Deep Joy rather than Impulse
The Church’s mission, both on the world stage and at a more local level, goes in cycles. We struggle in every age to respond to the challenges that are presented, often having the answers to the problems of yesterday! Today, the dominant models in our society are individualism and consumerism. We tend to think that we as the Church battle against these, but the truth is they are as much part of the way people think in the Church as outside it.
Our devotions, our ministry, the way we approach problems, unconsciously or otherwise, are all influenced by the ideas of supply and demand, and our own perceived rights to what we want. At the same time, we are torn by what we see as needs and demands from those around us. We long to have answers and worry that we don’t seem to have them as readily as our forbearers did. The temptation is to impulse: something must be done, look at that church/parish/religion over there, let’s do that and we’ll be fine.
Over the last thirty years, I have seen more initiatives, programmes and models of ministry perish, not because they were not good ideas, most of them were, but because they proceeded from a mixture of good intentions, bad planning, lack of proper resources, the wrong people in the wrong positions, an unspoken desire to escape from the world rather than embrace it, a lack of real joy, and honest to goodness panic.
I am a person who believes in doing something rather than nothing, but our actions must proceed from the right ‘place’; that way when things go wrong, we shall have the perseverance and insight to find a way forward.
And so, the Holy Spirit and the Holy Father to the rescue. This coming week the Pope will publish his third Apostolic Exhortation on the call to holiness, Gaudete et exsultate, Rejoice and be glad. It is from this call to all Christians that our mission and our ministry has its origin and takes shape. Nearness to God gives us our place in the world and the relationship that allows us to discern what is really needed. It does not result in a ‘holly huddle’ but in proper action. During this Easter Season, I would encourage everyone to read what the Holy Father has to say to us and consider his words carefully. If his previous record is anything to go by, his words will be both inspirational and practical.
Right now, let me suggest something as to how we might think about our call to proclaim the Good news, a major theme in this Easter Season. I am going to start with the Gospel of the Second Sunday of Easter, the last day in the Easter Octave.
It is, of course, the well-known story of how Thomas the Apostle comes to make that definitive statement of faith, “My Lord and my God!” As a resurrection narrative, it has much in common with most of the proclamations about Christ’s resurrection: fear, doubt, surprise, anguish, joy, misunderstanding, amazement. It also involves people of faith trying to come to terms with what is happening. Take Thomas as your model this Easter, walk with him and focus on what Christ and others say to him. You cannot go far wrong.
During the Easter Season
We shall focus on ministry and worship. I hope to have a guest speaker who will talk to us about parish ministry. I shall confirm the date and time, but it may well be a Thursday evening at around 7.30 pm.
On Thursday 19th April, we shall have our PPC meeting to discuss ways ahead.
On Tuesday April 24th, we shall celebrate our Liturgy of Light.
On Sunday 6th May, we shall celebrate our Children’s Mass and May Procession.
On Thursday 10th May, we shall celebrate the Solemnity of the Lord’s Ascension.
During Easter, prayer suggestions will be left at the back of the churches for you to pray at home or during a visit to the church.
I shall invite parishioners in a variety of ways to reflect on the Pope’s Apostolic Exhortation.
I shall take names for a Lectio Divina group, which Fr Andrew Clark has offered to lead.
Towards the end of the Easter Season, I shall invite those of you who have perhaps not thought of committing to an active ministry in the parish, to consider doing so.
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