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The Cyprian Pledge, Cardijn Method and Learning Circles
Happy Spring~Happy Fall depending on where you live.
Kimberly Baker, PhD, coined the idea called "The Fr. Cyprian Pledge." I have been practicing the pledge and ask you to begin by choosing something to read this Fall, Winter, Spring, and Summer, one book each season, by an author not of your own ethnic origins and pertaining to racism, history, religion, culture, and privilege. Look for concrete ways to incorporate into your life the lessons learned.
Think about what you learned or issues related to racism and integrate them into your own blog post, your tweets, a homily, a faith formation class, a conversation with a friend, or some other way, and see where the spirit leads you. Help educate our world.
As we approach the 2024 elections in the US, think about elections in your country and where the patterns are emerging, and see the country's political, racial, and religious divisions. It behooves us to stop and expand our experiences and open our minds and hearts to our history, culture, and politics. Fear is a lack of knowing what the greater good is in our society. We can apply what we learn by reading to many encounters and situations with culture, religion, politics, and, yes, even family.
Learning, experiencing, and engaging in more conversations are crucial to overcoming fear. Education leads us to understand why the Cardijn Methods of See-Judge-Act are crucial in our lives today. When we "See," we are experiencing the world around us; when we "Judge," we discern from the wisdom of our experiences and others, today and the past; and when we discern, we become motivated to do something about what we have discovered and we "Act."
When we read books by authors of color, different ethnic origins, and cultural backgrounds different from us, we begin to see what makes us all human beings and the difference that makes us in our world.
I would suggest when we read a book, use the Cardijn Method and allow it to help us to:
Analyze and reflect theologically, culturally, and spiritually.
Decide how to act on the observed phenomenon you have discovered and uncovered; think of the AHA moments as you read the book.
Ask yourself how you will Change the situation and address its root causes. Knowing this will take a village because no human being is an island.
Ask yourself as you read Do I see the will of God working here? Do I see the Kingdom of God at work?
As you read and use the Cardijn Method, think about this:
Seeing: Pinpoint the social situations relevant today
Judging: Analyzing problems/constraints/root causes in light of Catholic Social Teaching (CST) principles
Acting: Put a plan together to take non-violent action to promote justice and improve situations; remember, it takes a village to get things done.
What can you and I do?
Think of forming discussion groups, book clubs, and "learning circles" as a critical and systematic approach to reflecting on human predicaments. Learning Circles using books are a fantastic way to gather people together and objectively help each other develop a habit of learning and foster curiosity. They can also help people become better readers and conversationalists. Learning Circles can help us create a deeper understanding of what we are reading and of other people. They can also help people build empathy for people with different identities. Learning Circles offer a safe space outside of professional environments to practice having productive conversations.
Learning Circles are a tool that requires people to come together. This can be done in person and virtually to insert themselves into a local situation so they can observe, judge, and act on reality from their faith's perspective, experiences, and convictions.
The Learning Circles comprises four parts: Everyone's Experience(No person is left behind), Social/Cultural analysis, Theological/Spiritual reflection, and Pastoral action. When we engage in this method, we employ the spirit of Joseph Cardijn and his work in today's world.
The Learning Circles process begins with an insertion, the experience of an issue or injustice discovered from the reading. You then move to social analysis and theological/Spiritual reflection. The process culminates in action, working for social change, serving those in need, and developing and working on the plan.
These three books focus on America, but you will find the situations universal no matter where you live.
The Half Has Never Been Told: Slavery and the Making of American Capitalism by Edward E. Baptist
The History of Black Catholics in the United States by Cyprian Davis OSB
How the Word Is Passed: A Reckoning with the History of Slavery Across America by Clint Smith
Till next week, enjoy being who you are, and remember, The Currency of human contact is stories! People remember what they "see" in their minds. Tell your story! But above all, be a Mensch!
Photo: Courtesy of Saint Meinrad Archabbey in Southern Indiana. Saint Meinrad Archabbey is a Benedictine monastery founded in 1854 by monks from Einsiedeln Abbey in Switzerland and is home to 80+ monks who live, work, and pray together.