Archive for August, 2007

Building BEC Communities

Building Communities

“What activities do you have in your parish that are geared towards basic ecclesial communities?”

The question comes from a friend who has just decided to become an active member in his own parish. He has just heard about BECs and was wondering what it meant and how it looked like from the perspective of “apostolic work.”

The thing is Basic Ecclesial Communities can have different forms depending on what model the parish adopts. In our own parish at the Mother of Good Counsel (Laguna), there is still a bit of confusion as to how BECs are to be realized. BECs are families living in the same area of a parish that periodically come together to listen to the Word of God and practise it in their lives in the spirit of fraternity. We still have a long way to go in our parish since people here still think of BECs as a way of helping the poor parishioners in the Homes-Along-The-Riles section of San Pedro, Laguna. Until this erroneous “social” understanding of the BEC is overcome, we won’t be able to turn our parish into the mother church of small ecclesial communities.

Forming BECs shouldn’t be difficult however. We already have the Parish Renewal Program that every two months “supplies” the parish with renewed parishioners who are willing to participate actively in the parish’s projects. These can be further trained to form family groups that will regularly meet, e.g. to study the Gospel of the next Sunday Mass and make concrete resolutions that can benefit their own families and immediate neighborhood.

Bible study with small groups such as I do with the parishioners of a subdivision can also be a step towards the BEC. The whole point is to make people familiar with the idea of families coming together regularly. Bible study can become some sort of training for BEC-building if (a) the bible passage studied is for the Sunday mass, (b) the people involved are willing to invite others and help them experience what they experience with the Word of God, and (c) they are willing to make concrete resolutions that would make the Sunday gospel come alive for their families and neighbors.

Finally, the celebration of masses with small sections of the parish can also be a step towards the BEC. Our Maligaya-sections (the Home-Along-The-Riles parishioners) would feel that they are part of the parish if they too are visited by their pastors. The Mass can be a way of doing that.

BEC-building is not a matter of having a good organizational structures although that would also be needed later on. What is important are people who begin to build their lives around the Word of God listened to in Scriptures and celebrated in the Eucharist.

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Revisiting Ten Augustinian Values

Before we proceed with our review of the Ten Augustinian Values, I would like to present a diagram first. Pictures say a lot of things and I think that it would be appropriate to show the ten Augustinian Values not disjointedly as if were simply enumerating a list of groceries, but as a whole and within a dynamic process that I describe as “the verification of Love”, or “making Love authentic.”

All of Augustine’s sermons about Love assume that Love is being authenticated by his hearers in their own lives. Concupiscence and Ignorance has weakened the sons and daughters of Adam and Eve. While the sin of those two parents have been obliterated by the sacrament of baptism, the “dent” created by that sin remains. Hence, there is — in every kind of spiritual journey — the element of “discipline”, of “making-authentic”. The same goes for man’s highest calling: Love

Ten Augustinain Values:  A Diagram
The ten Augustinian Values in process. Click the image above for a clearer view.

The Ten Augustinian Values are values which help one make one’s love authentic. The “disciplinary values” of Humility, Inwardness, and “Devotion to Study and the Pursuit of Wisdom” help form the baptized in Freedom, which is the power by which Love is given expression. True freedom is the investment of self in another. Such an investment is made in Community (this is inescapable since man is a social being) in the realization of a Common Good (in Augustine, the “Common Good” is ultimately, also the “Supreme Good”1). That community, however, is no ordinary community, since it is that community whose members Christ calls his friends and to whom He has given the example of what it is to be “great”: “whoever wants to be the greatest among you must be the least.”. The kind of investment in which Freedom truly flowers is made in the Spirit of John’s account of the Last Supper. Freedom surrenders itself in Service, within the context of Friendship (again in the sense that the Gospel of John gives it). And because “friendship” is not just any kind of friendship but the friendship of those whom Christ has called “friends”, then it cannot but be nourished by prayer and made to grow in it.

1The Catechism’s definition of Common Good is one made within the context of praxis. If I understand Augustine rightly, such an idea for him would be an aspect of the Supreme Good that in Pauline terms gives the gift of Himself to end all gifts: “God … in everything.”

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