The Bokor The community has been labelled as "Bokor" (meaning bush) from the 1970s, inspired by an essay by György Bulányi, who called the movements sprouting and growing from the Holy Spirit "bushes". A journalist used the expression for the network, and the community adopted the name in the course of time, since the word refers to both the Biblical story of the bush that would not be consumed and the living "bush" of vines growing from the same stock. Community has got more than 60 years of history. At the end of World War II., György Bulányi, a Piarist teacher maintained the first communities in Debrecen for the proposal of a Croatian Jesuit. His first aim was to rescue the Christian faith, way of thinking and practice in the era of the Communist dictatorship. The community life was blocked by the wave of arrests in 1952, when a number of priests, monks and believers were imprisoned for their work in the movement. The nowadays known, ever-changing and independent image of Bokor has been formed in the second half of the 1960s, when its founder was set free from prison. It was this time that his five-volume theological synthesis was written (under the title Keressétek az Isten Országát, or KIO), defining the idealism of the community. The work is based on the analysis of the sentences recorded as said by Jesus himself in the Gospels: the basis of the cohesion of the community has been the identification with the heritage of Jesus Christ, the image of the Love-God and the ethics built upon these ideas as featured in KIO. The basis and the only condition of the cohesion of themunity has been the identification with the heritage of Jesus, the image of the Love-God and the ethics built upon them. In the following, we try to summarise it briefly.
God is Love. The Holy Trinity is a community of love. God can only love us, we have been created to love. The essential message is engraved in the soul of all of us: what you do not want to be done to you or your loved ones, do not do it to anyone else. This is the golden rule through which the Land of God could be maintained, the realm of love, where there is no violence and hatred.
The message of Jesus is about this God, it teaches to practice this essential rule. Love sets practical tasks for those who listens to the message of Jesus, these tasks cannot be replaced by rituals. This is elevated in the Sermon of the Mount and in the depiction of judgement in the Gospel of Matthew. In the Bokor Community, the essence of this message, to change love into life, is summarised in three principles:
1. The one who loves, gives
They cannot just watch idly the poverty of others. They give till there is no one poorer than them. They do not give only from the redundant, but from the needed as well, just like the poor widow, standing even poverty.
2. The one who loves, serves
They cannot rule, as they know how terrible it is to be oppressed, they do not wish it to themselves and their beloved ones, so they cannot do it to anyone else. Still, they know that not every person in the world thinks the same way, so their fate will or can be oppression.
3. The one who loves, does not apply violence
They cannot hurt, they cannot force anybody, neither with action, nor verbally, since it would be loveless, and they would not wish it for themselves either. What is more, they cannot apply violence as a means of self-protection. This attitude makes them unwanted, silenced, suppressed by those who has the power and force.
The members of Bokor attempt to understand and live this moral code of conduct in the network of communal connections. The loving community of the Holy Trinity offers the example and the ideal, while the promise coming from Jesus about the hundreds of brothers and sisters offers encouragement. There is a vivid intellectual life in the community, which is present in numerous collections of essays as well. Everybody can comment on any of the questions, the opinions are welcome, even wanted.
What is characteristic of the practice of Bokor Community? Giving A peculiarity of the community is the high number of children, as the greatest gift to give is life itself. There are many families raising 4-6 children, but there are families with 10, and even 16 children. Although these families have been functioning with one wage-earner, it has been said decades ago that they have been living much better even this way in Hungary, than whole nations of the Third World who are suffering from famines, epidemics and massive violence. The recognition inspired giving, from support through informal channels to the Third World Foundation, a legally accepted organization. Ten thousands of dollars are sent to India by the Foundation every year to help the educational work of a Jesuit priest. This way, the members of Bokor do not only give fish, but help teach to fish those in need from the distance. Another foundation came to life to ease the growing domestic difficulty as well, it can help even within the communal scope. is significantly present in the lives of the members of the community, it is a question of conscience. Have I given time, money and love? Have I given enough? Have I given more than yesterday?
