"One of the perennial truths and facts of life is the importance of community. We have heard it said that man is a social being, and as such, he can not live in isolation. All fields of human knowledge would agree to this fact: psychology, sociology, philosophy, and even anthropology. They all affirm that man can fully attain all his potentialities only in a community. The late Pope John Paul II, in one of his earlier writings as Archbishop Karol Wojtyła, said that it is only in the context of a community that the “I” can fully live his dignity and calling, because it is only in the community that he can be connected to the “THOU”, and therefore both the “I” and the “THOU” authentically attain their individuality and at the same time their connectedness.
“Witnessing Graced-Friendship of the Trinity Through Our Lady” is, for me, an expression of this perennial truth about being and living in a community. Graced-friendship is that important element which should characterize our manner and spirit of relationship, connection, and rapport with one another.
It is my contention that graced-friendship is a higher form,a higher dimension of relating primarily because it is based on grace that comes from God, and not just on any human preferences or likings. It is a kind of relationship that evolves, revolves and hinges on every grace that comes from God. It is a relationship that goes beyond human standard and human definitions. It is in this kind of relationship, to which each and every member of the Society of Our Lady is called. Be it in the way we relate with our own respective vocation or with the other two vocations in the Society. It is, it should be, it must be, the level of our relationship in ecclesial teams. In a more concrete way, how can we incarnate the spirit of graced-friendship? Is it something that is altogether beyond our capabilities, or is it something that you and I can participate in?
In his Letter to the Colossians, Apostle Paul writes: “Put on them, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved - heartfelt compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience, bearing one another and forgiving one another, if one has a grievance against one another; as the Lord has forgiven you, so must you also do. And over all these put then on love, that is, the BOND OF PERFECTION. And let the peace of Christ control your hearts, the peace into which you were also called in one body”. (Col. 3:12-17). This exhortation of the Apostle Paul characterizes how it is to relate in graced-friendship. What the Apostle said can only happen if there is grace-friendship in a community.
In “The Collected Works of St. John of the Cross”, translated by Kieran Kavanaugh, OCD and Otilio Rodriguez, OCD, it is says: “You who is in formation should come to understand that you come to the monastery so that all may fashion you and try you; you
should think that all in the community are artisans present there in order to prove you; that some will fashion you with words, others by deeds, and others with thoughts against you; and that in all this you must be submissive as is the statue to the craftsman who molds it, to the artist who paints is, and to the gilder who embellishes it”. This is another way of living the spirit of graced-friendship because it is only through it that we discover that even the ugliest experience in life can be liberating.
Jean Vanier, in his book “Community and Growth”, writes: “In one way, community is a terrible place. It is the place where our limitations and our egoisms are revealed. It is the place where we discover our poverty and weakness, our inability to get on with people, our mental and emotional blocks, our frustrations and jealousies, our hatred and wish to destroy. While we were alone, we could believe we loved everyone….. so community life brings a painful revelation of our limitations, weaknesses and darkness…..and the immediate reactions is to hide them away again, pretending they don’t exist, or to flee from community life and relationships with others, or to find . that the monsters within are theirs, not ours. But if we are accepted with our limitations as well as our abilities, community gradually becomes a place of liberation. In community life we discover our own deepest wound and learn to accept it so that our rebirth can begin. True community is liberating.” For me, this can only happen if there is graced-friendship.
Yes, it is true, Our Lady is our proto-type model on how to live and relate in graced-friendship primarily because She is the daughter of the Father, the Mother of the Son and the Spouse of the Holy Spirit."