So what would you say if I told you that I had an idea for a new religious order? Well, it may not necessarily be new. But it’s a good idea.
What about a community that you must be at least 18 to join. Your education does not matter. Your debt does not matter.The only requirements are an openness of spirit and a desire to unite yourself totally to the community.
You must take vows publicly, that you are willing to completely give up yourself for the sake of the community. In other words, you vow to be completely at the disposal of the needs of your community. You vow to be Christ to your community.The charism of this community would be service and self-denial.
Part of the rule of this order would be what sets it aside from all the rest. It’s unique rule would be inconstancy. Where other orders have a constancy of rule, set times for prayers, meals, rest, this one would change on a weekly and sometimes daily or even hourly basis. Sometimes the community will toll the bell for your rising at dawn, other times at 7. Sometimes you will have morning prayer, other times, the community will try to distract you from any type of prayer. The rigorous and spontaneous schedule will not allow you to find peace and order in the rule, but instead, force you to overcome any pleasure you once derived from a schedule and learn instead to completely submit yourself to needs of the community.
A constant struggle between self or selfless will be presented to you almost hourly, not always in the same two ways and always sporadic. Thus never allowing the postulant adequate time to anticipate the next moment of penance or prayer.
This is intentional, never knowing meal times, never knowing prayer times, never knowing when rest will begin, if it will begin, how soon it will begin, when the day will start, or what is to be expected of you. Never relying on when the work will be done. But always being ready. This heightened state of preparedness, or readiness for sacrifice is essential and draws the postulant into sometimes an exhausted state of anguish but serves a higher purpose of purification.
Where other orders seek to assist one another in their vocation, this one may at times resist your efforts of help, ignore you, speak rudely to you or make you feel like you aren’t doing enough…this too, serves to purpose to increase in the postulant a deepening of the spirit of humility. That is, at least, the goal. If the postulant takes too much of this to heart, they will create an obstacle in their own spiritual development by spending their time pitying themselves instead of believing that everything the community demands of them is truly for their own sanctification.
This order is rigorous, it would be demanding, and many times may feel like you are doing all the work. It can be very lonely at times, even isolating when you are struggling or falling and you realize the community never stops needing. Not even when you are needing. You must still get up. You must still move on. You must still serve. No days off.
It does sound exhausting but what if I told you that somehow, there was immense peace in this order? That, the more you think you are helping the needs of your community, the more in fact you are helping the needs of yourself? What if I told you that in all the craziness their could be holiness? And that even though it is more demanding than I can even explain here, there is that much more joy than I could possibly explain here.
What do you think now? Still interested? Wait, though! I haven’t told you the name of this order.
I like to call it: Parenthood.
+Have a Blessed Lent +