Catholic Evangelization Training Center - Training in the NEW Evangelization Evangelization Training
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Catholic Evangelization Training Center - Training in the NEW Evangelization


Excerpts From Our Community Handbook.


Why would anyone want to be in community? When a person comes into a personal relationship with Jesus Christ what is experienced is a desire to be with others who have had a similar experience. This is brought out so well in the Acts of the Apostles, chapter 2, verses 38-47:
And Peter said to them, "Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is to you and to your children and to all that are far off, every one whom the Lord our God calls to him." And he testified with many other words and exhorted them, saying, "Save yourselves from this crooked generation." ... So those who received his word were baptized, and there were added that day about three thousand souls. And they devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of the bread and the prayers ... And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they partook of food with glad and generous hearts, praising God and having favor with all the people.

Our Life Together as an Association.

  1. There are numerous texts in the New Testament that state clearly how we are to interact together and with one another which we strive to follow. Some of the texts that are especially important to our life as an Association are the following:
    "Put on then, as God's chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassion, kindness, lowliness, meekness, and patience, forbearing one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in the one body. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, as you teach and admonish one another in all wisdom, and as you sing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs with thankfulness in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him" (Colossians 3: 12-17).

    "Let love be genuine; hate what is evil, hold fast to what is good; love one another with brotherly/sisterly affection; outdo one another in showing honor. Never flag in zeal, be aglow with the Spirit, serve the Lord. Rejoice in your hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer .... Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them. Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. Live in harmony with one another; do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly; never be conceited. Repay no one evil for evil, but take thought for what is noble in the sight of all. If possible, so far as it depends upon you, live peaceably with all. Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God; for it is written, 'Vengence is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.' No, 'if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals upon his head.' Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good" (Romans 12:9-21).

    "... be filled with the Spirit, addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with all your heart, always and for everything giving thanks in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to God the Father" (Eph. 5:18-20).

    "Whatever your task, work heartily as serving the Lord and not men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward; you are serving the Lord Christ" (Col. 3:23-24).

  2. We believe that as we strive to be more deeply converted to the Lord, we should not be surprised if persecution comes our way for the good we do, for so it was done to the Lord.
    "Blessed are you when men revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so men persecuted the prophets who were before you" (Mt. 5:11-12).
  3. How We are to Grow in our Love and Support of One Another.

    We are called to grow in our ability to love and support one another in the daily ordinary circumstances of our lives. Community life is not based on what we have in common but on what we are in common. This is what differentiates Christian community from any other community. What we are in common comes from the Holy Spirit who creates in each one of us 'relatedness' -- 'to be from' the Father, to be in' Jesus, and 'to be for' others. That is the whole meaning of the person, of the disciple of Jesus Christ. Community life is always coexistence: existence 'with' and 'in' Jesus Christ and 'being for' others.

    1. One of the emphasis in our spirituality is learning to listen well to one another. If we are to have a life of unity and harmony in community, we must have a respect and love for one another that is shown in the most ordinary of ways: that of listening lovingly and attentively to one another. Listening is one of the simplest ways to show love, and it is within each Member's reach. It doesn't cost anything but the discipline of giving our full attention to the person who is speaking. If we are to be able to listen well to God, each of us is to learn to listen attentively to one another (See: 1 Jn. 4:20f).

    2. Love for one another must characterize the disciple of Jesus Christ and therefore it must characterize each one of us. Jesus clearly states that: "By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another" (John 13:35). How are we to love one another? In the way that Jesus loved -- unto death. As he says in John 15:13, "Greater love has no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends." That is how Jesus loved -- unto death.

    3. What is true for all Christians must all the more be true for each one of us who have been called to form the Community of the New Covenant. The very name we bear brings to mind the kind of love that we are called to give -- a love that is so great that were the occasion to call for it, each one of us would be willing to die for one another. Isn't this what our name reveals? The new covenant came into existence through the death of Jesus, through his shedding his blood for each one of us in order that we might truly have life, the very life of his Holy Spirit. Each one of us is called to be willing to do the same.

    4. The Lord wants each one of us to work to create a life together that will speak clearly the love we bear for one another that will so astound people that they will be compelled to ask questions such as these: How can you live this way together? Why are you the way you are? How can you be this way? Where do you get the strength to live the way you live? Our lives will be so attractive that others will want what we have. They will want to come to Jesus who is the source of such love. Love is what evangelizes. The Lord wants each one of us to build such relationships of love for one another.

    5. The daily circumstances of our lives prepare us to do as Jesus has done. Community life brings many opportunities for each one of us to show love for one another and to grow in a lifestyle that prepares us to lay down our lives for one another. We may not be called to such an heroic act but each of us can lay down our lives in the daily situations that arise. This is what Paul is referring to when he says: "So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any incentive of love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Do nothing from selfishness or conceit, but in humility count others better than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others" (Philippians 2:1-4). That is the challenge given to each one of us.

    6. It is in the daily circumstances of each of our lives that we are challenged to lay down our lives for one another. The person who tests my patience; who talks too much or who never says much; who always asks for my help at the wrong times; who talks too loud; who always talks about himself/herself; and the list could go on and on. But these are the very people, the flesh and blood people, that the Lord calls me to love - to care, bear, and share with. In all of this, life is overcoming death through union -- communion with Jesus who has overcome death. This is what being a follower of Jesus Christ is all about -- allowing the Holy Spirit to overcome the death-aspects in our lives: the disorders, the privations, the sufferings. Holiness is a process of becoming who we are --allowing it to happen by living out the death/resurrection event in our daily lives.

