Thursday, 19 August 2010

Emergence and decline of Congregations

I've been reading a book of Archbishop Thomas Menamparampil (Guwahati) ... a collection of his talks and sermons. Truly inspirational! No wonder he is looked upto by very many people for varied reasons. This morning what struck me was his analysis of the various stages of a religious congregation: from the charismatic origin, through the ardent idealisitic early period to the later stage of being just another social reality. Speaking of the second stage, this is what he says:
Attention to the goals is replaced by attention to the means.
Attention to the Spirit is replaced by attention to lifeless rules.
Attention to the Religious atmostphere is replaced by attention to the structures.

And speedily sacrifice gives place to Convenience.
Enthusiasm yields to cynicism.
Idealism gives way to mechanical Imitation.
Radicality surrenders to compromise.
Growth gives place first to consolidation, then to retreat.
Attention to Others is replaced by exaggerated attention to the Collective self.
From this stage, the institute moves on to mere survival techniques. This stage is characterised by an over-organisation of structures and administrative bodies, over-qualification and sophistication of mind to the extent of distracting one from commitment and mutual accommodation.

Having stated thus he also offers means of 'resurrecting' oneself: Strengthening the faith dimension. This is done not by invoking rules or chapter decisions but by inspiring followers by the noble ideals that were dear to the founding members and earlier generations.

[Menamparampil, Thomas Never Grow Tired Mumbai: Pauline Publications, 2008]

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