Contemplation: A Communion of Friendship

Contemplation: A Communion of Friendship

Contemplation: A Communion of Friendship 711 720 SVDP USA

We are called as individuals to the virtue of charity, expressed as complete love of God for His own sake, and love of the neighbor as ourselves for the love of God. [CCC, 1822] Charity is not only the greatest of the theological virtues, [1 Cor 13:13] but also the greatest commandment of Jesus Christ. [Mark 12:30-31] Our expression of this love requires us to share our personal graces, our individual charisms, in the service of one another, [1 Pet 4:10] united in this same love. Therefore, this virtue of charity, the central calling of our faith, is best expressed in communion – indeed, it is only expressed in communion – and communion is the heart of our Conferences, and our essential element friendship.

God’s people – each of us and all of us – also are called to share in the “threefold mission of Christ as Priest, Prophet and King” [CF, 14]. Since “God is love” [1 John 4:8], this necessarily means that our exercise of mission must be an embodiment of love, of charity, of agape. In Conferences, our works of charity are always works of the Conference, not of individual members. Even our home visits are always conducted in pairs, not alone.

It was Christ’s mission to enter into this world, where He “fully reveal[ed] man to himself”, [RH, 8] not only by taking on human nature along with His own divine nature, but by living in perfect communion with His creatures, especially His disciples. He expressed the call both to communion and to mission most clearly at the Last Supper, asking God the Father that the disciples might “be one” with one another, and be united in perfect union with God the Father. Just as importantly, He prayed the Disciples might lead others to be joined in this union. [John 17:18-23] This prayer calls us all to the mission of evangelization in communion with each other, with Him, and with all His creatures.

We all are parts of one body, as the apostle teaches, each with his own role, each with his own graces; part of not just a body, but of Christ’s body [1 Cor 12] which is His church. [Eph 1:22-23] Consequently, mission can only be fully realized in communion as one body, as one church, in the fullness of charity.

In His own mission, Christ was not alone. Who saw Him saw the Father, with whom He is fully united. Our model of communion, then, begins with the unity of the Father and Son, sealed by the Holy Spirit, whom He sends to strengthen and unite us. [John 14:16-17] The example of the Holy Trinity shows us that the Divine life is a shared life. United in perfect Communion with one another, the three persons of God also call us to communion. Our pathway, then, to the divine life, and our mission to call others to it, must also be shared. In this way, “The specific ministry of the Conference belongs not only to the Society, but to all Christian people.” [Manual, 16]

Our social nature, Christian charity, and individual gifts all are meant to be placed in the service of mission, in communion with our Conferences, and through the church which Christ founded.


Do I live my vocation in a community of friendship with both fellow Vincentians and the neighbor?

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