Iwata Tetsuo (Catholic Kojimachi Church)
Christian Life Communities or CLC, as they are usually called, are lay organizations of Christians that, based on Ignatian spirituality, try to serve the Church and society by living their Christian faith strengthened by prayer and community sharing.
CLC, founded about 400 years ago, went through a process of restructuring occasioned by the renewal of the lay apostolate at Vatican II Council, changing its former name of Marian Sodalities, 40 years ago. CLC is present in 58 countries with a membership of about 50,000. There are 30 communities active in Japan, from Hokkaido to Kyushu, with a total membership of 200 members. These members belong to small groups that meet once or twice, a month, to revise gently their lives and share their experiences in order to strengthen their common bonds. They pray daily following the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius and look for their mission in life, trying to discern their tasks to serve the Church and society.
Japan's CLC defined its basic vision at the beginning of the 21st century launching its "Mission 21 Manifesto": "We, CLC Japan, live the Mission of Jesus the Lord, through our Charisma, the Spiritual Exercises and Community. Follow Christ poor and humble, without being influenced by the values around us and accepting our weaknesses. With the values of the Gospel and together with the poor and weak change the world, the society, the Church and the family."
There are gradual stages for those that desire personal commitment to CLC. The first step is a promise to serve closely the small community where one is attached to. Then, as one proceeds his/her life of experience in CLC, there are "temporary vows" and in case one selects further life commitments to CLC there are also "permanent vows."
The vows are pronounced in front of the other companions of CLC to God. In Japan, actually, 57 CLC members have pronounced their permanent vows.
All through Japan, from Hokkaido to Kyushu, closed spiritual retreats take place regularly, supporting a daily life of prayer and helping the spiritual growth of CLC members. And at present, there is an appointed Jesuit priest, Fr. Hanafusa Ichiro that helps to strengthen the communities of CLC giving spiritual exercises and providing group guidance in close cooperation with other Jesuits.
This year the Society of Jesus celebrates the Jubilee Year 2006 to commemorate the 450 years anniversary of the death of Ignatius Loyola and the 500 years of the birth of Francis Xavier and Peter Faber. Last month, the Assistant to the Executive Secretary of CLC, Fr. Alberto Brito, visited Japan to participate in the Japan CLC national congress that took place from September 16-18 at the land of martyrs, Unzen, in Nagasaki. We welcomed him with great joy. During the open-air mass celebrated by the boiling hot springs of the Unzen inferno the proximity of typhoon number 13 with a strong storm produced a great impression on the audience, making everybody remember the martyrs of Nagasaki and gave us strength to confront all hardships. Fr. Alberto visited also other communities in Kita Kyushu, Hiroshima, Yokohama and Tokyo bringing fresh air from other world CLC units. We sensed the connections with Asian and other CLC communities around the world and I think that many CLC members renewed again commitments they had made.
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