Thursday, July 21, 2011


I was introduced to the idea of each religious order having their own charism in the book Black as Night.  It's kind of  a throwaway conversation in the book and doesn't have anything to do with the plot.  But the idea fascinated me.

In case the idea is new to you, too, it goes sort of like this: each religious order has its own set of virtues and talents, known as its "charism." That's why the Franciscans are different from the Jesuits are different from the Salesians.  It's why a young man with a vocation might decide that being a Domincan suits him, personally, better than being a Benedictine.

Or, if you like to look at the world through the bright colors of fantasy (like me), the charism is like each order's set of super(natural) powers. 

I love this idea.

I think the idea could be more widely applied as well.  Whenever anyone makes a generalization, there's always a modifier, "Not everyone's the same, but..." lest the maker of the generalization has an angry someone pop with an exception to their rule.  Even then, generally someone angry pops up, because lots of folks seem to like being angry.

But, I digress.  I think everyone, without exception, has a personal charism.  That is, the set of virtues and talents that makes them unique.  I think each family has a charism in the strengths and activities that they as a family excel at.  I think each couple has a charism that is firmly cemented in place by marriage.

I am going somewhere with this, I promise.

I hear many people, when confronted with a talent that not their own or a virtue that doesn't come easily, say "Oh, that's not me.  I couldn't do that.  I'm not like that."   That's a lot of negatives.  It seems to me that people would be less frustrated with their own short-comings if they said "that's not part of my charism" -- reminding themselves that they have a whole set of superpowers, just not that particular one. 

Or maybe that's just me, frustrated because I've only had one cup of coffee so far. Going without coffee is not part of my charism.

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