One of the most beautiful dimensions of Religious Life is community. And it can also be full of challenges as well! Pope Francis wisely spoke thus (which, no doubt, can be applied to family life, as well): “From experience I know that community life is not always easy, but it is a providential training ground for the heart. It is unrealistic not to expect conflicts; misunderstandings will arise and they must be faced. Despite such difficulties, it is in community life that we are called to grow in mercy, forbearance and perfect charity. The experience of God’s mercy, nourished by prayer and community, must shape all that you are, all that you do.”
Building on Our Holy Father’s words, I recently read a wonderful little meditation by Fr. Wilfrid Stinnsen in his book THIS IS THE DAY THE LORD HAS MADE. (Great book by the way! I highly recommend it.) Enjoy his thoughts – so beautifully expressed – which provide such deep insight for family life and communal living:
When we behold the Holy Family at Christmastime, we see how different the various members are. Jesus, Mary, and Joseph each have their own specific calling and task in the mystery of salvation. But there has never been a more harmonic and peaceful family. Precisely in their differences, these people find their deepest unity.
So it is in the Holy Trinity as well. The Father and the Son are completely different from each other, but they love each other so intensely that they become one in the Holy Spirit, as a man and a woman become one in their child.
If a family or a community doesn’t function well, we so easily resort to saying: ‘We are too different.’ But it isn’t differences that cause the conflicts, but the lack of love. Love transforms the difference into harmony, not by destroying it, but by affirming and respecting it.
Respect is one of the choicest qualities of love – respect for the individuality and the unique personality of the other. If I love, I wish for the other to become ever more himself or herself. I confirm the other in what makes him or her unlike me.”