CATHOLIC SPIRITUAL RENEWAL
Spiritual renewing of heart and mind to bring about personal and community transformation
STARTING AFRESH FROM CHRIST
In his Apostolic Letter, ‘Novo Millennio Ineunte’ to the Bishops, Clergy and Lay Faithful at the close of the Great Jubilee of the year 2000, Pope John Paul II conveys a prophetic calling to us all to be ‘starting afresh from Christ’.1 Indeed he exhorts us to see this new millennium not just as ‘a remembrance from the past, but also as a prophecy of the future’2 and so to put into practise with fresh vigour the grace received in order for us to move forward.
Through our involvement in the John Paul Prayer Movement it is our objective to respond more fully to this call upon our lives to enable us to truly move forward in Christ. We remain conscious that there is nothing new of itself in what is presented here and that in ‘starting afresh from Christ’ there is no ‘magic formula’ thereby fully acknowledging that ‘we shall not be saved by a formula but a Person’.3 We also recognise that ‘it is not therefore a matter of inventing a “new programme” as ‘the programme already exists: it is the plan found in the Gospel and in the living Tradition, it is the same as ever’.4 It is our aim however, that what is presented here, being entirely Christocentric, will allow us to fully enter into the proclamation, ‘Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever’ (Heb 13:8). Furthermore, notwithstanding the fact that any pastoral initiative needs to be ‘adapted to the circumstances of each community’5 , it is also our intention that through this process in Christ we are at least able to help develop growth in the interior life and holiness as a priority.
Through this spiritual renewing of His church it is our desire to follow Him more closely, reaching greater depths and coming into greater alignment of His will for us. It is hoped that the methods and means described in the following pages will offer a way forward in our response to Christ’s invitation for us to ‘Duc in altum’ (cf. Luke 5:4), ‘put out into the deep’ and by so doing allow us to respond to the new millennium call of Pope John Paul II, ‘Let us go forward in hope!’6
‘Deepening Our Relationship With Christ’
‘Be holy because I, the LORD your God, am holy’ (Leviticus 19:2) and again, ‘But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written: “Be holy, because I am holy.” (1 Peter 1:15-16).
This is our calling! We are called to follow the pursuit of holiness. Not only is this a decree from God but we also take note that the Church issues this ‘Universal call to holiness’7 as seen throughout the whole of Chapter 5 of the Dogmatic Constitution on the Church, ‘Lumen Gentium’.
‘Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect’ (Matt 5:48). This is not a calling to equality with God or some abstract idea that should be left to others in some perceived higher ‘state of piety’ but rather for everyone to enter into this call to strive for holiness. ‘This is the will of God, your sanctification’ (1 Thes 4:3). Pope John Paul II underlines this point when he says, ‘It is a duty which concerns not only certain Christians: “All the Christian faithful, of whatever state or rank, are called to the fullness of the Christian life and to the perfection of charity”’.8 Infact we are left in no doubt about this universal call to all Christians, regardless of position, through these words in ‘Lumen Gentium’ – ‘Therefore, all of the faithful of Christ are invited to strive for the holiness and perfection of their own proper state. Indeed they have an obligation to so strive.’9
But how is this attained? The depth of response to such a question cannot even begin to be fully answered here, however, we do know that it involves the following: – it must manifest itself ‘in the fruits of grace which the Spirit produces in the faithful’10 requiring us ‘to live “as becomes saints”, and to put on “as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved a heart of mercy, kindness, humility, meekness, patience” and to possess the fruit of the Spirit in holiness.’11 This in turn requires the faithful to ‘follow in His footsteps and conform themselves to His image seeking the will of the Father in all things. They must devote themselves with all their being to the glory of God and the service of their neighbour.’12
A tall order of itself and one which may be appear to be too daunting for most to even begin to contemplate. However the scale of this striving towards such holiness that we are called to does not appear have been lost on Pope John Paul II as he offers us this encouragement, ‘The whole life of the Christian community and of Christian families must lead in this direction. It is also clear that the paths to holiness are personal and call for a genuine “training in holiness”, adapted to people’s needs. This training must integrate the resources offered to everyone with both the traditional forms of individual and group assistance, as well as the more recent forms of support offered in associations and movements recognised by the Church.’13
It is towards this “training in holiness” as we seek ‘the will of the Father’ devoting ourselves to ‘the glory of God and the service of our neighbour’ that we move in this most ‘recent form of support’ on offer in order to help us all to ‘Duc in altum’ and ‘go forward in hope!’
We seek to respond to this calling of God and the Church to fully engage with this striving towards personal holiness and to bear witness to it.
