Friday 11 March 2016

Rupnik's provocations

Just watched, with the novice masters who are here, a video of Marko Rupnik, part of a talk he gave at the Gregorian at the end of 2015 on the Consecrated Life in our times. Extraordinary is the only word I have. Here is a man who speaks from the Spirit.

The end of the individual and the birth of the person, and its consequences for consecrated life. No longer the institution at the centre. No longer the perfection of the individual as formation, and the thought that the community will be built up from such individuals.

I thought of De Smet and his writings on the loss of the person in the modern West, and the slow rediscovery. Precisely this contrast between person and individual. Person, a term that was born in the throes of Christian thinking about the Trinity.

And communion as absolutely at the core of the faith. Charisms as ways of belonging to the church, not ways of distinguishing ourselves from one another in the church. The call of the pope to communion, to consecrated life opening itself to other institutes within the church, outside the church, to other churches, to other religions.

A new spirituality. One that is based not on individuals and their excellence, but on the community. A model for us in the formation team here. No individual stars, but together. The Spirit creating communion wherever the Spirit blows.

Religious life as we have known it up to now is over. The para-state Church is dead. The para-state Church based institutions are dead. We have to allow God to raise us to new life. What? Where? And what formation?

Which way to go with a pope who used to pray with evangelical Christians, who was used to being prayed over by their pastors, who has close friends among these pastors who call him Jorge, with one of them having written a book about him. What to say of this pastor's remark that there is a new joy that marks all that pope Bergoglio does. And there is. His face was absolutely shining last Sunday at the Angelus.

And what to make of 4 sisters slaughtered in Yemen, and Tom missing up to now. What to make of the thousands whose lives have become unimaginable ruins. What are we being told. In a world preparing to be Trumped.

Not that the team has not been chosen with care. But the fact that individually some of the members ought not to have been there at all. Yet: at the base, a certain openness, a certain humility - the kind of humility that genuinely respects the Other in his otherness and his culture -, a certain willingness to learn, a certain surrenderedness because somewhere one knows that one lives because it has been given to him to live. Not perfect at all; but knowing that, and being grateful, every now and then if not at every moment.

So the odd emphasis of the recent document from the CIVCSA on the Religious Brother, with its almost exclusive emphasis on fraternity, is not so odd after all. Because fraternity is central, it is communion, and communion is mission, because we believe that God is Communion. The religious brother as witness to communion. At the deepest levels of his being. Icon of communion. Witness to the specificity of the Christian witness: that the One to whom we witness is communion. Believing, even if not understanding. And LIVING it. "It took Christians four centuries before they could begin to say something sensible about the Trinity. But they certainly showed it before that, in a way that we have not been able to show it since. See how they love one another." (Congar)

And Rupnik: becoming more and more brilliant and light as time goes on. My amateur impression, at least. From the red of the Redemptoris Mater chapel, to the light and glory of the mosaics in the Church dedicated to John Paul II in Krakow, and the chapel in the cathedral in Madrid. 

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