Our Powerful Vocation of Faithful Presence in the Parish
by Mark Votava
I have sometimes denied any expression of power within myself because of a fear of manipulating, controlling or dominating others. A good use of power is something I have rarely seen in life. I am coming to trust the powerful vocation of faithful presence within myself as an expression of love, grace, listening and relational care in the place I live. It has taken me a long time to understand that the power within me can be used for the good of the world.
- How do we express and respond to power?
How do we express and respond to power in everyday life together? The parish imagination is fascinated with this question. There is a good use of power and bad use of power. A lot of the models we have seen of power have been the negative, violent and colonial type.
- Power that is based on love, care, relational connection
Power that is violent and colonial is damaging to all. It is destructive. Power that is based on love, care, relational connection, humility, powerlessness, listening, grace and solidarity is truly beautiful and good for the human race.
- Expressing power authentically in a good way
We need discernment to express power authentically in a good way. We need to learn to respond to colonial power structures with a spirit of nonviolence and love as the body of Christ in everyday life. The body of Christ can be a countercultural presence to colonial power structures in our culture.
- Power needs to be realigned as something larger than domination or force
Richard Rohr writes, “Power cannot, in itself, be bad. It simply needs to be realigned and redefined as something larger than domination or force. Rather than saying that power is bad, the Bible reveals the paradox of power. If the Holy Spirit is power, then power has to be good, not something that is always the result of ambition or greed. In fact, a truly spiritual women, a truly whole man, is a very powerful person… If we do not name the good meaning of power, we will invariably be content with the bad, or we will avoid our powerful vocation.”
- Called into a powerful vocation of faithful presence in the parish
Christians are called into power, but not the colonial, violent type of power we so often see all around us. Christians are called into a “powerful vocation” of faithful presence in the parish together. Christians are called into the parish imagination.
- Expressing power through Christ living in us
The parish imagination is powerful. The parish imagination is countercultural. Good power comes from within us. We begin to express power correctly when we allow Christ to live within us as the body of Christ in everyday life together.
- Good power is of the nature of love and grace extended to others
Good power does not impose anything by force. Good power is of the nature of love and grace extended to others. This is the most powerful thing the world will ever see.
How can we express power through love and grace?