How do we come to know God? We think that prayer, going to church, and reading Scripture are the answers. But, what if we could also come to know God through the kindness of the grocery store clerk, the compassion of a professor when we’re late with a paper, and the understanding of a classmate when we need a listening ear?
Fundamentally, our interaction with God is a relationship – give and take, coming to know better, growing in intimacy. Our human relationships can be reflections of that Divine relationship. Our experiences with others help us come to know ourselves more clearly, teach us how to love, and become concrete opportunities to live out the Christian mission to which we are called through charity and compassion. Relationships with other people, when lived rightly, affirm our relationships with God and draw us closer to the Divine. St. Ignatius encourages us to come to know Jesus as a friend and grow in that intimate relationship.
As with many things, though, relationships can also draw us away from God, and it isn’t always easy to know the difference. Relationships have the potential of becoming idols by taking the place of God in our attention, energy, and commitment.
This meeting invites us to use our experience of being community in CLC and applying those values to the other relationships in our lives. Together, we explore the ideals and components of relationships that are important and that help us discern how God is at work in our lives through our relationships.
Emphasize community or relationships. Consider incorporating some of the additional Scripture passages included in this meeting.
Watch this video together, then discribe what your “number one friendship algorithm factor is.”
Begin by encouraging the group to reflect on the CLC experience.
- What do we value about our CLC?
- What about the type of relationships we have built here? How would we characterize these relationships? How do we strive to treat each other?
- What are the results, or the “fruits” of these relationships? (Some possibilities might include feelings of trust, openness, intimacy, vulnerability, support, encouragement, being ‘known’, feeling honest, coming to the group “as we are.”)
Read one of the following quotes and watch the video of Fr. Greg Boyle, then open the floor for discussion:
- “There are no ordinary people. You have never talked to a mere mortal. Nations, cultures, arts, civilization – these are mortal, and their life is to ours as the life of a gnat. But it is immortals whom we joke with, work with, marry, snub, and exploit… Next to the Blessed Sacrament itself, your neighbor is the holiest object presented to your senses. If he is your Christian neighbor, he is holy in almost the same way, for in him also Christ vere latitat – the glorifier and the glorified, Glory Himself, is truly hidden.” (C.S. Lewis, The Weight of Glory)
- “It is not the desert island, nor the stony wilderness that cuts you from the people you love. It is the wilderness in the mind, the desert wastes in the heat through which one wanders lost and a stranger. When one is a stranger to oneself then one is estranged from others too. If one is out of touch with oneself, then one cannot touch others. How often in a large city, shaking hands with friends, I have felt the wilderness stretching between us.” (Anne Morrow Lindbergh, Gift from the Sea)
- “To love another person is to see the face of God” (Les Miserables)
- What strikes you about these quotations and this video? Does anything resonate with how you see relationships? Does anything seem off base?
- When have you experienced the values we talked about in our CLC in a one-on-one relationship? Maybe it is a family member, a friend from childhood, a romantic partner, or perhaps someone we’ve encountered in an immersion or service experience. What kind of emotions do you feel when you think of that person?
- Where have you seen God active in or revealed through relationships in your life?
- Have you noticed relationships in your life that point you away from God instead of toward God?
- Are there other relationships missing in your life? Where might you be called to be more expansive in your circle of relationships?
- What have you noticed in what the others have shared today? What stands out to you?
- How do we feel called to grow as a CLC community rooted in authentic relationship? Is there anything that we need to address in the life of our CLC in order to continue to grow in relationship?
- Spend five minutes in prayer each day this week. During the first one or two prayer periods, ask God to point you toward a relationship in your life to explore in the light of God’s love. Consider that relationship and ask God’s guidance for how to respond: Change? Conversation? Gratitude? Place that relationship before God and listen.
- Write a letter to a friend or family member whose relationship revealed something about God’s love to you and thank them for their presence in your life.
- Get together one-on-one with another community member this week for coffee, a shared meal, or a long conversation and be present to one another in that experience.
Pray in gratitude for people who have been important in your lives. Invite the group to say their names in the prayer.
“We express the giving of ourselves by a personal commitment to the World Community, through a freely chosen local community. Such a local community, centered in the Eucharist, offers a concrete experience of unity in love and action. In fact, each of our communities is a gathering of people in Christ, a cell of His mystical Body. Our common commitment, our common way of life, and our recognition and love of Mary as our mother bind us together.” (CLC-USA General Principles #8)
“During the following Lent (1539), Ignatius asked all of his companions to come to Rome to discuss their future. They had never thought of founding a religious order, but now that going to Jerusalem was out, they had to think about their future – whether they would spend it together. After many weeks of prayer and discussion, they decided to form a community… Since they had referred to themselves as the Company of Jesus (in Latin Societatis Jesu), in English their order became known as the Society of Jesus.” (Biography of St. Ignatius)
“The community of believers was of one heart and mind, and no one claimed that any of his possessions was his own, but they had everything in common. With great power the apostles bore witness to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and great favor was accorded them all. There was no needy person among them, for those who owned property or houses would sell them, bring the proceeds of the sale, and put them at the feet of the apostles, and they were distributed to each according to need. Thus Joseph, also named by the apostles Barnabas (which is translated "son of encouragement"), a Levite, a Cypriot by birth, sold a piece of property that he owned, then brought the money and put it at the feet of the apostles.” Acts 4:32-37
“As God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience. Bear with one another and, if anyone has a complaint against another, forgive each other; just as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds everything together in a perfect harmony. And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in the one body.” Colossians 3:12-15