Since the heart of CLC is grounded in Ignatian spirituality and its principles, it is helpful for facilitators to have some sense of the connection between a meeting’s content and its wider context. Therefore, this section usually contains an excerpt from St. Ignatius’ Spiritual Exercises and the CLC-USA General Principles. These quotations do not need to be shared with the rest of your group but are rather meant to assist in your own understanding.
Begin each meeting with some form of prayer to help center yourselves, be reminded of why you are gathered, and create greater space for the Spirit to lead during the meeting. A pre-written prayer may be included for you or simply a reminder of how to proceed. At times, a song or scripture passage may be suggested that connects to the theme. Some groups take turns prayerfully reading the passage, offer a spontaneous prayer after a song, or take five minutes to be in silence together. Pray in whatever way is best for your group.
Normally in a CLC meeting, the check-in portion is a brief sharing about how each member is doing physically, emotionally, and spiritually as they come to the meeting. A good way to begin this time is by asking a guiding question or two, such as:
Since the last time we’ve met…
- What has given you life or drawn you closer to God? What has drained you of life or drawn you away from God?
- How have you encountered God in prayer and service?
- What have been one “high” and one “low” in your life?
There will often not be something specific written for you in this section of the outline. Use whatever means of “checking-in” is best for your group. Some groups skip check-in or phase it out of the meetings over time. Instead, these groups have an open invitation for people to share whatever may be on their hearts as needed using the focus exercise and listening questions. At other times, an extended check-in may be appropriate for the entirety of the meeting, such as after a holiday break or long absences.
The focus exercise is at the core of the meeting, during which a theme may be presented via a handout or scripture passage, a reflective activity may be done together, or an extended time for prayer may be created. Focus exercises can vary in length and content but always allow for adaptability and your own creativity. They will help guide and give context to your group’s intention for and sharing during the meeting.
Listening & Sharing
Questions for your group to respond to in relation to the focus exercise are usually provided here. For tips on how to best set the tone for this time and elicit deep discussion from the heart, see “Facilitating a Meeting”.
This time is a period of pause to prayerfully listen to what or how the Spirit is “speaking” or “moving”. It is a key element of Pathways and will help your group gain awareness of how they are growing individually and collectively. Words or phrases can be voiced aloud by members that capture their sense of what has been occurring within them personally or communally. The whole time for this portion does not need to be longer than a few minutes or involve conversation between members (though at times it may).
This brief time can help your group members incorporate what has been happening in the meeting into their daily lives. It is very important for members to develop their prayer lives outside of the meeting in order for them to continue to grow personally and as a group. Usually, suggestions for personal prayer will be offered or an “action item” presented to engage in before coming to the next meeting. How they implemented these suggestions might be a way to structure the check-in for the next meeting.
End each meeting with a prayer. There may be a suggested prayer included in the meeting outline or you may be encouraged to create your own. Intentions can be voiced during this time or it may be helpful to take a moment to pray for each group member. If there is any group “business” (scheduling meetings or socials, etc.), do it after the closing prayer.