Doing the service is ordinary in the community, everyone does what they have taken on in "community work", let it be the teaching of a course, editing, typing, or maintenance. Many members take on duties at presbyteries (if they are accepted), such as teaching, charity work, courses for engaged couples.
The attitude of the members of the community is defined by the principle that they cannot be the "rulers". Under the socialist era, many of them worked in positions under their qualifications and abilities, and they did not have a fellowship with the ruling class of the time. After the change of regime, some of them gained roles in the economic field, even at city councils. After a couple of years, though, it came to the surface that the message of Jesus is strange and irritating in the capitalist life as well, those leaders who wish to serve as well are exploited and extruded by the ruling class.
Non-violence and the rejection of the use of force may be the most widely known principles of Bokor, gaining recognition by the trials and prison sentences of those who refused military service. This was the action that caused the political and religious condemnation of the community. After joining the Helsinki Declaration, further steps against the community by the state became unacceptable, so the religious hierarchy has been entrusted to find "reprehensible" teachings in the views of Bokor and to punish it therefore.On the other hand, the members of the community attempt to live non-violence in a wider circle, in the family, the church, the community, at the working place; this means that arguments are solved with discussion and persuasion instead of using force-positions. At the beginning, community life used to exist through illegal The severe persecutions of the 1950s and the imprisoning of the priests of the community imposed the temporary abandonment of even this form. It was from the second half of the 1960s that talking circles started to form, meeting regularly and seeking the essence of the message of Jesus. In the 1970s, the majority of the junior groups were founded at the parishes lead by priests connected to the Bokor Community. In the 1980s, though, the Bokor Community became distanced, even extruded from the living, regular practice of the Catholic Church because of the withdrawn and blaming attitude of the Episcopate. (It may be enough to note that the founder of the Community was laid under an interdict in Hungary until October, 1997, so the natural leader of Bokor was not allowed to practice in public as a punishment by the Church.) Furthermore, it is important to emphasise that the principles and practice of the community can be adopted by many non-Catholics, even non-believers. groups having gatherings at private homes. The inner life of Bokor is characterised by two significant principles and the practice rooting from them:
Firstly, the recognised truth binds, so the message of Jesus has to be realised the best way possible, with a consistent, always renewed forming of life and way of thinking. The recognitions, though, has to be reached individually, no one can "keep their conscious in the pocket of somebody else" and no one can wait for others to decide instead of them. The Good News has to be passed on, pupils have to become masters in the course of time, as Jesus sent his apostles to achieve these goals.Secondly, representation The inner life and structure of the community does not know the term "appointment", only secret voting, beyond personal friendships. The aim is to call upon the appropriate person who can do their best to help and serve the whole community. The leaders of the small communities that consist the whole of the Bokor Community are those people who can love and serve the members the best, let them be men, women, have a family or be single. The principle rest upon the members to serve the bigger community is the same, the Secretary who is the leader of the group formed to move the life of the whole community in the given year can be, for example, a father, but also a grandmother (so a laywoman!). The Bokor dreams of a church that is based upon this principle. The "churchorder" of the Bokor is a non-authoritative, brotherly, cooperative network of small communities, where the representatives of the small communities come together to discuss the problems and questions of the bigger community, their deputies form a new level, which leads to the peak-community of those who care for the whole world. takes place with applying the principle of the most appropriate. The inner life and structure of the community does not know the term "appointment", only secret voting beyond personal friendships. The aim is to call upon the appropriate person who can do their best to help and serve the whole community.
The continuous thinking and colloquy always results in newer questions that are to be discussed with the brothers and sisters. These days, for example, the possibility of the establishment of a commune has emerged. The question is, whether it is enough to maintain the last decades' form of community with the regular gatherings, or should be the aim to realise another kind of symbiosis that involves community property and could offer loving atmosphere, safety, working possibilities for outsiders as well, even for those living on the margin of society.The Bokor Community, therefore, has not represented and will not represent a closed system of rules and doctrines, but attempts to fully understand the message of Jesus while spreading it and living according to it.
(Printed in: Vigília, July, 1998)
Translated by Végh Veronika