THE DYNAMICS OF COMMUNITY
11.1: Social Structures
We as humans are social beings. We have an inborn longing for companionship with others to share our joys and sorrows our experiences or just plain to be with others. We tend to congregate into groups for a variety of functions and activities such as schooling, sports, clubs, church and civil organizations, prayer groups etc. Some of these groups are more isolated and separate while most of the groups we are in overlap with each other and even engulf other groups such as a religious group being within the whole group called the Church or the Mystical Body of Christ. Each of these groups has a particular function or purpose or reason for its existence.
Man truly does have a free will which was given to him by God. With this free will, man can pick and chose his friends as well as his environment to a greater or lesser degree. But each environment that he chooses does have a certain influence on him depending on how long he spends in this environment and the degree of impact it has on him according to his willingness to allow his environment to influence him along with various other factors. Each member of a particular group gives part of himself and his personality to the group thus influencing the other members of the group. Certain members, especially the leaders etc., generally influence the others more than the rest of the members. The group itself also takes on its own particular type of character or personality due to the sum total of all the personal contributions of the members. One could call it a type of group or community dynamism.
As in all things in life, at least on this earth, there are good groups and bad groups depending on one's point of view or values in life. But, just as each human being has some good in him and some bad, so too, every group has some good in it and some bad. No group is all good or all bad, but there are a variety of degrees depending on the goals or fruits produced etc. There are groups who do tremendous good for their fellow human beings motivated by a sincere love of God even though they may have a few weak or detracting members. There are groups who do tremendous damage, both spiritually and physically, to their fellow human beings along with seriously offending God through sin even though they may have a few naively innocent members who believe they are serving God and neighbor. Between these two extremes, there are numerous combinations and varieties of good and bad groups, each having its own particular goal and direction and character.
11.2: Constructive Community Life
The first and greatest community or type of a community is the Trinity. From all eternity God exists three in person and one in nature, and this ineffable union of persons in a singleness of nature constitutes a sort of divine family, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. 21p128
On earth we have the greatest visible community, the holy family, Joseph, Mary, and the divine Child, an earthly heaven with a visible trinity. Here we behold the cradle of divine-human love erected, and from Nazareth, as from an ever flowing source, love streamed forth again into the world, into Christian families, but especially into the cloisters of religious life. Every convent, in God's idea, should be a copy of Nazareth, a home of love, where especially chosen souls reach love's perfection, not only through the vows and virtues as practiced by the individual religious, but in community life where the religious live collectively in the bonds of charity under their head, the superior, as God's visible representative, working out their own perfection and the salvation of their fellow men, and thus fulfilling the Great Commandment: " Thou shalt love the Lord, thy God, with thy whole heart" and "Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself." 21p129
In every good family behold how the children love, respect, and obey their parents. What is the source of this love? It is God who by natural ties binds parent and child into one flesh and by supernatural grace and the fourth commandment knits them together into one social unity.
Religious family life is on a higher plane than that of Christian families in the world. It is a spiritual life in which the ties that knot superior and subject are not those of nature but the golden cords of grace. It is wonderful how God effects this perfect love through community life, for the end of all religious life is perfection, and perfection is perfect love. Diversity of persons in the unity of love is God's standard of perfection in Himself and in His creatures. We see this preeminently in community life made up of superior and subjects. There is nothing more conducive toward making one forget and deny one's self than just this religious family life, which urges us to seek the common welfare in preference to our own.
Love, as found in community life, and which imparts to the soul a share in the bliss of divine love, is achieved only when we make the sacrifice demanded; the transformation of self-love into self-consecration for others. Both superiors and subjects in their relations to one another must dedicate all that is in them to the acquisition of this perfect love - their time, talents, services, mutual respect and sympathy. Only then can we attain to the perfection of our state and enjoy that peace and security which alone the community life can give us. 21p130
Consider what imperils this community life. Many religious fail against community life by singularity where they are obliged to live as units of a social group. Others emphasize their rights too much and forget their corresponding duties. Others, again, selfishly get all they can out of community life but fail to contribute their share to its requirements.
