August 26, 2007

"A Presence that Disturbs"

I'm giving a plug here for the book that Pat and I most recently read and studied together: "A Presence that Disturbs: A Call to Radical Discipleship" by Anthony Gittins. Fr. Gittins had done one of the presentations for our intercommunity novitiate earlier this year on mission and ministry, and when it came time for a new book we tried something along a little different vein than what we had read in the past. I think actually that I wrote on the blog after the day Fr. Gittins did with us. One of the big points that stuck with me from the presentation that day was that God is Mission. I don't have a mission; the Church does not have a mission; my community does not have a mission--the Mission has us. That thread was very evident in this book also.

Perhaps my favorite chapter of the book was on the power and necessity of creativity, of dreaming, of visioning, of imagining. We don't need "Think Tanks," but rather "Imagination Tanks." It was a chapter that I wish all of those in discernment for our next leadership team might read. Actually it is a chapter I would recommend to anyone to read.

The book talked of the radical message of Jesus, how by birth and sex Jesus could have been part of the "in" group, but he chose to move to the margins. I think this is, in many ways, the call for Christians, definitely a call I feel as a CSJ. I also think it is a hard place to be--choosing not to be part of one group, but knowing that one could be if one wanted. It reminds me some of the trip I took to Mexico. I very much wanted to immerse myself in the culture in which I was serving, yet I knew that I could and would cross back over into the U.S., a choice that those with whom I was ministering did not have. Even if I somehow lost my home and all of my possessions, my education alone puts me in an easier situation than many in that same place. I remember what Ada Marie said two summers ago: look to the poor as prophets for they have nothing to lose. And I remember what Alfredo said last summer: compassion is to become the other without losing oneself. Gittins speaks to all of that from the lens of the ministry of Jesus.

I'm leaving Wednesday, but I'll leave my book with Pat if anyone wants to borrow it. If you can't tell, I highly recommend it.

The next two days will be spent cleaning my room and packing. Breakfast with my brothers. Getting my car serviced. Little odds and ends. I think I'll pack my car Tuesday night when it cools off some so I'll be ready to head out early Wednesday morning. Coming soon...blogs from St. Paul. Stay tuned!



  1. Ah, yes Sarah Jane, 'twas a wonderful book and I have been enriched both by the reading of and discussion around it with you. I will miss our formal chats over books; I will look forward to our informal chats about books and other things. Love, The Director of the Novice

  2. Good to hear your reflections here. Like being at home. I mean my other home. I'm still working on finalizing the apartment contract. Once I get the keys and get it fixed up a little, I think it will be a gem of a place.
    Once I have things settled, maybe I can find a copy of the book.
    Happy packing and travels, etc. I'll be praying for you as you go and settle in.

  3. Just followed some links on the sidebar to read the Acts of 2001 and the Consensus Statement.

    The Consensus Statement does not mention Jesus at all, the Acts mention him twice.

    In a nutshell, that's what's wrong with 21st century American religious life.

  4. Hey Just to let you know that I did get the book and will be jumping right into it this weekend. Thanks for all of your sharing.


  5. Happy Birthday Sarah. It sounds like you are having a terrific experience in St. Paul. I am so happy for you.