Orthopraxy Weekly Summary


Summary: Sunday, August 23-Friday, August 28, 2015

If it is true, then it has to be true everywhere and all the time, or it is not true! (Sunday)

We don’t think ourselves into a new way of living; we live ourselves into a new way of thinking. (Monday)

Before new experiences, new thinking is difficult and rare. After a new experience, new thinking and behavior comes naturally and even becomes necessary. (Tuesday)

Only near the poor, close to “the tears of things,” in solidarity with suffering, can we understand ourselves, love one another well, imitate Jesus, and live his full Gospel. (Wednesday)

Francis told the first friars, “You only know as much as you do.” His emphasis on action, practice, and lifestyle was at the heart of Franciscan alternative orthodoxy (“heterodoxy”). (Thursday)

“The world will no longer believe teachers unless they are first of all witnesses.” — Pope Paul VI (Friday)


Practice: Experiencing the Other

We can theorize all day long about theology, politics, and social change. But the rubber meets the road in practice, in actual encounter with real life. Even so, too often our lives are small and circumscribed, structured to protect us from anything uncomfortable or unfamiliar. As I suggested in Tuesday’s meditation, try something new, get out of your comfort zone, open yourself to experience the “other.”

Here are a few ideas to consider exploring:

  • Change your usual routine by shopping in a different grocery store, taking a different route home, visiting another church, walking in a new park.
  • Volunteer somewhere you frequent or somewhere you’ve never been—a library, food bank, animal shelter, thrift store.
  • Try a new physical activity such as tai chi chih, juggling, skateboarding, or even walking backward.
  • Ask a stranger you meet—while waiting in line, at a stoplight—to share their story, to talk about what matters most to them, to name their deepest needs and desires. Really listen. Then share what you learned with someone you know. (Sister Simone Campbell calls this “sacred gossip.”)

A consistent contemplative practice can help you stay open and receptive during “adventures” into the unfamiliar as well as during periods of ordinariness. If you find yourself afraid, stressed, or defensive, perhaps use the Welcoming Prayer  as a way to be present to your feelings, to observe without becoming attached. Open your heart and mind to find God—the Other—in the new person or situation and in your own compassionate response to the moment.

Gateway to Silence:
“Every change of mind is first of all a change of heart.” —The 14th Dalai Lama

For Further Study:
Richard Rohr, Dancing Standing Still: Healing the World from a Place of Prayer
Richard Rohr, “The Eight Core Principles,” Radical Grace, Vol. 25, No. 4

Image credit: “Legend of St. Francis: St. Francis Giving his Mantle to a Poor Man” (detail of fresco), Giotto de Bondone. San Francesco, Upper Church, Assisi, Italy.