MARRIED AND CELIBATE LAY MEMBERS

A CALL FOR URGENT TIMES

The lay branch is made up of men and women, lay people (married, celibate or consecrated by a vow of celibacy) and clerics (permanent deacons) who, responding to the Lord’s call, want to follow Him by living according to the charism of Community of the Beatitudes. They seek to consecrate their life to the Lord by living in the spirit of the evangelical counsels (poverty, chastity and obedience) and that of the Beatitudes (cf. Mt 5, 3-12), in order to be witnesses of the Gospel in the world and signs of the Kingdom to come.

Their choice to become involved in the Community is thus a response to the pressing appeal addressed by the Church to the laity since the Second Vatican Council to follow the call to holiness which flows from baptismal grace and to participate fully in the mission of the Church.

Fraternal & Community Life

Couples, families and single people choose to live a certain form of community and fraternal life compatible with their own vocation.
Various forms of commitment are possible, in order to allow lay people to persevere in their call according to the different constraints of their evolving life situations.

  • They can choose to live at a community house, where they have their own living quarters. Families live there in apartments or houses. They live community life on a daily basis. They have certain times within their branch and certain times together with the members of the consecrated branches.
  • Other lay members choose to live attached to a community house, but not on its premises. They participate in the life of a household on a weekly basis.
  • Finally, members may constitute a fraternity, with weekly community activities. In this case, they do not live in the same place and the meetings can take place at one of their homes or in a common meeting space.

Prayer Life

Couples or celibates of the Community seek a life of deep and unceasing prayer. In the midst of their family and professional commitment, they must develop a life of prayer in all places and at all times. However, they try to preserve in the heart of their day time for God alone. Thus, they remember that the heart to heart of prayer and of the Word of God is the source of all fruitfulness.

They participate as much as possible in the liturgical life of the Community as well as developing a true life of personal prayer and family prayer, along with prayer as a couple.

WORK

The lay people of the Community work in secular professions, for the Church, or for an apostolate of the Community in connection with the consecrated brothers and sisters. Families provide for their own needs and those of their children.

They see their work and their presence in society as a mission to be witnesses of the values ​​of the Gospel values and to be signs of Christ’s mercy for all.

MISSION

Couples and celibates with a call to evangelization or compassion at heart actively participate in the mission and apostolates of the Community, in communion with priests and brothers and sisters.

They may have missions given by the Community or personal missions.

the Charter

The personal charter expresses each lay member’s commitment to God and to the Community within the branch. This charter is drafted for the duration of one year, by each lay member, in consultation with his coordinator. It takes into account the level of commitment, the professional situation, the stage of life, the fraternal life and of prayer, mission, and formation. 

THE LAITY

GIVE WITNESS

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testimony of

Jaime and Laurence

We are married and have three children aged 15 to 9. We are of French, Italian and Spanish origin! We are currently on a mission in the island of Reunion. We joined the Community in 1995 and 1996, both as singles, and having met we got engaged and married in the Community.

In 2002 we wanted to take time out to build our family and after thirteen years we returned to the community. The different ways of life the community offers are well adapted to our family life and we can fully serve the Lord.

We live in a house that is seven minutes walk from the Brothers’ House. This geographical proximity is crucial for us and allows us to participate in Divine Services and fraternal life in a very flexible way taking into account the organization of our family’s life. The community foyer remains the place of communion (life of prayer, fraternal moments together and occasions for missionary outreach). The communion of all states of life is a real challenge to be met today and tomorrow to evangelize and to proclaim the good news of Jesus Christ.

Professionally speaking, Jaime is a Spanish teacher and Laurence is a Communications Trainer and Consultant. Our professional life allows us to provide for our family, but it is also our mission to bear witness to our faith through simple gestures, actions and words.

Life with the Lord is an extraordinary adventure!

Jaime and Laurence

Testimony of

Valérie

Originally from Paris, I joined the Community some 20 years ago. I finished my studies in Modern Literature and History at the Sorbonne.

I had everything to be happy but I was desperately looking for meaning in my life. I had just forgotten what was most essential : God.

The Blessed Virgin came to seek me out in all my impasses and began to lead me step by step to help me return to the Church and allow me to discover the Community. Enrolled in a youth camp in Lebanon during the summer of 1997, it was a decisive experience followed quickly by a « Nazareth » year  (a time for God offered to young people to discern their vocation).

I felt a clear calling to the Beatitudes because, aspiring to union with God ,according to Carmelite tradition, I was very attracted by Marian spirituality and the beauty of the liturgy. There I discovered the joy of fraternal life and welcoming the poor, a simple and sober life as a remedy for materialism, cemented by liturgical prayer and Eucharistic adoration. In short, everything seemed familiar and attractive to me. One thing quickly became clear to me : after two years of research, I had finally found my spiritual family.

