The May 12th issue of America has a great article by Brian B. Pinter, entitled “Redefining Success”. What struck me most (maybe because I am an educator) is the following quote: “As Jesuit educators we are being asked to do something great—to assist in leading the church to unequivocal solidarity with the poor, to a mystical consciousness, to maturity of Faith.”
There are two words in this quote that strike me as particularly pertinent to our Passionist charism: poor and mystical. Most of us know what poor is but what is this other word, mystical? Earlier the author gives us a clue, using this quote from Karl Rahner, S.J. (1904 – 1984): “The devout Christian of the future will either be a ‘mystic,’ one who has experienced ‘something,’ or he will cease to be anything at all.”
Again, what is a mystic? St. Paul of the Cross has been characterized as the greatest mystic of the 18th Century. Somewhere I remember hearing the difference between mysticism and theology. It went something like this: theology tells us what love (put in any term you want here) is; mysticism tells us an experience of love. Now we need both no doubt, but today it seems to me we have an overabundance of theology and a dearth of mysticism. How can we do what Pinter suggests above and as St. Paul of the Cross did?
Here is an example, I think, that answers that question. In the 70’s responding to the Second Vatican Council we at Immaculate Conception Parish, Norwood Park, Illinois decided to change the name of our religious education program from The Confraternity of Christian Doctrine (CCD) to The Institute of Christian Encounter” (ICE). It was more than just a name change. In our programs we did not talk about doctrine or theology so much as create opportunities where we, and our students could experience what it means to be a Christian. For instance, instead of talking about what makes a good community, we went camping or CLAM Digging, (digging for Christian living Among Men). Anyone who has ever been camping knows it’s not an exercise in esoteric wondering as much as just simple real living and sharing in the tasks associated that.
In the above YouTube video, Arianna Huffington and Sheryl Sandberg discuss what redefining success means to them. For them, it means experiences such as: failing and proceeding on to an eventual success; listening to our intuition or gut feelings; sleeping more; meditating daily; enjoying silence; creating our own job or startup businesses; telling our stories. These are just a few of their ideas. The selection is long, and I believe it’s worth the time. Hope you enjoy.