietà was held on Friday, 6th March 2020. The Assistant Director of the Institute, Rev. Pierre Desira OSA, presided Mass together with Fr Mario Attard ofm cap, and Fr Constantino Borg OSA. During his homily, Fr Pierre applied aspects of Augustine of Hippo’s Confessions to the season of Lent. The Director of the Institute, Rev. Professor Salvinu Caruana OSA then delivered a speech in which he evaluated academic year 2019-2020, and delineated the programme for academic year 2020-2021.

During the first semester, from October to December 2020, two works of Augustine, namely, Teaching Christianity and How to teach catechism to the uninstructed, would be analysed and explained. During the second part of the academic year, namely, from January to March 2021, another treatise of Augustine will be analysed, the 10 Homelies on the First Letter of St John to the Parthians. The 230-page text was translated into Maltese by Rev. Francis Calleja OSA, Rector of the Basilica of St Rita of Cascia, Italy, and elucidated thanks to a number of studies by Rev. Prof. S. Caruana OSA.

The book will be made public during a book-launch evening on Friday, 8th January 2021 at 6.00pm at the Augustinian Institute Pietà. The 23rd edition of the Annual St Augustine Lecture 2020 will be held at the University of Malta on Thursday, 26th November 2020 at 19.00hrs, and will be addressed by Prof. Anthony Dupont of KU Leuven, Belgium.

During the closing part of the graduation evening, Fr Pierre distributed Certificates of Attendance to the 38 participants for academic year 2019-2020. A reception was then given in honour of the graduates and their guests.

 

 

Between Friday 28 February and Sunday 1 March 2020 28 participants of the Augustinian Institute’s 2029-2020 courses took part in a Live-In at the Qawra Palace Hotel, Qawra. On Friday at 4.30 p.m. Fr. Franco Grech OSA gave a talk on the ‘Current role of the Augustinian Laity within the Malta Augustinian Province’. So as to promote discussion, copies were circulated of the document ‘On the Way with St. Augustine’ prepared by the Augustinian Lay Fraternities.

Fr. Pierre Desira OSA led the Eucharistic celebration on Saturday 29 February at 5.30 p.m.. That same morning at 8.30 attendees gathered for morning prayers animated by Fr. P Mario Attard ofm cap..  At 11.00 Fr. Attard delivered an eloquent talk on St. Augustin’s writings on Lent quoting excerpts from the Saint’s ‘Confessions’.

At 4 p.m. we got together for a talk during a Eucharistic celebration. On Sunday 1 March morning prayers at 08.30 a.m. were led by Fr. Salvinu Caruana OSA who also celebrated the Eucharist at 11.00 a.m. All participants expressed stated how pleased they were to have attended the Live-In and expressed a wish that this becomes an annual event.


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