Today, I live my community calling within the Lay Branch having pronounced a vow of celibacy for the Kingdom. This calling allows me to live my consecration and to be fully Christ’s spouse, witnessing discreetly, while exercising a profession that I love.

It is a great joy to be able to live community life to the full, while working on the spot in a tailor-made job ! This work is also an opportunity to participate in a work of evangelization through the book media that has always fascinated me.

Finally, another thing is close to my heart : music and singing in particular. I have the joy of being part of the team of singers who lead the services and masses to help the Community and the retreatants who visit it. Helping others to pray through music is so beautiful !

My whole journey could be summed up in one sentence : “Draw near to Him and He will draw near to you.” (James 4:8) It was through the Heart of Mary that I was able to enter into the intimacy of the Heart of Jesus. Deo gratias!

Valérie

Bart et Veerle

testimony of

Bart and Veerle

We got married in 1993 and have three children.  We are Belgian nationals, of flemish origin and live in Flanders (Belgium). We met the Community as « tourists » while visiting the Abbey of  Saint-Martin-du-Canigou. We were immediately struck by the joy, the beauty of the liturgy and the communion of all states of life. In our spiritual quest we had been searching for quite a while ! And it is in the Community that we truly met Christ ! Whaoo ! What a change in our life. We discovered a diversity, both in prayer and in spirituality : Byzantine Vespers, entry into the Shabbat, Israeli dances, Charismatic Renewal, Carmelite spirituality. The international dimension of the Community broadened our vision of the world tremendously.. What we like in the Community is this equilibrium between a contemplative life and an active mission orientated outreach. It is expressed both through inner quiet prayer, adoration before the Blessed Sacrament and through praise and charismatic prayer. What lovely unity !

Bart and Veerle

testimony of

Joumana

I am Joumana from Lebanon. I joined the Community, aged 25, fourteen years ago. I used to teach philosophy to senior year classes and assisted in the production of televised cultural programs.

Having, on the one hand, gone through phases questioning my faith and, on the other, loving life a lot and dreaming of advanced studies and marriage, the thought that one day I “would tumble into God’s love” and that that love would call me to abandon and surrender everything, never crossed my mind.

Searching for “the truth”, at 20, I gave vent to the following challenge : “If philosophy proves God’s existence to me, I will believe, otherwise that’s the end of faith for me”. Taking me at my word God, at first, approached me through philosophy… A brother, studying with me, having invited me to attend Saturday Vespers with the Community it is then that the God of philosophers revealed his most loving face and touched my heart with the beauty that emanated from the place, from the faces, from the songs… and spontaneous prayers : that evening I understood that His name is “Lord”, and that He is “the Truth”.

At the age of 24,  during the visit of Thérèse’s relics to Lebanon the Community crossed my path again, and I joyfully discovered the new program of retreats that had just been set up. From retreat to retreat the madness of a calling resounded in me and all the other desires already present just gave way. The strength of my resistance matched that of my attraction to this unequalled love, and day by day I allowed myself to be invaded by this unique desire: «To love is to give everything and to give oneself». Everything in the Community spoke to my heart ! So I said yes, and I never regretted it.

“There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends”… no greater happiness either, for “who is in God, lacks nothing” !

       Joumana

Guillem et Esther

testimony of

Guillem and Esther

We are Guillem and Esther. Originally from Barcelona, we joined the Community when we were engaged in 1995. Esther had studied as a teacher and pianist, and Guillem had studied journalism. We got to know the Community at its summer conferences in Lourdes. We kept in touch by going regularly for short periods to the house of Saint Martin du Canigou 250 kms from us.

Esther : I was touched by the quality of prayer and fraternal life and by the eschatological dimension : “seeing the People of God (brothers, sisters, families, priests), living in the spirit of the Kingdom in their midst” : you could feel it, breath it, and see it…

Guillem : What touched me was the missionary and evangelization dimension. We could see that the fruitfulness of the Community’s missions had its source in its prayer life. We both had a desire to consecrate our couple to God and to the service of His Kingdom. The Lord has shown us the Community and its charism as the response to this deep desire dwelling within us.

Esther : This evidence was obvious to me first. I waited and prayed for Guillem to come to the same conclusion.

Guillem : During a Holy Week at the Community in the Abbey of Saint Martin, while doing some gardening, I too felt this calling !

We spent nine years in residential community life, during which time we continued our studies ¾ psychopedagogy for Esther and theology for Guillem ¾ And in 2004, we were sent to found the Community in Spain in the diocese of Segorbe-Castellon. It is there that, after ten years of marriage, the Lord blessed us with the arrival of our daughter, a gift of the Virgin Mary. This has prepared us for the apostolate we are in charge of today among young single mothers in difficulty.

