Tag Archives: School of Community

Doing School of Community

“How does School of Community become a point of comparison? First of all, it must be read by clarifying the meaning of the words together –not an interpretation of the words, but the literal sequence […] Secondly, space must be given to the exemplification of a comparison between what one lives and what one has read. One must ask himself how what he read and tried to understand literally judges life.”

Fr Giussani (published in Traces, 1992) and quoted in Fr Julián Carrón’s notes for his March 20, 2013 School of Community

Life as Vocation, Life with Christ is our new beginning

Call of St Matthew brugghen.jpgLast Sunday many of the communities of Communion and Liberation around the USA met for a “Beginning Day”. We met in NYC to hear the national leader of CL, Chris Bacich, make a presentation, to listen to Father Julián Carrón’s presentation and to pray the Mass. About 100 CL in NY attended. Notes on the Day later. But in the meantime, expect a journey, not a miracle; journey in faith is made in experience of what Jesus gives us to live.

Father Julián Carrón’s text is available here: Life as Vocation 2012 eng.pdf
Our work in the School of Community and in the life of the community only is made possible if we beg the Holy Spirit to guide our steps. Our prayer, then, is Veni, creator Spiritus, mentes tuorum vista, imple superna gratia, quæ tu creasti pectora.

Christ is something that is happening to me now –our engagement with Giussani’s At the Origins of the Christian Claim

Fraternity CL Logo.JPGThose who follow the lay ecclesial movement, Communion
and Liberation
, and attend the weekly School of Community, know that we’ve come
to end of our work on Father Luigi Giussani book, the The Religious Sense. For the
coming year we will be working on Giussani’s At the Origin of the Christian
. On January 25, 2012, at the Teatro degli Arcimboldi, Milan, Father Julián
Carrón’s made a presentation of Father Luigi Giussani’s book. 

That presentation
is noted here: 
Christ is something that is happening to me now.pdf

Quoting Don Giussani, 

Et incarnatus est-Father Giussani says-“is singing at its purest,
when all man’s straining melts in the original clarity, the absolute purity of
the gaze that sees and recognizes. Et incarnatus est is contemplation and
entreaty at the same time, a stream of peace and joy welling up from the
heart’s wonder at being placed before the arrival of what it has been waiting
for, the miracle of the fulfillment of its quest. […]

As we approach the 30th anniversary of papal approval of the Fraternity of Communion and Liberation on February 11th, let’s call on the intercession of Our Lady of Lourdes and Saint Benedict, co-patrons of the Movement to guide our way to the Word Made Flesh.

More questions result from media persecution of Pope

In the School of Community Sunday evening –the weekly catechetical meeting for members & friends of Communion & Liberation– we discussed Traces‘ April editorial, “Greater than Sin.” The editorial is an attempt to put words to an experience and to remind ourselves of the workings of grace and sin.

The more I look I these accusations of sexual misconduct and other sinful behavior by priests (and even the laity), I am inclined to say that it’s more than a question of homosexual priests or affectively retarded individuals who have had positions of pastoral authority in the Church, and much to do with our faith in Christ as the answer to limited humanity. In other words, there has been a significant lack of faith in the Incarnation and Christ as the answer to my nothingness. For some, this assessment makes no sense because if you are ordained a priest or a vowed religious, one expects that you would have an intimate experience of the workings of God and His love. BUT this can’t always be assumed. The more I sit with the problem I am curious to know the depth of relationship with God existed with those who committed these sexual crimes and the church leaders who had oversight. Could it be that those who abused children or scandalized the faithful in other ways didn’t have a living faith in Christ who is alive today, right now? Could it be that for some of these people God is dead in the conscience? More questions surfaced than I have answers for. For example:
Are we certain about the Catholic faith we are living? Are certain about what we are saying?
What has been happening with the sexual abuse crisis is the direct result of a lack of certainty of faith in Christ. We the Church, laity and clergy, have demonstrated a real lack of faith in the saving promises of Christ than in the offer of communion with Him. Our sense seems to indicate that the hundredfold Christ speaks of is a complete fabrication.
Key to understanding our Catholic way of living is that we have a different standard of measuring things: justice, mercy, forgiveness, love are the measures. Priesthood is a total, permanent change in a man’s being, a permanent change in character, not a career, not something temporary, not something magical, not something esoteric; the priesthood means being configured to Christ in a permanent way.
In our discussions we asked the Christological question: who is Christ and how does Christ act in my and how do I know Him. Do we believe Christ is for all people? Do we believe Christ is alive right now, in front of us, in the person next to us? Is Christ recognizable? Do we believe that Christ redeemed us through his death and resurrection?
The question of forgiveness surfaced in our School of Community based on the fact that Christ tells us to forgive and He himself is the pattern of reconciliation. Is forgiveness possible? Is it possible to live in an attitude of forgiveness? Is forgiveness familiar to me (us)? Do we have an experience of forgiveness? Can we hold that what we believe as true –Jesus Christ– is for everyone?
The we dealt with the problem that for many people it is impossible to accept the Church as a mother who cares for her children, educates her children, who disciplines her children but doesn’t throw the problem child under the bus. The Church’s maternity seems not only to be less understood today if not completely rejected by many of the faithful and the media. Maternity is reduced to giving birth and completely neglecting the moral motherhood. The Church, since Christ founded her, has neither said nor indicated that she was a perfect mother. She is divinely instituted but populated by sinners trying to be holy and at times missing the mark. The Church like the rest of the world is daily pursuing justification in Lord’s cross and resurrection.
The attacks the whole Body of Christ –the Church– is facing these days attempts to pervert people’s faith and confidence in the Church and therefore to prevent the Church from caring for all her children –the victims, the perpetrators, bystanders, etc.
An answer to some these questions is ‘yes’ if we know that only with Christ is forgiveness, conversion possible.
We need to understand ourselves in action, in concrete ways, in the ways in which Providence has deemed to give us the grace to live…otherwise we live in the abstract and God, therefore has no real bearing on our life.
Beautiful words don’t save us, Jesus does, who is alive right now.
So, I think the Pope is correct in recommending a spiritual renewal program (see the Letter to Ireland) to regain, or just to establish for the first time a real relationship with the Christ. His aim is to ask the question, do you know Christ? if so, do you know how to live according to the pattern of Christ’s sacrificial love?

