Bishop Kallistos claims that a Christian cannot be a Christian alone, for to be a person is by definition to be internally related to other persons as the persons of the Trinity are internally related to each other…
Community life often brings a painful revelation of our limitations weaknesses and darkness; the unexpected discovery of the monsters within us is hard to accept – the temptation is to try and destroy them or hide them pretend they don’t exist or to flee the community life and relationships with others or to find that the monsters are theirs not ours.
As Vanier puts it, “while we are alone we could believe we loved everyone. Now that we are with others, we realise how incapable of loving, how much we deny life to others.”
Today spiritual practice is often done alone – it has become a private affair taking place behind closed doors in the privacy of our homes or bedrooms or our minds, shut off from the community or other people. Tension between individual prayer and community prayer reflects the tension between the unfolding of a personal call within the life of the community or outside it. There is a danger that private spirituality can isolate us from others and the wider community. Spiritual growth is growth in the sense of the other – growth outwards – you can always test the effectiveness of your spiritual practice against this criteria.