Wednesday, February 4, 2015

How Not To Waste Your Life

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.

Our world is filled with hatred and division, isolation and individualism. There is both a hot anger and a cold indifference that can take hold of human hearts today. The choice to have as my first concern the good of my brother or sister, the choice to work first for the task of love and communion before any other job or goal or agenda—this is a radical Gospel call. 

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.”


  1. "...and to continually strive to bring harmony and peace, concord and amity, into all our human relations." It seems the more and more common tendency is that we are so proud and self righteousness that we vehemently believe that what and whom we do not like or do not agree with is what is wrong and needs to change, when more often, it is our hearts that are not right and probably need to move a bit. This is especially true for these things we Catholics like to bicker amongst ourselves about...things which I fear are causing deeper and deeper divides between us.

  2. "Our world is filled with hatred and division, isolation and individualism." I believe that unless we discover and accept these things as they exist within ourselves, we can only hope for one day to see a world that is filled with God's love. I find the assertion that we ' must ' love, conveys a very strange or confused notion of human love and even much more so of the love of God.
    Human beings through natural mechanisms , begin very early in life to develop conditions upon which love is reciprocated from one to another. In God their are no such barriers and no such conditions. God loves each and every one of us just the way we are. He does not say ' change and I will love you.' It is in the uncovering , the recognition of and the contact with this reality is when a human being begins to feel through being loved in such a magnificent way that we begin to experience a sense of accomplishment and fulfillment as we tend deeper to the end that we are so naturally inclined toward. And the more that we become fully immersed in this truth then the more it is radiated to draw the same beauty from others.
    I truly believe therefore, that a message which states ' we must love' is false and it creates the illusion ( without intent ) that God is like a human being.


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