GDC 263-264: Basic ecclesial communities

And lastly in this chapter covering “Loci and means of catechesis,” let’s look at base communities. Perhaps not so big in the US, but a significant part of the ecclesial experience in other countries, especially in mission lands:

263. Basic ecclesial communities have experienced a great diffusion in recent decades. (Evangelii Nuntiandi 58 indicates how basic ecclesial communities flourish nearly everywhere in the Church. RM 51 refers to them as a phenomenon in rapid growth.) These are groups of Christians which “arise because (people) want to live the life of the Church with greater fervor or because they desire and seek a more human way of life which large ecclesial communities cannot easily provide”. (Evangelii Nuntiandi 58c)

Basic ecclesial communities are a sign of the “Church’s vitality”. (Redemptoris Missio 51a; cf. Evangelii Nuntiandi 58f; Libertatis Conscientia 69) The disciples of Christ gather together in them so as to hear the word of God, to develop fraternal bonds, to celebrate the Christian mysteries in their lives and to assume responsibility for transforming society. In addition to these specifically Christian concerns other important human values emerge: friendship, personal recognition, a spirit of co-responsibility, creativity, vocational response, concern for the problems of the world and of the Church. From them, an enriched community experience can result, “a true expression of communion and a means for the construction of a more profound communion”. (Redemptoris Missio 51c) To be authentic, “every community must live in union with the particular and the universal Church, in heartfelt communion with the Church’s Pastors and the Magisterium, with a commitment to missionary outreach and without yielding to isolationism or ideological exploitation”. (Redemptoris Missio 51; cf. Evangelii Nuntiandi 58; Libertatis Conscientia 69)

This is a bit off-topic, but it strikes me that some of the frustration on the more extreme ends of the Church in recent years is due in part to an unfulfilled discernment on forming and living these communities. The Desert Movement of the fourth century was an admission that mainstream society was not an optimal locus for living the Gospel. In response, people withdrew into associations where the Christian life could be explored in a very intentional way.

264. In basic ecclesial communities an extremely enriching catechesis can be developed:

– The fraternal climate, in which it lives, is an environment suitable for integral catechetical activity, providing that the proper nature and character of catechesis is respected;

– On the other hand, catechesis must strive to deepen community life so as to ensure a basis for the Christian life of the faithful, without which basic Christian communities lack stability;

– The small Community is always a suitable place to receive those who have concluded a catechetical journey.

Thoughts on this, especially the notion that catechesis is essential for maintaining stability in a base community?

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About catholicsensibility

Todd and his family live in Ames, Iowa. He serves a Catholic parish of both Iowa State students and town residents.
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