Sunday 31 January 2016

Privileged places of ongoing formation

Cencini spoke of relationships, ministry and the world as privileged places of ongoing formation. 

Relationships challenge all of us in a special way, bringing out our best and our worst. Which means religious community is a special and privileged place for growth - a "continuous novitiate." 

Interesting, he mentioned also the ministry. For us salesians, the dialectic between "showing God" and "seeing God." We are called to show God, to be signs and bearers of his love. We are also called to see God in those to whom we are sent - simply because God has "beaten us to it," he is there before us, working in the young, in those to whom we are sent. So it is part of formation to "discern": to recognize the working of the Spirit.

And then "the world." Don't complain about the world. It is the place where God is, where he speaks, from which he speaks, in which he speaks. So: scrutate: discern: keep your eyes open to see, your ears open to hear what he is saying.

So instead of lamenting and complaining about the internet, we probably ought to see it as what theologians like to call "a theological locus." Or maybe not exactly a theological locus, but certainly something through which God is telling us something. It could well be that it is the great temptation: it is the temptation of Jesus: throw yourself down, submit, I will give you the whole world. With the internet, the whole world is literally at my fingertips - all I have to do is click. And, like Jesus, I am called to face this great temptation with silence, and with the word of God. Impressive how Jesus does not use his own words, he entrusts himself only to the word of God.

The point is that any life situation can mediate God’s action. When I say, “If only I had a better community, if only I were elsewhere,” I am betraying a deep-seated paganism. Life speaks – always, everywhere. All moments are formative. “My grace is sufficient for you” means that his grace is present everywhere and always, in all situations. It is important to live these moments. “Hacer experiencia.” 

Miguel Marquez Calle's story of the crane's nest: made of sticks, plastic, rubbish, every possible thing. Our life with God, our life before God - everything goes into it. Everything is part of it. Everywhere God. 

And so: not docility but docibilitas, which Cencini explains as "learning to obey - or discern and do - in all situations" - and not simply when one is explicitly told, by someone who is a superior, to do this or that. Docibilitas: the ability to be taught, the ability to learn, having acquired the capacity to learn, learning how to learn, learning from life (C 118). Discerning the voice of God and the action of the Spirit everywhere, at all times. From just any experience at all. From boredom in the evening; from mild or not so mild depression. From excessive and burdensome work. From failure. From lack of appreciation. From lack of results. 

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