I did not know the topic of our presentation before we went into our weekend with Sister Simone Campbell. I do not know why I did not put two and two together either. But, we spent the weekend immersing ourselves in the world of Catholic Social Teaching...of course. Sister Simone immerses herself in CST; she lives and breathes it.
There are some key principles that make up Catholic Social Teaching: honoring the dignity of every human being, using the government to promote the common good, living out our obligation to one another, and caring for all God's creation, among others.
Throughout the weekend, we talked about the principles that make us feel most enthusiastic, as well as those that make us most nervous. We searched for the principles of CST in recent news articles, as Sr. Simone likes to "pray with the news." We had conversations with members from other communities, as well as among our own, about the way that our charisms align with these teachings. It was a rich weekend in many ways.
I walked up to lunch with Sr. Simone on Saturday, and I told her how all this talk reminded me of the importance of grounding ourselves in community and prayer. There is no way to sustain the energy for this work without it. It was more than apparent that Simone roots herself in both of those, as well as deep listening. (Naturally...her community follows the Rule of Benedict, which reminds us to "Listen with the ear of our heart," after all!)
I also noticed that there were a few lines that Simone repeated over and over throughout the weekend. "Good point!" "How cool is that?!" "Holy moly!" "How annoying?!"
I thought about everything that we are being called to do. The list is not short. Just within our community, Sr. Simone called us to keep alive our long memory, to have intergenerational discourse, to touch the pain of the world as real, and to have abundant hope. But, then, we have to go out in the world and do that with all our brothers and sisters.
It feels so, so daunting to think about the work that goes into truly living out Catholic Social Teaching. Even more than that, it can feel annoying when we have to continually face so much working against us -- The government doesn't actually work for the common good. People only worry about themselves. The world is already so lost. And on and on and on.
So, we need weekends like these that remind us of our abundant hope. Community and prayer are our backbones, and it's a lot less annoying to face everything in front of us when we know that we are not doing it alone. We are doing this with God and with each other.
How cool is that?!
Let us walk in the holy presence.