Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Community Review

Life in community is seen as perfect when compared to life in families. However, there is still conflict and it is important to manage that correctly. While there is not a singular "perfect" way to deal with conflict, we utilize the Community Review.

Tiger Catholics may be more familiar with the Community Review in its more traditional form, the Chapter of Faults. Once upon a time, religious communities would regularly gather to publicly admit their faults--and point out the faults of others. The setting was one of prayerful silence; this wasn't a meeting to hash out conflicts, so community members listened to one another's faults without responding. Having one's faults pointed out in public by others could have disastrous effect on community relations, unless the community was filled with exceptionally spiritually mature people.

These days, the Chapter of Faults has evolved into a "Community Review." During the Community Review, the community gathers, and members make an act of humility by sharing ways that they have hurt members of the community. A sister might admit to gossiping or saying hurtful words or being passive aggressive. Sometimes the act of humility regards offenses against the whole community, but other times, a sister might direct her admission of fault to a specific person.

Sometimes sisters are feeling that we're doing what we admit to and they don't realize we're aware of doing that until we come together and share about it. We find it to be a really healing experience and certainly a very sacramental time.

Importantly, the form of the act of humility includes not only an admission of fault, but a positive affirmation that the person really wants to do better and a request for prayers and practical assistance. For example, a sister might say "I'm sorry for the impatience that I've exhibited toward you. I'm going through a really hard time right now and I know I've been impatient with you; you've been trying to share stories with me and I've been cutting you off. I don't mean to do that. I really want to listen to you. I ask your pardon and I ask your prayers so that I can stop doing this because I don't want to hurt you this way and I want to recognize Jesus in you. Please help me out."

The other community members don't respond to these statements, but maintain a state of quiet prayer for the person speaking.

How to use the community review in your life.
Will the Community Review work for you? Our experience suggests it's worth a try! We've always had a positive experience. I'm always amazed at how honest kids are, how they know the things that have affected each other. They always come through. Always the things that I would pray for to surface get brought up.

Here is how to try it.
  • Gather in your prayer space. Consider setting the mood by lighting a candle or practicing thirty seconds of silence.
  • You may want to explain the background of the practice first--maybe even a day or two in advance. Explain the historic origins of the practice, and why religious communities continue to use it today. Talk about the virtues this practice might strengthen, such as humility, courage, self-awareness, wisdom, and love.
  • Offer general examples of acts of humility, such as bullying, gossiping, singling people out, and being exclusive.
  • Some good ground rules: acts of humility should be specific and relevant to the life of the community or family. Also, no sideways accusations of other family members (I'm sorry I yelled at you when you took my iPad with asking!!)
  • Consider starting the Community Review with prayer or song.
  • Parents should make acts of humility first to model the form and show that it is good spiritual practice for people of all ages.
  • Don't be afraid of silence. Set a minimum amount of time for the Community Review--say 5 minutes. If everyone is silent for most of this time, don't worry, make it time for silent prayer instead.
  • After the Community Review is over, offer a blessing and encourage spontaneous acts of love and reconciliation by leading the way: give someone a hug!
Content originally published here.

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