The Washington Post Magazine cover story today captures the lives of young people who are finding God with the poor in intentional Christian communities such as Catholic Worker houses where they live with the poor that they serve:
At Simple House, as at other Christian intentional communities, the answer demands devotion and sacrifice. None of the missionaries at Simple House has an outside job. Laura earns just $200 a month to minister to about two dozen families in Southeast, doing everything from delivering food to helping a couple deal with their daughter's suicide attempt. She and her housemates have taken vows of poverty, obedience and chastity. They pray every morning and evening and attend Mass daily. In their rowhouse on T Street NW, they have no TV. No Internet. No alcohol inside the house. And no sex. Ever. What the young women lack in amenities, they make up for in sightings of rats and roaches.This is what it looks like to reject careerism and affluence in pursuit of spiritual fulfillment. This is what it looks like to become a modern-day radical.
. . .
"When we get to heaven . . .," writes Shane Claiborne, a leader in the intentional community movement, "I don't believe Jesus is going to say, 'When I was hungry you gave a check to the United Way, and they fed me,' or, 'When I was naked, you donated clothes to the Salvation Army, and they clothed me.' "
This is from Claiborne's essay in "School(s) for Conversion: 12 Marks of a New Monasticism." The book has become an unexpected sensation among young Christians ready to renounce their parents' pursuit of worldly success in favor of a low-income lifestyle and a commitment to working with the poor. Even more surprising has been the success of Claiborne's most recent book, "Irresistible Revolution: Living as an Ordinary Radical," a memoir that also offers a deeper introduction to alternative Christianity and intentional communities. Published almost three years ago, it has sold almost 200,000 copies.
Read it all here.