Below is another post from a friend for your prayerful consideration. Given the state of our times, their words should be prayed about and considered.
JMJ, pray for us.
God is good,
Now, as a disclaimer, I need to share that I was a member of two intentional communities in my life, and therefore have “inside” understanding as to the definition of “intentional community.”
Intentional means on purpose, with a plan, with a rule and order of life. Community means a gathering of people of like-mindedness, who agree to that rule and call.
For a Catholic, there are many varied examples of intentional communities. All the orders, such as the Benedictines, the Dominicans, the Jesuits, the Fraternity of St. Peter, the Carmelites, the Salesians, and so on, are all intentional communities.
There are many lay intentional communities as well in the Catholic Church, such as The Saint Vincent de Paul Society, Couples for Christ, Opus Dei, Foyers de Charite, L’Arche, Schoenstatt Movement, and many, many more.
I want to emphasise elements which make up an intentional community and then write why all lay people must consider creating one in these days leading up to the Time of Tribulation. I shall refer to the approved visions of Our Lady of Akita in Japan.
Firstly, returning to the brief definitions, al communities are calls from God for a specific reason and all have “intention”; that is a vision and rules.
The vision of the Salesians, for example, is education, especially for troubled boys. The Salesian Fathers have become famous for their excellent schools across the world and for reaching out to children in need. This vision came from St. John Bosco.
All communities begin with a vision. The Fraternity of St. Peter founders had the vision of serving the Church by offering the Tridentine Mass. VISION first, rules second.
The vision is from God if the community is true. The Catholic Church approves communities in various stages.
The hierarchy of the Church and the Church comprise our basic community. The Body of Christ, the Church, has, therefore, a “holy order”, which is what hierarchy means. The parishes to which we all belong are merely extensions of that order, and the basic communal grouping.
There are about twenty-seven ecclesiastical roles in the Church from the Pope on down to a Territorial Abbot. These levels of “rule” form the order of our Church, set up by Christ Himself through the Twelve Apostles. The laity, although not part of the ecclesiastical levels, are part of the community, of course.
Order, or rules, bind all members to their particular call in the community. This is obvious to most of us. The same is true in a family, the basic community, where the father is the head. The Church is the patriarchy, exhibiting the patriarchal order instituted by Christ Himself, and lasting down to this present day. Natural law shows us that the family is one key unit of community, but not the only one.
All orders have rules. For example, the Benedictines have rules created by St. Benedict, and to become a member of either a men’s monastic community or a woman’s religious community, a person agreed to live by those rules. A community is not a community without rules. Rules regulate not only daily life, but the spiritual life of the individual. Therefore, we can speak of a Benedictine spirituality, a Carmelite spirituality, a Jesuit one, and so on. Members abide by both the exterior and interior rules of the original vision of the founder or founders.
If one does not want to abide by these rules, one leaves.
Vision, rules, and then, communal life. Communal life, based on the rules and “order” allow members to share life together peacefully. This is how members become saints, by sharing the vision and the order of the community.
Perhaps the most important element of communal living is the work and commitment to keep the community going—in other words, the communal life is a PRIORITY.
When I was young, I was in a lay community for seven years, at various levels of living. The “highest level” of this very large community, was called Common Sharing, wherein all members lived sharing all their goods and income, giving equally to all. The Protestant group called the Bruderhof is a modern example of this type of living, which I did in a Catholic context. The two “lower levels” were called Christian Living Situation and Independent Living.
These levels may be compared to the Postulancy and the Novitiate of the established orders. But, not exactly.
May I interject that all orders, whether lay or religious, must be approved, first by the local bishop, as in the Friars of the Renewal, which is a diocesan order, and then by Rome, as in Opus Dei.
The first step is called Association of the Faithful. There is a group in France, connected to the Chavagnes School, which is such a group, called the Company of St. Gregory, wherein men pray together and share rules in order to provide education for boys. After that step, a community becomes recognised by the Bishop, who must follow canonical rules regarding communities. Such diocesan approval may take years. Some groups remain Associations of the Faithful. Some become Secular Institutes, such as the Schoenstatt Movement.
Institutes of Religious Life are not the same as above. All these categories are described in Canon Law in detail. You may be surprised how many communities of religious are only diocesan and not pontifical, that is, not yet or never receiving approbation by Rome.
All these groupings are intentional communities.
I want to underline the importance of lay communities.
A good resource for understanding the call of the laity to communities may be found in St. John Paul II’s apostolic exhortation, linked here. http://w2.vatican.va/content/john-paul-ii/en/apost_exhortations/documents/hf_jp-ii_exh_30121988_christifideles-laici.html
The lay community may have many goals, such as evangelisation, or the passing down of the faith to children in families. Lay communities have leaders, both men and women, who draw up the rules, the order of those communities.
Order and rules are necessary for several reasons. The first being that members need to be protected and know exactly what they are signing up for in each community. The second is to insure that the communities follow Church guidelines. The third is to prevent the abuse of power by both men and women over the members. When that happens, the community becomes a cult, a group dominated by power-hungry individuals, such as the infamous Branch Davidians, or the Moonies. Sadly, there have been cults which were begun by Catholics, such as the Palmarian Catholic Church, which one can look up online. Frequently, young people need to be rescued from such cults.
My intentional communities do not resemble those cults for one good reason—Catholic intentional communities abide totally to the Teaching Magisterium of the Church. Period.
The reason I want to stress the need for communal living and intentional communities is that we are facing a horrific time of tribulation.
