By S.L. Hansen
LINCOLN (SNR) - The Lincoln chapter of Communion and Liberation is welcoming new members who are interested in learning how to involve Christ in every part of their lives.
Communion and Liberation (CL) is a movement in the Church that started in Italy in 1954. Launched by Father Luigi Giussani (1922-2005), the purpose of the group is to form each member into a co-worker in the Church’s mission, operating in all areas of society. The name refers to the conviction that Christianity, lived in communion, is the foundation of man’s authentic liberation.
“I came to believe deeply that only a faith arising from life experience and confirmed by it (and, therefore, relevant to life’s needs) could be sufficiently strong to survive in a world where everything pointed in the opposite direction,” Father Giussani wrote in 2001.
On the occasion of CL’s 60th anniversary last March 7, Pope Francis addressed representatives of the group, commemorating the good fruit of its charism.
Father Giussani, the Holy Father said, “educated in freedom, leading to the encounter with Christ, because Christ gives us true freedom…[C]entered in Christ and in the Gospel, you can be the arms, hands, feet, mind and heart of a Church ‘which goes forth.’”
According to Joe Bowen, one of the current local members, the fledgling Lincoln chapter has been around for a few years. They meet weekly at the John XXIII Center on Wednesdays at 8:30 p.m. for what is called School of Community.
“The School of Community is the place for me where I come with my friends to judge my week and look at it, asking, ‘Where did I see the face of Christ and how can I beg to see Him more?’” Bowen explained.
While Father Giussani wrote a book that members use for spiritual growth, Bowen stressed that CL isn’t necessarily a book club focused on what Father Giussani wrote.
“Rather, it’s a friendship, a place where we can walk on this path we’ve been given together,” Bowen said. “We want to look for Christ in all the areas of our lives and help each other see what that means in our particular circumstances so that what Jesus said, ‘I am with you always, until the end of the age’ (Mt. 28:20) can become more concrete for us.”
Bowen’s first exposure to CL was in 2010, during his sophomore year at Benedictine College in Kansas. A friend invited him to come along and see what the CL School of Community was all about.
“I was struck by the people, in the way that they looked at their lives and the place Jesus had in them, not just at Mass, in adoration, or praying the rosary… He was truly present for them while they studied, sang together, and did all the banal things throughout their days,” Bowen recalled.
Through the influence of these CL members, Bowen realized, “Family, school, faith, work, sports, my girlfriend, etc., were all the same life and that life had meaning because of Christ. Nothing was left out. Nothing had to be forfeited.”
This profound truth had a huge impact on the young man’s spiritual growth.
“For the first time, the words ‘I have come so they may have life and have it abundantly’ (Jn. 10:10) became a phrase that resonated and was possible for my life in a concrete way,” Bowen said.
After a few weekly visits, he joined CL.
Bowen said that CL is a group for anybody who wants to find out what Christ wants to do in their lives in a concrete way.
“In whatever place we find ourselves… this is the place we’re supposed to be right now,” he noted. “If Christ is who He says He is, he has everything to do with my life and so every part of my life becomes this place where I share Christ’s love. My work becomes a prayer and a place of begging for Him.”
When that’s achieved, Bowen maintained, “There’s no division between me as part of the Church and me as part of society.”
The School of Community serves as a way to support each CL member as they embark on this spiritual formation.
“It’s not a thing we do every week on Wednesdays but a mode of life through which we live our Catholicism, like the way Benedictines or Franciscans live theirs,” Bowen said.
Each week, CL members have some reading to reflect on before they gather. At their meetings, Bowen proposes one or more questions and leads discussions.
All are invited to visit the Lincoln School of Community any week to see what it is like. There are never any dues to pay or formal membership process to go through.
“It’s not a club for the intelligentsia,” Bowen emphasized. “It’s not a clique. It’s a friendship… Don’t be shy! We’re really nice.”