    7. Love is not a noun, some pie in the sky, but a verb that each Member decides to live out, to show in action. Making the decision to love is the first step and the Lord will do his part to make it possible because the Lord honors such a decision. Left to ourselves, such love is not possible but with the power of the Holy Spirit who has been given to us, all is possible.

    8. Love is a commitment I make to give of myself totally -- to give completely without expecting anything in return. That is what Jesus modeled in all that he did. That is what each of us is called to do. Just as Jesus was from the Father and given for others, so each Member is called to be from Jesus and for others.

  4. Affirmation.

    We are to be open to one another and to respect the diversity of gifts given to each Member by the Spirit. One way to appreciate the gifts of another is to allow that Member to utilize his/her gifts by putting them at the service of the community. We all need to be loved and appreciated for who we are and not only for what we do. And it helps to be told that on a regular basis. Because we are all weak, there is a great tendency to take one another for granted. This must not be the case with us. We are to work at appreciating one another, giving encouragement as the situation calls for. Affirming one another is a way of bringing out the best in one another. Each Member needs such affirmation. Mutual support is of utmost importance for all of us who serve the Church. It is a daily necessity for each Member to receive such support and affirmation.

  5. Reconciling with One Another

    1. The Sacrament of Reconciliation is a dynamic sacrament something that we live out daily. We go to the sacrament with a repentant heart to confess our sins and resolve not to sin in that way again, and we receive the forgiveness of our sins. The reality of forgiveness is ongoing. As we have been forgiven, so we are to go and forgive others (Matthew 6:12 Luke 11:4). And we are given the opportunity to do this on a daily basis.

    2. The Members are committed to forgiving one another as occasion gives rise and not to let the sun set on their anger (Eph. 4:26). Instead, each Member is to seek and give reconciliation at all times. The best time to do this is when the occasion arises. We do not want to walk away from strained relationships and leave it at that. Members are to take immediate action as soon as the occasion arises to seek forgiveness and be set right in their relationships with one another. When a situation arises, it is best to go immediately and simply ask for forgiveness in a straightforward way: "I ask your forgiveness for ...." The Member being asked for forgiveness is simply to say in a straightforward way: "I forgive you."

    3. If there are residual feelings of hurt remaining within the Member giving forgiveness, then it is good to pray in the following way: "Lord, I praise and thank you for this person just as (s)he is. I ask you to bless this person, to heal this person and to finally heal me." I may have to pray this little prayer a few times before the residual feelings are gone. But praying in this way does take care of any residual feelings I may have and re-moves any barriers that I may have put up toward this person. As St. Peter says:
      "Finally, all of you, have unity of spirit, sympathy, love of the brethren, a tender heart and a humble mind. Do not return evil for evil or reviling for reviling; but on the contrary bless, for to this you have been called, that you may obtain a blessing. For 'He that would love life and see good days, let him keep his tongue from evil and his lips from speaking guile; let him turn away from evil and do right; let him seek peace and pursue it. For the eyes of the Lord are upon the righteous, and his ears are open to their prayer" (1 Peter 3:8-12).

    4. If disagreements arise, each Member is committed to working out such disagreements by spending time together to dear the air and come to some common understanding about the matter. It is so important that the Members be one with one another, be reconciled with one another. The Lord tells us how we are to come before him in Matthew 5:23f.
      "So if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar and go; first be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift."

    5. If the Association at large is to know unity and harmony and be fruitful in its mission, it is important that reconciliation become a way of life for each Member.

  6. A Life of Unity and Harmony.

    1. We have come together in community because we believe that our ministry for the Church is made more fruitful because of the life that we have together, a life of unity and harmony. And Jesus tells us that "where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I in the midst of them" (Mt. 18:20). And St. Paul says, "complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind" (Philippians 2:2).

    2. We have come together around the vision the Lord has given as. This vision gives us direction and focus -- it gives us unity of purpose which is what the Lord desires from us and why he has called us together. We are committed to carrying out this vision with the heart, mind, spirit, and values of our Lord Jesus Christ realizing that as followers of Jesus Christ, division can have no place in our lives. Division is not of the Lord but of the Evil One, Satan. The fruit of the Spirit is unity. Within the Trinity there is unity, oneness (See: John 17:21-23). As a Christian Community, oneness in mind, heart, spirit, and values is something that each Member strives to attain no matter what the cost is to oneself.

    3. Just as community is not a given, neither is unity. It is something that each Member must work to attain and be committed to bringing about. The following can help unity exist in the community:

      1. All Members are respected and accepted for who they are and allowed to be who they are.

      2. All Members pray daily for one another and especially for that person with whom (s)he may have difficulty getting along.

      3. All Members are committed to being reconciled with their brothers or sisters as occasion gives rise and to working out any disagreements in a spirit of peace and openness.

      4. Gossiping and idle talk is something that the Members refrain from and help one another avoid (Proverbs 16:28; Sirach 19:7-12; Sirach 28:13-26).

      5. All Members are willing to put the interests of the other Members first so that the life they have together may deepen and develop in creative ways (Philippians 2:30).

    4. All Members are committed to finding ways in which they can serve their brothers or sisters and ways in which they can affirm and support them.

    5. Devotion to Mary.

      All Members are consecrated to Mary and seek to grow in their devotion to her, the Mother of God, and their Mother, especially by praying the rosary daily. The rosary is a very important means by which we can become more deeply rooted in the Gospel.

    6. Annual Retreat and Ongoing Formation.

      The Association gathers as a whole annually for days of ongoing formation, sharing, reflection and fellowship so that relationships can be strengthened and our vision deepened.

    7. We believe it is of tremendous value to be a Member of a community that has a vision, a direction, and provides serious formation for all of its Members for life and for mission.

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