New England Regional Chair
Peter Nguyen-Donh Hanh & Worcester Region Representative
Dee Scaramella-Young Adult Coordinator
Fr. Tom McMurray, S.J.-Ecclesial Assistant
"Love one another as I have loved you." (John 13:34)
Interested in building community, learning more about Ignatian Spirituality and discovering your vocation? Join a Christian Life Community group in your region.
Christian Life Community (CLC) is an international association of lay Christians who have adopted an Ignatian model of spiritual life. The ‘Community’ of over 25,000 members is present in over sixty countries around the world.
CLC draws its inspiration from the teachings of Ignatius of Loyola, and receives spiritual guidance from the Jesuits. The experience of making the Spiritual Exercises of St Ignatius is foundational to the members of CLC, not simply as a retreat but as a way of life. Members are encouraged to adhere to a lifestyle which is gospel-based and simple, to serve the poor and to integrate contemplation and action.
As Ignatian spirituality has an essential apostolic dimension, members of CLC seek to bring Gospel values into all aspects of life in today’s world.
A Discerning Community
Ignatian Spirituality is an integrated spirituality – a “process” which shows us a way to bring together our faith and daily living. Ignatian spiritual discernment is a way of prayerfulness in the midst of all of our human life experiences that leads to a greater awareness of God’s presence in our lives.
In short, we envision ourselves as missioned, discerning communities.
Contemplatives in action
Jesuits and the Spiritual Exercises have continued in a close relationship with the Worldwide Christian Life Community.
Christian Life Community traces its roots to St. Ignatius Loyola, who, as a soldier recovering from his battle wounds, was given an extraordinary grace of conversion. That mystical experience of God led to his total dedication to Christ and his mission. After his conversion, Ignatius sought to help others by speaking with them in groups about the work of God in their lives. He guided many towards God by drawing on his own spiritual experiences and gradually formulated the Spiritual Exercises to help future guides lead others to God. The Exercises thus helped the development of the Society of Jesus (Jesuits) and the congregation of lay persons, which became the Sodalities of Our Lady, from which the Christian Life Communities developed after Vatican II. After Society of Jesus was suppressed in the mid-1700s, the link with the Spiritual Exercises faded until its rediscovery after Vatican II.
In 1563 in Rome, a young Jesuit, John Leunis, founded the first CLC by gathering a group of young lay students at the Roman College to help them unite their lives — jobs, studies, families, relationships, etc. — with Christian values. The movement, originally called the Sodality of Our Lady, grew and was confirmed by Pope Gregory XIII in 1584. Over the years the movement spread dramatically. In 1920 there were 80,000 sodalities worldwide. In the 1950s in the U.S., there were over two million teenage members and numerous adult members. When Vatican II urged groups like the Sodality to rediscover their original roots, some sodalities continued as before, while others became Christian Life Communities. The main difference is in the size (6 to 12) and the regularity of meeting (weekly or biweekly).
CLC groups and the larger CLC community seeks to use the reflection practices of Saint Ignatius. This means a way of living in the world which incorporates the spiritual dynamics of the Exercises. In practice it involves a commitment to:
Personal Daily prayer (contemplation of place, Ignatius' awareness Examen,etc.)
Meeting weekly or bi-weekly as part of a discerning intentional community of faith
Our groups are small, usually six to ten members. We meet regularly in order to develop friendship and a community spirit among ourselves by praying, sharing our life experiences together, helping and supporting each other in our Christian faith and our daily lives. Meetings are held, usually eithe weekly, biweekly or monthly, and last one to two hours.
The pattern of meetings varies depending on the age, culture, and experience of the members, but most of the following are included in a group's meeting:
Short check-in: Highs/lows/seeds OR How has God been present in my life since the last meeting? Where have I experienced God's presence? When have I felt disconnected from God?
Praying for a grace (remembering what Grace you desired last meeting)
Reflection and sharing on the evening's topic.
Formulate grace for next meeting.
Review of meeting:How was I moved during this meeting? Where did I feel positive energy?
Where did I feel discomfort?
Each CLC group is autonomous and finds the form of meeting best suited to the needs of its members, within the spirit of the "General Principles" and in our U.S. context.
Each community aims to embody the characteristics of community, spirituality and mission. In each meeting, during the sharing and planning, members review their individual and corporate mission which is carried out primarily outside the meetings.