“This is my commandment: that you love one another as I have loved you.” In committing ourselves to this rule and this life, we commit ourselves concretely to our brothers and sisters. In embracing our particular charism within the church, we enter into solidarity with our holy father, Saint Francis, with our venerable sister, St. Clare, with our brother and sister, Blessed Lucius and Buonadonna Modestini, the first members of the Order of Penance, and with all the Brothers and Sisters of Penance who have walked this way before us, and with all who are yet to come. We are received into a special family within the communion of saints.
It is within the local community of our brothers and sisters that we find the opportunity to experience concretely the love for and acceptance of one another which embody the genuine dynamic of Christian living. We are called not to merely to be caring people in a superficial, detached sense, but to love one another – not simply to live, but to experience life together. It might appear on the surface that to live and love in isolation, without the responsibility of commitment to others, would be sufficient for personal fulfillment. But such a love, without the trial and refinement of patience and perseverance, may become mere self-approbation and self-delusion. It falls short of the type of friendship and commitment that stays the course and runs the distance. “Let us not love in word or speech, but indeed and in truth.” We are called to love, accept, nurture, counsel and forgive our brothers and sisters in community, with all their human inadequacies and their personal idiosyncrasies. We are challenged by Christ to really love one another.
“if then our common life in Christ yields anything to stir the heart, any loving consolation, any sharing of the Spirit, any warmth of affection or compassion, fill up the cup of happiness by thinking and feeling alike, with the same love for one another, the same turn of mind, and a common care for unity.”