1. It preserves the patrimony of faith: "Christ is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow"Maria Voce, the President of the Focolare Movement, made an intervention at the Synod of Bishops on 17th October. What caught my attention in the summary of this intervention was the reference to "environmental cells". Previous interventions, from different parts of the world, have suggested a need for "small communities" in parishes, so that the parish then become a "communion of communities". Such a suggestion might be very different in its implications in different parts of the world, not all of the implications being positive. In a country such as Great Britian, for example, such groups might become the preserve a certain "chattering class". But the "environmental cells" to which Maria Voce refers might well offer a different model for what is intended by the suggestion of "small communities" in parishes:
2. It looks for new language and new methods to announce the Gospel with renewed enthusiasm
3. It is addressed primarily to those who already know the Gospel but became indifferent to it
4. It come from Baptism and calls every Christian to become more aware of their vocation
5. It convinces people that faith needs to be lived out as well as understood and studied
6. It highlights relationships: when announced, faith become credible if supported by a lifestyle.
‘Environmental cells’, made up of two or more people in the same place, bring the living presence of the ‘Risen One’ everywhere, into families, factories, places of public administration, hospitals, schools and universities. At the local level, it builds relationships of fraternity inspired by the Gospel through ‘local communities’ within suburbs and towns.