Today, we both work as teachers and with the communications service of the diocese. We also offer prayer vigils, retreats and sessions throughout the year.

We live a missionary dimension that is nourished by a life of friendship with God, through prayer, the sacraments and continual conversion.

When we are on a mission, the Lord allows us to experience poverty at all levels. It is not always easy, but we experience that the poorer we are, the richer we become, and the greater in us is the certainty that the Lord Alone is working in hearts in the midst of the world.

Guillem and Esther

Julie

testimony of

Julie

A Lebanese national, I have been living in the Community house of Gharzouz, in Lebanon, for two years. I am an interior designer since 2012. I felt a strong calling from God several years ago, and after a long discernment, I realized that this calling rested on several points : a life of intense prayer and a desire for union with God, a fraternal life (that is to say, in a community) with the communion of all states of life (mixed), a missionary outreach and a total gift of myself while remaining in touch with the world. But in which community ? One day, a friend suggested that I help the brothers and sisters of the Gharzouz house in one of their missions (the organization of spiritual days for schools during Lent). This is when I really got to meet the Community up close. Little by little I realized that it corresponded to what I wanted and I decided to join the Community. I live my calling in everything I do :
  • in a life of prayer with daily Eucharist and adoration, with the various Divine Services (as well as the Easter Triduum) that strengthen my relationship with God, deepening more and more my trust in Him.
  • finally, in evangelization missions, which teach me to become a true disciple : the joy of making others taste the Kingdom of Heaven and interceding for the world that needs much prayer.
Oh I don‘t forget the little struggles of every day that root me in my calling to open the doors of holiness to me. “A soul united to Jesus is a living smile that radiates Him and gives Him” (St Elizabeth of the Trinity).

Julie

Julie

testimony of

Julie

A Lebanese national, I have been living in the Community house of Gharzouz, in Lebanon, for two years. I am an interior designer since 2012. I felt a strong calling from God several years ago, and after a long discernment, I realized that this calling rested on several points : a life of intense prayer and a desire for union with God, a fraternal life (that is to say, in a community) with the communion of all states of life (mixed), a missionary outreach and a total gift of myself while remaining in touch with the world. But in which community ? One day, a friend suggested that I help the brothers and sisters of the Gharzouz house in one of their missions (the organization of spiritual days for schools during Lent). This is when I really got to meet the Community up close. Little by little I realized that it corresponded to what I wanted and I decided to join the Community. I live my calling in everything I do :
  • in a life of prayer with daily Eucharist and adoration, with the various Divine Services (as well as the Easter Triduum) that strengthen my relationship with God, deepening more and more my trust in Him.
  • finally, in evangelization missions, which teach me to become a true disciple : the joy of making others taste the Kingdom of Heaven and interceding for the world that needs much prayer.
Oh I don‘t forget the little struggles of every day that root me in my calling to open the doors of holiness to me. “A soul united to Jesus is a living smile that radiates Him and gives Him” (St Elizabeth of the Trinity).

Julie

testimony of

Jean-Claude and Martine

Jean-Claude, a permanent deacon, and myself, Martine, are among the very first members of the Community.

We were both students at the Medical School of Nancy and our paths crossed in 1970 in the Reformed Protestant chaplaincy which the founder of the Community also attended together with a few other friends. We asked ourselves many questions about God, about the Truth, about our future…

In July 1974, at the end of our studies, we got married Shortly before, the Charismatic Renewal had become known in town and following the testimony of our friends Gérard Croissant and his wife Jo, we had received the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, which radically orientated our life. We understood that Jesus was a living and active person who was calling us to walk in holiness. The solution to this was community life, because even if each one of us has a specific calling, we cannot do it alone. Community life made it possible to organize and stimulate one another so that God would always be the first served.

Responding, in an act of faith, to the Lord’s calling, we set out headlong in this crazy and unprecedented project and integrated the first house of the Community in Cordes in September 1975, that was 44 years ago. After a few months, we left, without anything, to found the Community in Israel, and to live close to the chosen people from whom we are learning so much.

Back in France, we took part in various new foundations and took on various responsibilities : youth ministry, adolescents at first, then adults, administrative and legal services, training, support for community NGO’s and various government tasks that have kept us busy !

What can we learn from this journey? We have experienced ups and downs, blessed times and times in the desert, periods of communion and others of dissension… But after 44 years, the certainty that dwells in us and remains intact is that the Community is a gift of God, it is not a human work, and what God gives, He does not take back. If we are fickle, our God is faithful, we can count on Him ! Therein lies our strength that nourishes our hope.

Jean-Claude and Martine Michel

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