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Signs and Challenges to

Religious Life
The struggle for interiority and
prayer inside of a culture that
constitutes a virtual conspiracy
against depth and serenity -- to
keep our eyes set against an
infinite horizon.
The struggle to cope with
personal grandiosity, ambition
and pathological restlessness,
inside of a culture that daily
overstimulates them -- to live
inside the torment of the
insufficiency of everything
attainable and to accept that in
this life there is no finished


John 4:6-7 Jacob's well was there, and
Jesus, tired out by his journey, was sitting
by the well. It was about noon. A
Samaritan woman came to draw water, and
Jesus said to her, "Give me a drink."
John 4:9 The Samaritan woman said to
him, "How is it that you, a Jew, ask a drink
of me, a woman of Samaria?" (Jews do
not share things in common with
John 4:22 You worship what you do not
know; we worship what we know, for
salvation is from the Jews.
John 4:23-24 But the hour is coming, and is now
here, when the true worshipers will worship the
Father in spirit and truth, for the Father
seeks such as these to worship him. God is
spirit, and those who worship him must worship
in spirit and truth."
John 4:29 "Come and see a man who told me
everything I have ever done! He cannot be the
Messiah, can he?"
John 4:39 Many Samaritans from that city
believed in him because of the woman's
testimony, "He told me everything I have ever
Barriers, markers, borders
It was about noon. Time barrier
scandalous time. No one is there.
a Jew, ask a drink of me, a woman of
Samaria gender and ethnic barrier.
for salvation is from the Jews religious
All these barriers and markers are all
against her. Big reasons to ignore her.
Jesus crosses all these barriers.
Luke 10:30-37
Jesus replied, "A man was going down from Jerusalem to
Jericho, and fell into the hands of robbers, who stripped
him, beat him, and went away, leaving him half dead. Now
by chance a priest was going down that road; and when he
saw him, he passed by on the other side. So likewise a
Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by
on the other side. But a Samaritan while traveling came
near him; and when he saw him, he was moved with pity. He
went to him and bandaged his wounds, having poured oil and
wine on them. Then he put him on his own animal, brought
him to an inn, and took care of him. The next day he took
out two denarii, gave them to the innkeeper, and said, 'Take
care of him; and when I come back, I will repay you
whatever more you spend.'
Which of these three, do you think, was a
neighbor to the man who fell into the
hands of the robbers?" He said, "The one
who showed him mercy."
Jesus said to him, "Go and do likewise."

Note: Jesus refuses to define who a neighbor

is. Instead He asks a question proving something
greater than the exact answer anticipated. Being
a neighbor to someone is not limited to family
relations or proximity. It is showing the love of
God to all who are in need, who ever they may be,
where ever they may be.
The Robbers Priest and Levite The Samaritan

Harm him by
Rob him Pays for him

Leave him Leaves him cared

Leave him dying
unhelped for

Promises to
Abandon him Neglected him
The Samaritan man gave
freely of both his time and his
money to help a Jewish man
who was not only a stranger,
but also was of a different
religion, a foreigner and an
enemy of his people.
Samaritan man and Samaritan woman powerful
symbol of a new world, of a new community, of an
alternative world.

Both gospel vignettes are about crossing

artificial boundaries, breaking down walls
of separation, subverting power
structures, dismantling privileges, putting
the private the exclusive in common to
build community.
The Samaritan woman and the good
Samaritan become for us models of
contemplation and of commitment.

The Samaritan woman encounters Jesus

and goes to proclaim him;
the Good Samaritan discovers the face
of God in that of his neighbor who
suffers and reaches out to help him.
Being religious today

Shamans and gurus and hermits and monastics and

mendicants and preachers and evangelical witnesses
have risen in every society as solemn reminders of
the Beyond in the midst of the Now.

