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Title: Christian 'Family Beguinages' in 21st Century Belgium
Subtitle: A New Lifestyle for Christians in Times of Liquid Modernity
Author(s): JOIN-LAMBERT, Arnaud
Journal: Marriage, Families & Spirituality
Volume: 23    Issue: 2   Date: 2017   
Pages: 236-250
DOI: 10.2143/INT.23.2.3269029

Abstract :
There is a common phenomenon in Belgium in which individuals or families choose to share their life in some form of communal existence with other individuals or families. Among these, there are several projects that are specifically organized by or for Catholics. These are characterized by being primarily groups of families choosing to construct a shared life around a shared mission. These projects are autonomous, neither religious communities nor part of the new international lay movements but characteristically Christian. With a view to the person’s fulfillment, these projects integrate various dimensions of a person’s social as well as spiritual relations, both individual and familial. The way these communities are organized and the effect they have on the members’ faith development make them very similar to the beguinage movement of the later middle ages. The article examines six different communities in Belgium that have existed for many years. It sets out the different motives involved in their formation, describes their community structure, and gives an account of their different goals. It then engages in a theological reflection on how these different communities as a whole can be said to contribute to the sanctity of its members. The reflection is organized around the themes of sanctification, communion, and mission. The article continues by considering the various ways in which the communities share in an ecclesial dimension, concretizing the vocation of each of the members within a family context. This is examined in terms of the autonomy, strength, and mutual recognition that life in community fosters. It concludes by offering how further reflection on this new lifestyle can contribute to both a theology of the laity and to a renewal of parish life.

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