Let me refer you to Our Lady of Akita, the visions of Sister Agnes Katsuko Sasagawa and the messages of Our Lady for our times. Beginning in 1973 and ending in 1981, the statue wept and messages were given only in that first year. A break in 1974 saw the weeping statue stop weeping, but that commenced again on January 4th, 1975 Our Lady through a weeping statue, spoke to Sister Agnes of these times and what she, Our Lady, wanted us to do. You can watch a video about the apparitions here: Our Lady of Akita.
Firstly, the tears have been examined and are made up of human tears, sweat and blood.
Secondly, many people saw these, and Sister Agnes was given the stigmata on her right hand, which she still has. She was cured of deafness, however.
Thirdly, many miracles have occurred, including the healing of a woman with terminal brain cancer.
However, the most important element of these occurrences for us are Mary’s words. I shall not quote all the words but only the ones which move me to encourage all the laity to form intentional communities.
Let me add that I think Our Lady of Akita’s words form a continuation of her revelations at Fatima.
You may find all this information on this website:
Here are some of the messages.
“Many men in this world afflict the Lord. I desire souls to console Him to soften the anger of the Heavenly Father. I wish, with My Son, for souls who will repair, by their suffering and their poverty, for the sinners and ingrates.
“In order that the world might know His anger, the Heavenly Father is preparing to inflict a great chastisement on all mankind. With My Son, I have intervened so many times to appease the wrath of the Father. I have prevented the coming of calamities by offering Him the sufferings of the Son on the Cross, His Precious Blood, and beloved souls who console Him and form a cohort of victim souls.
“Prayer, penance, and courageous sacrifices can soften the Father’s anger. I desire this also from your community, that it love poverty, that it sanctify itself and pray in reparation for the ingratitude and outrages of so many men. Recite the prayer of the Handmaids of the Eucharist with awareness of its meaning; put it into practice: offer (whatever God may send) in reparation for sins. Let each one endeavour, according to her capacity and position, to offer herself entirely to the Lord.
“Even in a secular institute, prayer is necessary. Already souls who wish to pray are on the way to being gathered. Without attaching too much attention to the form, be faithful and fervent in prayer to console the Master.”
This one below was shared on October 13th, a clear connection to Fatima.
“If men do not repent and better themselves, the Father will inflict a terrible punishment on all humanity. It will be a punishment greater than the deluge, such as one will never have seen before. Fire will fall from the sky and will wipe out a great part of humanity, the good as well as the bad, sparing neither priests nor faithful. The survivors will find themselves so desolate that they will envy the dead. The only arms which will remain for you will be the Rosary and the Sign left by My Son. Each day recite the prayers of the Rosary. With the Rosary, pray for the Pope, the Bishops and the priests.
“The work of the devil will infiltrate even into the Church in such a way that one will see Cardinals opposing Cardinals, Bishops against other Bishops. The priests who venerate Me will be scorned and opposed by their confreres (other priests). Churches and altars will be sacked. The Church will be full of those who accept compromises, and the demon will press many priests and consecrated souls to leave the service of the Lord.
“The demon will be especially implacable against the souls consecrated to God. The thought of the loss of so many souls is the cause of My sadness. If sins increase in number and gravity, there will no longer be pardon for them.
“…Pray very much the prayers of the Rosary. I alone am able to still save you from the calamities which approach. Those who place their confidence in Me will be saved.”
Rome through Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger gave approval to these messages and visions in 1988.
Back to intentional communities.
Now you can see the why…most likely nuclear war would be the cause for such great destruction. I sit in a comfortable office in Europe, but the Cold War has now returned with the open saber-rattling of the Russians under Putin. My friends from Lithuanian expect an invasion, and the rhetoric of war is increasing here and abroad.
No one who is an individual keeping the Faith will be able to cope with the terrible catastrophes to come and which will come soon.
If one wants to keep the Faith in the midst of chaos, including the absence of priests and the sacraments, an intentional community is a necessity.
How does one create one.
Here are some simple steps.
1. Begin meeting with like-minded serious Catholics once a week in your home. Pray and talk.
2. Plan how you want your community to look and act.
3. Choose a spirituality, such as Benedictine-ism, or Franciscani-sm, or pray for a new one. The older forms are tried and true.
4. State eating together once or twice a week, even if the group gets large. Share and become intimate.
5. Then, pray to God to choose a leader. Do not choose one who volunteers, but like the Apostles, pray for discernment.
The nicest person is not always the leader. For a Catholic community, the main leaders should be men, in keeping with the Patriarchal organisation created by God. Women can help in roles pertaining to women. A leadership team of seven is good.
6. Start writing down a rule—how many times the group must meet, leadership roles, leadership meetings, prayer meetings, and so on.
Communities are INTENTIONAL, which mean they take time and work.
7. Talk to people who are already in intentional communities for advice, but be aware of your communities own gifts and call. Choose a name through prayer.
8. Approach your local priest and ask him to be involved. Then, if and when the community “takes off”, ask the bishop for advice and approval.
But, approach the bishop only after you have written out a rule and seen success in your groupings.
9. Above all, pray for guidance and discernment. Group discernment is Biblical.
10.A warning,…all member must be practicing Catholics, and in sanctifying grace. An intentional community is not for “everyone.”
Even the early Church demanded baptism and the other sacraments as signs of membership.
I hope this article creates a thirst for an intentional community in your area.
I hope people respond to this short explanation of intentional communities and desire to start one.
God bless your endeavours. We do not have much time. I shall be glad to write more on this subject in detail if the moderator of this blog so desires.