When our general chapter reconvened after visiting with Pope Francis on Monday we explored our mission with the laity. Our mission is “with” the laity. As a religious community our mission is incomplete without them.
“What’s your experience working with the laity?” That question yielded a rich response from members of my community from all parts of the world. Their life experience is different than ours, their holiness often deeper than ours, so we need to learn from them. We need to develop a mechanism to gather their wisdom and establish ways to work together.
During the chapter we had an excellent presentation on continuing formation by Fr Amedeo Cencini, who called “docility”, the willingness to be taught, the key to grow daily in life. Life in all its shapes and forms teaches us, day by day. I wonder if we need a mutual “docility” to create the best relationship between us and the laity.
If the present sexual abuse crisis in the church brings about anything good, it should lead to a greater docility in the future– a docility among church leaders and ministers to be taught and a docility among laypeople to offer their wisdom and experience to the church at all levels.
As I waited for the pope to enter the Clementine Hall in the Vatican on Monday, I took a picture of the large painting beside me of Jesus inviting his disciples, Peter, James and John and the others, to follow him to Jerusalem.(above) Mark’s gospel in recent Sundays says the disciples did not understand what that invitation meant. Neither do we.
But they learned, together, painfully, never completely. The gift of the Spirit made them docile.
Come, Holy Spirit, form us into a docile church.