I’m going to depart from my usual article on promoting religious life to talk about something that I think is very important – authentic religious life. This is a topic central to the renewal and strengthening of every religious community.
Years ago the legendary UCLA basketball coach John Wooden always emphasized the fundamentals: dribbling, passing and shooting. His players became champions on the college basketball scene. In the same way, religious today have to go back to the fundamentals of authentic religious life.
What makes a community flourish?
There have been few teachers better in understanding religious life than Fr. Thomas Dubay, S.M. the well-known retreat master and expert on spiritual life. The September/October 2017 issue of Religious Life magazine published by the IRL carries the first of two parts of a series of questions and answers by Fr. Dubay about what makes a community flourish. Although Fr. Dubay passed in 2010, his words are timely today.
Fr. Dubay at first says,
Two types of communities are diminishing, but one is flourishing. The two that are diminishing to a drastic degree are the rigid right and the secularized left.
And then he says,
The type that flourishes is the one that is living the radical gospel: love for prayer, warm community, factual frugality, and obedience to leadership.
He asks, where does the future of religious life lie?
It lies with authenticity … Celibate men and women of deep prayer and warm universal love will succeed. They who live as poor people who are uninterested in worldly recreations and pleasures, who are content with a frugal diet and simple garb have a future. They who are humble and obedient, who are consumed with the will of the Father as He speaks it in Scripture and in the Church have reasons to be optimistic.
Get the entire article by becoming a member of the IRL at ReligiousLife.com.
Buy books by Fr. Dubay from Ignatius Press.