God has allowed me to enter into a month of peaceful preparation and I’m loving it! Yesterday I went to Mass, hung out with the old ladies at Church, visited the Blessed Sacrament, and made dinner for my family. This is the life.
I’m also taking advantage of all this time to read many books. One of these is The Foundations of Religious Life: Revisiting the Vision, which is a collection of essays put forth by the CMSWR. It is an important reminder of the purpose and mission of religious life, at a time when so many orders have lost sight of the vision.
In this book, Sr. Paula Jean Miller, F.S.E. writes that our salvation always comes about through other people. For married couples it is through one another and their families. For those in religious life, their salvation is worked out through a particular and specific community. They do not take vague vows to be lived out in a general way. They promise God to live chastely, obediently, and in poverty, with other people, for other people, and through a particular community, especially the superiors.
God always works through other people. This is why He sent Jesus, as a man, to redeem us. Even then, Jesus came through Mary (this is why we have consecration through Mary to Jesus).
Unless you are called to be a hermit, you need community to grow in virtue. It is an unavoidable fact of life: we are made for community. And community does not consist of going to bible study at your parish once a week and making small talk with the old ladies at daily Mass. We need to be forming true Friendships centered on Christ. God puts specific people in our lives for a reason and invites us to enter into relationship with them. Through these relationships, we should be helping one another get to heaven.
“In friendship…we think we have chosen our peers…But, for a Christian, there are, strictly speaking no chances. A secret master of ceremonies has been at work. Christ, who said to the disciples, “Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you,” can truly say to every group of Christian friends, “Ye have not chosen one another but I have chosen you for one another.” The friendship is not a reward for our discriminating and good taste in finding one another out. It is the instrument by which God reveals to each of us the beauties of others.” C.S. ~ The Four Loves
And what is True Friendship you might ask? Oh, you want to open that can of worms? You asked for it!
In the words of my semi-friend (from personal experience, never call someone that to her face), C.S. Lewis:
“… It is when two such persons discover one another, when, whether with immense difficulties and semi-articulate fumblings or with what would seem to us amazing and elliptical speed, they share their vision – it is then that Friendship is born. And instantly they stand together in an immense solitude.”
Emerson said that when we ask “Do you love me?,” what we are really asking is “Do you see the same truth?”
Lewis speaks of the importance of sharing a common vision. He also says that if we do see the same truth all the other details of our lives don’t really matter. A shared vision should automatically create an even playing field when it comes to Friendship. Where we come from, our past mistakes, who our family is, should melt away.
Ideally we should be Friends with all Christians. Immediately upon meeting another Christian, there should be that moment of “Oh, you too?” Simply by virtue of being brothers and sisters in Christ, we are all Friends. This, of course, does not mean that you will have a deep and intimate relationship with every Christian you meet, but even a moment of connection can help us remember that we’re not alone and are in constant communion with the body of Christ.
Who are the people and particular community that God wants to work through in your life? Be open to the call to community in whatever surprising ways God wishes to initiate it.
P.S. I know I talk about her a lot, but I can’t write a post about friendship without mentioning my best Friend. Our “oh you too?” moment came when we shared our intentions of doing Montfort’s Consecration to Jesus through Mary. Mary has been protecting our Friendship ever since!