Christian Life Community
A Brief Summary of CLC Spirituality, Progressio, Jan. 1987
CLC spirituality is a way of life which is missionary
A Way Of Life:
Ignatian spirituality is an integrated spirituality, i.e. a 'process' which brings together our faith and daily living, so that we may become more aware of Christ's presence in our life, and respond to the Lord's invitations to carry on the mission of Christ in our world today.
This process is based on the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius:
- as a retreat experience;
- as a way of life on the personal and communal level.
As a retreat experience, the spiritual exercises 'speak' for themselves. However, the process takes a person through various prayer experiences that assist the person "to better love and serve God in all things."
The experience of the Spiritual Exercises is continued on the personal level in two ways (of course, these two ways are not exhaustive):
- Through the sort of prayer that begins by surrendering to God and revealing every aspect of our lives. We surrender to the Lord and begin telling how we feel - we tell the Lord what is on our mind or in our heart. This may take all the time for prayer, or only part of it . . . but it is where we begin. We only grow in intimacy with a person to the extent that we reveal ourselves to that person and let him/her reveal himself/herself to us. This sort of prayer makes for the integration of our faith and daily living, and is a growing experience of 'conversion' - we begin to see life, and turn to it where before we saw nothing, or only something negative.
- Through the daily examen of consciousness. There are various models for this - perhaps one of the best known in CLC is the model proposed by Fr. George Aschenbrenner, S.J. The aim of this exercise is, through a growing attentiveness to our inner 'movements' - e.g. our feelings, our motives, our inspirations - to come to know the well-springs of our actions, and the patterns of our behaviour, so that we may be attuned to the inspirations of the Holy Spirit, and more alert to the prompting of the forces of evil.
On the community level: the usual CLC process in a group reinforces the movement of integrating our faith and daily living.
There is a time for quiet prayer, from a passage of Scripture. (Sometimes this leads into shared prayer, depending on the group).
There is an exchange, on the level of experience, of some aspect of daily life (decided in advance).
Other 'activities' may follow, but these two 'moments' are essential. For what they do is to bring the light of faith, in a community context, to the different concerns of our life. Moreover, these moments further reinforce the movement of integration because they bring together prayer and listening. Prayer, basically, is surrender to the Father - to let God be God in my life. Listening is 'surrendering' to the other - to let the other freely be himself/herself. We know how real our prayer is by looking at the quality of our listening.
. . . Which is Missionary
Mission is not so much what we do as the whole quality of presence we bring to the world in which we live. Our mission is to carry on the mission of Christ, to be Christ-bearers, like Mary. Christ's mission was not just what he did, but what he was, his whole life. And his whole life, in human terms, was the full revelation of the Father's love. His dying reveals that the Father's love is unconditional and completely 'vulnerable' to creation, in the sense that when God's love is fully revealed, what we see is a 'man with a broken heart.' And Christ's rising reveals that the Father's love is undying and unconquerable. So, our mission is to carry on Christ's mission, by being people who reveal the Father's love. We not only do this but are this - i.e., a revelation of the Father's love - through seeking to build the sort of world in which people can live as brothers and sisters, children of the Father. This is the CLC mission; and it is further specified by our experience as members of the Church; in the world today, we cannot be - live as - brothers and sisters:
- Unless we have a simple life-style - poor with Christ poor, for a better service.
- And unless we carry the spirit of evangelization, a concern for the service of faith and the promotion of justice.
This is the CLC mission in the world today - so to live as brothers and sisters that we reveal the Father's love, and that the people around us may also come to believe that the Kingdom of the Father is both possible and true . . . a Kingdom of Justice, Peace and Love.
Patrick O'Sullivan, S.J.
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