Stage Three: Practicing

In the Practicing Stage, we explore how we and the community help each other as partners to make our vision real. Here, we ask three questions: What are the strengths of the individual and community in embodying this vision? What are the limitations of the individual and community in embodying this vision? How do we match the gifts to limitations so that the vision might be embodied? Even when you have a personal struggle, a friend who has been there before can give you perspective to help you overcome that struggle. That is at the core of that vision. Romero's life reminds us that in stating the limitations, we begin to describe the freedom we are gifted with and create our little part for the spiritual vision. In the practicing stage, we articulate the optimal experience where the needs of the individual are paired with the resources of the community; and the needs of the community are paired with the resources of the individual. The book, Start with Why, argues that we bring our “why”, our “how”, and our “what” in line to create something that attracts people or to give people a reason to buy in.

Stage Two: Understanding

In this post, we will explore the second stage, Understanding. After one describes the experience, one has to “make sense of it”. This is where we develop an understanding. What is the spiritual vision of claiming the authoritative wisdom to deal with this issue? After going through the analysis of the experience, one must step back and look at the big picture. When we look at the issue, we look to the divine wisdom that is found within an authoritative text. To complete the journey is to ask: How do we understand the ancient metaphysics of the text in light of the modern metaphysics? What is the spiritual vision of claiming the authoritative wisdom to deal with this issue? Out of this spiritual vision will come a practice to make the vision real which will be described in the next post. 

Stage one: Experiencing

The experience is a catalyst for our beliefs.  Sensual experience may be from our personal history. It does not have to be a pure experience, but maybe a piece of art or a powerful music that you have encountered that gave you a sensual experience.  The mental models we create helps to focus this large amount of information into manageable pieces that we need to make decisions and take actions.  Often when we encounter a strong emotion when engaging our core belief, we encounter a feeling that we cannot control.    If we sort through the messy feelings we have, we can move beyond the loss of control and move toward a healthier relationship with them.

The Unpredictable nature of Theological Reflection

When we do theological reflection well, we have to trust not the process itself alone but also the limits of theological reflection. In these moments, when we stumble over the limits, it is important to become aware of the feelings first, then become aware that we are not in control of this process, but that there is something beyond and third, seek counsel from the authoritative text of our spiritual traditions. We also explored in realizing that we are not in control that we must ask these questions out of a sense of curiosity

Building community out of the encounter with Christ

This is the fourth post in a ten post series on theological reflection. In this post, we will reflect on the last stage: Building community out of the encounter with Christ.  This post explores three events: First, the culture begins around the dinner table; second, in the sharing that bread, they were welcoming God into their community without knowing it; and lastly, when we “get” the encounter with the divine, we lose it, yet its impact is drastic and lasting.

Learning from the Risen Christ

 Thank you to  vincent desjardins   for sharing this photo  Creative Commons License on  Flickr

Thank you to vincent desjardins for sharing this photo  Creative Commons License on Flickr

Now in this third post of the ten post series on Theological Reflection, we will explore Luke 24: 25-27, which provides this theme: Learning from the Risen Christ. In this text, we will see three things. First, Christ builds relationships between the scriptural text and the experience that the followers have. Second, learning is more than acquiring facts of the story. Moreover, learning is the living wisdom that allows the creative and recreative possibilities of the story. Third, the value of studying the story in community helps us to refine and comprehend the true value of the revealed wisdom.

Christ’s response to the followers is critical to the story: “Oh, how foolish you are and how slow of heart to believe all that the prophets declare was it not necessary that the Messiah should suffer these things and enter into his glory.” Notice that Christ’s response does not lead to a breakdown of the relationship, but rather in that moment, Christ begins to teach. Christ is taking the Scriptures and the experience of the followers to build a relationship.  He reminds the followers about the prophecies about the Messiah and how they became true. He guides them to understanding more about the recent events. He gives them the grounds to develop a vital faith which leads to Christ building a relationship. One can think it is a story that happened a long, long, time ago, even though it might or might not influence his or her life. In this way, we try to limit that which is limitless: God. Christ, however, builds a relationship with us through our hard stories we experience in our lives and the truth found within the scriptures.

To learn about faith is more than just knowledge of the text or comprehension of the doctrines. It is the application into the reality that we live in. Through a creative analysis and synthesis of these ideas, we come to see the living wisdom. This living wisdom is not solely acquired from the certainty of the knowledge we have, but in the creative hope of the unknown which is beyond us can offer. We no longer are solely about the facts of the matter; moreover, we are about the creative and recreative possibilities of the truth that these facts hold. Christ helps the followers to see the living wisdom when he shares the prophecies about the Messiah’s suffering. 

Christ is not alone; he is walking and talking with the followers. To learn from the Risen Christ about one’s faith is not about studying the text alone. It is about studying the text in a community, in conversation: with the story itself, with the history of the faith community, and with the experience of the divine. Yes, one can happen upon truths in quiet meditation on text. However, the analysis and synthesis of the community help us comprehend and refine insights to the true value of the revealed wisdom.

In this post, we explored three things. First, Christ builds relationships between the scriptural text and the experience that the followers have. Second, learning is more than acquiring facts of the story, but it is the living wisdom that allows the creative and recreative possibilities of the story.  Third, studying a story in community help us to refine insights and comprehend the true value of the revealed wisdom. As we move on to the next posts, we will see how this community helps us live out our faith.


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Experiencing the Risen Christ

The two followers in Luke 24:13-35 will respond to Jesus’s question by speaking to their hopes and their dreams: “Jesus of Nazareth who was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people in our chief priests and leaders had handed him over to be condemned to death and crucified but we had hoped that he would be the one to redeem Israel.” Their teacher who had shown the people what it is like to love, who had opened up Scripture to them, who took the complexities of the divine law and made it simple: to love your God with all your heart with all your mind and to love your neighbor as yourself.  Then the two followers go on to tell an account of the Good News about “these women went to the tomb and did not find the body but, tell us that he is alive” When I talk to people about their faith, they shared stories of moments of crisis or moments of despair, they cannot make sense of the divine act. In this reality, we ought to walk with people through those moments of crisis and figure out ways by asking the right questions to help them express those hard stories.