March 11, 2009

Elements of Radical Fraternity– an interview with Fr. Conrad Osterhout, C.F.R.

I asked Father Conrad what the essential elements of radical fraternity were and what they might mean not only for priests or religious, but also the lay faithful like me.

Christ is the foundation. He changes everything. People today speak of their rights, the ability to follow their own way, but in the Gospel and in Christ we find a way of life revealed to transform us. We are called to a humble life, to hold God above all things and follow where He leads. The gift of faith and a life in Christ is to say that my will, my body and my plans are not mine. I use what I have been given, but I surrender it all to Christ, to the Holy Spirit and to God. His truth in my mind allows me to make decisions on those truths. The Holy Spirit guiding me, I can change my plans, my way of thinking, to conform to God. We have to hope for humility if we live in accord with this.

Prayer. We search for, and find, Him in prayer. I fulfill my obligations as the ritual; the practice is something alive and connecting to the mystical union. Christ is present in the power of prayer. To quote St. Paul, “It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives within me.” Each vocation has its demands, but they are all filtered through Christ. I am not enlivened by my will, or my cultural surroundings, but through the true voice of God, the Church, the Holy Spirit. Think on the church. Quo vadis? Remember the church where Peter, as he fled from Roman persecution, stopped? The name of the Church means “where are you going?” If the Lord asks you where you are going, then you are going the wrong way.

The sacramental and mystical union we have—‘do this in remembrance of me’. We are told how to love Christ through the covenant. His love is manifest through the covenant and Eucharist. He is offering the tangible reality of his presence in the Eucharist, which is both his humanity and his divinity. If we come to the Eucharist prepared for it, ready to receive the Lord giving himself to us in all our smallness and completing us through Him, we are giving ourselves as he did, prepared to be in service to others.

Confession. This, despite the fear we have of it, should be approached with humility as it offers us mercy and renewal. We are able to move forward, to put things in the past and let them stay there and we are totally loved by a merciful Father. He takes us for our weakness and loves us anyway.