by ROWENA OREJANA
The “culture of encounter” that Pope Francis is calling us to means walking on the “edge”, according
to an Australian Christian Brother.
Br Damien Price told priests from Auckland diocese at their assembly on August 20 that the “edge” is the place where life happens.
Br Price is a member of Brisbane archdiocese youth ministry and the coordinator of cross-cultural engagement of developing nations assisting the Christian Brothers’ ministries.
“[The edge] is the liminal space. The gap is a great place, creative place, place of energy and chaos, place of uncertainty and a place of confusion, a place of the heart over the head. There is no right or wrong, there just is,” he said.
He defined encountering people on the edge or at the gap as Jesus encountering the woman at the well, or the unnamed woman who was found in the act of adultery, or the blind man standing before him, or the leper reaching out to him.
Br Price said in his experience working with people on the edge in Australia, he found the homeless as well as troubled youth have a built-in “crap detector” that can smell insincerity.
“More than anything else, they want our fidelity. Their crap detector senses that within us,” he said.
Unfortunately, he said, the perception is that people who have faith have failed to walk into that gap. Young people, especially troubled youth, feel faith and real life belong to two different silos.
“My experience is that the young people I’ve worked with and their parents, some of them are lost and are searching for meaning. There is a breakdown of family life. There’s substance abuse, and hedonism. They’re caught up in all these. St Augustine says their hearts are restless until they rest in thee. For some reason, they don’t look to our
wonderful faith,” he said.
Br Price called on the priests to walk into the gap.
“The perception is that we aren’t entering the space where we might have the chance to be holy. My little bit of experience is that we way our world today needs us to be holy. Not biased, but holy,” he said.
He reminded them that Jesus deliberately went to the broken. “It’s a deliberate choice,” he said.
“We stand on the shoulders of … the saints. They’ve all been people who have gone to the edge. They’ve all been people who stepped towards broken and brokenness.”
by ROWENA OREJANA