World Assembly Reflections – Day #7

July 28th

Today was a rich day, filled with a variety of images of CLC and our CLC weaknesses expressed in richly imaginative ways… and a day spent in silence around our plenary sessions and spiritual conversation groups.

This morning, in continuation of our communal discernment as a World community, we prayed upon our awareness of our identity as CLC… If our Lord does indeed call us be name, what does our name mean… Christian Life Community? How do we embody our name… our identity? How do we honour it? Is it a name that gives us freedom, or restrains us? In light of what Austen Ivereigh (the biographer of Pope Francis, ‘the Great Reformer’), revealed to us about CLC during his talk to us… that it was a Christian community that that he had hardly heard about, even working in Catholic circles in Rome… many CLC members here at the Assembly came to see CLC as a united family striving to be rooted in the realities of their societies in apostolic ways, but in quiet ways. That though we are not well known in many church circles we are still authentic and present, if not flashy… that perhaps this is part of our identity… we are a modest, but still very active and committed presence within our church. The fruits of our morning prayers on our CLC identity were shared by all in our morning plenary within a circle in the midst of our presence, which you will see in the accompanying photo. Some thought provoking responses were questions of our very name… ‘Christian Life Community,’ which was felt to be too general and unspecific. There were some who felt it did not really reveal anything unique about who we were… a community of faith-filled people continually striving to discern God’s will in their lives towards apostolic orientation through the Ignatian charism. There were others who felt that rather than change our name, we needed to embody it more fully… that our identity was not solely attached to our name, but in how we incarnated Christ within it, as a community.

In the afternoon we then entered prayerfully in our weaknesses as a community…. in prayerfully acknowledging what paralyzes us in the context of wasted bread, dull tasting salt, and the hidden light. The grace we were asking for in this time of prayer was for an inner knowledge of the disorder of our sin as a global and local community, and for the grace to reconcile ourselves to Christ within our communities. Our facilitator of this exercise stated that the general sin of Jesuits was individualism… in their in ability or unwillingness, generally speaking, to collaborate with others. What are the sins of CLC? Among the fruits of our prayer it was in complaining too often; clerical dependence… in depending upon the priests within their midst to lead them and solves their difficulties; in being too enclosed within ones small circle within CLC; excessive modesty in a sense of a lack of leadership skills on behalf of CLC; wanting Christ, but on our own terms; forgetting Christ in the midst of our administrative and apostolic focus; etc. These fruits of our prayer on the ‘sins’ of CLC were not to be presented in our afternoon plenary in words this time. Each of the 30 groups of 6 or 7 persons were asked to form a sculpture of the sin which they shared in common from their spiritual conversation. And so during our plenary half of the groups formed a their practiced human sculptures conveying the CLC ‘sin’ that resonated with them as a group, while the other participants walked amongst them as if in a museum. My small group chose to convey the sin of lack of prayerful openness and availability to the call of CLC co-responsibility, with two members in pose of reaching out and calling the others to join them in co-responsibility, while the others posed in various positions of resistance, fear, busyness with other tasks, excessive modesty in responding, etc. Walking through all of our human made sculptures made for a very powerful – and uncomfortable – experience. I do not have images of our self-scultpures attached here because we were told not to make any photographs of these due to the vulnerabilities expressed in our poses. It was certainly that… powerful in the witnessing of our vulnerabilities and difficulties living our CLC committement.

Our groups were then given candles to light and manna from heaven to carry us forward, with which we processed towards Mass of Reconciliation. Our day ended with Reconciliation after dinner, in light of attempting to name our paralysis’ – both personal and within CLC.

Because our ‘work’ these days are centred around our small groups, Michelle, Catherine and I do not see a whole lot of each other… we are completely immersed in the broader community of our world CLC World Assembly delegates. This is a very good thing. We will come back together within our CLC Canada community to reflect and share with all of you all the richer for this broader immersion:)

Tomorrow will be Day #8! The time goes by so quickly. But so richly too, as you can see.

Blessings to you,