An Encouraging Word — A spirituality of communion

If anyone thinks he is religious and does not bridle his tongue, but deceives his heart, his religion is in vain. James 1:18-27

Father J. Ronald Knott
Father J. Ronald Knott

I will have been “priesting” for 44 years this coming May! There is not much that I have not heard or seen during those years.

Not much shocks me any more — with one exception. It’s not the drug addicts, adulterers or even the murderers. It’s the hateful and mean religious bloggers who think that their defense of orthodoxy gives them the right to say anything they like, any way they like, about anyone they like. Yet they would be the first to condemn cyber bullying by young parishioners.

My jaw drops in disbelief when I read some of their posts. Blaise Paschal was right: “Men never do evil so completely and cheerfully as when they do it from religious conviction.”

Cardinal Donald Wuerl of Washington, D.C., who often has written convincingly about civil discourse in our society, has lumped “irresponsible blogs, electronic and print media stories, and pulpit and podium people-bashing” with other forms of anonymous violence.

Quoting from Ephesians 4:15, he noted that we must not only speak the truth, but we must do so in love.

“It is not enough,” he said, “that we know or believe something to be true. We must express that truth in charity with respect for others so that the bonds between us can be strengthened in building up the body of Christ.”

“This is true,” he said, whether it is spoken “from a pulpit, a political platform or through electronic and print media and other means of social communications.”

Pope John Paul II, in his apostolic letter on the new millennium, said that “making the church the home and the school of communion is the great challenge facing us in the new millennium.” He called for a “spirituality of communion.”

A “spirituality of communion,” he wrote, means an ability to think of our brothers and sisters as “those who are part of me. A spirituality of communion implies also the ability to see what is positive in others, to welcome it and prize it as a gift from God” — for them and for us, he said. “A spirituality of communion means, finally, to know how to ‘make room’ for our brothers and sisters, bearing ‘each other’s burdens.’ ”

Pope Francis reminded us in a homily in January that too many have connected the proclamation of the Gospel with “inquisitorial blows of condemnation,” rather than with tones of “gentleness, fraternity and love.”

The pope has said, “The church grows through attraction.”

If the church is to be a home and a school of communion, then the shepherds of the church must “never be the servant of an ideology or faction” even in the name of preserving orthodoxy. No, we are called to be a home where communion is practiced and a school where communion is taught.

We are called to be positive and credible reconcilers, not just smug, mean-spirited condemners.

Father J. Ronald Knott

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2 replies on “An Encouraging Word — A spirituality of communion”
  1. says: Linda Martin

    Dear Fr. Knott, I read your coulmn each week and I have read many of your books. Your column in this past week’s Record struck a chord with me. I feel we must start communicating our beleifs in a way that does not strip those of differing views of their dignity. Thank you very much for giving me ideas on how to respond when people of good intention (or not) tear dwon others with vitriolic, self-righteous comments.

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