Christian Life Community at the National Council for Lay Associations
By Alan Smith
Christian Life Community (CLC) is for people who want to understand more deeply how God is at work in their everyday lives. CLC is not so much an organisation but a way of life inspired by the spirituality of St Ignatius of Loyola. Members embrace this way of life as a means of enabling them to bring together their faith and lives so that they can become aware of how God is working in every aspect of their lives. Some come to CLC without prior experience of Ignatian spirituality; others come after discovering Ignatian spirituality in various ways, such as weeks of guided prayer or retreats.
CLC is made up of sixty national communities worldwide. There are over 50 groups meeting in England & Wales. At local level, small communities commit themselves to meet regularly in order to support each other in their lives of prayer and service. It does not have a rule book, but a set of flexible General Principles which help to give shape to members’ lives and embrace the following three characteristics:
Spirituality: living prayer
Members try to pray each day, learning to meditate on the Scriptures and to reflect on the working of God in our lives. This helps them to grow in sensitivity to the ways God is leading them; to see their relationship with Jesus as central to their lives; and to grow in experience of the Spiritual Exercises of St Ignatius through retreats and by using Ignatian methods of prayer.
Community: a spiritual family
In regular community meetings they listen to how God is at work in each other, receive support and are encouraged to persevere in deepening their union with God. At regional and national meetings they are put in touch with the wider CLC and so broaden their horizons.
Mission: loving service
Members are companions of Christ in his mission to establish the reign of God wherever they live or work. Through prayer and community, each one discovers the call to serve Christ in the home, at work, in the parish, in the local community and through organisations working to reform the unjust structures of society.
CLC is a lay apostolic member association of the National Council for Lay Associations; a consultative body to the Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales. The National Council of Lay Associations is made up of representatives from 23 lay apostolic member associations, representatives from nine liaison organisations, an Episcopal Advisor, a Chaplain, five officers and three lay advisors.
This Council convenes twice a year at Wistaston Hall, the OMI Retreat Centre in Crewe, over a two day conference during the first weekends of February and October.
Ideas, insights and experiences are shared on major issues of national concern, raised by the diverse network of organisations or by the Bishops' Conference of England and Wales. These conferences are followed by regional meetings in the north, midlands and south, so that a summary and recommendation can be compiled for the Bishops' Conference as one of its consultative bodies.
The Council fosters co-operation between member associations to strengthen their apostolate, is a member of the European Forum of National Laity Committees and has links with the Pontifical Council for Laity.