Salvatorian Universality in action
There are many different approaches to Salvatorian Universality. While the sisters and brothers of the religious communities see in it more the all-embracing love of God that is given to every human being without exception, we Lay Salvatorians seek a more practical application of it. For it is a truly universal instrument to give and make our neighbor experience the love of God.
As mentioned before, one of our most important guiding principles is the words of Blessed Francis Jordan: “As long as there is one person on earth who does not know God and does not love God above all things, you dare not allow yourself a moment’s rest.”
These words must be seen in an expanded meaning today. We must not rest while there are people who are starving, plagued by disease and hardship, displaced and now homeless, exploited, and trapped in one of the many forms of modern slavery. Likewise, people without access to education, clean air, and drinking water, or to at least minimal social-medical care. In this context, protecting our environment and counteracting greed and exploitation is imperative if we follow the words of the Salvatorian Charter for the protection of life and all its fullness. The often small steps necessary for this can be taken by each one of us.
Lay Salvatorians who are looking for tasks or areas of activity should simply look around them and consider their talents. There are certainly some opportunities to get involved, especially in places where “people of the Catholic Church” have not been expected before. The fields of activity are certainly not limited to those within a Salvatorian community or parish. The Salvatorian laity must become aware of their particular nature, abilities, and vocation. This vocation will lead them to the places where they are needed, and these places can be anywhere on earth, even where no Salvatorians have been before.
Looking for, finding, and using the right language
For some time now, questionable evangelical groups or sects have been tilling the field, although we could provide adequate and authentic answers. Maybe we should remember some passages of the Acts because just folding our hands and talking nice words will probably not be very promising. Maybe some things have to be thought and interpreted in a new way because the language of the church is unfortunately not the language of the people anymore. We all know that the catholic church is not a newbie on the stage of the world. We find in it a lot of traditions and rituals, some more and some less popular or known. Unfortunately, we also find a language, which may be interesting for theologians, historians, and other individuals that came into age. But people of today and especially young people have lots of problems understanding those old-fashioned expressions and actions. On the one hand, it is a pity on the other hand it needs to have a more modern language to reach those people at all or again. What is needed here are “translators” and vocation holders who can transform the old truths into a new language maybe also a new way of thinking because language and thought processes are connected.
And in addition, don’t forget about the tradition because it’s often connected with language. Here we find ourselves in the footsteps of Jesus, because even he questioned the handling of Shabad for example and what is of greater importance, the human’s well-being or tradition. Here is a little story that could take place at any time for you to reflect on:
A young couple just married: One day, the young wife decided to braise a leg of lamb.
Before putting it into the oven, she cut the bottom piece off the leg and then placed the two pieces side by side in the braising pot.
Her husband looked over her shoulder and asked, “Why do you do that?”
“I don’t know, but my mother always did it just like that,” was the reply.
The husband then asked his mother-in-law why she cut off the bottom piece of the lamb leg.
“I don’t know, but my mother always did it just like that,” replied the mother-in-law.
The grandmother was still alive and so the man went to her and asked her too why she cut off the lower part of the leg of lamb before braising it.
And the grandmother answered, “Oh, there’s a very simple reason: my stewing pot was so small at the time that the whole roast just wouldn’t fit in it.”
By this example, you can understand why it’s important to question things sometimes – also in our church. By the way, once I talked with a monsignor of age, and he remarked: “At the beginning, the Church was a fine and open house with a lot of space. Over time, many people brought various beautiful and sometimes curious things and put them inside. You should imagine not only physical items but also spiritual elements. As years went by the Church became fuller and fuller. Only a few persons were encouraged enough to remove some of those things which were out of time. So today we have the situation, that our movement within the Church is very limited and restricted, sometimes prevented completely.” – I think he was a very wise man, and maybe this could be also a field of activity of Lay Salvatorians in the future. To go back to the roots and find all those things and ideas that are really essential.
Anyway, if we remember the story from Jesus, so it’s told, that he went to the places where the people were, in the taverns, in the houses, to the fountain, etc. And he used a language that was understood, for example in metaphors and easy stories. That is something we have to learn anew to be able to get into contact – make people interested in God.
I am aware that all the things I have just mentioned require a lot of strength and commitment. No one is capable of doing all this at once. Here, at the end of this talk, I’m not sure if I have met your expectations. We Lay Salvatorians got a very powerful tool in our hands or better in mind – the Salvatorian Universality. So if we pool our talents and strengths, support each other, and encourage each other, then we can move a lot for this world and our church – in faith and trust in God, who is always close to us.
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