The new information on the Communion and Liberation page comes from the CL website. Lately people have been asking me why I belong to a movement, and why CL? Here's my attempt at an answer:
I first heard about Communion and Liberation in 1997. During the six years we had been living in Chicago's Hyde Park neighborhood, we had belonged to St. Thomas the Apostle parish. St. Thomas was the first parish that my husband and I joined as adults, and our three daughters (the twins had not been born yet) had been baptized there by Reverend Jack Farry. I had been a catechist at St. Thomas, and many of our fellow parishioners were also co-workers or neighbors. I had the sense of being a grown-up Catholic. I met Sarah when I signed my oldest daughter up for the preschool catechesis program. To my delight and amazement, Sarah and her assistant were offering Catechesis of the Good Shepherd! I promptly signed up my second daughter as well and began to spend the sessions in the back of the atrium, lurking.
As Sarah and I became better friends, and as I began to fall in love with the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd, Sarah told me that she also belonged to a lay ecclesial movement, called Communion and Liberation. I think this was the first time I'd heard of a movement in the Church. I remember thinking that CL must be cool, since Sarah was also into CGS, and it was super cool, but aside from hearing about what it meant for her, I wasn't really very interested in it. My life was full to bursting with my young children and with learning about CGS. I was also about to embark on grad school, for a second time. But when my husband told me that he needed something more, in order to live his faith more fully, I quickly recommended that he speak to Sarah and her husband about CL. Well, he fell in love right away, and started giving me Father Giussani's books to read and asking me to come to School of Community. I read the books, and found them very beautiful, if unoriginal (yes, I'm sorry, but my only criticism of Father Giussani was that he wasn't saying "anything new." Now, I think one of the greatest things about him is that he doesn't say "anything new"!). But as for School of Community, I didn't want to give up an evening at home with my children so that I could meet with a bunch of adults to speak about Jesus -- my faith received such a powerful electric charge when I became a mother, and it seemed wrong not to include my children in every aspect of my spiritual journey.
When we moved to Ohio three years ago, it was a time to make new friends, and I wanted to meet other people who were following Father Giussani. Though I still thought that he wasn't saying "anything new," I was hungry for friends who were following the Church: the old, essential, not-at-all new Church. Sometimes, among other Catholics, I feel so disoriented hearing about particular devotions or charisms that seem unfamiliar to me. Father Giussani had the peculiar genius for cutting through all of the "extras" and going straight to the heart of Christianity -- he tirelessly proposed Jesus Christ (much as our current Pope, Benedict XVI does).
What is new about CL is not so much a particular theology, but a way of living out Christianity that is vital, vibrant, and vivifying. This I did not understand from reading the books. I had caught glimpses of it while I still lived in Chicago -- when one member of the community got sick, everyone simply canceled everything to go pray the rosary in the hospital chapel the next day; or when we invited our friends to our daughter's Baptism, the CL people showed up en masse, though they had further to travel and didn't know us as well; when a teenage girl from Milan came to stay with us for two summers, she became like one of the family almost instantly. This "something new" is hard to see unless you're looking for it. It involves being able to see our Lord, beloved and adored, in the bonds of friendship that exist between and among ordinary, sometimes uninspiring, Christians. What Father Giussani both proposed and also demonstrated in reality is that Christ is not only present as Bread and Wine in the Eucharist, he is also present in the unity that exists in his people -- the Body of Christ. When we gather together, we can meet him in the flesh.
Some people wonder: why do you need anything in addition to parish life? After all, the parish is the Eucharistic community, where this presence can make itself most felt...? It is true that the Eucharist vivifies and enlivens any particular parish community, but what seems to be most difficult for us is to live with an awareness of what the sacraments mean. Without an awareness of what our Baptism means, what our Confirmation means, what our participation in the Eucharist means, we sleepwalk through our lives, and miss so much! God is reaching out toward us, wanting to meet us in all our present moments, but we easily get distracted. We need friends who live this awareness, who are willing to live this awareness along with us.
Some people also wonder whether joining a movement narrows our involvement in the Church. Nothing could be further from my own experience! The more I follow this one particular charism, the more universal my understanding of so many other aspects of the Church has become. In fact, being involved with CL has opened me up to the international dimension of the Church, as well as opening my heart to people in my immediate environment who are different from me. The law of the Incarnation always works this way -- Christ comes to me and shows me the whole, in all its universality, through particular circumstances.
I would be remiss if I didn't mention Father Vincent. Even though my involvement with CL had become more consistent and serious when we moved to Ohio three years ago, it wasn't until the first Lent retreat we had here in my new town, led by Father Vincent, that I finally let my heart be fully engaged in CL. I never get tired of thinking about those events. Father Vincent is now in Jordan, working as a missionary. I pray for his work there, and that he may bring even more people into our beautiful friendship!