I hardly know what to write because now that the work of the plenary session is over, all the adrenaline that’s kept me going through long days and not much sleep has drained away and I’ve noticed I am tired. And there’s packing to do before an early trip to the airport.
Today we continued the work I described yesterday — not reaching any conclusions, but giving the members of the commission on the statutes a good sense of direction for their first “go” at drafting a general statute for governing the Movement as a whole. Our topics included more on the question of the limits of autonomy and a first foray into the question of what the organ of common governance might look like and who ought to head it. That conversation was just fascinating because there were so many different perspectives. We didn’t get deep enough into the discussion for there to be “sides” or “parties” favoring one model or the next, but we did hear very frank assessments from various directors, including the three general directors, about the governance problems they already face and what faculties they think need to stay with the respective branches as opposed to a central government of some kind.
My honest reaction to today’s discussion? More profound gratitude for the wisdom of our American Founding Fathers and the enormous task they set themselves at the first Constitutional Convention. Every question is so complex and there are good reasons pro and con every variation. The Founders built so wisely in the way they separated federal powers from state powers and broke federal power apart so there would be checks and balances. They figured out how to create an agile executive without concentrating every power in it. (We’ll leave aside for the moment whether we today are being faithful to what they bequeathed us). Those are the same kinds of issues we were looking at with respect to the Movement’s governance — though obviously from the point of view of building communion among the branches of our family tree while allowing agile apostolic responses to the needs of the Church and the world. At a certain point I felt like bringing out the Federalist Papers or giving a little discourse on the 10th amendment. But I didn’t have to because Fr. Jesus Villagraisa beat me to it with some insights from Tocqueville’s Democracy in America. (And you thought I couldn’t make this report relevant to the Independence Day weekend!)
This evening the consecrated women of Rome hosted us for our closing Mass. There is something about the way the consecrated women sing; it’s transporting! The singing brought me back to my co-worker (ahem, excuse me, RC Missionary) days in Rome and the delight of their singing every morning at Mass.
They sang to entertain us after dinner as well — a beautiful arrangement in three parts of John Michael Talbot’s “Only in God.” The counterpoint was exquisite.
When they finished singing, these guys took their turn: the consecrated men (at least some of them). They aren’t nearly as lovely as the consecrated women, but they were highly amusing doing their best imitation of a mariachi band. They sang a very funny novelty tune called “Speedy Gonzalez,” and a highly dramatic (and hilariously melodramatic) Spanish folk song about how sad it is when a friend departs.
I dearly love these people, my spiritual family, so full of kindness and love of the Lord; so sober-minded, hard-working, earnest and realistic and hope-filled about this process of renewal; and so easy to laugh and be with. Whenever I’ve had the opportunity to be in one of these international conventions or meetings, it’s always sad to leave the people behind.
Except that my own husband and kids need some serious squeezing. And I’m told the beagle sits by the window and looks for me.