Rachel: The Community of the Beatitudes accepts couples as couples. You can’t go just as one or the other. It was my husband who was first like, “Let’s join the Community of the Beatitudes!” And then he had to then reel me in slowly over the years, until there was a moment of, “Why don’t we join the Community of the Beatitudes?” And the minute we did, the graces of the Community just poured on me in my life. It has been a huge blessing. It strengthened our marriage and I think the kids benefit… To live for the Lord is the only way to live.
Sr. Emmanuelle: The contemplative life is about seeking God, putting Him first, and creating a space in our lives where we can encounter Him in a deep and personal way. In Community, this aspect of striving for union with God – obviously it’s going to be different for each person, depending on your state of life, if you’re are married or not – but we all incorporate something into our life to create this space for God: this sacred space where we go meet Him, and He meets us. That’s where He reveals to us who we are and tells us that He loves us, and where He reveals Who He is, and we get to tell Him that we love Him. It’s this place where we encounter God and love and be loved by Him. It happens in Adoration, but it can happen in so many different ways. For each one of us it’s important for us to find a way for it to happen and to grow in it, because this is really the goal of our life. That’s part of our charism, that’s part of our life. I’m very happy to have this be part of our life.
Fr. Luc-Marie: Because there’s a verse in Genesis Chapter Two which says, “It is not good for man to be alone.” You understand? Not good. And for a guy like me, it is awful to be alone. Especially me. So the Lord put me into a community. I never thought about being a diocesan priest. They are very holy, maybe more holy than religious [are]. But when I received the call to consecrated life and to priesthood, it was evident to me that I was called to live this in a community. I cannot imagine myself alone in my rectory dealing with everything. I think this is my reason, but the Lord also pushed me in this way, because he knows me more than myself.
Terra: If you actually dig into them, the documents are so profound and so beautiful and inspired by the Holy Spirit. Seeing what that looks like, and then looking at our rule of life and talking about how we live, our spirituality, and how God called us into existence. The whole thing is from the Holy Spirit; the Holy Spirit is unifying in the church documents and in the Community of the Beatitudes and He holds the whole Church together. It’s just the beauty of the Holy Spirit in all of it.
Sr. Monica: One of the great things that I loved about the novitiate was – well, as you know you are always discerning, discerning, discerning – but the novitiate was a time set apart. It was almost like a nine-month retreat, but even more than that: [it was] where we discovered and were able to discern more and more what it was to be called as a consecrated. We would read through church documents and everything, but it was even more of a time when you were purified in yourself. One of the things sister talked about was the difference between our ideals and our reality; during the novitiate we realized what we thought was a religious, and what we actually were like. There were six of us at the time, and each one of us was unique and really loved by God in our uniqueness, even though sometimes we really wanted to kill each other! We are all really loved by God, you know! And that was the beauty of it. That’s the Beatitudes: living to be blessed, more blessed in God’s eyes. It was really beautiful.
Deacon Colin: So, what does the weekly liturgy mean for us as a couple and as individuals? Well, beginning the day in God’s Word through the Psalms and Sacred Scripture, through the New Testament, is a real joy. Just to soak in God’s Word. And when we’re able to join the Community for prayer, it’s the beauty of the liturgy. And it’s that rhythm. Like our heart beats and keeps us going – it’s that same rhythm for us. As a couple, there’s a beauty there, whether we do it in community or individually.
Maria Coleman: When we first joined the community, I only felt I was praying when I got to the Office, in the chapel. It was a slow process to realize, “Oh! I can pray all the time!” And I guess that’s what the weekly liturgy has led me to: that you can be in the presence of God all the time. And it’s just practicing the presence of God, the silence of the chapel – being with God at every moment. But, it’s always a special grace when you get to be with your brothers and sisters because it’s a taste of heaven.
