Fr. Richard often reminds us that the CAC’s Living School was conceived of as “a school for prophets.” For him, this idea is the beating heart of our curriculum.
One thing that has become clear to me in conversations with our faculty is that while prophecy is often defined as “speaking truth to power,” this is an incomplete notion, being merely social criticism. Prophecy is speaking truth to power on behalf of a divine vision of wholeness. This vision comes from contemplation and the love it reveals.
Tracing our alternative orthodoxy back to its roots in the prophetic tradition, we see that action and contemplation are, in fact, inseparable. They are the inhalation and exhalation of divine love. Contemplation calls us to active love. Our Jewish family identifies this as the tikkun olam, or the fixing of the world. The early church termed it the apokatastasis, or the restoring of all things.
The Living School teaches that this begins with us individually. If it is true that hurting people hurt people, then it must also be true that healing people heal people. Origen (185–254 CE) claimed the skandala—the scars and scandals in our lives—dig out the deep meaning. Our hurts become “health-bestowing wounds,” the source of our individual spiritual genius, which shapes the unique work we are called to do in the world. It’s our wounds that lead to wisdom and teach us, ultimately, how to love and heal the world.
Like Kintsugi—the Japanese method of repairing pottery using gold, silver, or platinum to fill in the cracks—this doesn’t hide our brokenness but makes it beautiful. Thus, we all work to repair the world in a similar way.
Dr. Mike Petrow, a CAC content specialist who works with the faculty on the Living School curriculum, has degrees in mythology, depth psychology, and religion. He is certified as both a spiritual director and a grief and trauma counselor. He previously worked as a pastor, a counselor with at-risk youth, and a chaplain in a tiny Times Square theater space in New York City. Mike currently lives in Albuquerque, New Mexico.
This reflection appears in the Summer 2022 issue of the Mendicant, our quarterly donor newsletter.