“Challenges and hopes for World CLC with the reality of our world today: called to cooperate at the frontiers”
CLC France Congress, July-August 2015
Mauricio Lopez Oropeza, President of World CLC
First of all I want to express sincere greetings to my dear sisters and brothers of CVX in France. I thank our Jesuit brothers and friends, for your support from our beginnings as a community and in our desire to collaborate on mission. I thank also all those close to this Ignatian way of life that joins us today. Thanks, not only for the invitation to be here with you today, but also to continue giving life to this beautiful, complex and promising path that our Christian Life Community presents to us with its very large and significant horizons. On behalf of the entire world community, the World EXCO, and myself, I also take this opportunity to express deep gratitude for the wonderful generosity of CVX France. Their support has been truly invaluable for us in our CLC way of life.
World CLC moving forward with such firmness and hope.
Thank you, each and every one of you here, for continuing to opt to make a difference in today’s world. We live in times where nonsense appears to predominate; there is exacerbated individualism; and many feel the loss of hope in life.
When we speak of the “well”, the theme of this Congress, we are talking about all of the diversity that unites us to quench the thirst we see in our reality. It is this desire to share living water that leads us to overcome all differences as Jesus himself experienced with the Samaritan woman.
CLC membership involves a dedicated courage to know, to feel and to believe that another world is possible. Attaining the kingdom of God is so significant for us that it is necessary to stay confident in this walk, doing what we have been doing, as followers of an itinerary that is not ours and that is much greater than us. We believe in Christ Incarnate, and as fully steadfast CLC members, we work every day in the simplicity and complexity of our daily lives to ensure that despair does not have the last word. We are witnesses to Christ’s presence in our lives. We have seen with our own eyes, heard with our ears, felt with our hearts, and experienced firsthand the certainty that life prevails, even where sin abounds. We know that God’s grace abounds, and our faith points, always, to a sense of resurrection, despite the difficult circumstances in our realities.
Our sense of identity and belonging.
I invite everyone here to put aside the traditional view of “conference master”, because in the end I am just another member of this beautiful CLC, and especially your brother. I desire to share with you an account of the hope that unites us. For this, I ask you to try and pause for a moment, that in this place with so many people, we seek to focus on what is important, namely, to listen more deeply and to discover within what God wants to reveal to us.
- What gives meaning and truth to my membership in CLC at this time?
- Who are the people who have “infected me” in this way and that with their testimony, invitation and support have given meaning to this life of mine in CLC, how do I thank for them?
Purify the intention: CLC is a means, not an end in itself.
At this time we can say firmly that CLC is a grace in our lives, and therefore we feel it is a gift received from God himself. This should help us confirm something that is very important to make explicit: Sometimes with the full force of these graces, we may lose perspective, and that is: CLC is a means, not an end in itself. It offers an auspicious, beautiful environment, which has provided us with much to be grateful for, maybe because in moments of great darkness or difficulty CLC has been our path to overcome this. But the purpose, according to our own Ignatian way, is to overcome our difficult times and get out there collaborating with the mission of Christ to build the kingdom of God, and in doing so, we find the fullness of life.
Living in a consumer culture, in what Pope Francis calls “the throwaway culture”, it is not surprising that people find strength and richness in the spirituality and the communal experience of CLC. Some people create a misconception that the community is the oasis that rescues them from reality and is the culmination of their journey. Perhaps this stems from a genuine desire and is the result of all the good that we do. However, in striving to be true to its tradition of the Ignatian Spiritual Exercises, CLC wants people to remove themselves from disordered affections and to seek and find God’s will in their lives.
It is primarily in the inner knowledge of the Lord Jesus that we find our mission, that in everything we are to love and to serve. To follow Christ means to go to the margins and to those who are rejected or excluded.
Obviously we want many others to follow the path of our CLC way of life because it is one we love. Continue doing what it takes for this to continue. But do not lose sight of our primary role in the agitated reality of our day where we need more collaborators working for the kingdom.