When religious life is routine, the life is dead. When

religious life is bent on material security, the life is dead.
When religious life is more an ember than a fire, the life
is dead. When religious communities are concerned
about their own survival, the life is dead.
Vita consecrata #26
O "Where your treasure is, there will your heart be
also" (Mt 6:21). The unique treasure of the
Kingdom gives rise to desire, anticipation,
commitment and witness.
O Immersed in the things of the Lord, the
consecrated person remembers that "here we
have no lasting city" (Heb 13:14), for "our
commonwealth is in heaven" (Phil 3:20).
O The one thing necessary is to seek God's
"Kingdom and his righteousness" (Mt 6:33), with
unceasing prayer for the Lord's coming.
Vita Consecrata
O A particular duty of the consecrated life is to
remind the baptized of the fundamental
values of the Gospel, by bearing "splendid and
striking testimony that the world cannot be
transfigured and offered to God without the
spirit of the Beatitudes. #33
O Called to contemplate and bear witness to the
transfigured face of Christ, consecrated men
and women are also called to a "transfigured"
How to revitalize religious life?

We need to focus on the bigger picture

why are we together at this point of our
More than communal or organizational
more than personal brokenness or family

We are called for a greater purpose.

Deep and regular prayer is needed.
passionate and challenging reflection is needed.
The support of a caring
and a healing community
is needed.
Not to confuse work with
good intentions with the
spiritual life;
profession with
What is important we
are God-seekers.
Religious life the 1st challenge - to be authentic

Is one living one's life authentically, that is, in

the way human life should be lived?

Is one in harmony with the intentionality

(meaning-commitment and object of desire) of
human existence itself?

Has one surrendered one's freedom and the

whole direction of one's life to what is ultimately
good and true?

To what in this world, then, does one, and

should one, hand over or commit one's love?
Once you accept and rejoice in your authenticity,
you begin to see things as YOU are. You begin to
see the authentic self is the Soul made visible.

You are a process, not a product. You still won't

be perfect, but significance isn't about
perfection--it is about authenticity. You are
significant if you are being your real, authentic
self. being authentic.pptx
1Cor. 15:9-10

For I am the least of the apostles, unfit to

be called an apostle, because I persecuted
the church of God. But by the grace of
God I am what I am, and his grace toward
me has not been in vain. On the contrary,
I worked harder than any of them--
though it was not I, but the grace of God
that is with me.
1 Corinthians 2:1-5

When I came to you, brothers and sisters, I did

not come proclaiming the mystery of God to you
in lofty words or wisdom. For I decided to know
nothing among you except Jesus Christ, and him
crucified. And I came to you in weakness and in
fear and in much trembling. My speech and my
proclamation were not with plausible words of
wisdom, but with a demonstration of the Spirit
and of power, so that your faith might rest not on
human wisdom but on the power of God.
Positive and negative experiences
places of Gods presence 2nd
Consciously cultivated, nourished, cared
about, it often takes the character of
struggle as we strive to integrate new
perceptions or convictions.

And it bears the character of grace as we

are lifted beyond previous levels of
integration by a power greater than our
I ask God
I asked God to take away my pride.
God said, No. Claim it holistically and
be proud of who you are.
I asked God to make others love me.
God said, No. Learn to love yourself.
You have nothing but yourself to love
first. The rest will follow.
I asked God to grant me patience.
God said, No. Patience is a by product of
tribulations; it isn't granted, it is learned.
I asked God to give me happiness.
God said, No. I give you blessings;
Happiness is up to you.
I asked God to spare me pain.
God said, No. Suffering draws you apart
from fears and worries and brings you
closer to Me.
I asked God for all things that I might
enjoy life.
God said, No. I will give you life, so
that you may enjoy all things.
I ask God to help me LOVE others,
as much as He loves me.
God said...Ahhhh, finally you have
the idea. If you love God, share love!
Gospel project of self-transcendence - 3rd
Mat. 6:24-24 "No one can serve two masters; for a slave will
either hate the one and love the other, or be devoted to the one
and despise the other. You cannot serve God and wealth.
"Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will
eat or what you will drink, or about your body, what you will
wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than
clothing? Look at the birds of the air; they neither sow nor reap
nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them.
Are you not of more value than they? And can any of you by
worrying add a single hour to your span of life? And why do you
worry about clothing?