Sr. Magdalit: God took so much love and so much care to prepare His coming to us, and He prepared that with the Jewish people first. To understand Judaism makes me understand the love, the tenderness, the details of God preparing us for His coming, His coming on earth through the person of Jesus – and Jesus is a Jew. To understand Jesus in his Judaity makes me understand that only the roots of my faith, of your faith as a Christian, make me understand the roots of the New Testament, the background of the New Testament. Because when you have more knowledge of Judaism, there are things in the New Testament that you catch. Like the woman that grabs Jesus by the tassels: if you know that it’s a commandment from the Lord in the Old Covenant, you understand that when she grabs Him, it’s literal. I mean that there actually are tassels on His vestments, and that means something. So, His Judaity helps me to understand Him. God loved us so much, that He prepared all this to come to us and to bring us back home. And that’s where the Jewish people come also in, in that I’m moved to know that there will be one day when we’ll all be one. One heart beating around God. And in this, the Jewish people have a place, because they brought concretely the prophecies to unfold to the point where Jesus came. And for me it’s eschatological, which is a technological word to say that it’s about the beginning and it’s about the end, where we’re going.
Sr. Helen: There are different things that attract me to the Community and that I find important for the world. I think really the Jewish roots make me much more Catholic because it fulfills my Catholic faith. It’s a lack if we don’t dig for our roots. And the fact that we drink from our Jewish roots nourishes my Catholic faith. It’s very important for the Church, because the more people are rooted in Jewish beliefs, the more the Church is richer, is fuller. That is one aspect.
The second thing is the importance of the Liturgy. Often, we want to do things and work, work, work. But the Liturgy is what? It is turning to God and asking to bring heaven on earth. We are a group of people in this Community [who are] very poor, but all together we ask the Lord to bring heaven on earth. For me, when I assist at the Liturgy, the heavens come down and touch my heart. No need to do things – it’s God who is touching the heart, it is God who is converting us. And I think it is important also to find that in the Church. We do a lot of things, which are wonderful, but we don’t let God come down very often. Our vocation is to let God come down to the Liturgy so that it will touch the heart. It makes a job for God. And that is the second point I find important: the importance of the Liturgy and it’s efficacy for the world.
And what I find important also is the life in the Spirit. It’s the same as the liturgy: we ask the Holy Spirit to fall down, touch our heart, and do His job by converting the people and bringing them to God.
Sr. Mary of the Visitation: I think it’s an interesting question, because if I should describe the Community, I think joy is the crossing line through everything. It’s like what others were saying. This eschatological expectation that Jesus is already there. He’s already here with us. His Kingdom is really within us, and at the same time we really expect more. He needs to come back, because it’s a mess over here. Sometimes it’s the same within us, and it’s such an amazing joy, because we’ll see Him face to face. Concretely, I think we can face joy in so many different ways. So many times, we can think of joy like an exultation; and it’s true, there is an exultation in joy. And it’s an exultation because wow, when we experience God, that’s an exultation! And when we experience true love among ourselves, that’s an exultation. But there are different tastes in joy. There is also I think this tenderness, joyful, peaceful tenderness, when we forgive one another. And there can also be a sorrowful joy, when suffering and joy are together; on the Cross we experience the presence of Jesus, and it can transfigure this suffering. In that, we can actually taste His presence, and transfigure the Cross into a glorious Cross. There are so many different ways to experience joy in our daily lives. It can be in liturgy, praising God. It can be in cooking for one another, or forgiving one another because we were bad to each other. It can be in so many different ways. I think it’s very concrete. We always say that the Community is a school of love, but I think it’s also a school of joy.
John: There have been so many moments that have touched us and our marriage. Some of those have been very physical – like when as a community we celebrate liturgy together, when we pray together, have meals together, go on a retreat together – and other times those moments have been very subtle. All of us were given these questions ahead of time, so Araceli and I were able to go on a walk this morning and just think about this question and what it means to us and our vocation to marriage and how we find the Lord together. And so, because she’s much more beautiful to gaze upon than me, and has a beautiful accent, she’s actually going to answer the question!
Araceli: Okay, what I’m going to say is not what we talked about! I was thinking about it, and I know it’s true for him as well, is that when we attended the first Shabbat. In this particular way we enter into the presence of God, starting on Friday evening. Then Saturday, then Sunday, and on Sunday afternoon we were able to go back into our regular life, but we were already energized, able to survive or to do a good job, always coming from love, because that is what the weekend gave us. And so the world tells us who we are, but on the weekend, we are reminded who God says we are, not who other people tell us we are. And so we go through Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, and we know Friday, it’s coming! So we rush from school, we drive to Denver, and we know we’re entering into a special place. That even our struggles and upsetness, we know we can leave it and get right on that energy.
