'I' am a 'We' Print
Friday, 26 January 2007 11:13

Written by Keith Strohm

Fred over at Deep Furrows has a wonderful quote regarding our sacramental participation in the very life of the Church. I present it below because that's the kind of guy I am. Here it is:

The "I" is no longer an "I" torn out of a given context. It becomes a "we": every action becomes charged with a responsibility we all share, and even the most secret act has the task of edifying totality.
Why the Church?, p 189
I was stunned just a few years ago when I did research on the Sacrament of Reconciliation and came face to face with the reality that there was no such thing as purely personal sin--that sin always effects not just the individual, but the Body of Christ itself. Sin weakens the Church inasmuch as it fractures communion, separating the members of the Body from its Head, Jesus Christ.

As with sin, so to with salvation and virtue. I am responsible not just to work on my own sinfulness, but to help my brothers and sisters as they struggle with their own concupiscence. Rendered even more positively, I am responsible to help my brothers and sisters deepen their relationship with God, offering my very Self in sacrifice to accomplish that.

We are, as Paul says, "the Body of Christ, and individually members of it." Our identity is first and foremost as a People and then as individuals who make up that People. For Christians, our lives simply do not make sense in isolation. This means that each of us bears a responsibility for the vocation and salvation of our brothers and sisters. It is not enough to assume that another person is growing in their relationship with Christ (or even has a relationship with Christ).

How we undertake this shared responsibility is where the sandals hit the road. Many Catholics object to the idea that we should ask other peole how they are doing on their spiritual journey. The assumption is that we are asking them in order to judge them rather than, as Sherry Weddell says, "as a pre-requisite to serving them better." Yet that is precisely how the early Church lived. There are ways to do so that are authentically Catholic and respect both our own personal spiritual poverty and the dignity and privacy of others.

If I am, after all, a 'we,' the necessity is clear.