from Fr. John Wolf, C.PP.S.
Members of the Province formed dyads or groups of three as they dialogued on the question of community life at its best—the essential elements and values to be lived. Mentioned most often were the basics of meals in common, praying together, shared study and theological reflection and mutual support. The bond of charity has many applications. The values of trust, respect, patience, humility and honest communication all flow from the commitment we make to one another.
An added part of the dialogue was a reflection on some of the statutes of our Constitution, specifically those on Community Life. In general the questions around these community statutes did not generate a lot of excitement or new ways of living community. Some view it as a static legal document while others were able to tease out some of the challenges and practices that benefit our living in community. We are challenged by the call to “imitate Christ who shed his blood,” a challenge of “sacrificing one’s own will in order to cooperate in community life and in service to the people.” Another real challenge is the call for “dialogue among all the members” as it fosters unity and encourages members to express themselves. The statute about realizing we are part of “an international and multicultural family as a worldwide congregation” is a challenge to widen our vision and see beyond our own Province or unit. To the question of qualities and beneficial practices expressed in the statutes, those most mentioned were bond of charity (C8), community gatherings (C9), hospitality (C12), prayer in common (C14), simple life style (C16), and dialogue (C20).
What practical ways can our members and companions of the Province live these qualities of community life? Be intentional in the way we live with one another. Have frequent gatherings at our local houses. Welcome companions for get-togethers and study. Revive some form of “district” gatherings. Make an annual retreat a priority.