In today’s increasingly globalized world, where challenges must be addressed locally and globally at the same time, basic and comprehensive education is inevitable. Even if some people will not like going back to school, our world and life today afford lifelong learning everywhere. It is a slogan but if you think about it more closely at all times it was necessary to face new challenges and experiences and analyze them. Without doing so nobody would have been able to survive at any time. Today of course in a globalized world the amount of information is enormous and increasing. But to be interested in multifaceted topics can only marginally be compared with going to school again.
Here, from the perspective of the Lay Salvatorians, there cannot be a limitation to religious or theological topics only. In order for people to understand and experience God’s activity and to be present in today’s world, it is also necessary to impart knowledge, competence, values, and attitudes that provide answers to global challenges and enable us to proactively work for a more justified world. In knowing about that, Pope Francis has published his two important encyclicals: Laudato si and Fratelli tutti. For example, there is to read about raising awareness of human rights violations or compliance, education for sustainable development, and promoting health through education. Education is the key for the future to understanding complex social, political, cultural, and global problems. Like the environmental and climate crisis, overpopulation, the exploitation of minerals as well as natural resources, and the partly perverted stock and securities trading. We need knowledge and understanding to solve the conflicts, small and large, of the 21st century.
So one of the most important keys for the future is education. Although the Universal Declaration of Human Rights states that everyone has the right to adequate education, this has by no means been achieved in all countries or regions – not even in all industrialized countries. Even there, a worrying number of illiterates still exist.
For Lay Salvatorians, this can open up the field of work and evangelization to volunteer to help others with their basic educational deficits. Several Lay Salvatorians in some units have already taken on such tasks and work with people from different social backgrounds.
But formation must also take place among us Lay Salvatorians ourselves. If we want to use the tool of Salvatorian universality properly and efficiently, we also need the necessary “energy” to do so. However, we must first absorb this “energy” by ourselves in order to pass it on accordingly. The questions and challenges of today’s life are numerous and diverse and our fellow human beings, especially young ones, are looking for answers with depth – also in spirituality.
For this, it is not necessary to have a Master’s degree, but rather to have an open and interested mind that can observe the world and its changes well, be open to new topics and not reject those immediately, and have enough creativity and ingenuity to apply Salvatorian universality in a variety of ways.
Another important aspect in this context is the “fake news” that has been circulating for some time, especially from the so-called social networks. These new forms of communication have a lot of advantages like enabling contact over huge distances and avoiding travel, but also a big downside because it is relatively easy to manipulate people and to create a mood for or against something across a certain community. A whole IT branch (keyword: Cambridge analytics) deals with this topic and also makes a lot of money with it.
That’s why it’s important, not to fall for such “fake news” as much as possible, but to keep your eyes and mind open to reality. But here, too, that is not possible without the necessary information and education, especially around the question of where do I get true information.
Corresponding to the challenges of our time are the words from Genesis 1:28 “… fill the earth and subdue it”. – to be understood more in the sense of learning today. We should understand the wonders and interconnections of this world that God has set up for us, instead of just bringing everything down and exploiting it. Likewise, an approach for Lay Salvatorians to act and think in that way and thereby make others aware of God’s love.
Contemporary faith can no longer do without the necessary background knowledge. It is important to understand the principles of faith which brings God’s love to the life as such into light and to integrate them into today.
This text is the second part from the lecture "Lay Salvatorians in the modern world" by Christian Patzl on the occasion of the retreat "Lay Salvatorians in the modern world" of the Australian Salvatorian Family on Oct., 1st 2022
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