The Banqueting Kingdom

“Only when our own practice is linked to community, nourished by the bonds of a shared religious culture – faith, ideas, and struggle – does it have the potential for safely unleashing the spiritual energies in us all that can revitalize and even transform our parched society. This is not to deny the value and necessity of making use of insights from various spiritual traditions, but when we do so without a solid grounding in some kind of stable community, a circle of people with whom we can and do share our life and deepest concerns, our spirituality all too easily succumbs to the dominating tendencies of our own egos and personalities. We then feed on spirituality for ourselves exclusively, dining at a table set for one. Instead of tasting the true freedom of self transcendence intended by a spiritual life, a healing from our own alienation, we end up insidiously narcissistic and self-preoccupied at the expense of maturity and balance. It was not for nothing that Jesus said to his disciples, ‘I am the vine, you are the branches. Those who remain in me and I in them bear much fruit, for cut off from me you can do nothing.’ (John 15:5). Christian tradition has always understood this to mean that we truly abide in Jesus together, as a community. This is why the kingdom of God is likened to a great banquet, and why we place so much importance on Eucharistic celebrations, where this experience is realized and manifested in a unique way.” (In the Spirit of Happiness: The Monks of New Skete, pp. 103-104)