a new society within the shell of the old
Christianity is an inherently material and social practice. You can’t read the opening chapters of the Acts of the Apostles or the Sermon on the Mount without seeing that it is both of these things. The first Christians shared their material possessions, cared for the sick and poor, and ate and prayed regularly together. Christians are Christians by what they do in common with the physical world around them.
This is why Peter Maurin thought that the great sin of the modern world was to divorce the Church from the material and the social. If the Church does not express itself in the material, and this includes what we might call the economic or even financial, lives of its disciples, as well as the material care it takes for others, by sharing its stuff with each other and the poor, it becomes merely “spiritual.” And if the Church is no longer social – a communal shared life with others – it becomes merely a matter for individuals. When these two divorces happen, Christianity is reduced to what solitary people do in the privacy of their own hearts.
But who, really, cares about that? It is a faith that concerns literally nothing, and no one. It doesn’t transform you, much less the world. It leaves you staring at yourself, and the world the way it was. It’s no wonder the Church, and most of us Christians, are in such bad shape.
But it doesn’t have to be this way. It is possible to reinfuse the Gospel into everything that we do. That is the task of Christians today, and it is the challenge we at the Maurin House take up – to make the Mass and the Sacraments and the Scriptures a transforming force in our communities and our lives. And it has to start small and develop organically, from common prayer, food, and fellowship with the poor. That’s how the early Christians did it, and we lack nothing that they had. This is the cure for boredom, loneliness, and anxiety, the key to the meaning of life, and the adventure we know in our bones we are all made for.
This is why we invite you to join us in praying, eating, welcoming and working, together. We think this life in community is the best way to preach the Gospel today. We pray together, because we are Christians, and the liturgy is the heart of the Church. We eat together because feast and celebration – gathering us around a table – is the way that God has chosen to end our isolation and bind us into one new people. We welcome the poor together because in welcoming them we welcome Christ. We work together – rearing children, preparing food, gardening, building – because we want to form a truly Christian culture, one that involves everything we do.
These simple things are the way to reunite the spiritual with the material and the social.
This is the path to renew the Church.
You are invited to join us.