Do you remember what life was like before the Internet—you know, when we needed millions of dollars, MBAs, prototypes, RFP’s (Request for Proposals), proposals and most importantly clout and the giant (Goliath) corporation to make things happen?
In today’s TED talk Joi Ito shares how he found himself far from his wife and family when an earthquake hit off the Japanese coast. As a result of that earthquake a nuclear reactor exploded 200 kilometers from his home. He worried that his family was in danger and desperately wanted to know what the radiation count was near them. The regular means of getting information, i.e. corporations and government, where not available or willing to help.
His response I believe is a model of how we might want to respond to our world today. The large corporations and institutions while accomplishing unbelievable feats of production and distribution are often incapable of responding to individuals. Oh, they think they can through their market research and customer polls, but when it comes to answering a question like Joi’s that is a little out of the ordinary, they fail miserably.
I wonder what would happen if we as Passionist Partners followed Joi’s lead and used the Interned to connect with others who believe that in all this war, injustice, pain and suffering, poverty, there is an answer, a way to live life fully and in harmony with all peoples? What would happen if we shared our real discoveries (not academic distillations of them) and dared to live as Christians, Jews, Muslims Buddhists, Hindus…?
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.
Are fear and fright the same thing? Are they rare experiences, or do we experience them frequently? Does everyone undergo fear and fright, or only certain types of people? Is fear and/or fright good for us, or injurious?
Fear and fright seem to be different. Fright is apparently uncontrollable, whereas fear is somewhat under our control. There’s usually a surprise element connected with fright; we are caught off guard, usually suddenly, when we are not expecting it. By the same token, fright is often momentary; it is not lasting, once we see what it is that frightened us. But fear can be an ongoing experience, a kind of life situation in which we find ourselves over a period of time, and which we cannot easily dismiss. We can be afraid of a person whom we can’t easily avoid: a relative, a neighbor, a schoolmate. Fear can imbed itself within us, so that it is difficult to escape. Though fright can be hard on the nervous system and even one’s health (“I was scared to death” literally, as, for instance, should it cause a heart attack), fear, especially when long-lasting, can be even more debilitating and engender depression.
Most people try to avoid fear because of these effects on us, and, in general, fright too is something many of us dislike. However, some people seek out fright, for the “thrill” associated with it, such as a haunted house. But it is difficult to live in a state of fright over a long period of time since one’s system cannot usually sustain something like long-lasting fright. Fear, on the other hand, can be an ongoing ordeal and, for that reason, “bad for our health”.
We can control fear, to an extent. Usually we’re able to move away from a fear-inducing situation, though, admittedly, often at some inconvenience to ourselves. On the other hand, fright is frequently uncontrollable, and there’s not much we can do about it since it often catches us off guard, surprising us. But, as just mentioned, we display some control of it by deliberately seeking out frightening situations.
There’s a moral or ethical quality to fear, to the extent there is something we can do about it. But since fright is usually uncontrollable, we are not responsible for it, except in the occasions described above. We look to Jesus and ask: was He ever afraid and fearful? On the other hand, was He ever frightened? It seems that He had a foreboding sense of His impending death, from the three different occasions He mentioned His coming passion and death to the apostles. And when we recall His plight in the Garden of Gethsemani just prior to His death, we remember that He sweated blood at the prospect of what was about to happen to Him. Was this not fear? Yes, but He was likely never frightened
And what about Mary at the moment of the annunciation, when the angel appeared to her unannounced and she was apparently alone? “But she was greatly troubled at what was said and pondered what sort of greeting this might be…” “Then the angel said to her, ‘Do not be afraid, Mary…’ (Lk 1.29, 30). Whereas Zechariah, the father of John the Baptist, was also visited by an angel: “Zechariah was troubled by what he saw and fear came upon him. But the angel said to him. “Do not be afraid, Zechariah, because your prayer has been heard.” (Lk 1.12-13) This difference in the angel’s response to Mary and Zechariah (even though the word “fear” is used in each case) seems to parallel the difference between fear and fright. Mary had a wholesome fear; Zechariah had a paralyzing fright.
So we hopefully can fear like Jesus and Mary, while avoiding the paralysis of fright. How? By remembering that fear, that is, fear of the Lord, is one of the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit, but fright is not. Fear can be wholesome and life-giving: there are some situations which we should fear. As a gift of the Holy Spirit, fear can lead us along life-giving ways. Among the sacraments we especially look to confirmation for this gift of the Holy Spirit.
Sunday, September 1, Pope Francis called for a day prayer and fasting this coming Saturday. Partners join Pope Francis by inviting fellow Partners and all people to share in this day. The following is a quote from the Independent Catholic News on what Pope Francis said.
To this end, brothers and sisters, I have decided to proclaim for the whole Church on 7 September next, the vigil of the birth of Mary, Queen of Peace, a day of fasting and prayer for peace in Syria, the Middle East, and throughout the world, and I also invite each person, including our fellow Christians, followers of other religions and all men of good will, to participate, in whatever way they can, in this initiative. On 7 September, in Saint Peter’s Square, here, from 19:00 until 24:00, we will gather in prayer and in a spirit of penance, invoking God’s great gift of peace upon the beloved nation of Syria and upon each situation of conflict and violence around the world. Humanity needs to see these gestures of peace and to hear words of hope and peace! I ask all the local churches, in addition to fasting, that they gather to pray for this intention. (http://www.indcatholicnews.com/news.php?viewStory=23133)
Click on the following link to see and hear Francis speak.
Members of the Holy Cross Province are gathering in Detroit next week for their annual meeting. Besides professed members, some of the lay members of the CPP will be joining them. Hopefully, this will be an opportunity for CPP’s to meet and talk about our future. I think uppermost on many of our minds, is how we communicate, and so the above poll. Please take the poll and add any comments regarding the poll question or other concerns you would like to raise. Thanks for your participation.