The superior may fail by imagining the community to be there for him and not the other way around, that he is the "minister and servant of all." Hence proceed lordly ways, domineering, preferences, and all that goes to make a superior a cold official and less a warm, loving father in Christ, ready to forgive and to forget, sympathetic with human weakness, big and hearty toward all.
The subject may fail by antagonizing his superior or cultivating him too much for personal advantages and preference over others, and by treating his fellow religious uncharitable or unjustly.
In all these ways individual religious may change the harmony of community life into discord and make what should otherwise be a peaceful religious home a purgatory for others. There are especially three types of character that are destructive in this way: irregular members, selfish members, and disgruntled members. 21p131
The Royal Prophet, contemplating in spirit the privileges of those called to live in the house of God, calls them "blessed". And that with good reason, for if one lives up to the requirements of community life, makes the heroic sacrifices demanded of self-love to promote its harmony, he soon advances to that perfection which deserves beatification even here below and tastes of that other beatification, that peace and happiness of mutual love learned from the Godhead, from the Holy Family at Nazareth, and found today in its purity only in the well-regulated community life of religious orders.. 1p132
Thus we can see from the example of Christ Himself, along with the beauty and happiness of mutual love within a family or a well regulated community life of a religious order, the great value of the community.
11.3: Destructive Community Life
But a community with the wrong leaders and with the wrong ideals, whether deceptive or not, can be very destructive and a powerful tool in a leaders hands (or in the devil's hands). Consider the examples of Jones Town in Guyanna or Satanic cults or mind control and peer pressure groups used in totalitarian governments such as Russia or China to force conformity to the State's way of thinking.
An ex-'Moonie' , Richard LaMartina, described life inside the Unification Church, 1979-82 (Rev. Myung Moon - Leader). After being invited to stay over for a few days with a group of artists and musicians in an area north of San Francisco, Richard was invited to the (Moonie) camp. It was a farm where they showed slides and explained the views of this group of people who had supposedly lofty ideals about helping mankind. LaMartina says the idealistic purposes were just the things he had always advocated in his life. Raised a devout Catholic, he admits now that this willingness to submerge himself for the common good, and to better know God, likely made him easy prey for what followed. 22p8 etc.
"After two days there, they pretty much get you to commit to seven days, then to three weeks," and so on, he said.
First he was at a small settlement called Booneville, about 100 miles north of San Francisco. Then, after learning about some of the church's work, he was taken to a place called Camp Kay, in a nearby portion of California.
Initially, LaMartina had learned about such programs as "Project Volunteers," which was to help feed poor people. The members were asked to raise funds by selling items in the streets and at public places. Since leaving the Moonies, LaMartina said he learned that $60 to S70 million is raised by the church annually in this way, and that very little goes to charitable projects.
At Camp Kay, the doctrine of the Unification Church - with Moon as its self-proclaimed messiah - was intensified.
LaMartina said the church grabs hold of its members not through physical coercion, but by mind-control tactics.
"Part of the indoctrination is they make you feel guilty for questioning (church tenets) as being scientifically or religiously invalid," he said. "Also, part of it is they get you to reveal hidden parts of your life through peer pressure."
He said that other senior members serve as examples, making "life's testimonies.." Eventually the Moonies thus "get you revealing deep things" about yourself.
LaMartina said, "They then use that information to control you. If you want to leave the church, they say the reason you want to leave the church is because you haven't dealt with those deep, inner problems."
"You don't really realize it's mind control." LaMartina said.
During the three years he was in the group, he was constantly aware of "things that were gnawing at me." There were parts of the doctrine as it applied to history, people, and God which LaMartina did not see in the black and white perspective of the Moonies
"They projected the world as being so polarized," he said. "I never (before) saw the world in that way.
If you do not accept the dogma, you are chastised as being small-minded and the indoctrination is stepped up.
LaMartina was allowed to go home for several days when his father died, but be returned to the church. A visit in California from his mother, who still resides in Racine, a brother, and friends, did not persuade him to leave the church. For that to happen, he had to get married.
