Accountability Meetings

“Remember, Christian soul,
that thou has this day,
and every day of thy life:
God to glorify.
Jesus to imitate.
A soul to save.
A body to mortify.
Sins to repent of.
Virtues to acquire.
Hell to avoid.
Heaven to gain.
Eternity to prepare for.
Time to profit by.
Neighbors to edify.
The world to despise.
Devils to combat.
Passions to subdue.
Death, perhaps, to suffer.
Judgment to undergo.”
-Saint Augustine

 

These weekly meetings have two aspects: 1) focused and concise accountability strictly held, and 2) spiritual conversation.

1) Focused and Concise Accountability

This is accountability of daily commitments (their “rule”). Resolutions are recorded and “scored” in the excel sheet. There are three parts of the meeting: prior week review, brainstorming, commit to next week. It is a frank account of what is committed to with a clear tracking system, and collaboration on how to 1) most effectively keep the rule, and 2) what the most effective rule for sanctification would consist of.

Assuming the most important goal is to truly live for God and union with Him, and the only way to achieve this is through passive purification of infused contemplation, then the question for accountability is “what is the best way to dispose oneself to this?” The answer: through the presence of God and unceasing prayer in active efforts of purification and supernatural cooperation. “What is the clearest resolution for this to be most frequently and most intensely practiced?” The answer: a rule of life. This line of reasoning should all be agreed upon from the beginning (though our rebellious hearts and clouded intellects must meditate on these supernatural truths frequently to remain in this true mindset!).

Thus, the prudential question for the SOCA soldier is this: “what is the rule (i.e. daily disciplines) for you to resolve to follow for this next week that would be most impactful for attaining this goal of active purification?” This takes some background found in study of the faith and practical collaboration between brothers. These resolutions should be reasonably attainable–for it is a resolution to keep them strictly. But this is worth it if the eternal merit and consequences are weighed, and the love of God considered!

(For more on Focused and Concise Accountability, see the bottom notes)

2) Spiritual Conversation

This is a brother-to-brother discussion that is a blending of the speculative truths of the faith with our concrete, day-to-day lives. Born into the wretched state original sin and its consequences, we are blinded from seeing God and have so many wicked and numbing tendencies that disorient us from our one true end, which is God! This conversation should organically remind and reorient us toward the most important thing (“the One Thing Necessary), and therefore foster zeal which gives us motivation to fit those things that fall under the second paragraph of 1): desire to give God everything, to unite to Him, to receive infused contemplation, to avoid sin, to live for eternity.

Rather than watering down our salvation with mere affirmations, we recognize that evangelization begins with repentance, conversion, and lofty resolution–and continued repentance, conversion, and lofty resolution. This begins with ourselves. By reminding each other of this through reflections on supernatural truths, as well as by the implicit encouragement of having a brother striving for the same ideal, we are strengthened in our convictions as soldiers of Christ. This is not a session of vulnerable self-pity to make us feel better about ourselves. True charity for one another is a care primarily for the eternal salvation of the other’s soul. Saint Augustine’s meditation sums up well the contents of this reflective conversation aiming “to remember”:

Remember, Christian soul,
that thou has this day,
and every day of thy life:
God to glorify.
Jesus to imitate.
A soul to save.
A body to mortify.
Sins to repent of.
Virtues to acquire.
Hell to avoid.
Heaven to gain.
Eternity to prepare for.
Time to profit by.
Neighbors to edify.
The world to despise.
Devils to combat.
Passions to subdue.
Death, perhaps, to suffer.
Judgment to undergo.”

 

 

 

 

 

Notes

Some considerations about the meaning of “reasonably attainable”… The notion of progressive ascetism is important here; resolve to things you can reasonably keep; these are truly resolutions and you are, in a way, binding yourself to them. Think of them as unconditional, the “inexcusably kept daily minimum”. To compare with exercise: this is not your “max rep point” but your regular “daily workout routine” which will over time increase both your “max rep point” and your weight in your “daily workout routine”. Sometimes “maxing out” can increase both as well–which is why retreats as well as days of penance and fasting are essential for growth. But this is separate from one’s daily accountable resolutions.

If the bare minimum of having a rising time, 15 minutes of mental prayer, and the rosary are not attainable, then there is a lack of prioritization in one’s life. If the rising time is the problem, 2 potential causes are: 1) lack of prioritization the day before causing one to not go to bed at a proper hour for sufficient rest, or 2) problem getting up. If 2), a) this could be a lack of will and recognition of how important this is, and/or b) insufficient incentives/deterrents to do this, and/or c) too early of a rising time.

A note on the context of fraternal accountability: a trustworthy priest would obviously be helpful here, but strict “regular spiritual direction” is not necessarily recommended until one is doing 45 minutes of mental prayer daily (according to Father Chad Ripperger, an contemporary authority on spiritual matters). As mentioned in the formation plan, fraternal accountability lays the groundwork for spiritual direction. That being said, for psychological-spiritual problems (such as scruples), having a regular and trustworthy confessor (not necessarily spiritual director) is highly encouraged if not imperative.

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