“Imagine the church if leaders could never escape seeing the world through the eyes of the destitute, the hungry, the illiterate. Maybe requiring a year of living on the edge to all who hold power would be the most sacred formation, the most enlightening prayer.” – Fr. Pat Malone, S.J. in his St. Patrick’s Day Caring Bridge journal entry.
What follows I initially posted March 20, 2010. However, after being over at the Visitation Monastery twice this weekend, and holding in prayer the five women who came to this weekend’s Come & See, Gustavo Gutierrez’s words sprung forth again. The Visitation Sisters are models of what it means to pick a post and live the Gospel.
From March 20. 2010:
What a week of inspiration at the Monastery: Mary Johnson’s story of forgiveness, Creighton Students on an Urban Plunge, to the Star Tribune Stories that highlights both the Sisters’ Monastery and St. Jane’s House! All of these experiences inform and inspire a reflection on how we are all called to “pick our post.”
- Fr. Gustavo Gutierrez, Father of Liberation Theology
Liberation Theology invites us to understand the Bible, our Catholic Faith, and the Church through the perspective of the poor. Gustavo Gutierrez, the father of Liberation Theology, calls this approach “the preferential option for the poor.” Gutierrez continues about the importance of “picking a post,” that is, intentionally choosing where you stand in the world. When Gutierrez speaks of this important concept, he uses The Gospel of Mark 12:41-44 to illustrate how Jesus picks his post intentionally:
41“He sat down opposite the treasury and observed how the crowd put money into the treasury. Many rich people put in large sums. 42A poor widow also came and put in two small coins worth a few cents. 43Calling his disciples to himself, he said to them, “Amen, I say to you, this poor widow put in more than all the other contributors to the treasury. 44For they have all contributed from their surplus wealth, but she, from her poverty, has contributed all she had, her whole livelihood.”
The Sisters of the Visitation of North Minneapolis have picked their post! The post they intentionally chose is in the dynamic communities of North Minneapolis; as stated on their homepage: “We are present in the inner city to “Live Jesus” by being part of this multi-cultural community-to share prayer, hope and God’s blessings with the people in our neighborhood and to receive their blessedness. These [neighbors], our friends, are drawn into a circle of faith that brings us all to a clearer vision of the face of God.” The sisters left the monasteries of the schools – where they were initially called to serve through formal education, and choose a post they were being called toward. From their respective monastic communities in St. Louis, Missouri, and Mendota Heights, Minnesota, they moved to North Minneapolis. In doing so, they have brought awareness and an invitation to the schools they served first: it’s an invitation to friendship, prayer, and action.
The importance of picking a post, the importance of where you stand in the world, will color your perspective and inform your actions and responses. Gustavo Gutierrez states in his interview in America Magazine by Dan Hartnett S.J.:
“The preferential option for the poor is ultimately a question of friendship. Without friendship, an option for the poor can easily become commitment to an abstraction (to a social class, a race, a culture, an idea). Aristotle emphasized the important place of friendship for the moral life, but we also find this clearly stated in John’s Gospel. Christ says, “I do not call you servants, but friends.” As Christians, we are called to reproduce this quality of friendship in our relationships with others. When we become friends with the poor, their presence leaves an indelible imprint on our lives, and we are much more likely to remain committed.”
- What is your post?
- Where do you stand in the world?
- Because of where you stand, what do you see?
- How does this affect your heart?
- How does it affect your hands (what you do with them, your actions)?
- How does it affect who you are in relationship with and who you advocate for?
- What are you called to witness or be present to?
- Might you be called to be a sister at the Visitation in North Minneapolis?
- Or work with the Sisters as a Vis Companion?
And so I close with one of my favorite prayers, one that I think in particular speaks to the post you pick. Fr. Pedro Arrupe S.J. said:
“Nothing is more practical than finding God, that is, than falling in a love in a quite absolute, final way. What you are in love with, what seizes your imagination will affect everything. It will decide what will get you out of bed in the mornings, what you will do with your evenings, how you spend your weekends, what you read, who you know, what breaks your heart, and what amazes you with joy and gratitude. Fall in love, stay in love, and it will decide everything.”
Elizabeth Eilers Sullivan,
Visitation Alumna ’93