Re-Authenticating your Inner Voice
While deep change transcends the past, it is also rooted in the past, but in a radical new way. Communities on a journey of refounding do not sever all ties with the past. Instead, a refounding community is radically, dangerously and newly committed to their root energy, but with a new twist. With a newly transformed consciousness, re-appropriating your charism takes on a whole new meaning.
Paradox: Rootedness and radicality
The key to this paradox of combining rootedness and radicality, I believe, is not found with more study of your history books. It is found in appreciating your charism as a reflection of your collective inner voice and not merely the voice of your founder or foundress who first proffered this “gift to the Church.” When your collective voice speaks to the world it carries the voices of all those members living and deceased that helped to shape it, not just your founder or foundress. In a very literal sense, it is a gift that keeps on giving, ever changing and evolving.
The rootedness of this inner voice will be found, not in the pages of history, but in your authenticity. It is in being rooted in knowing, grounded in claiming and genuine in speaking from the depth of your soul. The radicality will be found in your integrity, your courage to act in accord with this voice to further the reign of God no matter the cost. In this way, re-appropriation of your charism comes down to re-claiming your community’s authentic inner voice while acting with integrity in response to today’s world.
Dilemma: Authenticity and integrity amidst conflicting values
Herein lies a dilemma. What is your collective inner voice saying to our world that is both authentic and manifests integrity as evidenced by your actions? As Ghandi suggests, “We must become the change we want to see in the world.” Who do you say you are to the world and how do you demonstrate this behaviorally? Refounding is an attempt to answer that question and become the change you want to see in the world.
Saying what you believe and acting accordingly as one community is no easy task, especially when members are at odds regarding their most fundamental beliefs. For example, while communities publically proclaim the vows as central to their vocation, some members privately view these as just “part of the package,” their “ticket in the door.” Some love the Eucharist, while others experience it as dry and meaningless and still others find it a painful reminder of an oppressive, male dominated, hierarchical structure. Some are ardent supporters of women’s ordination while others are staunchly against such challenges to the teachings of church.
Suffice it to say that community members are not of one mind or heart around these and many other bedrock issues. Yet it is not the diversity of opinions that is the problem. Rather, it is the inability to work with this diversity directly, overtly and constructively that is the problem. The fear of judgment, reprisal or eruptions of unmanageable conflict makes these issues too hot to handle. So communities table the conversations and “agree to disagree.” Consequently, the community’s inner voice is silenced, its authenticity and integrity destroyed.
Thus, if communities are to journey into refounding they must reclaim their authentic inner voice and act in accord with this. In order to do this, they must deal directly with the very real conflicts that exist around Eucharist, the Church, women’s ordination, their vows, power and authority. They must work through (not around) these conflicts in order to arrive on the other side as one, whole, reconciled, re-authenticated voice supported by their actions. This is what it takes to re-appropriate your charism.