In my first reflection on the Extraordinary Jubilee Year of Mercy, I noticed three interdependent calls for celebrating this year: A Call to Experience Mercy, A Call to Conversatio & Communion and a Call to Mission. My last post reflected on the Call to Experience Mercy and today I would like to reflect briefly on the Call to Conversatio & Communion.
In the monastic tradition, Conversatio or the full phrase Conversatio Morum is commonly translated as the ongoing fidelity to a way of life or the ongoing conversion of life. At the heart of this monastic phrase to conversion of life that is anchored by remaining faithful to a way of life through the vows of stability and obedience. To make a lifelong commitment to a way of life is in fact a heroic way to live one’s life and this will cause the need for ongoing conversion in the way in which we lead that committed life. A good reminder for us during this Year of Mercy, that the beginning of our Call to Conversatio is to find its context within our particular experience of God’s Mercy.
In living out a Call to Conversatio we must find ourselves attentive to “the other” in the journey. Knowing the journey in the year of mercy is not just prayer and reconciliation—but a re-membering and an ongoing encounter/experience with a particular person in a particular time in a particular place, Jesus. Maintaining long-term relationships reminds us to learn to distinguish between what is essential and what is nonessential. Conversatio calls us to let go, to go beyond where we are, to where we can be, it is an invitation not to cling to past works. Mercy is not just a social event but is it is a holy event.
Inside of each person is some inner loneliness, homelessness or some alienation that longs to be welcomed. Merely being nice to people, showing up to and following the rules does not fulfill the deep requirements of mercy. The Holy Father calls us to experience God’s mercy and to have an encounter in a way that the other stirs us and moves us out of ourselves to make a connection. Mercy, like hospitality, will extract a cost from us and it will move us into the realm of the personal and the social transformation needed in our world. Mercy puts an end to injustice; t is a spiritual practice that leads us to becoming more human and answer to today’s inner loneliness and homelessness. This loneliness/homelessness at the center of each person is there to lead us to greater experience of communion with one another and ultimately with God.
Look around your communities deeply; what are the stories, the unspoken values? Where are you being called to encounter ‘the other’ and called to a deeper sense of communion? In light of this information, how do we create an authentic community—not one that serves our own particular needs, but challenges us to be connected to the past, while enlarging our circles and working for a future that is larger than myself and calls for fidelity to that way of life?