Ok, so I don’t usually do this. By which I mean, I have yet to do something like this. Now I’m doing something like this. “This” is posting a photo of something that I saw while out and about (today’s feature comes from an afternoon walk in a park that borders a Catholic Church in the Capital District) and commenting on why it caught my attention. Here it is, a sign that advertised the 2011 Lenten “theme” for this unnamed parish (to protect the guilty).
While walking on this first real Spring-like day, I spotted this well-made sign outside of the Church. And what caught my attention was the “MEs” all over the thing. I walked up close to examine what the story was, presuming in my innocence that it was a sign denouncing self-centeredness during the season of penance. To my surprise it was exactly the opposite — it was a sign that promoted introspective identity formation.
On one hand, this is not such a bad thing. One could read this effort as a attempt to get at what someone like Thomas Merton would call “the True Self.” But, I thought that it really doesn’t lead the reader — likely other quickly passing walkers or joggers on the trail like me — in that direction. Instead, the question “Your Job This Lent?” is answered with “Me.”
I think the more challenging and more authentically Christian answer is “WE.”
The focus of the Christianity is community driven. While we are responsible moral agents, we are also members of “The Body of Christ,” which is the Church. No one is a Christian on his or her own, therefore the Church, while it should promote a call to metanoia in the lives of its members, needs to be about asking questions of how are we as a community living up to our call to follow Christ? We do that as one of many, united together in Baptism and the Spirit. As Stanley Hauerwas might suggest, the answer to the “Me” question arises out of the collective discernment of the “who are WE” question.
Just some food for thought.