Called to Communion

September 26, 2013

It is just a year now since representatives from Columban missions around the world came together in Los Angeles to refl ect and plan on our way forward together. Out of that meeting came the document “Called to Communion” that provides all of us Columban missionaries with a common sense of direction and guidance for the next several years, despite the differences in the particular circumstances of our mission from one continent to another. “Called to Communion” emphasizes that we are continually invited by God to live in right relationship with the Creator, with creation and with all the peoples of the world.

Our striving for deeper communion with other Columbans, with the people we live among, as well as with our supporters and benefactors, is not simply driven by the fact that the world is fast becoming a global village. While it is true that rapid advances in travel and the mass media brings us into greater and more frequent contact with one another, so often we are preoccupied with the means of communication – smart phones, iPads, computers – that we confuse competence in using technology with the quality of our relationships.

The call to communion, however, requires not so much that we develop expertise in the use of technology, as that we learn to stretch our imagination and broaden our understanding of ourselves, others and the world around us. It is a call to recognize our deep yearning for meaningful relationships, interdependence and unity. It is a call that involves reaching out to others in new ways; sharing our faith, our talents and our experiences; letting go of our prejudices and fears; and embracing the new and the surprising.

Before moving to Omaha some months ago, I had spent several years as a member of an international community of Columban seminarians and priests in Chicago. All of us had come to the Windy City carrying treasures from our home countries — Korea, the Philippines, Tonga, Fiji, Peru, Chile and Ireland — and through our day to day living together we learned how to share these gifts with others, while receiving in turn what was offered us.

Our efforts to grow in mutual understanding, to promote collaboration and form friendships with fellow Columbans from various countries awakened in each one of us great dreams as well as deep fears, and resulted in both unexpected frustrations and surprising blessings. Frequently, it seemed to me that it was our communal faith in God and our shared commitment to our missionary vocation that enabled us to live with the puzzle that resembled a Rubik’s cube.

Anyone familiar with the Rubik’s cube puzzle quickly realizes that one cannot solve it piece by piece like a jigsaw puzzle. Rather, one needs to fi rst imagine the whole, and then keep that big picture in mind as one proceeds with the various moves and twists that will eventually restore each of its six faces to its own particular color.

This ability to see that everything does indeed hold together and forms one great whole is the fruit of prayer, a sharing in God’s own vision of the world. One of the recently declared Doctors of the Church, the twelfth century mystic, Hildegard of Bingen, expressed her insight into that mysterious bond that unites everything when she wrote: “The moment of my awakening was when I saw, and knew I saw, all things in God, and God in all things.” As we enter into deeper relationships with one another, with creation and with our Creator-God, we too will receive glimpses of the wonder and mystery of this holy communion.