Notes on the Method of School of Community (1992) - The Method of SoC

Notes on the Method of School of Community (1992)

Notes from a discussion with Luigi Giussani at the CL National Council

The proposal of the Movement is systematically and critically contained in the School of Community, which represents the most important content to which attention should be paid, and the point of reference for judgment and comparison.

The work on the School of Community text is the most concrete way to maintain a systematic relationship with the charism of the Movement.

Charism is the gift of the Spirit, which acts for the good of the whole Church by using temperament, time, and space; that is, by using humanity. This is one of the central contents of the second part of the third volume of the Trilogy [Luigi Giussani, Why the Church?, McGill-Queen’s University Press, Montreal, 2001]; becoming aware that the Spirit uses humanity means becoming aware of what Catholicism is.

Faithfulness to the charism is what generates presence and mission; it is from faithfulness to the charism that experience is born and produces human development with a capacity for presence.

The “genius” peculiar to the charism of the Movement is methodological, pedagogical. The Movement arose as a concern that young people could meet Christ in such a way that His presence becomes persuasive for them.

The method of the Movement is indicated by the word “event”: to reveal the presence of Christ as a present event. It is, in fact, in a present event that Christ reveals Himself persuasively. The whole methodology of the Movement lies in substituting the encounter with an event for repeated categories or a reiterated discourse.

Morality is born as the tension to invest life with the event that one met and in which one became involved; it is the tension to belong to and, therefore, to confront oneself with what the Movement is.

Companionship becomes an event, and therefore a source of morality, insofar as it is structured in such a way as to facilitate the comparison of all that one lives with the proposal of the Movement.

This is the concrete method for maintaining the relationship with the charism: to invest someone with an event and to make him enter into this event. The beginning of the event should be the personal responsibility of whoever is leading the School of Community: his relationship with what he says to the others should be serious. This is what kindles the life of the companionship as an event.

If the School of Community is reduced to the category of a “discourse,” it does not develop the Movement. If it is a work, a point of comparison, then it becomes the fascinating factor of an event.

What we must communicate is enthusiasm, the beauty of a comparison. The comparison has in itself an existentially dramatic component, because if one confronts himself, then he must correct himself. This is precisely what draws us on educationally: only one who follows, deserves to be followed.

Whatever does not become an urgency for change is false, even if it is a correctly repeated discourse.

School of Community must be done within a serious comparison with the text, not by following the thread of one’s own preoccupations.

How does School of Community become a point of comparison? First of all, it must be read by clarifying the meaning of the words together–not an interpretation of the words, but the literal sequence. It is a revival of the scholastic method of the Middle Ages: a reading so textual that comments were made in the margins. It is necessary to become disciples of the text.

In the second place, space must be given to the exemplification of a comparison between what one lives and what one has read. One must ask himself how what he read and tried to understand literally judges life, judges what happened the day before, what is happening in the world and in his own situation.

Thus School of Community becomes a missionary gesture; it should not be an “internal seminary.” How can School of Community be valid for me, if I don’t feel that it is full of the promise of hope, not only for me, but also for the man who I meet on the street, or my classmate or colleague? If it is valid for me, why shouldn’t it be valid for him? In proposing School of Community to the other, the human unity that exists between him and me clicks, the human thirst that unites us and the anchor of a response that shines for me and for the other.

Whoever leads School of Community should be the source of this moment as an event. And he becomes the source if what he reads strikes him, so much so that—with discretion and without sentimentalism—it would be appropriate for him to say, “I understand that this certain passage judges me first of all.” If, instead, the leader invests everyone else with his thoughts, then he accustoms them to follow his own thoughts.

School of Community must be felt, lived, and suffered by whoever leads it, and he, for this very reason, ceases to be a “professor” and becomes—like everyone else—one who searches. And in order for this searching not to be intellectual, it must be a question. This search and this question generate real affection.

The work of School of Community, more than being founded on exceptional gestures, is the work of every day.

It is not productive to substitute the work of School of Community with something else that one thinks up; it would be an unwitting accusation of one’s own inability to do School of Community. 

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