by Pat O’Gorman

Year of Communio: through the lens of Compassion and Stewardship

Let them prefer nothing whatever to Christ,
and may he brings us all together to everlasting life.
RB 72:11-12

Communio is a verb, not a noun.  It is not an ideal we must realise but rather a reality created by God in Christ in which we participate.  All of creation exists in communion, in relation to each other and to God. “It is communion that makes things ‘be’; nothing exists without it, not even God.”[1]  

Everything takes place within the context of community which in our Benedictine tradition is often called a ‘school of communion.’[2]  This is the locus where we learn together with others how to seek God, how to be at heart a listening community, how to foster the common good and how to go out of ourselves to serve others.  Community is incarnated in “bearing with one another in love, making every effort to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace (Ep4:2b-3).”

The source of our unity as community is always Christ.  At the heart of Benedict’s spirituality is the presence of Christ through whom we come to know the liberating love of God and through whom we are able to share that love with others.[3] A Benedictine community exists to give witness to Christ and is about embracing a shared life and common vision that ensures there is a place for everyone.

Communio is the web of relationships which constitutes the actual life of Good Samaritan Education (GSE). It is radically relational and emphasises the mutual participation and the sharing of responsibility of all members for the shared mission of GSE.  Communio is the “compelling starting point to preserve unity and diversity in unity, affirm equal dignity of all members, and develop collaborative structures for ecclesial organisation and leadership.”[4]  The relational and dialogical character of authority and obedience is emphasised through communio and given expression through “practices of shared information, shared accountability, and shared governance.”[5] 

The very life of the community develops and forms its members and fosters communion. It shapes collegial identity and underpins our experience of being and doing together. Transformation and growth of each member is made possible within the context of community.

[1] John Zizioulas (1993):  Being as Communion: Studies in Personhood and the Church, p17

[2] Abbott Armand Veilleux OCSO (1996): ‘Benedictine Life as a School of Communion’

[3] Demetrius Dumm OSB (1996): ‘Cherish Christ Above All’, p44

[4] Michael L Hahn OSB (2017): Benedictine Communio: a Gift for the Church? The American Benedictine Review 68, p390

[5] ibid, p402

Benedict’s spirituality of community is based first of all on bondedness in Christ. Neither communities nor families exist for themselves alone. They exist to witness to Christ and in Christ. They exist to be a miracle worker to one another. They exist to make the world the family it is meant to be. Their purpose is to draw us always into the centre of life where values count and meaning matters more than our careers or our personal convenience.

Joan Chittister OSB
Wisdom Distilled from the Daily, p44