LaMartina participated in the largest mass wedding ever conducted at that time, in Madison Square Garden. (Moon has since held a larger mass wedding-in Korea). Moon himself arbitrarily matched woman and men - 2,075 of the couples - in the gargantuan spectacle. One of them was LaMartina and a girl from Tottori, Japan, named Chieko.
"Now I had another person in my life from the Unification Church and I wanted to resolve my doubts," LaMartina said, recalling the July 1 ceremony.
"I told my (group) leader that I had to go away for seven days to smooth the marriage with my family," who LaMartina said had taken his action "very hard."
His serious "deprogramming" came when he talked to three former cult members. One was a former Moonie, the others were once members of the Divine Light Mission which he called "a Bible group that distorts the real meaning of the Bible" to suit its own ends.
"The one thing that hit me then is that I had thought I was following the true messiah, but they had all had the same experiences that I did," he said. "The ex-Moonie brought up all the doubts and questions I had. I opened up and they showed me points of mind control" that had been used against him.
They all recommended that he not return to the Moonies to pick up his possessions and say goodbye. "A lot of people end up staying after they go back, once the mind control was reasserted." they told him. LaMartina maintained he had to be sure he was free and could leave.
LaMartina was back for three hours and told his Moonie leader there was no changing his mind, that he would leave. LaMartina said they told him he could always return when he had discovered the evil nature of the world. While some do return, he said most do not. 22p8
What can we learn from Richard LaMartina's experiences so that we don't get sucked into a harmful group just as he was? It is easy to say that it could never happen to us but there are many shades of the same evil all with a different twist and even a healthful and alluring cover. As Richard's example indicates, these false covers are usually idealistic and even seemingly spiritual and holy with accompanying peculiar practices and rules. What are some of the basic tenets and characteristics of such a group that we can perhaps analyze and identify so as to spot then in other seemingly innocent of wholesome groups?
If we are already in such a group, it is usually difficult to realize the dangers because we are too close to the problem and are also affected by its influences. Richard thought he "was following the true messiah." It was not until an ex-Moonie and other cult members helped him step back and see the whole picture and the basic points of mind control that he finally could put the confusing pieces of the puzzle together to be able to see the picture; and this was even after he had left.
11.4: Discernment of Good or Bad Community Life
Let us see if we can be more specific about the characteristics of demonic influences as opposed to angelic and divine influences. How can we tell from the outside which kind of influence is operating in an individual or a group? 5p82 etc.
a) The first question to ask in this regard is whether the action or statement of belief of an individual or group is in accord with some tradition, some coherent body of religious beliefs. When a course of action departs from a traditional one and in no way tries to relate to any tradition, this is a danger signal that something other than the divine may be operating.
On the other hand when the individual or group is rigidly bound to the letter of the law of some religious group and can conceive of nothing new, then the spirit of death rather than life is often at work. Sometimes religious groups are used to provide security for insecure people. Sometimes by excessive authoritarianism they actually foster immaturity, and this is not of God. Those who are touched by the Holy Spirit are no longer so immature. They know the reality of God's love, and they respect the traditional way, yet they know that in any human institution there is room for growth. The angelic promotes this kind of spirit. 5p83
It is also interesting to note that the ways we listen to others influence our capacity for both cooperation and independence in relationships without blind conformity to the norms and pressures of any particular group. We can relate to others - individually, in groups, in organizations - and enhance them and ourselves, perhaps even transcend ourselves. What is important is that we not lose our separateness or give up responsibility for decisions as individuals. The more we unthinkingly turn ourselves over to a group or to a social enterprise, the greater the loss and detachment we suffer within. John Gardner has appropriately called it "inner estrangement and outer conformity." Listening to one another and sharing our lives become means by which we nourish a sense of community in relationships and nourish also our freedom and individuality. 23p22
b) The second question to ask is whether the action which we are discerning results in love and harmony or in hate and schism. The angelic nearly always facilitates and results in love and improved inter-relationships. Those who claim to have angelic inspiration and preach hate and division need to be watched very carefully. Seldom, very seldom, does the angelic result in division. Few issues are large enough to justify separation of brothers and sisters. Likewise the truly angelic seldom speaks in judgment of others. Few people are converted by judgment. The angelic never gloats over a destructive or judgmental message. 5p83 etc.
