Mirror of Justice

A blog dedicated to the development of Catholic legal theory.
Affiliated with the Program on Church, State & Society at Notre Dame Law School.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Building the City of Mary

I am just back from a Focolare’s northeast summer gathering held at the University of Scranton, “Mariapolis” (city of Mary) where about 400 people of all ages and from an amazing variety of ethnic and social backgrounds, came together for three days to delve into the Focolare’s spirituality of unity and live it together.  (This year translations were in Spanish, Korean and Chinese).  The theme, “love generates wisdom” dug into some of the challenges that people are facing today. 

A workshop on economic life opened a space for discussion about how efforts to love might inform the approaches to the recession, with examples of living through a layoff, and helping small children to participate fully in a family’s efforts to discern wants from needs.  Another on family life explored how to find time to communicate in the midst of a frenetic pace; and how to maintain unity in situations when the couple finds they have different approaches to parenting.  The youth put together for everyone else a workshop on how they try to let love inform their efforts to navigate the media and means of communication (social networking, text messaging, etc.) in order to build solid and respectful relationships. 

The CST insight?  I think it might have something to do with how the communal effort to love and be open to receiving love creates a social space of total inclusion in which people can fully participate, giving the gift of themselves.  Like the man in the scooter-wheelchair who formed a deep bond with a group of kindergartners, who were delighted to take rides on the scooter, and “race” him; and then together they formed an amazing team to help clear the tables in the dining area and put the dishes on the conveyer belt.  Or the profoundly autistic teenager, unable to communicate verbally, who was clearly happy and comfortable dancing with the other young people at the end of the program, and the youth were clearly focused on her and the priority of creating a space to include her just as she was. 

On our way back to the Focolare house in the Bronx, my friends and I stopped at an ATM machine, where there was an older man obviously struggling with finding the right buttons, and taking quite a while.  Realizing that he had forgotten his glasses and needed help, we were able to create enough trust, even at a NYC ATM machine, to give him a hand.  I am normally prone to impatient “sidewalk rage” with anyone slower than the usual NYC pace, but the “Mariapolis” spirit had made a dent on that, enabling us to bring something of the “city of Mary" into the Bronx, too.


Uelmen, Amy | Permalink

TrackBack URL for this entry:


Listed below are links to weblogs that reference Building the City of Mary :