Common life is about the willingness to share our lives with one another. God is not found in isolation. The journey we are on is not meant to be walked alone. For Dominicans, the communal dimension of our religious life challenges to us to be of “one mind and one heart in God.”
We remember the words of our heritage from Dominic: “have charity among you; hold to humility; make your treasure out of voluntary poverty.” We make public our promises to live according to the ideals counseled by Jesus. Our vow of poverty calls us to live a simple life: one in which we choose to hold all things in common and share our blessings with the rest of the world. Our vow of chastity is a deliberate choice on our part not to limit our life. Rather, we stand as witnesses to God’s unlimited love. Our vow of obedience puts us at the service of the people of God on Earth. The vowed life is a challenge: an exciting, fulfilling, and hope-filled challenge.
Gustavo Gutierrez, OP suggests that as “Dominicans we are called to truly listen to the personal and religious experience of all those we encounter.” In doing so, we are led to acknowledge and celebrate our unity in diversity. In drawing strength from one another, we hold an attitude of listening and openness. We permit wider and diverse perspectives. We have a greater grasp on the realities of our time. Our actions are a result of this deep discernment.
Anna Hester, a current NPH USA volunteer and former Jesuit Volunteer Corps volunteer, says that community has been an invaluable part of her spiritual life. Even as a lay volunteer, living with others helped her to see God’s fullness.
“The challenge is to focus on hope and to not let daily distractions get in the way of it,” she writes. “As a volunteer, I felt that I was more susceptible to those distractions and, without my community, I would have fallen into that trap.”
While we are waiting together for the second coming of Christ, we need to utilize each other so that we are not distracted from missing out on this miraculous event. Take a moment out of your day to acknowledge how you are feeling – is your heart heavy? When was the last time you took a moment to reflect with your community? And, whomever your community –religious, lay, or otherwise– how can you be HOPE for them today?