5 Ways We Can Live More Authentically

by Mark Votava


I have been thinking a lot about authenticity lately.  This is a word that has a lot of mystery to it.  The embodiment of authenticity is something I haven’t seen much of in the North American context.  Here are 5 ways I think we could move toward authenticity a little more in everyday life together:

1. We can become rooted in a local community for decades.  Rooting in the parish is essential.  Without this, there is no context to be the church Monday through Saturday in everyday life together.  Authenticity is embodied relationally and locally.

Community will be abstract if there is no commitment to place.  It will become an affinity group of homogenous people who all think alike.  When we root in a place, we become neighbors with all kinds of people crossing gender, class, religion, age and race barriers.

2. We can learn to listen to others, God and our own lives.  Listening is one of the most authentic things we can do.  Listening promotes love and the valuing of others.  It creates a pathway for a new way to experience our humanity in all kinds of ways.

Listening makes us vulnerable.  Listening makes us powerless.  Listening puts us in a posture of humility.  Listening is always about radical honesty with one another.

3. We can become neighbors.  We need to live in proximity to one another.  When there is no proximity between us, there is no neighborliness because we will not be neighbors in everyday life.  We accept living in different neighborhoods too easily.

When will we embrace the same neighborhood for the common good together.  There is no more authentic way to be the church together in everyday life.  We can only be an expression of love locally in a neighborhood that we live in.  We need to remember this!

4. We can participate in the mystery of God by seeing the sacredness of all of life.  Our lives are steeped in dualities of the sacred/secular.  This is destroying our spirituality.  We desperately need to recover and heal from this!

Recovering the need to see all of life as sacred is essential to our sanity.  We need to practice an embodiment of experiencing the sacredness of all of life through a deep contemplative spirituality.  There are no secular dimensions within us or our world if we could only see.

5. We can collaborate with others in the place we live.  Collaboration has been undervalued.  To develop any sense of community there needs to be a posture of collaboration among us in the place we live.  Without this all we have is division, colonialism and competition in the name of God.

This is ridiculous and we need to reimagine how we can collaborate more in everyday life together for the common good of our neighbors.  This is authentic and caring.  We need a faithful presence of collaboration, social capital, neighborliness and compassion among us.  This is how we can authentically seek God together as the body of Christ in the twenty-first century.

What does authenticity mean to you?