We continue to read through the Pope’s talk to the Curia from December, taking it not simply as a criticism of people we don’t know and who at any rate are Not Us (always so easy to do, eh?), but as an examination of conscience for ourselves (not so easy…).
We are at disease number five, which is the “disease of poor coordination. Once its members lose communion among themselves, the body loses its harmonious functioning and its equilibrium; it then becomes an orchestra which produces noise: its members do not work together and lose the spirit of fellowship and teamwork. When the foot says to the arm: ‘I don't need you ‘, or the hand says to the head, ‘I’m in charge’, they create discomfort and scandal.”
We can see how this would definitely apply to a body like the curia, who are supposed to be all working together for a common goal which is the mission of the Church in its administrative dimension. I can certainly see how this disease can afflict a community like Madonna House, which is called to a profound unity of mind and heart, a profound choice to move together as a body, as a single person, so to speak.
Catherine used the Russian word sobornost to describe the depth of unity of mind and heart to which our community is called. Because we strive for this, we are all well familiar with the tendency to isolate, to pull apart, to go one’s own way. We are all also familiar with the spiritual and practical havoc that can cause in a family, a group.
It may not be so clear how this disease manifests in people who live in the world, who are not necessarily part of a particular well-defined community, but are simply members of a parish, members of a family, workers at this or that secular job, or whatever. But it seems to me that this is no less relevant for all you good people, the primary readers of my blog.
It is so easy to lose sight of the fact, the very simple fact, that we have been put on this earth for one reason and one reason alone: to learn to love God with all our heart, mind, and spirit, and to learn to love our neighbour as ourselves. There is no other ‘reason’ for human life—this is the goal, and hence the guiding principle which is to shape each one of our days.
We are called, no matter what our vocation, no matter what our existential situation, to have an acute care, an acute sensitivity, for unity, for the need of the other, the movement of the other, and to continually strive to bring harmony and peace, concord and amity, into all our human relations.
I believe firmly that the words and vision Catherine Doherty received were not just for MH, but are prophetic words for the Church and for humanity in our day. And sobornost was one of the most powerful and passionate words she received, bringing it forth towards the end of her life and calling us to live it as our primary rule of life.
But it is needed, if we are to bear witness to the life of God in the world, the reality of God in the world. We cannot love God and hate our neighbour. As Catherine said in one of her last writings to the community, “We must love, and we must show God’s face to everyone. Unless we do this, we have wasted our lives.”