–– Sito di FORMAZIONE PERMANENTE MISSIONARIA –– Uno sguardo missionario sulla Vita, il Mondo e la Chiesa A missionary look on the life of the world and the church –– VIDA y MISIÓN – VIE et MISSION – VIDA e MISSÃO ––
On the one hand, spiritual writers have always tended to put an important emphasis on the type of inner work that can only be done in private prayer and contemplation. That is why silence is judged to be so important while on a retreat: “How can you be serious about prayer and conversion unless you are willing to face, in silence, the chaos inside your own heart?”
To fear or shun silence generally brings with it the judgment that you are superficial, shallow, fearful of depth, and afraid to be alone with God and yourself. The emphasis on interiority and silence in classical spiritual writings is trying to ease precisely this fear in us so as to challenge us to a silence and solitude within which we can face ourselves and journey to the heart of things.
On the other hand, Christian spirituality has also always emphasized the social aspect of our lives: family, church-going, and involvement within a community. The social dimension of life too has always been considered a non-negotiable element within a healthy spiritual life.
Most of the same writings that emphasize silence and solitude also emphasize being within a family or a community and participating in church life. They warn that there is a real danger in being too private, in being too caught up inside of ourselves, in avoiding community, in being on a private quest without enough concern for the family and community.
Both emphases, taken alone, are one-sided: An emphasis on silence and solitude alone tends to penalize extroverts, just as an emphasis on community and church alone tends to penalize introverts. Too rarely have we struck a healthy balance on this.
Both are necessary and both are necessary within the life of the same person. We need both, silence and socializing, in our lives and pitting one against the other is a false dichotomy. They aren’t in opposition to each other but are both vital components of the same journey towards a community of life with God and each other.
Introverts and extroverts equally struggle and are equally privileged.
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