A Spritual Refelction on Community, Networks, Connections and BFF’s
Community, Networks, Connections and BFFs
Connection is not communion, expression is not communication, links are not relationships.
This was a quote from a blog by Rocco Palmo He was commenting on Pope Benedict’s “Communications Day” talk, “A Call to Cyber-“Commitment.”It goes along the same line I wrote about earlier where I said that “links” are not “relationships.”
With a lot of recent attention being paid with what is happening in Veterans hospital administration, there has been new focus on what solders need once they return from areas of conflict. A July 1, 2014 blog by Brett & Kate McKay opens by examining the possible need of such men and women for “community” and the difference between “Networks” and “Communities.”
What Kate and Brett are saying is that human beings need true and intimate connections which can only be achieved through true and intimate communities. This became an interesting source of conversation while I was in the seminary. Many young men who were studying for archdiocesan priest assignments would often talk about the need for “community.” It was interesting to note that quite often some of the young men who were actually in communities (Dominicans, Norbertines, Carmelites), commented that the diocesan perspective on “community life” was not “totally informed.” They mentioned that men studying for diocesan priesthood really didn’t understand the true dynamics of living in a formal religious community.
Take a look at some of Brett and Kate’s ideas below:
- Networks Are Large and Anonymous; Communities Are Small and Intimate
- Networks Are Artificial, Top-Down; Communities Are Organic, Bottom-Up
- Networks Encourage Passivity and Consumption; Communities Require Action and Contribution
- Networks Can Be Location Independent; Communities Are Attached to a Place
- Networks Divide a Person Into Parts; Communities Nurture the Whole Person
And the more important question: “If I really need true community, is this group I’m part of a ‘Network’ or a ‘Community?’”
How do we actually achieve community however? Allow me to offer a personal example. Living alone in a rectory for the past several years, I realized the need to “intentionally” work on fulfilling the need for priestly community. As a new year’s resolution, I committed myself to have a meal, visit or meet socially with a least one priest-brother each week. So far, I’ve been able to live up to this goal which has, naturally, enhanced my ministry. Kate and Brett offer nine examples themselves (Check out their post to get the details). Their advice is simple and achievable.
Let me close with the following. As believers, we HAVE to attend Mass, even if you think “you’re not getting anything out of it” and even “when it’s boring” Digestion is not exactly exciting but it’s only necessary if you want to live. We cannot be a person of healthy community without a connection with the Lord. We cannot have a connection with the Lord without the Eucharist. It’s through the Eucharist that we attain the grace to fight the human entropy that keeps us from doing the hard work necessary in forming family and friendship.