For example, with young people or with people having a vocation of intense social action, we sometimes feel that we lose them because they are not persistent in the CLC way of life. In response, first, we must ensure that we are living properly the process of DSSE (Discerning-Sending-Supporting-Evaluating) we have established as a valuable way proceeding in CLC so that we properly accompany each discernment process and adequately care for each of the steps involved. If we find that we have adequately complied with the DSSE process, yet still many people leave, rather than feel a sense of failure because they do not stay with CLC as expected (as if we were an end), let us thank God for the opportunity to have served with depth; we have served others who will still carry on these transformative principles and values. In this way of being and being in the world, we will “infect” more people.
An invitation to come out of ourselves and into the new.
For the latter part I ask you to allow me to rely on the President´s letters (2014 and 2015) where I have already expressed and reflected on some of the trials of our community and world EXCO. Today we feel more challenged to go to the frontiers as Jesus did when going to meet the Samaritan woman, to share beyond the differences the living water that wants to regenerate humanity. That is why I want to come back again to how strongly and intensely the Spirit has guided us in past World Assemblies, since this is the roadmap for our CLC in the coming years. The calls we received during the Assembly of Lebanon in 2013 represent enormous challenges for each of us personally and for all of us as a community at the service of the kingdom.
Today Pope Francis is speaking to the hearts of people (this is a living example of what the Ignatian family is calling a language of wisdom). He is calling the world into a deep and courageous conversion to a greater identification with Christ and with the poor. He is inviting believers to rethink our methods, pastoral models and accompaniment without fear. He is calling us all (believers and all people of good will) to take risks, and to respond strongly against the predominant and widespread throwaway culture. He is encouraging us to show mercy in the evangelical style of the Good Samaritan. And not only that, he is taking the initiative and demonstrating this with words, gestures and deep and concrete changes.
Where do we stand as CLC to these calls of the Pope? Where are our testimonies? How can we respond to this clear invitation and be identified with our own Ignatian discernment as CLC regarding frontiers?
Are we ready and available to respond to the Pope’s requests for our conversion to accompany him on his mission?
I have been asked many times in this service as President of the World CLC when will we be received by Pope Francis and when will we have an audience with him as a community?
Whenever asked these questions, I reply that I think it is feasible and very possible to have either a hearing or meeting with the Pope. There is so much that unites us, both in identity and history with him. That does not worry me. What worries me, at heart, is whether CLC as a world body is ready and available with a true Ignatian heart of indifference to respond to the Pope’s requests for our conversion to accompany him on his mission. Well, we have had a couple of meetings with the Pope already this year. One meeting was with my dear Edel Churu, our vice-president of World CLC; we had the privilege of attending the Eucharist at his Mass in Santa Marta in March 2015. Later, CLC Italy had an encounter with Pope Francis, along with other friends of the Ignatian family.
In both events the messages were clear in urging us to put the tools of Ignatian spirituality at the service of the world, and especially to bring them to the frontiers. Their validity and relevance is unique to the signs of the times. These tools bring light on complex situations and allow us to move to new places of mission, without neglecting those who are important. We do this in many places already. Being able to discern, we go where needed and have the freedom to conclude those services which no longer represent the sense of priority mission (with a responsible closing process).
This is what the world today needs, and what the Spirit, by the hand of Pope Francis, calls forth from us. The decisions and particulars may come from the top down, but they must be discerned and adapted according to the time, place and people in the particular circumstances of each place, and always from a deep communal discernment, which is the proper way of CLC.
The Pope has said it very clearly in his Apostolic Exhortation “Evangelii Gaudium” (which I hope and pray is a matter of daily study for all members and CLC community for their relevance for us in terms of pastoral renewal and called to be a Church … at the borders), adapting it to make it even clearer to us as CLC:
“I prefer a CLC (Church) which is bruised, hurting and dirty because it has been out on the streets, rather than a CLC (Church) which is unhealthy from being confined and from clinging to its own security. I do not want a CLC (Church) concerned with being at the centre and which then ends by being caught up in a web of obsessions and procedures. If something should rightly disturb us and trouble our consciences, it is the fact that so many of our brothers and sisters are living without the strength, light and consolation born of friendship with Jesus Christ,…” No. 49.
