instruere...inlustrare...delectare Disputations

Sunday, July 14, 2013

May the Divine penetrate humanity as wine penetrates a piece of bread

The final essay in Lay Sanctity, Medieval and Modern is "A Life Between Two Fires: Chiara Lubich and Lay Sanctity," by Donald W. Mitchell. Mitchell identifies "three distinguishable dimensions" of the spirituality of Focolare, the movement Chiara founded:
  1. Personal - union with God and unity with others through Christ
  2. Communal - a collective sharing in the spiritual life of the Trinity
  3. Participatory - partaking in the creative work of God and the redemptive work of Christ
 He explains the communal dimension of this spirituality in these words:
For Lubich, community not only has its traditional spiritual function as a place of formation, but, being an actual place of trinitarian life, it becomes a special means of communal sanctity.
What makes community "an actual place of trinitarian life" is the presence of Jesus wherever His disciples are -- "where two or three are gathered in My Name, there am I," and where Jesus is, so too is His Father and the Holy Spirit. This Trinitarian presence is found in every community of Christian disciples, but Focolare communities make a point of obtaining the fruit of this presence in the form of communal sanctification, not merely as the sum of the personal sanctification of the members of the community.

Echoing the words of St. John Chrysostom quoted in the book's introductory essay -- " it is [the married man's] duty to do all things equally with the solitary" -- Chiara describes what Mitchell calls "participatory sanctity" as "the journey of monasticism towards the world." But of course, non-professed laity aren't monks; she writes:
To become saints, you don't obey the bell of a superior calling you to prayer... You use the tools of your trade... the pen for a professor, the chisel for a sculptor -- that is your crucifix with which you go to sanctity.
And that, I think, is an excellent formula for lay sanctity in the 21st Century.