Dr. Thomas Kadankavil CMI.
| Dr. Thomas
What he saw in the natural order he envisagedin the spititual realm too. Family / House is the natural basic socity and as a biological institution it serves the biological, social, and spititual purposes. The religious community however,is a conventional association which acieves its end by creating a loving community, founding on the promise of mutual love and acceptanceof each other. This is because of their intense love for God and their fellowmen. Chavara was well aware that the family bond and love -bond in religious houses cannot be comparedon the basis of any earthly standard. Life in the monastery can be described as a life in a "little heaven on the earth"ever maintaining a sense of the bond of love and unity among the members.
For an average onlooker the strength of the monastery might be the strength of its infrastructures, the property it possesses. Chavara, however, remindsthat a monastery stands or falls on the basis of the zeal and virtues of the members and putting forth themselves as mirrors of virtues and assembly of the holy people.
This advice was born from the long years of experience in the administration of the religious communities. A typical case whether members of a community which willingly accept only the superiors whom they like is examined and adjudged. For Chavara such behaviour is abominabla, for such a stand could not tally with the Christian faith. And he remeinds the fellow -religious that it was not to live accoring to one's own will but that of God's will expressed through ones superiors that they have joined the community. Chavara's special understanding of obedience, referred to, stands out here very empathically.
The saharing of the resposibility of common living of a group is not remunerative. It is neither partnership in which the stakeholders divide the profit, nor mere participation where the members simply take hold of what is already available.The vision behind this type of living together is that the house-project is equally of all, but no one takes hold of it as his own. The leader in the community is a gift of faith and obedience to him can bear no exception. Though the management of the affairs of the house are done by the superior himself,the procurator gets the work done and the rest of the community willingly accepts this disposition. This arrangement, of course, does not leave the other members of the community free of any charge. One must take the responsibility of the task entrusted to him. This will enrich him with the healthy feeling that he is a contributing member in the community.
Other tips to make the common living a success also are provided in the exhortation. First of all one has to be industious and charitable , namely more exacting from oneself in diligent works for the community and at the same time look at the contributions other members make with a sense of appreciation and understanding. Time, once passed off, could never be recovered and so it has to be used for meaningful activities when it is available with a hope that ernest efforts not go unrewarded. With regard to to the use of the property owned by the monastetry, sense of discretion should prevail and nothing should be appropriated for private use. The conviction that the things one makes use of belonged equally to all should regulate his behaviour.
Commitment to religious life:
This piece of advice is a call for an inner search for the subconscious strands of thought to have a real picture of the nature of one's vocation. Today religious life in our society has turned somewhat to be profession, one among the several other posibilities to secure a way of living in a decent way. It is admitted that today the vocation of the teenage candidates to religious life in fact, has not become mature as Chavara had depicted here. For a period in the beginning, even after a few years, earning a livelihood, finding a secure career, position, respectand a decent public life might have been the strongly motivating force to continue as a member in a religious community. It would be a colossal failure, if the years of training has not brought out the candidate from his infantile understanding of religious life and have not devoloped in him a genuine understanding of the consecrated life.
Monastery should not be a place where a number of indigent peopleare gathered to eke out a livelihood and Chavara overrules this opinion in the case of each one of his companions, reaffirming his conviction : " We have , by our own will, renounced our parents and our wealth to come here" and denies the truth of the position that members have been drawn to religious life due to hunger, or desperate living corcumstancesin the world.
After liberating the motivation of the religius vocation from the charge of seeking worldly comforts, the saint raises the very powerful rethorical question "how great a madness" it would to forsake the Lord through ones negligence and indolence or laziness. The message of the text is to recover one's vocation in its true sense and work it out in full measure as it was original accepted and professded. //-
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