Tonight, we resumed School of Community here in Chicago. It is a bit of an adventure this year for me, as four of us from my old School of Community decided to start a new one on the northside of Chicago.
For those not familiar (and who haven't clicked on the link above), School of Community is a public gesture of the Communion and Liberation movement. Typically, it meets weekly and can in some ways be described as the "catechesis" component of CL. But that description is inadequate. Those familiar with this blog or who have investigated CL some, know that CL is very much an education in the Christian life. Captured in his Trilogy, Fr. Guissani posits some fundamental claims: (1) a perspective about how we as human beings are made and interact with the reality before us and what our true and deepest desires indicate (leading to a hypothesis about revelation); (2) the encounter with Christ and the method He employs for knowing and following Him and ultimately knowing and being ourselves; and (3) the existence of the Church as the prolongation of Christ's mission and the place where His presence is encountered now. School of Community is a place where, usually using some text, we take up these claims and methods to increase our awareness of reality and to judge our experience. In this way it is different than what most people might think of catechesis. It isn't just the presentation and study of the objective truth claims of the Church. It is also each of us being a help to one another in increasing our awareness of how we experience things, what we have experienced, and to judge for ourselves these claims of the Church to see if we can verify them. It is the hard task of confronting Christianity with respect to me, my "I", and not as an abstraction or set of far-off ideas that I repeat because I've adopted what the culture speaks of.
Anyway, the School of Community tonight was a wonderful beginning. Good to see two of the members who I haven't seen in a long time. Wonderful discussion and challenge, and awesome to see us taking up the charism anew and applying it to our experience, as we worked through the text at the same time. It was exciting!
And that's part of what is so wonderful, because this new School of Community is part of an effort to embrace the public nature of this gesture. Fr. Guissani would often speak of John and Andrew's first encounter with Christ as emblematic of the encounter with Christ that we all are called to and the method that Jesus (and thus the Church) proposes for knowing and following Him. There's a second part to that encounter with the Lord -- Andrew's eagerness to share what he had discovered with his brother, Peter. I think we see our new School of Community effort, and the natural invitations to "come and see" that the different geography and our efforts carry with them, as an expression of this.
If you (or someone you know) is in the northside Chicago area (or Chicago in general) and would be interested in coming and seeing (as the Lord invited John and Andrew to do with Him) what CL and School of Community is all about, drop me an email and I will get you connected.