There are new depths of response being required of us by God in these times – depths of unity, repentance, surrender, obedience, intimacy, relationship, prayer. As Pope John Paul II puts it, ‘We who have received the grace of believing in Christ, the revealer of the Father and the Saviour of the world, have a duty to show to what depths the relationship with Christ can lead’.14
Prayer needs to be at the centre of our heart response to that depth of relationship He calls us to. Indeed the pursuit of holiness is incumbent on our approach to prayer. Pope John Paul II explains it thus, ‘This training in holiness calls for a Christian life distinguished above all in the “art of prayer”’. 15 He goes on to further encourage us that, ‘Our Christian communities must become genuine “schools” of prayer, where the meeting with Christ is expressed not just in imploring help but also in thanksgiving, praise, adoration, contemplation, listening and ardent devotion, until the heart truly “falls in love”. 16
As well as the above forming the basis for our prayer groups, we seek to encourage all to make a personal commitment of at least one hour per day of personal prayer.
‘Then I will tell them plainly, “I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!”’ (Matt 7:23). It does not matter what we do in the name of Jesus – if we do not enter into the intimate depth of relationship He desires from us then we run the risk of not even being recognised at the appointed time.
In the Hebrew culture to ‘know’ someone is to have intimate knowledge of them and it is this level of intimacy that God wants from us. An intimacy that goes beyond acquaintance to explore new depths of friendship – an intimacy that leads to face to face contemplation of the lover of our souls – to gaze upon the face of Christ, as we are led into new depths of relationship with Him. “Your face, O Lord, I seek” (Psalm 27:8).
Pope John Paul II reflected on this when he acknowledged that ‘Ours is a time of continual movement which often leads to restlessness, with the risk of “doing for the sake of doing”. We must resist this temptation by trying to “be” before trying to “do”.17 In a similar fashion Jesus so rebuked Martha, “Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, but only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.” (Luke 10:41-42).
As Pope John Paul II goes on to say, ‘It is only because the Son of God truly became man that man, in him and through him, can truly become a child of God’ and that as we are redeemed in Christ, we are admitted ‘into the intimacy of the Trinitarian life’. 18 It is also as well to remember that this depth of intimacy cannot be attained by our own efforts alone but by the grace of God led by the Holy Spirit.
We seek to facilitate and nurture the type of opportunities available for ourselves and others to explore the intimacy of union with Christ He so desires.
The Holy Spirit, ever ready to respond to our openness to Him, draws us into deeper conversion to Christ and to where we can find Him and there is no place more manifest than in the Eucharist itself. In the Encyclical letter ‘Ecclesia De Eucharistia’ Pope John Paul II makes clear that ‘The Church draws her life from the Eucharist’, along with the Second Vatican Council’s proclamation ‘that the Eucharistic sacrifice is “the source and summit of the Christian life”’.19
Furthermore the document also pays recognition to the fact that ‘The worship of the Eucharist outside of the Mass is of inestimable value for the life of the Church’ 20 whilst fully acknowledging that ‘In many places, adoration of the Blessed Sacrament is also an important daily practice and becomes an inexhaustible source of holiness’.21
The intimacy of losing ourselves in Him as we sit at His feet, gazing upon His face whilst embraced in the bosom of His love has to be experienced to be fully appreciated, but the impression that pope John Paul II conveys leaves us in no doubt, ‘It is pleasant to spend time with him, to lie close to his breast like the Beloved Disciple (cf. Jn 13:25) and to feel the infinite love present in his heart. If in our time Christians must be distinguished above all by the “art of prayer”, how can we not feel a renewed need to spend time in spiritual converse, in silent adoration, in heartfelt love before Christ present in the Most Holy Sacrament?’22
Ours is to seek out the opportunities to avail ourselves of this treasure that the Church makes available to us through the ministry of priesthood. As Pope John Paul II puts it, ‘It is the responsibility of Pastors to encourage, also by their personal witness, the practise of Eucharistic adoration, and exposition of the Blessed Sacrament in particular, as well as prayer of adoration before Christ present under the Eucharistic species’. 23
In conclusion, if we are to take at all seriously our desire to deepen our relationship with Christ, then we must enter into such a relationship with a renewed commitment towards holiness, prayer and intimacy, whilst taking special care to foster a love affair with our ‘priceless treasure’, 24 Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament, being constantly nourished by this “living bread”. 25 For ‘by not only celebrating it but also by praying before it outside of Mass we are enabled to make contact with the very wellspring of grace. A Christian community desirous of contemplating the face of Christ in the spirit…cannot fail also to develop this aspect of Eucharistic worship, which prolongs and increases the fruits of our communion in the body and blood of the Lord’.26
We seek to encourage all to make a personal commitment towards daily Mass attendance where possible, as well as adoration of the Blessed Sacrament for one hour on at least a weekly basis.