But strive first for the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and
all these things will be given to you as well. So do not worry
about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring worries of its own.
Today's trouble is enough for today.
The transcendental
orientation is what
moves us beyond all
forms of self-
distraction and self-
A window is nothing but empty space. You may
put all sorts of frames to adorn them, but in the
end a window is just an empty space. It may be a
square, it may be a rectangle, it may be a circle,
but it is a square or rectangle or circle of --

But try living in a house without a window. It is

not possible, or at least it is not bearable.

This suggests that in some cases, emptiness can

be pregnant with fullness. Nothingness can be
pregnant with being. Absence can be pregnant
with presence.

That is what silence is. It is a window in a house,

or to a human being or to the Divine
There is an increasingly
popular stance that
chooses to deny the
human hunger for
meaning and

Our transcendental
orientation can be solely
selfish and materialistic.

It can be reduced to any

form of human security or
The kind of movement
demanded of is
primarily a stretching,
a breaking-of-
boundaries for the
sake of the gospel, and
a movement of
We may contribute to
the transformation of
others but lets us not
overlook our own
conversion. We need
to be converted first.
The option for the poor is Religious life places us on the
inherent in the very structure
of love lived in Christ. side of justice. 4th challenge
For each Institute, according
to its charism, this involves
adopting a simple and austere
way of life, both as individuals
and as a community.
Strengthened by this living
witness and in ways
consistent with their choice of
life, and maintaining their
independence vis--vis
political ideologies,
consecrated persons will be
able to denounce the
injustices committed against
so many sons and daughters
of God, and commit
themselves to the promotion
of justice in the society where
they work. V.C.#82.
The gospel declares that authentic
spirituality is one love which embraces
both God and neighbor, the neighbor who
is precisely the poor and needy (Luke
10:29ff.; Matt. 25:31ff.). The experience
of God and the experience of the poor are
mutually verifying and mutually
reinforcing: the sense of the poor brings
with it and reinforces the sense of God,
and vice versa.
We need to create a
synthesis of prophetic
commitment to the
work of justice and
on the other, of the
prophetic call for
prayerful "space" in
which to listen to the
Lord of history.
For the religious
encounter with the
"absolute God" leads
one to the "absolute
of neighbor."
Religious life intentional community, a
counter-cultural community 5th challenge

A life project bringing together a voluntary

community free, responsible, and
committed adult Christians who are
radically equal and whose equality is not
abolished or compromised by the always
provisional leadership arrangements which
the community creates to foster its
discernment and commitments.
St. Augustine says our friends are Gods
gifts to us for providential purposes.
Any intimacy we achieve with another is
always preceded by Gods intimate love for
Intimacy is not something we chase after;
it is grace we unwrap.
Friendship is theo-centric. We only
experience intimacy when we are in God
and living for God or centered in Jesus
and strive to live according to the way of
A prayer / poem by Archbishop Oscar Romero

It helps, now and then, to step back

and take the long view.
The kingdom is not only beyond our efforts,
it is beyond our vision.
We accomplish in our lifetime only a tiny fraction
the magnificent enterprise that is God's work.
Nothing we do is complete,
which is another way of saying
that the kingdom always lies beyond us.
No statement says all that could be said.
No prayer fully expresses our faith.
No confession brings perfection.
No pastoral visit brings wholeness.
No program accomplishes the church's mission.
No set of goals and objectives includes
This is what we are about:
We plant seeds that one day will grow.
We water seeds already planted, knowing that they hold future
We lay foundations that will need further development.
We provide yeast that produces effects beyond our capabilities.

We cannot do everything
and there is a sense of liberation in realizing that.
This enables us to do something,
and to do it very well.
It may be incomplete, but it is a beginning, a step along the way,
an opportunity for God's grace to enter and do the rest.

We may never see the end results,

but that is the difference between the master builder and the
worker. We are workers, not master builders, ministers, not
messiahs. We are prophets of a future not our own.
If the samaritan wo/man were to take us by the
hand, what would we say and would we willing
to go where s/he would take us?

What three words best describe prominent

aspects of your spiritual life? your religious life?

What has been, or is currently, an area of

struggle for you as you've tried to integrate new
perceptions or convictions? Can you name the
stages you pass through?

What has been your experience of grace lifting

you "beyond previous levels of integration?"