Wednesday, April 23, 2014
The Many Benefits of Faith Sharing
During Lent, we had the three Scrutinies for the catechumens before baptism on Easter. The Gospels used for these rites have deep conversations of Jesus with those who appear in these incidents. In our lives we rarely have conversations with others at this level. For Christians sharing our faith experiences and the meaning we give to life with others is one of the deepest levels of interchange: a way of participating in group spiritual direction.
An article in a pastoral review speaks about this faith sharing: the experience of our relationship with God and the awareness of his presence in our lives. Jesus selected his disciples to be with him and to listen and share with him. He sent the disciples out two by two, and in Ecclesiastes 4:9-10: "Two are better than one; they get a good wage for their labor. If one falls, the other will lift up his companion. Woe to the solitary man!" A maverick is not the way of a Christian, who believes in the natural synergistic effects of relating with others.
Society more and more is becoming individualistic, rather than discuss issues with another it is easier to do it alone, faster, and less of a bother. We are not concerned in looking for opportunities to hear about other possibilities, analyze and purify our motives.
Consequently, to find others who would be interested in joining a faith sharing group is not easy. 'Cor ad cor loquitur' is a Latin phrase we hear often: heart speaks to heart. Most of our conversations are small talk; little time is expended in serious, meaningful and for a Christian, talk that deepens our spiritual development and helps to mature us to face the difficulties that invariable will come.
The writer mentions a missionary society of priests that had a workshop some thirty years ago that began this faith sharing among the members of the society. The workshop was conducted by a group of Camaldolese monks for five days, after which the group committed themselves to meet once a month with 5-8 in a group for a period of six months.
They took the example of Jesus with the two disciples on the way to Emmaus, Luke 24,13 as their example to follow. The topics depended on the group to select; each member of the group would be responsible for conducting the meeting. One meeting could discuss the parable that each member liked the most and to explain why? What does one do when he is faced with a crisis in life? What phrases from the Scriptures did one find helpful and why? These would be introduced to prime the pump. One could also select some article on a spiritual matter to use as a point of discussion. The topics to be discussed are unlimited.
The meetings did continue for over the 30 years but gradually because of the age of the participants and a decrease in the members, the last group decided to stop last year. The willingness to share the spiritual life with others will be blessed, he says. The writer recommends the practice and although they have discontinued he writes the article hoping that others will read what he writes and seek to form groups.