c) Jesus spoke with authority and not with finality. Those who claim angelic inspiration and claim to know the specifies of final truth before which all others must bow may well be deceived. Evil and the demonic are far less open to growth and development than the angelic. Jesus said we do not know the time or the hour. Those who claim such knowledge are claiming to know more than He. Some demagogues speak with complete certainty in order to give security to frightened people. This can be a way of gaining power over others, and this is not the way of the angelic.
d) If an action or way of life has angelic inspiration and guidance, it will result in the fruits of creativity, growth, development, increased consciousness and keener awareness. The demonic usually results in disintegration, narrowed awareness and stunted growth. Neurotic stagnation is often the result of demonic influence.
e) One nearly sure sign of demonic power is the attempt on the part of one person or group to gain power over others and seek from the others an attitude of subservience. The angelic stimulates freedom and open and honest exchange between people. The demonic favors bondage and class distinction. Whenever one person seeks to gain power over another, one can almost be sure that the angelic is not at work.
The angelic seeks to promote the attitude of love, encounter and interchange. It rejects dependency on any long-range basis and seeks to create conditions which will enable all people to stand on their own feet and have their own relationship with God and an equal relationship with other human beings.
f) The demonic uses; the angelic encounters. Seldom are people possessed by the angelic. Whenever people use others for their own gain or desires, one can be sure that they are under demonic influence. For this reason slavery is one o f the worst of human evils. God and the angelic want to relate to us as free beings, not to own us. The demonic wishes to possess us and drag us down into the kingdom of hell. Whenever a person seeks to own or possess or use another, beware. The Evil One is close.
g) When one gets inflated and thinks of oneself as perfect and then projects one's shadow and darkness onto others, then one has fallen into step with the demonic. Judgment and a critical and negative attitude toward others springs out of an inflated opinion of oneself in most instances. The angelic seldom speaks of its own perfection. Even Jesus told those who called Him good to say this of God alone. The angelic as messengers of God have the same spirit. When individuals exalt themselves, there is need to discern the reason and find out what spirit they are following.
h) There is a certain quality of destructive depression that is a sure mark of the demonic. It is one thing to go through the dark night of the soul; it is quite another to fall into self-castigating and hopeless depression and darkness. Beware of those who enjoy their misery or their sickness and turn their backs on joy. The desire to suffer can issue from the destructive, warped influence of the demonic. The martyr complex, as Karl Menniger has pointed out so clearly in 'Man Against Himself', is a form of self-hate. Hate is of demonic inspiration whether it is directed against oneself or another. It is a rejection of God to hate myself, the person for whom Christ died because he loved me so. Identification with the suffering of Christ can be a negative inflation. The early Church rejected all voluntary martyrdom. If someone tries to change our attitudes by fear rather than by love, we need to use careful discernment. Fear is his infernal majesty's most frequently used instrument. Those who would seek to save or change us by making us subject to fear may well be under anything but angelic influence. Since love is of the very nature of God, those who are influenced by the angelic (his messengers) will be characterized first, foremost and always by love. Fear will be a very minor part of the repertoire. What made St. Francis of Assisi the incomparable follower of Jesus of Nazareth was the way he incarnated the spirit of love. The angels were certainly with him. 5p85
11.5: Natural Tendency Toward Cults and Mind Control
These mind controlling practices of various groups and cults do not even need to be developed and used consciously. A spoiled and manipulative child automatically tries to use fear techniques, threats (tantrums etc.), or guilt trips (pouting etc.) on his parents to get his way. If the parents imprudently go along with it, then these childish procedures and parental manipulations will become a habit which could very easily last well into adulthood. Children and students in a group or a gang automatically tend to put a type of peer pressure and fear into anyone who does not want to go along with the crowd or the leader. There is tremendous pressure in these all too common groups to not think for yourself for fear of "making waves" which would automatically bring about ridicule and other uncomfortable situations.
It is ironic to hear rebellious teenagers accuse their parents or religion of "brain washing". The groups that they associate with, having idols such as rock stars or TV stars of today, possess powerful built-in conscious and subconscious mind control and cultic type features. "You gota' get with it man." The name of the game is conformity to the idealistic group led by the base animalistic passions of human nature. Is this not true slavery of the worst kind?
