Methods and Tips for School of Community (1992)

Notes from a discussion with Luigi Giussani at the National Council of CL

The proposal of the Movement is systematically and critically embodied in School of Community. School of Community reveals the most important content to pay attention to and is a reference point for judgment and comparison.

Work on the School of Community text is the most concrete way to maintain a methodical relationship with the charism of the Movement.

Charism is the gift of the Spirit, acting in service with the whole Church, using temperament, time, and space; using the human. This is one of the central points of the second part of the third volume; realizing that the Spirit uses the human is to realize what is Catholicism.

It is fidelity
to the charism that generates presence and mission. It is from faithfulness to the charism that experience arises and produces human growth with the capacity to remain present.

The “genius” of the Movement’s charism is methodological and pedagogical. The Movement emerged out of concern for young people to know Christ so that His presence would become attractive to them.

The Method of the Movement is indicated in the word “event”: revealing the presence of Christ as a present event. It is, in fact, in a present event that Christ is attractively revealed. The method of the Movement is all about replacing perpetual categories or repeated discourse with an event.

Morality is born as a tension to invest your life in the event that you met and, in which, you become immersed. This is a tension to belong, and, therefore, to confront what the Movement is. The companionship becomes an event and therefore a source of morality, because it is set to facilitate comparing what we live with the proposal of the Movement.

This is the concrete way to maintain the relationship with the charism: being invested in and penetrated by an event. The beginning of this event should be the personal responsibility of the one who leads: that his relationship with what he says to others is serious. This lights up the life of the community as an event.

If School of Community
is reduced to categories of “speech” it does not develop nor nurture the Movement. If it is a work and a point of reflection it becomes a fascinating event.

What is to be communicated is the enthusiasm and beauty of a comparison. Comparison is an exponentially dramatic component, because if one confronts it, it must be corrected. It is precisely this that carries the educational element: only those who follow merit to be followed.
What does not elicit an urgency for change is false, even if it is a willing and proper speech.

School of Community
must be seriously compared with the text. It should not, instead, follow a thread of one’s own worries or concerns.

How does School of Community
become a point of comparison? Firstly, the text must be read by clarifying the meaning of the words together. There should be no interpretation, but instead a literal understanding. It is a rejuvenation of the Middle Ages’ school method: reading so carefully and precisely that comments were made in the margins. You must become a disciple of the text.

Secondly, it is necessary to exemplify a comparison between what you live and what you’ve read. One must ponder what has been read and seek to judge life, judge what happened the day before, what is happening in the world, and what is happening in their own circumstances.

Thus the School of Community becomes a missionary gesture: it is not an “internal seminar.” How is School of Community good to me, if I do not feel full of a promise of hope even for the man I meet on the street or my schoolmate or my work? If it is valid for me why should it not be valid for them? By proposing to an other, we are immediately and strikingly united by our humanity, this human thirst that unites us is the unwavering response that shines for me and for the other.

Those who lead School of Community should be the source of this moment as an event. And he becomes a source for others , by what strikes him, so that- with discretion and without sentimentality- he feels the need and has the humililty to say “I understand that this particular passage first judges me.” If, however, the leader overwhelms or drowns others with his thoughts, everyone gets used to following their own thoughts rather than the truth of the text.

School of Community
must be felt, experienced, and suffered by the leader, who, for this reason, ceases to be a “professor” and becomes-like everyone else- a seeker. And because this search is not an intellectual one it must be a question.This search and this question generate real affection.

The work of School of Community is more than just exceptional gestures; it is a work of every day.

It is not helpful to replace the work of School of Community with something else, with something you’ve made up or imagined; it would be an unconscious indictment of your inability to do School of Community.

[Published in CL - Litterae Communionis , (1992), no. 12, pp. I-IV] 12, pp. I-IV] 12, pp. I-IV]