5th November saw 7G coming together for our inaugural Day of Recollection (DOR). The theme of the DOR is ‘A Spiritual Family’. We had great fun and laughter, but more importantly, the spiritual input has deeply nourished each of us as we strive to grow as a community. Let’s revisit some tips from Desmond and Fr Jude on how we can build our spiritual family:
#1 Having a clear mission with the 4Ls
The 4Ls are Love, Lead, Liberate and Launch. All communities need to have these 4Ls in order to flourish and grow as a spiritual family.
- ‘Love one another as I have love you’ says Jesus. As we receive this great love from Jesus, we are challenged to love one another in our community. It is often easy to love people we like, but the true challenge is to love people whom we may not get along very well with. It is only then that we go beyond our humanness and learn to love the way Christ loves us.
- To lead in a Christian community is an act of service to our fellow brothers and sisters. We are called to lead in our various capacities and share our gifts and talents with one another, be it our gifts of lectoring, ministering, planning games (We shan’t forget the lyrics from this day forward :p) prayer & worship etc. It is through this leading and sharing that we integrate ourselves as one body of Christ.
- A spiritual family supports one another and liberates us from our fears, anxieties and sense of unworthiness. Just as how Jesus called His first disciples, He reassures us through our spiritual family to ‘not be afraid and come follow Him’.
- Communities give birth to other communities. This is where we recognise our mission and launch ourselves to extend our spiritual family beyond 7G to our One Church and do our part to evangelise and give life to others.
#2 Going against the (divisive) force…because there is strength in unity
People are naturally divisive and cohesion is something intentional (see Ingredient 3 below as well). And indeed the Catholic Church recognizes this. So must our spiritual family! Very often, we can be skeptical of communities and expect Christian communities to be perfect. Well, the truth is that we are far from it. Each one of us brings with us our brokenness and imperfections which can be forces of division. But if we are intentional to replace these brokenness and imperfections with love, then the power of love will unite us with the body of Christ.
#3 Be Intentional
The role of a spiritual family is to challenge and encourage each other to make a conscious commitment to follow Jesus and his teachings. This doesn’t quite happen on its own unless every member makes it intentional to lead a Christ-centered life and to desire to know more about our Christian faith. Conversion is for all of us. Not just Scott Hahn, G.K Chesterton, Augustine of Hippo, King David, or even Paul the Apostle experienced conversion. Francis of Assisi, Teresa of Avila and Ignatius of Loyola were all Catholics from a young age, yet they all had profound conversion experiences that transformed their lives. So must we.
Alternatively, you could pay $0.50 to borrow from Keenan Tan.
#4 Conversion to Christ
Conversions are needed for the building of authentic spiritual family. Community life centered on Christ is a contradiction to today’s world of secularism, consumerism, pragmatism, materialism, individualism….the list goes now. Hence as a community, we need to be conscious and active in facilitating our encountering with Jesus Christ (such as encountering Jesus through the Holy Eurcharist, breaking the word, adoration, taking on opportunities to proclaim the Gospel). We need to be convinced of the need to be converted to Christ, i.e to put our lives / time into things that are important. Thus, an authentic spiritual family plays the role of a redemptive agent, putting in place platforms for this active conversion to Christ.
#5 Conversion to Community
We all need community. But just like porcupines, we all come with our spiky quills and often find a way to offend and take offense to those around us. In these moments, it is a lot easier to quit and live in isolation, protected from the spikes of our fellow porcupines. However, if we choose to huddle, we will soon realize that the slight wounds that we received from one another were all worth it in the end.
‘Lay down your life, so that others may have life’. When we reach heaven’s shores, it would be wonderful to see the people we love and care about all around us. Members of a spiritual family trust each other to put their salvation in the hands of others. This can only be possible if we place our trust and safety in the hands of Christ. This confidence can only come about when we know that our brothers and sisters also desire to be converted to Christ.
#6 Being Stewards to Community
To be a steward is to place great care for something or look after something. To be a steward of community, is to make a fundamental choice of playing an active role in ensuring that this community indeed grows to be a spiritual family. And how can we do so? Each of us can contribute to the family by being aware of what we bring into the community and making the fundamental choice of bringing authenticity into the community.
#7 Trust your leadership
Leadership is meant for communion. A family is led by the head of the household, likewise a spiritual family is led by the pastoral team that is put into leadership through discernment and prayer. Members discern who they would want to be in leadership and allow the Spirit to work through the process of leadership selection. Once the leadership is in place, members will work together with the team to strengthen unity and lead the community further towards salvation.
Let us work towards building our spiritual family of Seven Graces, together with the One Church and continue to raise a generation for Christ. Yes, that includes singing and dancing porcupines.