Monday, October 25, 2010

Are Group Identities Stronger than Catholic or Christian?

From the research on the Catholic Charismatic Renewal, one study's findings suggested that the charismatics most strongly identified and labeled themselves as "charismatic", and their loyalty to the group after two or more years of membership superseded that of obedience to their Catholic bishop.

Someone has offered a thought that the "family" is a group.  Is it?  In the Gospel of Luke, Jesus demonstrates preference to the spiritual relationship over and beyond familial kinship.  This is noted in His response when His mother and brothers sought him and desired to speak with him.  "Who are my mother? Who are my brothers?  Those who do the will of God are my mother and brother and sister" (paraphrased).

Perhaps if we viewed our family more as individual members of the Body of Christ, and set our spiritual focus firmly in the family as a gathering within the Body of Christ, transitions as when members enter and exit various life phases, could be more healthy between parent and child.  Mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters might develop a deeper spiritual understanding of and active love of all Christians as members of the Body of Christ.

Yet another example of group identity surfaces within a Catholic university.  It is an employment condition that suggests the university values identity with its Franciscan religious order as a distinct, separate identity as Catholic or even Christian.  "While professors are not required to be Catholic or Franciscan, they are expected to understand and adhere to the Franciscan values, as described on the University’s website."

In another instance, mentioned to someone the idea of offering to any and all a gathering to read and discuss Jesus in the Gospel of Luke.  The immediate response was, "Will they let you do that?  Will they allow you to have a room at the parish to meet?"  No, of course not, but I explained that this was simply a form of present moment offering of a present moment Christian gathering, not a set, formally designed "group."  

The person with whom I was sharing the gathering idea, then mentioned a couple who has an open invitation to people, word of mouth, to come to their home on Friday evenings to pray the rosary.  But, the person added, children come with their parents, and it is noisy and not very reverent with the little ones.  We relate, but perhaps it was more a group than Body of Christ gathering?

Guess we need to begin with Christian values and teachings of Jesus about the virtues: patience, tolerance, justice, charity.  Let the little children come unto Me. And teach loving expectations of gatherings as opposed to exclusive groups with their inherent, predictable, negative risks.  Truly, I need this more than anyone.  That is why I am studying Christ in the Gospels.

I admit, I have become weak and hazy in my own levels of tolerance.  The mountain of effort it seems required to try to live in Christ in the present moment is humanly daunting at times.  Makes me want to go to the farthest reaches of the Alps, as St. Bruno did with his six companions, and try to live the Christian ideal, climb the mountain to the peak of holiness, away from the flat lands. Yet I am here physically in the flat lands so must climb in spirit--and pray help me, Lord: exhibit Christ in the flat lands.  

And this climb is the thrust of Order of the Present Moment effort! Since the topic of groups seems insufferable to the point of frustrating, must turn to the other blog and continue writing of the Nine S'.  Am praying to write about suffering as the fourth S in the standards of formation assisting us in living the Gospel Rule.  Surely a challenge, but as in prayer, God honors continuity and perseverance.

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