Fr. Nilson: The Community of the Beatitudes is the first to receive this designation “Ecclesial Family of Consecrated Life.” With something this new, the Church always finds a way to protect and encourage an authentic charism. Beyond this institutional aspect, what unites us – laity, consecrated brothers and sisters – is the call to follow Christ, to be disciples-missionaries, to serve the Church according to our particular spirituality.
We live in community not because it is “cool” but because there is an urgency of the times: the Lord is coming! In this perspective, through our life of contemplative union with God we can hasten his Kingdom, the mission is a duty to prepare hearts to welcome Him, the Lord’s prayer for the unity of His disciples will be realized (“They may all be one, Father!”, John 17:21), and at the end of time God will fulfill His promises to the people of the First Covenant (see Romans 11).
I believe that the different vocations in the Community is a real support to one another. When I see the generosity of our couples towards their children, I am encouraged to give of myself wholeheartedly to all. We consecrated persons who profess the vows of chastity, poverty and obedience bear witness to them that only the love of Christ is sufficient for us and fills a heart. We all will live it in eternity, since “at the resurrection [men and women] they neither marry nor are given in marriage” (Matt 22:30), for “God may be all in all” (1Co 15:28).
Steve: My international experience with the Community has been an incredible gift! These experiences have each in their own way encouraged me in my personal discernment of consecrated life in the Community. The greatest encouragement has been seeing how the Community lives out the Christian family experience. I have experienced family in the Community on three different continents, in four different languages, and in five different houses. Each house is its own family unit, but at the same time is united to the greater family of the Community across the globe and to the Church. Furthermore, even though I am a young American who only knows English, each house I have visited has been more than ready to welcome me with a familial love! Despite the obvious language and/or cultural barriers, when in a Community house I have never felt out of place. “So in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others.” Romans 12:5
Father Anthony: Authentic community! Both on the road and in Community houses in different countries, we live out an intense experience of small community, focused on prayer and charity. Our young missionaries, pilgrims, and interns love friendship and have deep ideals of family and Church. They desire intense relationships and communion for their vocation to marriage or religious life. Our emphasis on authentic community attracts them to our programs and is often an overwhelming take-away. At the same time, committed relationships with people you did not choose is different from friendship and romance. Daily faithfulness, communication, and charity in the little things exposes our weaknesses, selfishness, and hypocrisy. St. Therese, lead us to your Little Way!
Sr. Samantha: The first time I visited the Community, the communion of the states of life made me feel right at home. The Beatitudes are one big family. It’s like in heaven where all the people of God are together and united in Christ, yet each person is so different. This meant that I didn’t have to try and fit into a certain box, but I could just keeping taking steps closer to Jesus and let my call to consecrated life grow and develop. After spending time living, praying, and serving alongside both lay people and consecrated sisters, it became clear for me that my heart wanted Jesus as my Spouse.
Sr. Sarah: Mary’s presence in our lives stems from our desire to follow Christ. In order to become a man, Jesus allowed himself to be shaped in the womb of Mary. Following her, we want to let ourselves be shaped by Mary, so that she gives birth to us to divine life, that she teaches us her Fiat, her abandonment and the contemplation of her son Jesus, in moments of joy, as at the foot of the cross. She is our mother, our model, our guide.
Her importance is visible in our spirituality: every morning, we consecrate ourselves to her to give her our day, we always turn to her at the end of the liturgy, and we invoke her with the rosary or other forms of prayer…
She is important to us, but most of all, we experience that we are important to her. “The community belongs to the Virgin Mary,” Venerable Marthe Robin told us, a stigmated French mystic. And it is very true! Many of us can testify how Mary came to take her place in their life of faith, discreetly, but surely!
Mirjana: We try to make our liturgy beautiful so that every office and Mass is an opportunity to touch Heaven. We make the effort to decorate the chapel, especially for feasts, we use incense, and we always sing our offices in four-part harmony. All of these things are important in raising our hearts and minds to heaven. But the most important factor is that we are brothers and sisters who live together in love, praising God as one body, just like we will do for all eternity in Heaven. If we are not in communion with each other, it doesn’t matter how well we sing or how nicely we decorate the chapel — there will be no anointing on our prayer. But when we love each other in our fraternal life — which can be very difficult! — that’s when we taste Heaven, even if there are mistakes in the singing. And, conversely, because liturgy is this taste of what is to come, it strengthens us to love each other ever more profoundly.