I really enjoyed Richard Rohr’s Sunday, April 27th meditation on the need for rites of initiation. It started me thinking that maybe we, as Passionist Partners need a new rite of initiation. Among other things, Rohr describes the rite used by the Japanese with their warriors returning from the war after World War II. You can read the whole reflection here.
The Passionist Partners like most communities have a rite of passage. It’s spelled out in Appendix A of the Passionist Partners’ Handbook that can be found on the Passionists of Holy Cross Province Website. We in the Chicago Community have been looking for ways to attract younger members. I share this with you today in hopes of involving you in this search. Your community may already be successful at this. I know Ken of Nashville Community is a pro at this. Ken meets someone he thinks might be good and simply invites them to a meeting. I’ve seen him do it. It couldn’t be simpler or more direct, and for sure we can all do this even if we are not comfortable with this way at first. We can take the risk of being turned down.
Not downplaying this method, I wonder if there isn’t another type of invitation that would give us all the courage to do what Ken does? I wonder if we couldn’t find a ritual for doing this, a sort of rite of initiation that we incorporate into our regular meetings.
Of course good programming, picking topics of interest to our target audience and responsibly addressing them, is a ritual that is fundamental. We assure this of happening through our own continuing personal prayer, study and working together. If we do this consistently, I believe it should be easier to do as Ken does especially, if we have something we think would be of interest to our invitees. (Personally, I think topics that address where we see the living out of Jesus’ Passion today are particularly apropos, i.e. the types of things I have been presenting in this column).
And now, to the point of this column today: once our invitee accepts and comes to a meeting, we need something to get him/her to return and to keep coming back, something to hook her. The story of Jesus’ Passion of course is what we’re all about. I’m wondering if we couldn’t incorporate some rite that speaks to us as well as to those we invite that clearly addresses our mission, the proclamation of Christ Crucified: something in the way we pray: something in the way we conduct our meeting. Maybe something as simple as having a crucifix at the center of our meeting, maybe with a candle or two and a particular prayer that we recite together, i.e. “May the Passion of Jesus Christ be always in our hearts.”
So these thoughts are simply meant to begin a discussion, not to say in any way: “This is what we need to do.” I hope you will feel safe to share your thoughts and reflections.