Due to the great power of human respect, it is very difficult to stand alone or to be made fun of due to our principles and religious convictions which are very quickly identified by our peers. If we keep struggling to follow God's holy laws, we soon find that we just don't fit in with the crowd following that easy "wide" and well paved road to destruction. It can be very lonely and tough at times requiring strong moral convictions and character to withstand one of the greatest pressures of this world and the devil - peer pressure, or we could say 'friend' pressure. We all know well enough what all this is about. We live in a world where social pressure calls us 'chicken' or 'square' or 'crazy' or just plain 'you're out of it' unless we conform to custom, no matter how vile it is. It is so tempting to reassure ourselves with the thought that 'after all, everyone else is doing it'. But does a plague become any more tolerable because it is general? There are many souls in hell today who said, "But everybody else does it."
11.6: Partial Reason For Increase In Cultism
One of the problems especially today is that there are fewer and fewer people left who have developed the habit of thinking logically and yet more and more who think that they think logically. Our school systems no longer teach reading, writing, and arithmetic but rather rebellion against any disciplined mental structure and even rebellion toward all authority itself including parents, superiors, and God. These new curriculums go under nice sounding titles such as "Values Clarification", "Morals Education", "Dimensions of Personality", "Sex Education", "Individualized Science Instructional System" (ISIS), "Exploring Human Nature", the "New Math", etc. All have brought protests but still tax money is being poured into them. In these new humanistic anti-God school books, students are asked whether they want to stick to their old (and thus outmoded) moral values (from their parents or church), or adopt new ones. For example, in California, the book, "Human Sexuality" starts out with a full chapter on why students should not get sex information from parents or church. It then goes on to promote abortion, homosexuality, masturbation, adultery pre-marital sex and other aberrations of normal morality . This book was approved for the seventh and eighth grades in California. It is also used in even lower grades in other states. In these destructive text books, parents are attacked for moralizing on one hand, then for being unable to teach values on the other. According to these satanic textbooks, nothing the parents do can possibly be right, so the student must turn to his peers and his teacher for his values. These perverted books with appealing titles are "methods for changing the values of children without the teacher getting caught" (Dr. Sidney Simon - Humanist). 24
If we add to this our own natural difficulty in thinking due to Original Sin and our own sins, especially of pride, along with a great bombardment with much illogical nonsense and sexual diversions from our mass media, is it any wonder that many people allow a leader or a group to think for them?
In the history of the U.S.A., our present high school and college students are the first generation to be less knowledgeable and less educated than the previous generation of their parents. Logical deductive reasoning is becoming a thing of the past. People are more and more allowing others to do their thinking for them. After all, it is hard to think and it is much easier and less "hassle" to avoid developing the mental process of logical deductive thinking. Besides, solid logical thinking generally leads to deductive conclusions which would most likely lead to more responsibility and possible hardships and headaches. In fact, good solid thinking might lead us to the conclusion that we must change or give up a habit or a particular comfortable life style of ours or even leave our "friends" in order to do what we know we must in order to fulfill our long range goals and ideals, in particular, eternal happiness for ourselves or others. But if we form the habit of avoiding logical thinking in order to avoid possible undesirable consequences or if we change our ideals when we stumble across undesirable facts about our lives, we will drift through life with no aim or direction or solid convictions or even important reasons for living. If a man has nothing worth dying for, he also has nothing worth living for.
They say "ignorance is bliss." Perhaps it is for a short period of time so we don't have to face up to or discover our responsibilities or our slow interior deterioration and loss of ideals or hope for future and substantial happiness. After all, does not the Catholic Church say that one of the requirements for a sin to be mortal is that the thought, desire, word, action or omission must be seriously wrong or considered seriously wrong? But the Catholic Church along with basic common sense also says that if you were uncertain about the gravity of a sin but nevertheless committed the sin, you are guilty of mortal sin because you showed yourself willing to offend God seriously. In other words, we should not act in doubt but should form a certain conscience.
