Friday, September 28, 2012

Occupy Religious Life III

The Occupy movement taps into the intuition that the solutions to today's challenges will be found in and through community, rather than through partisan politics or academic debate. Occupy groups seek to embody in their ranks the values they want to implement in the wider society, and as such they are experiments in community and democracy.
Occupy communities are small enough for members to know each other and yet large and diverse enough to need some rules to keep the community cohesive. The Occupy movement is a community of communities that establish mutual obligations and responsibilities among themselves to enable the diverse interest groups to pursue common or complementary strategies toward an overarching goal of a more just society.
Many of the men and women who are seeking to live or renew religious life today long for communities that exemplify these same values imbued with a faith perspective: a radical commitment to shared gospel living, to a balanced life-style where there is time for prayer, community and mission. They seek to incarnate the Gospel here and now, asking what task God might take up on moving into each neighborhood. In small local communities, we become peacemakers, share the good news, live lightly on the earth and actively pursue justice. We share life, goods, and spirituality so that we can support one another in the commitments we have made.
Religious life at its most fundamental level is the incarnation of the gospel here and now. We do this after the pattern of our founders; we come together out of a distinct heritage to discover anew the freshness of radical gospel rootedness, and the call of our charism to be connected to our contemporary time and place in this specific historical moment.
The vows of poverty, chastity and obedience are personal commitments we make that frame our gospel response and facilitate our shared community. They take fundamental human orientations to money, power and sex which can point inward toward the self and mediate them so that they point outward toward community. The vow of poverty orients us to an alternate economy where we share what we have and receive what we need. The vow of obedience orients us toward an alternate politics ruled by the power of Love and deep listening in the Spirit. The vow of chastity orients us to a primary life-commitment in our religious community.
Religious life is vowed life lived in community for mission. Over the centuries, the fundamental elements of the life: vows, community and mission, have formed that framework within which the life is lived. Periodically, the life re-invents itself, reorienting these three elements so that they form a more dynamic and authentic response to the challenges of culture in a particular time and place. By taking up the challenge of the Occupy movement we can rediscover how to live religious life in our contemporary world, forming communities that can indeed renew the face of the earth by living the spirit of the beatitudes.

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