January 13, 2012

A Post About Itself

In my experience of religious life, one of the main forms of speech I have encountered is what I like to call the 'diagnostic discourse.' It focuses on asking the question of what is wrong with us and how it might be remedied. It might be base and shameful gossip about or detraction against some brother or other, or very reflective historical and archaeological exercises in asking how we might have gone astray from what we wanted or are meant to be about.

I sin against the gift of this knowledge daily, but I know that I cannot hope to participate in any of these discourses well unless: First, I have confessed and received absolution for any serious failure in my vows, as well as anything on my conscience that could be a mortal sin. Second, I have fulfilled with zeal and attentiveness the minimum prayer life that I have promised, namely with regard to Eucharist, Liturgy of the Hours, mental prayer, devotion to Our Lady and St. Joseph, and the reading of Sacred Scripture.

But here's my point: This is not a question of being or not being a hypocrite, or of people living in glass houses not throwing stones. It is a question of God, grace, and spirituality. I cannot hope to reflect or comment upon a religious enterprise, whether that be an individual vocation or the life of an institute or province therein, unless I have done at least what I have promised with regard to putting myself in the way of the grace of God. If the enterprise is spiritual in nature, it must be reflected upon according to spiritual criteria. The lingering effects of original sin being what they are, not to speak of the devil, make such a mess of things that one can only hope to think straight about religious things after he has done everything he can to live a spiritual life according to the state he has chosen.

So I guess that's my suggestion to religious life: let's forget about diagnosing ourselves and each other for a bit, and put that energy into saying our prayers, asking the intercession of the saints, mental prayer, and reading the Sacred Scriptures. Having done that, perhaps we would soon find ourselves opened up to new kinds of individual reflection and shared discourse.

Of course, given what I have said, I can't even say that. According to my own reflection in this post, it's just the sort of thing my shoddy spiritual life and lukewarmness in my vocation disqualifies me from saying. For that I ask forgiveness from you and the grace of repentance from God.

1 comment:

Joshua said...

A good point there Brother.