” The little fraternities “Christians are one of the” practice » acclaimed by the 150,000 participants in the national consultation in view of the synod on synodality of 2023. Centered on the meditation of the Holy Scriptures and the sharing of life, these fraternities combine « depth and freedom », indicates the synthesis of the collection, which will be transmitted to Rome during the summer.
They not only promote personal renewal “but they are also” a source of community life, since the calls of God (…) can be discovered in the common listening to his Word “. Finally they respond to the search for meaning of our contemporaries » reaching « integrate people who do not feel comfortable in parish assemblies“.
Cultivate the art of getting close
This practice, the diocese of Coutances and Avranches (Manche) has been experimenting with for a few years already. Mgr Laurent Le Boulc’h, bishop of the diocese since 2013, has created fraternities, ” nearby evangelical places which bring together six to eight people and are based on four principles: The practice of fraternal charity, listening to the Word of God, the respectful welcome of people and attention to neighborly relations “, precise the diocesan website.
” When they were created, before 2017, there were two hundred. After the pandemic, there are still a good half of them, explains Fr. Thierry Anquetil, vicar general and parish priest. They help to rediscover the word of God and cultivate the art of being close to one another, of sharing each other’s joys and sorrows, of persevering in prayer. They are an essential link in the missionary dynamic, because the members can invite whoever they want, especially those for whom they have prayed. »
From the first centuries of the Church, we find such groups, sometimes organized into households or domestic churches. Today, Christian communities set up these local groups to counterbalance a less and less dense parish network.
The flower and the suitcase
The beginning of the meeting is placed under the sign of conviviality. After an often busy day, arriving participants need an airlock to make themselves available. We take the time to exchange significant news since the last meeting, why not a drink in hand. Then may come the time for the “inner weather”. Everyone expresses in what disposition they arrive: fatigue, joy, worries, curiosity… Marie Levier (read below) recommends putting down the “flower” that makes us happy and the “suitcase” that weighs us down.
The time of prayer, centered on the meditation of the Scriptures, requires familiarization with the Word of God. ” Initially, after the time spent listening to the Word, we tried to analyze the biblical text, then, little by little, we came to question this word: what does it tell me? Where am I? What do I feel listening to this passagesays Olivier Deygas, permanent deacon, speech therapist in La Manche. Some members of the group had difficulty expressing themselves. They felt that they did not have the necessary skills to talk about the text. Their testimonies, they added, had no value. Thanks to the group’s encouragement, they managed to overcome their reluctance. »
The discussion is the place to learn respectful listening: the exchanges are placed under the sign of confidentiality, authenticity and benevolence. Some groups use a “talking stick”, inspired by a practice from the American Indians, which allows the person holding it to speak and pause silently, without being interrupted. ” A watchman of the hour » sees to the fairness of speeches and respect for timetables. Everyone is called upon to use the “I” rather than the “we”, to avoid generalities, debates of opinion, judgments or unsolicited advice.
The Christian Life Community (CVX) has developed a two-turn methodology. On the first floor, everyone responds briefly to questions prepared in advance, without being interrupted. In the second, we address the other members of the group to tell them what echoes their word has produced in itself. “This second round is unusual for many peoplenotes Michel Bacq (read below). It is, however, a decisive moment. It is there in particular that the Spirit can make its way. »
” I appreciate these discussions in truth which help me to grow, to move forward, to flush out the unspoken, confides Hélène Faure, 41, member of the CLC in the Paris region. The word of the other changes my gaze. She can also stir me to my core. I remember how my companions noted the relentlessness I showed in my personal life and the anger that inhabited me in my professional life. Two things I didn’t want to see… »
Prayer of Request and Gratitude
Some groups add a final round dedicated to the expression of prayers of requests or gratitude. ” What characterizes the third round of sharing is that it introduces the Lord into the conversation “, points out Michel Bacq.
This prayer can take the form of an intercession for a particular member of the group. Permanent at Fundacio for about ten years, Isabelle Bled has experimented, within her fraternity, the “brothers’ prayer”. ” I confided what was painful for me. I could cry without being judged, feel supportedshe recalls. On my shoulders, I felt the hands of my brothers and my sisters accompanying me in prayer. I had this passage to live, but I knew that I was no longer alone, that God was with me. Gradually, I calmed down, it helped me to let go. »
At the end of the meeting, everyone expresses what they leave with, positive or negative. At CLC, this is called “evaluation”. “ I like this moment because it no longer calls for a reaction from others, explains Hélène Faure. I can submit what I have just experienced and take with me words, reflections, questions that I will let mature. »
From one meeting to another, changes take place. Isabelle Bled was marked by that of a volunteer who had lost her only child. ” We meditate on the passage where Christ addresses the paralyzed by saying: “Get up, take your stretcher and walk” (Mk 2,9). The connection with this bereaved mother jumped out at me. We have seen her leave her home again, resume activities, start living again. »
Three practical guides to prepare for meetings
→ For a Christian group, editions Christian Life, collective. 64p. €10.50
In short and didactic chapters, this guide makes the methodology of the Christian Life Community available to everyone. There are detailed the preparation, the framework and the course of each meeting, the dispositions of the participants, the way of animating the concrete life of the group, from the preparation of the meetings until the rereading of the past year.
→ Sharing groups: expressing oneself, existing, resurrecting.Marie Levier, EdB editions. 126p. €9.90.
Marie Levier, member of the Fondacio community, explores, in an accessible way, the biblical and theological foundations of the encounter: becoming oneself in the encounter; turning to relationship God to enter into relationship; silence, sharing and prayer as a “generative dynamic”.
→ Practice of discernment in common. Michel Bacq and an Esdac team, ed. Lessius, 278 p. €17.
A valuable manual for conducting group reflection with a view to reaching a decision. The three levels of consensus are detailed: what we are, what we are called to, how to respond to this call? The guide develops the practical preparation of a session, the role of the accompanists and “the discernment of spirits”, specific to the Ignatian tradition.
→ READ ALSO. What is a Spiritual Conversation?
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