Intentional Communities

Community

Intentional Communities
Thursday, May 10, 2018

Jack Jezreel is the founder of JustFaith Ministries, an organization that offers resources to sustain people of faith “in their compassionate commitment to build a more just and peaceful world.” [1] Jezreel describes the need for and qualities of a healthy Christian community (which we might apply to other kinds of religious and non-religious communities):

Big-heartedness always draws close to the other, always draws the other close. Francis of Assisi, Benedict, Dorothy Day, Jean Vanier—like Jesus himself—draw people naturally into relationship. And the hunger of the human heart that God put in us is not just for casual and recreational relationships. We long for relationships of meaning. We long to be connected, for healing, for vocation, and for mission. . . .

The challenge before [Christians], again, is to claim our tradition. From the description in Acts of the early Christian community that “shared all things in common,” [Acts 4:32] to the early monastic families, to the development of the hundreds of [religious] communities around the world, to the Catholic Worker communities of the 20th and 21st century, intentional community is what we’re all about. Or at least it ought to be.

The spiritual logic of a community of faith is that they can live a smaller but living version of what they seek for the larger world. . . . When I say community . . . I mean a community that makes very intentional commitments, including . . . engagement with those on the margins, justice education or formation, simplicity, prayer, and peacemaking. . . .

Our tradition suggests that it is very difficult to live a life of integrity apart from the support, encouragement, witness, challenge and celebration of a community. Community is, if you will, the medium in which so many other important things of the Gospel can happen. Community is an engine for peace, it is fuel for justice. We are made for each other. As a species we have always known we could not survive, could not flourish without each other. Whatever is to prosper, grow, or multiply will only happen with the nourishment of people who are for each other in a significant way. . . .

I am interested to see many more forms of intentional community than what we see today. . . . I would like to see the equivalent of Jesuit Volunteer Corps communities connected to every parish, where young people might commit to live for a term of two or three years, committed to the work of justice and peacemaking. [2] I would like to see the parish encourage members to purchase homes in the vicinity of one another and in neighborhoods where there is greatest need, as an expression of the parish’s work. . . . I would like to see every parish have a version of a L’Arche community. [3] I am interested in the construction of simple homes, affordable and available for both poor and rich, to create neighborhoods where all can live and interact and be helpful to each other.

References:
[1] See https://justfaith.org/.

[2] See http://www.jesuitvolunteers.org/.

[3] In L’Arche communities, people with and without intellectual disabilities live, work, pray, and celebrate together in a simple lifestyle that emphasizes relationships and that fosters personal growth. See https://www.larche.org/.

Jack Jezreel, “Culturing Peace in a Culture of Violence,” Phase 4, Session 19 of the JustFaith 2017-18 Program.

Image credit: Welcome (detail), Canticle Farm, Oakland California. To learn more about Canticle Farm, visit https://canticlefarmoakland.org/.
Inspiration for this week’s banner image: When we took down the fences between our yards, . . . we were also taking down the fences in our hearts. That’s when we really began to know and love our neighbors and make peace with one another.  —Anne Symens-Bucher, Canticle Farm

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