At Christmas, God asks us for hospitality | RCF

Let’s live Christmas with refugees from Ukraine and elsewhere: special programming on RCF

In a particularly tense international context this year, RCF has chosen to show its solidarity with those who must leave their country and leave everything behind to find peace and security. This is why, this year, RCF is offering its listeners the opportunity to experience Christmas with the Sant’Egidio community.

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Sant’Egidio, when prayer goes hand in hand with openness to others

“We live in a rich country, many have a comfortable life… We are called to look around us and see what is happening around us: there are not only comfort zones around us… What do we do? Our conscience, our heart, must have this question, always deep within ourselves.” Thus Valérie Régnier, president of the Sant’Egidio France communityshe encourages us, in this season of Advent, to welcome Jesus, that is to say to “make room in your life for Jesus but also for the poor you meet”.

Pope Francis summed up the spirituality of Sant’Egidio thus, “the community of the three Ps: prayer, the poor, peace” (March 4, 2018). The spirituality of the community indeed strongly associates prayer with openness to others, particularly the most vulnerable, with the aim of building peace. “Prayer makes us reflect on those around us, explains Valérie Régnier, the Church is that of everyone and particularly that of the poor, for us it is not an option, it is a priority.”

What is the Sant’Egidio Community?

The community was born in 68 with Andrea Riccardi, in Rome. “In this spirit of revolt, explains the president of the community in France, 1968 in Rome it was even more violent than in France, it was the Red Brigades, anarchist groups who wanted justice at all costs and for everyone, in any way, also in a violent way s ‘there was a need.

It is in this context that Andrea Riccardi wanted to draw from the Gospel resources to live in a more just society and build peace. The community has organized an annual interreligious summit for peace in Rome since 1986. This year, the President of the French Republic, Emmanuel Macron, took part on October 23.

Sant’Egidio is a lay community. Being a member of this community therefore does not mean being religious, it is above all a closeness, a way of praying together and a common commitment to the most vulnerable people. Valérie Régnier takes up this expression of Madeleine Delbrêl, to be a member of Sant’Egidio, “is to live the extraordinary of the Gospel in the ordinary of life”.

Giving a spiritual meaning to hospitality and concrete meaning to prayer

During Advent, to understand who we are waiting for, we are invited to pray even more than usual, and to read the Bible. “How can we know Jesus better than by leafing through his life, the Gospels? Prayer is born of this contact with the Gospels. For us it is important to read the Bible, even more so during Advent”, says Valérie Régnier. However, prayer, in the spirituality of Sant’Egidio, is something very concrete. “When we pray and when we are close to the poorest, when we live with them, that is to say when we also suffer with them the condition of the poor, this can lead to social peace, the peace of a neighborhood and why not the peace of a country.”

In our world today, how can we still believe in a fairer and more humane world? Prayer, answers Valérie Régnier, and where we are easily “disoriented”, prayer “helps us to stay awake”, attentive to others. Through prayer, “things are possible, things can change, not in a crazy way, hard to bear: it’s possible because we are together, we are in community, we are not alone” .

The Sant’Egidio community works in Europe to welcome refugees fleeing war, single, isolated, poor people… Because it is a question of welcoming the word of God as we welcome someone who needs us. “As we welcome a newborn,” adds Valérie Régnier. “We know in the story of Jesus that he was not welcomed, he was born in a manger, we can imagine that he did not have a very warm welcome in society. But there is a person who welcomed him and without her, Jesus would not be here today, it is Mary.” If we talk about hospitality, we must turn to Mary. “She dared to say yes at the risk of her life…”

At Christmas, God asks us for hospitality | RCF