It is necessary to initiate personal and communal itineraries to respond to the question: Where is the need for the incarnate Christ, who lives at the frontiers today? Am I (Are we) available and present with courage to follow?
The concrete ways to go to the borders today as CLC.
“Ignatian spirituality is centered on the incarnation of God in Jesus Christ within our reality – in his life, death and resurrection. Therefore, we are prepared to take the commitment to the reality of our contemporary world … Rooted on the graces of our vocation, we are invited to recognize and feel at home within the borders … ”
(Document World CLC Assembly in Lebanon. August 2013 No. 9).
I invite you to imagine a ‘pinwheel’; yes, one of those beautiful toys that is a “wheel” composed of multiple sections, arranged one beside the other, usually of different colors. When it receives wind, or a good blow, it starts to rotate almost musically, in a harmonic way, becoming one body moving and unifying the full range of colors into one.
- All of it is anchored to a center that enables its movement and its reason for existence. For us that center is God and the Mission of Christ.
- The center is attached to a column, usually a piece of wood that is not so visible, but it is critical because it helps to support the whole pinwheel. It moves and directs the pinwheel to best catch the wind. That column consists of our brothers and sisters serving on the World Executive Council; the Boards and Councils serving at the local, regional, and national levels; the many different service teams; and it also includes our world Executive Secretariat.
- The petals that make this rose, or pinwheel, receive the wind and move this wheel. The petals are the priorities we have discerned together in Lebanon; they are the priorities of our CLC; and they are ways by which we respond in mission.
- The various colors of the petals represent the “language of wisdom.” This is a model by which to look at our activities. The petals take on various shades and expressions according to the reality of each site. Fundamentally, these speak to the heart, show life and witness, and invite us to move.
- Our LAY IGNATIAN IDENTITY consists of:
- Our Ignatian Lay Vocation (deepen what it means to be an Apostolic Lay Body);
- Formation (at all levels and expressions) and servant-leadership in our CLC;
- Collaboration with other-as for the mission;
- Deepening the commitment and sense of membership in CLC, and reflection about this in our General Principles and Norms.
- Our Four FRONTIERS prioritized in Lebanon (along with all the others that are discerned at Community level):
- Globalization and Poverty, undeniable signs of the culture of disposal in our society as Pope Francis strongly states, and one which we want to turn into a globalization of hope;
- Family, strengthen the core of our societies and developing an attitude of openness, compassion, respect and sensitivity to those who belong to diverse realities;
- Ecology, as a strong call to review our “simple lifestyle” (PG 4), to think of the future generations which are impacted by our lifestyle, and to care for the most vulnerable, assuming the core mission given to us by Pope Francis in his Encyclical “Laudato Si” which calls powerfully, clearly and firmly to all mankind in to a change and a conversion; and accompanying and supporting experiences as the Amazon project as a territory of importance for the whole planet;
- Youth, not only to commit more and attract more young people to CLC, but especially for apostolic service in this reality that is a sign for the future.
But dont you have the impression that this image of the pin-wheel lacks something very important? Yes, this “pinwheel” has no reason to exist without the wind that is the source of life for their movement. This is the Spirit of God that moves us. All this beautiful identity is worth nothing without the breath that gives life. That wind is for the CLC the Spirit of God. What a beautiful experience knowing we are in the hands of God, His Spirit, and following the path of Christ as our way!
I hope that these words will be received by each of their hearts and will serve to continue in deep discernment processes in each location. World CLC receives a strong witness of CLC France, so we encourage you to continue building mechanisms to walk together in the sense of being one apostolic world body, and to continue tirelessly pushing for CLC to continue serving as a tool for building the Kingdom here and now, looking and walking towards and with the most excluded today, with its many faces and realities. Thank you. Ad Maiorem Dei Gloriam!