Rediscovering the Common Good
Week Forty-Four Summary and Practice
Sunday, October 31—Friday, November 5, 2021
For centuries we have been content to patch up holes temporarily (making ourselves feel benevolent) while in fact maintaining the institutional structures that created the holes to begin with (disempowering those on the margins). Now it has caught up with us. —Richard Rohr
This call to love our neighbor is the foundation for reestablishing and reclaiming the common good, which has fallen into cultural and political—and even religious—neglect. —Jim Wallis
A robust commitment to the common good dates to the very beginnings of our faith and is rooted in both the Old and New Testaments. —Chris Korzen and Alexia Kelley
I do not think it is overly dramatic to say that Western civilization appears to be in a state of spiritual emergency. For religion to be effective in linking us with the Something More, it must create a hopeful symbolic universe that both settles and liberates the human soul. —Richard Rohr
The mystery of the poor is this: that they are Jesus, and what you do for them you do for Him. —Dorothy Day
The cosmic common good provides a larger moral perspective, but it also exhorts us to “sink our roots deeper” into our native place and to work for the good of our place on Earth. —Daniel Scheid
Meditation for the Common Good
Simone Campbell, a Sister of Social Service, is a leader of the “Nuns on the Bus” who advocate for fair and generous federal budgeting, particularly for those on the margins. She is also vocal about her need for a daily contemplative practice of meditation to balance her action on behalf of the common good. She offers some simple instructions:
In meditation, making space for physical silence is only one part of the experience. It is also important to quiet the body. In an erect posture, I can sit in stillness for long periods. If you are tempted to fidget, take a deep breath and do not give into the urge. Sometimes (or often) I get concerned that my timer has stopped, and I want to check it. When I feel this urge, I take a deep breath and restate my desire to be open to the Divine in all things . . . even the distractions!
Sit straight so that you can breathe deeply. A key to doing this is sitting so that your knees are a bit lower than your hips. Try to imagine a string pulling at the crown of your head that gets your head, shoulders, and lower back in line. Your lower back should tilt in a little to give you the balance of an “S” curve. This is the balance you need for stillness. Take a deep breath. And, as you breathe out, set your desire on being silent and open to the Divine. Sometimes, I just say that I am hungry for an awareness of the sacred.
After focusing on becoming present, I try to be open and listen through my body to the Divine. Sometimes, it is good to have a word or mantra to use as I breathe. It gives my mind a focus while I try to be open. This mantra can be an expression of desire or spiritual openness. Trust what comes to mind and breathe with the word(s). . . .
Do not expect fireworks in this form of meditation. Most days are very quiet. Every now and then there might be some insight or awareness that is important and sets a direction. However, know that the consistent practice brings a profound openness to others and a willingness to risk for the common good.
We invite readers to participate in some form of contemplative practice today, setting the intention of “openness to others and a willingness to risk for the common good.”
Experience a version of this practice through video and sound.
Simone Campbell, Hunger for Hope: Prophetic Communities, Contemplation, and the Common Good (Orbis Books: 2020), 20–21.
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