Paul at Communio describes the CL charism this way:
The essence of the CL charism is twofold: 1) the proclamation that God became Man and the affirmation that this man, Jesus of Nazareth, who died and rose again, is a present reality whose visible sign is communion - that is to say, the unity of a people led by the vicar of Christ - and 2) the awareness that it is only in Jesus Christ that the deepest needs of the human heart are fulfilled. CL's mission is thus the education of its members toward Christian maturity and collaboration in the mission of the Church in all spheres of contemporary life.
This simple explication captures quite well what has drawn me to CL.
What I am pondering right now is what exactly is meant by "communion - that is to say the unity of a people led by the vicar of Christ". It strikes me that at face value, this means people who are living a Catholic life. I don't want my pondering to turn into a torturing of Paul's words, but I do want to have a full understanding of what it is I supposedly follow. I have this constant need to translate and re-phrase things until I understand them with my own words and heart.
So. If Jesus of Nazareth is a present reality in this world, and the charism of CL is about experiencing this presence through unity of people led by the vicar of Christ, then what exactly does this unity look like? How do I know when I see it? What is disunity? How do I know when I see that? Is the relationship between myself and fellow CL followers different from that between myself and other Catholics who don't follow CL? And what about a person like myself who can experience feelings, attitudes of unity with Catholics whom I barely know, yet might struggle or take significant time to connect with fellow CL people who are sitting right there with me? Do these aspects of my personality even have anything to do with this definition of communion that is to mark this charism?
That's a big load of questions. The way I would answer what unity is for myself would be in a picture, if I could draw, and if I could put it into this blog. It would be a cross in the center, people walking towards the cross, there finding each other, and then facing out to bring this beautiful discover to the world.
Now, wait a second. Is that what this little diagram is supposed to mean?
I honestly don't know, but it would be my educated guess that it goes something like that. Essentially I would say that the way to unity is embracing the cross, in whatever way the cross presents itself. That's just what I've picked up from my living with Christ, not quoting Giussani. Of course, I've read so little of his writings, I couldn't quote him if I tried.
I know that when Paul speaks of the deepest needs of the human heart are met "only in Jesus Christ," this resonates with me in a huge way. And I think some of the deeper needs of the human heart have to do with how we humans relate to each other. Maybe my question here becomes, does the charism mean that the deepest needs of the human heart are met by Christ's presence experienced among us as people? In other words, do we re-translate this "the deepest needs of the human heart are met by, or through, other Catholics"? That is where I get a little panicky. It is not that I don't get that we are a sacramental Church, and that what we do to the least we do to Him (though these elements still strike me as either absolutely astounding or scandalous!). But I just want to keep what I can't help but calling in my head "the real Jesus" in the picture. Ok, so He has no hands or feet on earth but mine, but He does, in reality, have His own hands and feet, and they are in heaven. He really does exist. There is Scripture which is the Word of God, and then there is the power of the Holy Spirit active in a variety of ways. I just get a bit weirded out when it seems that a theology or spirituality could do just fine without there being a "real" Christ, or Holy Spirit, or when Christian maturity is thought to amount to our "replacing"Jesus on earth (you know, because I have an updated God message for our world). I know this is mostly residue from my various Protestant exposures, not to mention some odd Catholics I've met. But I feel the need to air the thought, just a small child needs to tell someone about the monsters in his closet; it's a real fear to me, even though I know it really isn't grounded in the reality of CL. Maybe I just need to get my Trinitarian theology more precise. Maybe I need the Holy Spirit to deal with whatever creates this panicked reaction in me.
So, my dear CL friends (I say somewhat ironically since I don't participate much in the CL blogging world and I don't hardly know any of you), if you would be so kind, please weigh in with your thoughts and feedback. Of course, anyone is welcome to do so!