Friday, March 09, 2007

News flash from Dunrovin: we live in a dense community

It was quite an interesting retreat yesterday. I am not quite sure what I can share except to say that I had my respect quotient for Parish Business Administrators increase 10 fold, and I already had a really healthy appreciation for them before we all met together for a day of prayer and reflection.

They live out the dichtomy of balancing spirited things with fiscal matters. For the women and men I shared yesterday with this is an on-going struggle. It's not just about balance sheets and HR... it's about helping our parishes do the best job we can in making ministry happen among folk who call ourselves Catholic.

Yes, we all bang our heads against the walls when we suffer the effects of bad decision making which is beyond our control. Sometimes its hard not to get cynical or hardened or frustrated.

But we keep on going.

How do we keep our balance?

One way, I realized during my Vigils Reading this morning, is by seeing it all as a whole.... a part of our own spiritual journey. Today is the feast of St Frances of Rome, wife, mystic, Benedictine oblate. One lesson of her life is that it IS indeed possible to live a life "in the world," buffeted by all the cares, and joys and responsibilities life offers and yet still be faithful to monastic/ spiritual ideals.

Apparently, Frances suffered a breakdown at one point in her life, under the stress of trying to "have it all." And yet, according to one biography, from this breakdown "Frances learned how to offer the three always interwoven threads of her life to God: first, her family life, including her children, household duties, and role as a wife; second her civic life as healer, spiritual director, orgaqnizer of almsgiving and charity for the poor of Rome; and third her spiritual life with its liturgical and mystical experiences."

I am sure that this balanced life is not the sole perogative of Benedictines, but it surely must help that Benedict turns the eyes and ears of his listeners/ readers to the community in order to find and keep their vocation.

"Interweaving these three threads is characteristic of Benedictine spirituality: just as the Rule counsels the monk to take his brothers into account in every aspect of his life in the monastery, so Frances continually responded to her family and her city. Like a monk who finds in the enclosure of the monastery not a prison but a home, she created a sphere of inner freedom within this dense community." (from a portrait of St Frances of Rome in Benedict in the World: Portraits of Monastic Oblates)

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