From the illumination of Víctor Codina SJ, who made an excellent interpretation of the action of the Spirit from the bottom up in America and the Caribbean using a historical approach to Latin American and Caribbean pneumatology, in which is perceived, to some extent, the absence of this reflection. At the moment it is still at an incipient level, although from the 90s onwards it has been more present, with the opening to new issues such as gender, indigenous peoples, African Americans, culture, interreligious dialogue, ecology and a greater presence of women theologians; and the reflections of several theologians concerned about the pneumatological question.
He also made a reading of the spiritual experience of Latin America and the Caribbean from both known and little-known bishops and martyrs who have contributed even with their lives to the Gospel animated by the Spirit and “in many respects comparable to the Holy Fathers of the early Church”, such as Helder Cámara of Brasil, Manuel Larraín of Chile, Leónidas Proaño of Ecuador, Ramón Bogarín of Paraguay, Sergio Méndez Arceo and Samuel Ruiz of Mexico, José Dammert and Juan Landázuri of Peru, Enrique Alvear and Silva Henríquez of Chile, Novac and Jaime Nevares of Argentina and the martyred bishops Enrique Angelleli of Argentina, Oscar Romero of El Salvador, Juan Gerardi of Guatemala. Other later bishops, such as Jorge Manrique and Manuel Eguiguren of Bolivia and Joaquín Piña of Argentina, or Pedro Casaldáliga, may surely be added to this list.
In the same way, he presented to us as another sign of the Spirit the Basic Ecclesial Communities (BEC), “which were not born as a result of pastoral planning elaborated from an office of the Church institution, but from the base of the Church, as a consequence of the social and ecclesial poverty itself of the people of God.” Similarly, the irruption of the poor in society and in the Church, many of them martyrs, has meant a particular ecclesial awakening in which the laity and, more specifically, women, have played an important role.
Likewise, “the awakening of the religious life to its specifically prophetic, and not only charismatic, dimension” expresses the audacity of the Spirit in the Continent, which acts from the poor and the smallest, from the bottom up. Furthermore, he justified how the Spirit acts from the bottom up according to the Scriptures and ecclesial tradition and left us some theological and pastoral consequences firing us with hope toward commitment.
Thus, we headed to the different communities for the apostolic experience in: Santa Cruz, Montero, Buen Retiro and Irpa Irpa, Cochabamba and Potosí, where we were able to perceive how the Spirit acts from the bottom up in the tender faces of so many boys and girls who, in the midst of the most difficult situations, smile sincerely and affectionately. We expressed it thus in summing up the apostolic experience:
As Daughters of Jesus we went to share the apostolic task that our sisters perform in the communities of Bolivia. We do not know if the Lord saw us under the fig tree, but there was indeed an encounter with Him through these people from the first moment we were able to feel the Word dwelling among us, a discovery of God’s gaze through those tender and affectionate looks from children, young “cholitos/as”, and the majority.
The time shared was very rich; while we made our little Nativity scene, every gesture was important: looks, caresses, hugs; words got across in all languages, and the gestures that transmitted and spoke much more. In the midst of these people we lived the gift of Christmas. A child born in poverty and brings to everyone joy, tenderness, encounter and fraternity.
The looks and smiles in so many faces, the accompaniment offered by the sisters, and the availability of lay men and women with whom we shared have been engraved in our hearts. It invites us to live with a contemplative, attentive and listening attitude to the cry of so many poor people anywhere in the world. In one of the communities this experience enabled us to have an intercongregational apostolate, one of the calls of Religious Life today in the Church.
We are grateful to the Congregation and this Region of the American Andean Province for the opportunity to experience our presence as a body in Bolivia. In addition to being happy, we believe that what is lived is an aid that prompts us to follow the path of Jesus, no matter where or how, but always as Daughters of Jesus. This experience questioned us so much about our life … we are surprised, awed to contemplate the mystery of the Incarnation in each community (in their faces). We can say with deep gratitude that these days of apostolic experience have been for us the miracle of Christmas. We have found the infant wrapped in swaddling clothes who brings us PEACE. Thanks for the affection and this wonderful experience of encounter with Jesus Christ present in the little ones.
The Communication Team, Renewal Course