11.7: Totalistic Environment
A totalistic environment or society is a state of living in which all the basic requirements of life are fully controlled either through physical force or mind control techniques, or voluntarily being freely chosen by each member of the community with no un-willful coercion techniques used. Some examples of the forced totalistic societies would include the "Moonies", the "Divine Light Mission", the societies described in Thomas Huxley's "Brave New World" or George Orwell's "1984", the many drug and religious cults and the like which are lead and controlled by a leader toward a direction contrary to the desires of the free will choice of the members. Examples of unforced or voluntary totalistic societies would include the freely chosen religious life and also any other group with a set form of life that a person is allowed to freely choose without being consciously or unconsciously coerced mentally or physically toward a direction that he is not aware of and has not freely chosen and consented to.
Human beings, who have any kind of association with each other whatsoever, do influence each other. In regards to heaven, hell, eternity and doing or not doing God's holy will, our influences on others will result in a good effect or a bad effect depending on our example. This is why it is so important for each of us to set a good example due to the very significant influences each of us have on others especially if we are in a position of authority or leadership. Similarly, of the four great marks of the true Church, holiness is the identifying mark which attracts the most members to the true Church. This is because non-Catholics see her holy and prudent members and deductively reason back to the source, their religion.
Since every man has an obligation to know, love, and serve his Creator, we are all obliged to give good example so as not to scandalize and lead astray the weak. But just as God Himself will not interfere or tamper with our free will by forcing us to do something against our will, so too, we must not force anyone to do something against his will unless we are obliged to by our obligations to God or man such as a police officer, a teacher, a parent, etc. Thus, the Key to understanding a constructive cult or a destructive cult is first, does it lead people toward God or away from God, and second, does it force people in anyway whatsoever to do something against their will.
11.8: The Deception of Destructive Cults
A destructive cult will invariably offer appealing ideals or even seemingly wholesome apostolic works to be done just as the "Moonies" do. But the leaders of such a cult are using the innocently allured people to accomplish another goal, whether it be money, a false or imprudent worship, or merely an ego-trip of the leaders. The leaders themselves may not be fully aware of their own motives or the direction of the group at any given moment due to lack of full understanding or repeated imprudent rationalizations which have been repeated, built upon, and forgotten. But the important point is that the followers are either being lead away from God in any way whatsoever (including away from His true Church) or are being forced physically or mentally, consciously or unconsciously, to do something that they are unaware of or are unwilling to do.
There are innumerable ways and hidden ways and hidden techniques of controlling the mind of people. Some of the typical methods as illustrated by Richard LaMartina are: "They make you feel guilty for questioning (church tenets) as being scientifically or religiously invalid". "They get you to reveal hidden parts of your life through peer pressure ... and they then use that information to control you", causing one to give up his independent morals ideals through peer pressure so as to succumb to the direction of the human mob lead by the leaders - often called sensitivity training etc. They force everything into their "black and white perspectives" so you will be blinded to the partially masked and subtle truths of the matter. They project "the world as being so polarized", which is also an attitude which makes it difficult to see the real but hidden realities of a complex world or causes the cult members to be imprudently biased thus making it more difficult to see things objectively due to these fabricated preconceived and instilled false notions about life. They make you think that you are "following the true messiah" or the true will of God or what the Blessed Mother wants or some other important and basic human ideal and goal, all of which very effectively allures and keeps good and innocent people as well as not so innocent people. They tell you that this is the only true belief or way of thinking and acting which appeals to our basic need put into us by God to find or have the infallible truth. They claim to have their own source of revelation (or a prophet) which is put above the Bible or even (at least implicitly) put above Jesus Christ (or the true Church) since they have an infallible source of truth and guidance. A destructive cult is generally based on a human personality rather than common sense and deductive logical thinking leading to the one true personal God Who gives true freedom of mind and soul not manipulative mind controlling slavery. They tell you that the end of the world or the chastisement is near causing you to loose sight of reality and overall common sense and to lean more toward the cultic refuge of false peace and security which we all seek. They tell you how fortunate and privileged you are to be in the cult which appeals to our pride and blinds us to the fact that we are being used and manipulated by them. They tell you that here in the (cult) environment there are less dangers to you or your soul (or psyche) due to the "evil nature of the world" which causes many to stay and conform to the flow of the mass of people in the cult. They tell you what to wear, what to eat, when to sleep or get up (keeping you partially and mentally mesmerized), what habits to form, what to pray, when and where to turn your reports in, who to honor or seek "infallible" answers from, so that the members slowly loose their identity and individual thinking abilities and begin to seek what does Sun Myung Moon say or what does Jim Jones say or what does "Big Brother" say or what does the "Party leaders" say or what does _______ say?
