Seeing Through New Lenses
Deep change rattles the windows through which we gaze upon our world. Our worldview, the fundamental ways in which we understand our life, our world and our God, must come into question as we travel the road to refounding. For refounding to occur, these paradigmatic shifts in consciousness must take place if there is to be a birthing of new visions pregnant with hope and passion. Communities pursuing refounding are searching for entirely new ways of understanding their charism, mission and life in community. There are many prophets who offer new lenses from which to re-imagine the future of religious life and, in doing so, offer an opportunity to transform the consciousness of those on a refounding journey. Let’s recall just of few of these prophetic voices.
Joan Chittister says of religious life that it “must be about seeing what others do not see or saying what others may not say, for whatever reason, at whatever price.”[i] Sandra Schneiders tells us, “Religious are called to be citizens of whatever place they inhabit, children of the cosmos who do not recognize any absolute claims except those of God and hence can transcend the artificial boundaries humans have introduced to divide up land, resources, peoples, and even religious itself.”[ii] David Courturier emphasizes the “relational economy,” based upon a “theology of abundance,” principles of mutuality and equality, and participation in “compassionate collaboration.”[iii] John Dear[iv] offers a new lens for the Gospel call to non-violence.
The list goes on. All of these scholars and theologians are offering new lenses for understanding the evolving nature of religious life within the context of our evolving world. They reframe our theology and worldviews, pouring yesterdays’ wine into new wineskins.
You have your own prophets as well. In every community there are those on the edge of change who march to the beat of a different drummer. They go about their ministries with tremendous zeal making a profound difference in the lives of those they serve. Sadly, they are often pariahs in their own community, dismissed as disloyal or crazy. Though they may not have written a book or been proclaimed as prophets, the seeds of change are in them. These are the voices of the future offering a new consciousness for refounding. Go to the balcony and you will hear their voices.
The invitation of refounding is to explore and reflect upon these new possibilities in order to discover how these might transform your collective consciousness. Listen to the visions that resonate, bringing new meaning to your charism and new purpose to your mission. Listen to the visions that resonate within the hearts of your members. Surely voices such as these offer intimations of the future capable of stirring the embers, if only we are to listen.
[i] Chittister, J.D. Remembering the vision: embracing the dream. LCWR Assembly Keynote Address. Atlanta, Georgia, 2006.
[ii] Schneiders, S.M. Religious life in the future. USG/USIG Sponsored Congress on religious life. Rome, 2004.
[iii] Couturier, D. Religious Life at a Crossroads. Origins: CNS Documentary Service, (36)12, , pp. 181-188. August, 2006.
[iv] Dear, J. The God of peace: Toward a new theology of nonviolence. Eugene, OR: Wipf & Stock Publishers, 1994.