The Prophetic Dimension
This dimension of the SDC vocation is tied to martiria, that style of Christian living which witnesses Christ to the world. Prophecy is an alternative and visible way how the Christian relates to the world, a fact which from its very nature leads the Member to concrete choices. The Member is called to cultivate in himself a consciousness which is rooted in the Gospel values and which not only provides him with an alternative vision to that proposed by contemporary culture, but also empowers him to foster it in others. This awareness and an alternative vision are founded on Jesus Christ crucified who is “an indivisible Manual” for the SDC Member (Testment għall-Papidi u għall-Papidissi, VI). It is on the example of this ‘Great Book’ that the Member prays God to help him address his life in a spirit of victim towards God the Creator, a spirit of charity towards others, and a spirit of self-denial. The attitudes expressed in our Resolution are essential to this type of SDC witnessing. The Member renews daily his resolve to be poor, simple, meek, humble, to love being despised, and to love his fellow Members with great charity.
Humility and gentility are pre-eminent among these attitudes; they give a characteristic mark to this prophetic dimension of the SDC life form. The cultivation of humility and gentle meekness must remain the identifying characteristics for SDC Members who as Christians are called to propose an alternative to power and violence which in the current culture are causing injustice, poverty, ecological disasters, lack of peace and oppression of the weak, children, women, the illiterate and other persons marginalized by society. The Founder emphasized humility so that the Member renders true service to all, even to those who are considered “the scum of the world”, especially the poor, the weak and children because “the true disciple of Christ embraces always and willingly those that the world rejects”. In The Book of the Constitutions, Fr Preca shows how we ought to manifest “more affection towards poor children without offending the rich ones”.
In the same The Book of the Constitutions, the Founder wrote: “What are the commonest instruments which God uses in order to carry out marvelous and most glorious deeds? St Paul teaches that God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; God chose what is low and despised in the world, things that are not, to reduce to nothing things that are” (1 Cor 1:27-28). Hence, to be coherent with this biblical logic, the Member should adopt a lifestyle that makes him somewhat uncomfortable since it renders him a sign of contradiction, a condition which is necessary for prophecy.
It is for this reason that this dimension created and still does cause uneasiness and challenge to the SDC Member. No prophet ever felt comfortable amidst the surrounding culture for prophetism, of its very nature, demands from the prophet that he stays on the fringes of society in order to look at it from a critical perspective. This idea that the prophet stays somehow on the threshold of society gives him the advantage of being able to mediate between its genuine values and its deceptions.
So as to live this prophetic dimension while loving the world, the Member must acquire his identity from the Gospel values and root his life in Christ of a gentle and humble heart. Thus the Member does not model his behaviour on the contemporary world, but lets the renewing of his mind transform him, so that he may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and mature (Rm 12:2).
The Member realizes that the world needs to see him live his real calling. In spite of everything, he ought to feel joy that he is a provoking question to the world for he does distinguish clearly between what is eternal and what is just passing fashion. Convinced of the maxim that “what is not eternal is useless”, the Member dresses modestly, utilizes his money for the apostolate, the poor and for just causes; he is sober in the ways and means he uses for his personal recreation, is not frugal with his time; he is ready to give in rather than resist like solid rock against the onslaughts of arrogance; he forgives every time he finds that he is in the right; he guards himself from curiosity and useless talk, and keeps God alone as his witness in everything. In the spirit of John the Baptist, the Members must go on witnessing to perennial values even if they sound like “a voice in the desert”. Their lifestyle must always proclaim the scandal and the foolishness of the Cross.
As lay persons, the Members cannot forsake that which is strictly necessary for their living and for rightful leisure, two aspects of life which are relative with different individuals. But forces of consumerism can artificially create this need, and it can become so pressing to be taken as an absolute criterion. All this presents a serious challenge to the stance of poverty and frugal living that the Member is to practice.
In order to live this life form, the Member needs Spiritual Direction. Apart from being requested by the Founder since the beginning of the Society, Spiritual Direction is primarily linked to the growth of the longing for God in one’s life, to the examen of motivations in one’s heart, and, in the words of the Founder, to the combat against deceptions so the Member becomes more “the new being” according to God’s heart.