Let me finish yesterday’s story, Thursday 10 August.

I confessed that I almost fell asleep in the last plenary session of the morning and it seems that I was not alone in feeling desolation, though others were perhaps more discerning in their response to it. We came back to the plenary at 3.00 pm to find our facilitators in a very interesting pose. They then proceeded to speak with movement. I so wish there was a video of this as it was very powerful. But here is more or less what they said, though you’ll have to come back for the French bits which I heard through my headphones. The rest I managed to record, though I missed some bits:

  • For CLC, the internal is everything. (Bit missed out.) … in towards each other, the internal is everything.
  • The cry of the earth, the cry of the poor, the family, migrants, ecology integral, the external is truly everything for CLC.
  • Spirituality is everything for CLC, relationship with God, personal and communal, following Jesus, becoming inspired by the Spirit, looking at Mary. Spirituality is everything.

Then the three facilitators turned and moved towards each other, placing their candles together on the floor.

The next bit is more or less verbatim and I’ve not had time to tidy it up, but the facilitators turned to speak directly to us:

This is hope for CLC

“This is hope for CLC. We are going to share with you a first impression about what we have noticed from yesterday and today. And especially today we noticed, yes there are themes, but sometimes the themes are facing in towards each other, and sometimes it felt to us as if they are facing away. And as we prayed with it, what kept coming up was hope, because hope is the only way that they come into balance. So we ended up seeing three big themes from this morning, the external world, the cry of the world, how it has changed since 2018! The needs of people, the cry of the earth which has become the roar of the earth, and the external we feel passionate about and we want to take action and we want to know how to think and pray.

“And then, over here, there is the internal world, vitally important, preparing people in formation for mission, not formation for looking inwards. This is important. And spirituality, the relationship with God, being a Marian congregation, founded in 1540, for some it is very easy to keep it central.

What is our priority? How do we take action? How do we keep everything in balance?

“So all the themes felt great and were very valid and we didn’t hear generalities this morning. It was very concrete, much more than yesterday, but as we sat with it, it wasn’t primarily about the contents but about the tensions between them. What is our priority? How do we take action? And how do we keep those in balance, the internal needs of CLC, yes, the external world we are living in, concrete realities, responding, understanding, and the foundational relationship w God. How can we face in with our concerns instead of facing out?

(A French bit comes here which needs translating. I’ll insert it when I can.)

“What we came back to, over and over again, was that the title of this Assembly is where they make sense together, all of them, and the first thing we wanted to ask you, is: ‘does that resonate?’ The external, the cry of the world, a tension between that and internal needs, nurturing, formation, general norms, what we see when we face inside, and the priority of growing in our walk with God, in our accompanying of others, in our spiritual maturity, in embodying consolation. But we can’t see how you could ever unite them or make sense of keeping them in balance without hope, a very concrete grounded real hope. That’s what we heard.”

We then consulted in our groups of eight (we’d been asked to sit together) and practically everyone agreed that this did resonate. I was totally amazed by how the facilitators had managed to dissolve the knot that we’d got ourselves in. It was absolutely wonderful. After that we were invited to discuss in our groups of eight: How can we embody hope in the World, internally, externally and in the area of spirituality? There was a minor revolution at that point as we’d already spent so much time in the auditorium and after several days of rain and wind, the sun was out. So we had our discussion outside and that released a lot of energy even if we didn’t manage to get back to the auditorium when we were supposed to!

The needs of Europe

After tea, we went into our regional groups to try to identify the needs of our region (Europe, in our case) and also to answer the question: How can we embody hope in our region. I confess that I found this session rather difficult. Obviously we were a very large group so we divided and subdivided into language groups but I still found it a rather general session and I felt as if I’d come to the end of my road!

It meant that I went to Mass feeling very limp but, oh, it was wonderful! The bishop of Amiens, who had, himself, some years ago, been a group guide to a CLC, celebrated Mass for us and his homily was absolutely wonderful. This post is already too long and we still don’t have the slides which were used during the Mass, so I’ll do that separately and simply note that I went to see the cathedral light show after supper — but I have already talked about that in my bonus post this morning!

Igny’s diary today has an interview with Flavio, one of our facilitators.