To live without reservation: what Francis may be pointing to

Some have called Liliana Cavani’s Francesco (1989; DVD 1998) a gritty alternative to Franco
Brother Sun, Sister Moon. And I agree. Zeffirelli, while a brilliant filmmaker, can ruin a
saint. And whatever may be said of Cavani’s work,
Francesco is neither a saccharine nor romantic portrayal of
the 13th century’s radical saint, Francis of Assisi. His sincerity is strikingly beautiful. This movie is based on
Herman Hesse’s book
Francis of Assisi. Cavani’s film won three awards and was nominated for a fourth. The
legendary actor/boxer/dog lover and practicing Catholic, Mickey Rourke, played
Saint Francis. And as a side bar, he credits his Catholic faith to saving his life.

Liliana Cavani.jpg

Cavani, born in 1933 in Capri, is the director of many television and cinematic
productions.  Her religious
tendencies are basically unknown to me but I did hear that she leans or leaned
toward a communist ideology. But I can’t help wondering what really inspired
Cavani to direct a film on such a figure as Francis of Assisi. Certainly it
can’t be the wacky-ness that often surrounds the figure of Francis!

Francesco is an interpretation of the person of the 13th century Umbrian saint, Francis of Assisi. He died in 1226 and founded what is
today called the Franciscans 800 years ago. What the Franciscans looked like in
the 13th century isn’t what they are today. The movie is a series of
flashbacks with various friends telling the story of the man who led them to
Christ. Cavani brings out several central questions that all of us have to
answer viz. our Christian faith: To whom do I belong? Do I belong to these
people, or do I belong to Christ? How do I know and why?

The period in which
the real Francis lived was a chaotic time in secular as well as ecclesial
history. His world was faced with civil strife, wars, disease, extreme poverty
in many sectors, illiteracy not to mention heretical movements tearing the
fabric of faith to pieces. And, let’s also not underestimate the wounds of the
Church faced as a result of heresy: lack of true community, negligence of the
human body, despair, lack of reasonable understanding of the faith and Truth
and no reasonable response to the human reality. Hence, the notion of Francis
rebuilding the Lord’s Church took on significant importance for many people.

Francesco? It has little to do
with the fact that his October 4th feast day is next Sunday. But it
has everything to do with the fact that in our School of Community (Communion
& Liberation’s weekly catechetic meeting) we are reading Father Giussani’
chapter on poverty in volume 2 of Is It Possible to Live This Way?  There we are confronting the real, and
truly theological reality, of possessing without possession. Giussani is
raising the concern of restraining the possibility of grace in our lives but
how we live our lives. So many of us can’t face life in the manner in which it
is given. We create escape mechanisms to mask the real life issues: pain, love,
sorrow, faith, hurt, joy, lack of happiness, etc. Francis gave his whole life
away to another person. He confused his parents and siblings; his friends and
civil authorities were shocked. All could not understand Francis turning on end
what was conventually known as “normal.” He found something wonderful among the
poor that became a contradistinction to the bourgeois normativity of Umbrian
society. Renouncing self and possessions and following Christ crucified became
his “normal.” As Saint Clare says in the movie, God spoke to him again and His
love made Francis’ body identical to the Beloved’s.

St Francis detail.jpg

Cavani deals with poverty
in a gritty manner–it is terrifically human. And she never moralizes poverty or
religious conviction. Even when the pope asks Francis “and what are you
criticizing me for” and Francis says “nothing” we can’t believe our ears. Two
men come back to Francis’ family and friends looking to explain what they
experienced and thinking that the men would point out the ugliness of poverty
and extreme raw life of Francis, they said, “there’s something beautiful
there.” You then realize that
Francis isn’t following “poverty”; he’s following someone; he’s closely
adhering to beauty. But it is not ordinary beauty–it is the beauty of believing that he promises of Christ are true.

Why Francis? Because he points to Christ. His faith,
courage and thinking he could live like Christ is what Giussani wants to
suggest is the reason for our life. Giussani asks, quid animo satis? (what can
satisfy the soul?) It has to be the Gospel at it’s word or all is rubbish. Francis, by the way, is the only person the Church calls an
among the saints.

About the author

Paul A. Zalonski is from New Haven, CT. He is a member of the Fraternity of Communion and Liberation, a Catholic ecclesial movement, and an Oblate of Saint Benedict. Contact Paul at paulzalonski[at]yahoo.com.
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