by Timothy Guthridge, C.PP.S., Director of Initial Formation
Last November, I had the opportunity to attend the 2013 Congress of the Religious Formation Conference. The theme of the Congress was. “Rooted in the Mission of Jesus; Reaching out to the Margins.” Fr. Donald Senior, C.P., former president of the Catholic Theological Union and noted scripture scholar, gave a keynote address on “Mission Rooted in Jesus.” He reminded us that following the Second Vatican Council, religious around the world were called to look to the charisms and gifts of their founders to see the gifts of the Holy Spirit which were given them, and reflect on their application to the present signs of the times. During the last fifty years, the Precious Blood communities have done an excellent job in looking to the charisms of our founders to help understand our God given charisms in the modern world. Don Senior challenged us to go deeper. Our founders were about the mission of Jesus, and as religious in a very conflicted age, we must root ourselves more in the mission that Jesus himself lived.
Don used the metaphor of breathing in and breathing out to understand the mission of Jesus. In life, everybody breathes in and breathes out. Jesus breathes in and breathes out. Jesus breathed in people on the margins and Jesus breathed out disciples to spread the good news. Don quoted Pope Francis in saying that “the Church that does not get out of itself gets sick on its own stale air.” The mission of Jesus calls us to get out of ourselves.
This is a special challenge for a Church as institutional such as ours. We are accustomed to people coming to us, to the church, to the school, to whatever Catholic institution we serve and engage in mission. Jesus did not sit and expect everybody to come to him. Jesus went out from town to town to spread the Good News and bring healing wherever he went. Jesus sent his disciples to spread the Good News and bring healing as well.