The name of the game is to control the cult member's total mental input. Once this is done they can gently lead us a different direction against our conscious will or even change one or more of our basic beliefs or even change our whole foundation and direction in life. It is done so slowly, so smoothly and seemingly logically with all the right alluring trimmings for the particular type of people they are attracting into their particular cult.
11.9: God Offers True Freedom
But God on the other hand lets us use our free will as we choose. That is why we can choose to hurt or destroy ourselves or we can choose to help and save ourselves with His help. God offers us His "sweet yolk and light burden" of His cross. Christ Himself chose suffering as His lot while on earth. Thus He not only showed the value of patient suffering for love of God but He sanctified all suffering by giving it tremendous value for those who unite their personal God-given crosses in life to the cross of Christ in spirit and love.
God knows what is good for us since He made us. Our strong innate drive for substantial and lasting happiness was put into us by God who alone can perfectly and completely satisfy this very basic need. A constructive cult, which the Catholic Church could be considered in its basic definition, would have to lead us to this true freedom and happiness from God alone. Religious in an approved religious community such as the Franciscans etc., do take vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience. Thus, it would seem on the surface that the superiors of a Franciscan community are guilty of trying to control the members since these superiors arrange and control most of the environment and mental input into the members. In fact, a Franciscan under vows must obttain permission to do something that is not covered by the constitution or the local house rule. But the fundamental reason why a Franciscan community is a constructive and not a destructive cult is because each member freely takes the three evangelical vows to God not to a human personality but to the Divine Personality. Just as the parents in a family situation, the religious superiors take the place of God on earth as His direct representatives. Even if a superior is fat, ugly or not kind, he still must be respected and obeyed due to the vow of obedience, due to God's natural law and of course due to the fourth commandment of God. Thus God's will comes directly to a Franciscan Friar by way of his lawful superiors. The superiors are bound under pain of sin to uphold the set constitution, the approved house rule and to govern all else according to the basic norms of moral theology, canon law, and the basic law of love of God and neighbor.
What it all boils down to is that every human being will end up serving someone or something. Using his God-given intellect and freewill, he will either end up serving himself finding emptiness, the devil finding hate, envy, and pride, the world finding -empty and short lived thrills and excitements with remorseful strings attached, or he will end up serving his divine Creator and thus find God Himself besides himself. Only by returning to the Source, the One who made us, will we find happiness and the freedom of soul and spirit that we so desperately need and crave. In God's infinite wisdom and love, He made each of us exactly the way He did. God loves us and is interested in us as a unique individual. That is why every saint is different with his own strengths and weaknesses and particular qualities. It may seem derogatory and negative, at least to human nature, to pick up our cross and follow Christ. But hidden in the mystery of suffering is freedom of our immortal soul chained down by our fallen human nature and bad habits that we have allowed to grow and develop through denial and rejection of truth and God's help which is called sin.
God the Father loves His divine Son infinitely and so He gave His Son the valuable treasure of suffering while on earth. The more God loved the saints and the more they loved God, the more God gave them one of His most precious gifts on earth, suffering and tribulations which they bore with love and resignation with God's help. What a mysterious gift from the One who loves us most!
A person may use his God-given free will to choose to blind himself from the truth and thus dig for himself a pit of self-deception. But when a whole community digs the same freely chosen pit of deception together and reinforce each other and their more or less bothered and dulled consciences, imagine how difficult it would be to recognize and dig out of this pit of illusion!
Tuesday, April 1, 2008
Ch. XI: The Dynamics of Community