We always say that the first one responsible for formation is the brother in formation. It’s the same in this aspect of formation. He has to be the first one to take seriously his individualistic attitudes, examining himself fearlessly, realistically and constantly, while being open to accompaniment by the formators.
The formation community also plays an important role. A community with a good communal spirit, with real appreciation for the brothers in their diversity, with a communal appreciation of service, humility, sacrifice etc. is the best place to learn, to be healed and to integrate both one’s limitations and one’s capabilities.
The community does not have to dissolve the individual or make him just like all the others or try to put him in a mold. The community welcomes the individual as he is. It values him but it asks that he enter into a process of conversion that will ask that he give the best of himself. This is precisely what no one else can give to the community and what will really contribute to his development as a person.6
As in all of initial formation, a key role is played by the reality of communal life of the local communities that serve as a reference for brothers in formation. If the apostolic communities they see value fraternity, working as a team, helping one another, interest for one another etc, a large part of the battle against individualism is already won. If they see apostolic communities that just live under the same roof and negotiate so that each individual can preserve their own private life and pastoral ministry, this is a bad sign for brothers who are trying to become part of our ss.cc. religious life.
We can go back to some of the sayings or proverbs. An African one says, “to educate a child, you need a whole tribe.”
On a deeper lever we can speak of the process of ongoing conversion, which has the Spirit of God as the main protagonist. Faith is a gift of God. We have to take care of the gift. Immersed as we are in contemporary society, we are surrounded by skepticism, relativism and materialism. The great temptation is to live “as if God did not exist.” Today we have to combat not only atheism coming from the outside, but that which is deep within our hearts (W. Kasper). There is the constant temptation not to believe passionately in God. Passion for God and for humanity, “zeal” for God’s reign are the bases for growing in Christian attitudes that overcome individualism. As religious of the Sacred Hearts we find the antidote against individualism in the contemplation of the pierced Heart of Jesus. As our Constitutions tell us, “to identify with the attitude of Jesus and with His reparative work,” “We make our own the attitudes, options and tasks that led Jesus to the point of having his Heart transpierced on the cross.” That is the spiritual journey of conversion and true human fulfillment.