‘Openness To The Holy Spirit’
Baptism in the Holy Spirit
It is the Holy Spirit who leads us into the depths of Christ. He is dynamic and always looking to take us forward in Christ, the renewing source of life and Church. But what is this Baptism in the Holy Spirit and its relation to Sacramental Baptism?
When we are baptised as part of our Christian initiation, we become members of Christ, receiving the seal of the Holy Spirit, and are born anew, regenerated, set free from sin and adopted as sons of God. Whilst it is true that we can relate Baptism in the Holy Spirit to the Sacraments of initiation, in so far as it ‘brings to life’ that which has already been received in a sort of ‘reawakening’ to our consciousness, making real and revitalising our baptism, and helping us to live out our call to holiness received in baptism, it is insufficient simply to accept that it is a renewing of the grace of our baptism or release of grace already received, without acknowledging that something ‘new’ happens which is very different from the ‘old’ of our baptismal tradition.
This ‘new’ thing manifests itself following Baptism in the Holy Spirit through the ‘appearance’ of spiritual gifts also known as charisms – the ability to move in the gifts of service to one another, as described in (1 Cor 12: 4-11) and which are specifically designed to support, encourage and edify the church. Their use is increased the more we open ourselves to the Holy Spirit.
Pope John Paul II alludes to this difference between the old and the new when, during a meeting with Ecclesial Movements in 1998, he says, ‘The institutional and charismatic aspects are co-essential as it were to the Church’s constitution. They contribute, although differently, to the life, renewal and sanctification of God’s people.’ 27 Note, he is not suggesting here that there is opposition, but simply recognising the difference between the two whilst acknowledging that both are essential.
Monsignor Peter Hocken, an historian and member of the International Theological Commission of the R.C. Church follows through on this statement and clarifies the tensions that exist by saying, ‘Baptism in the Holy Spirit presents a challenge to our conceptions of Christian life and initiation. But there is always a tension between the two, the new and the traditional, in which it is a mistake to deny that there is something new but also a mistake to oppose the new to the tradition, into which the new has to be received.’ 28
He further identifies this difference when he states, ‘The view that Baptism in the Holy Spirit is the release of a grace already received in sacramental initiation fails to grasp that there is something “new” here…Baptism in the Holy Spirit opens up something, and is the door to what Paul calls the “spiritual charisms”. The charisms are bound up with what is “new”.29
This binding of the charisms with what is ‘new’ seems to be supported by the fact that there is no evidence that these charisms or ‘special graces’ are manifest at baptism or even at the sacrament of confirmation, and Mgr Hocken goes on to suggest that, ‘What we received at baptism was a capacity to receive charisms of the Spirit.’30
It is important to further clarify here that this ‘new’ thing should not be seen as something separated from our Sacramental Baptism and the graces bestowed but rather, remains an integral part of it, whereby ‘Baptism in the Spirit’ opens us up to previously unexplored depths of the Holy Spirit’s supernatural power made available to us. These are referred to as ‘special graces’ and even extraordinary graces as opposed to sanctifying grace.
It is often through this Baptism in the Holy Spirit that we are able to enter into a new experience of God within us, a greater release of the grace of Baptism, however, it does seem to require a level of receptiveness on the part of the recipient – an openness to receive the fullness of the Spirit within, to realise our potential and thus maximise our ‘capacity’ to receive.
This opportunity does not often materialise until we are ready to make a personal and conscious commitment to receive Jesus as our Lord and Saviour and move from our cerebral knowledge of received faith towards an experiential heart acceptance of Christ. Through hearing a new clarity in teaching, opening ourselves to being prayed over and inviting the Lord to come more into our lives, we can learn how to open ourselves up to the fullness of the Holy Spirit and the experiential dimension of God in our lives. We therefore become better equipped to engage in the practical outworking of service for His Church that He makes available to us.
In his encyclical, ‘Dominum et Vivificantem’, on the Holy Spirit in the Life of the Church and in the World, Pope John Paul II states that, ‘This faith (in the Holy Spirit), uninterruptedly professed by the Church, needs to be constantly reawakened and deepened in the consciousness of the People of God…a divine Person, he is at the center of the Christian faith and is the source and dynamic power of the Church’s renewal.’ 31
Although we remain cognitive to the fact that Baptism in the Holy Spirit is not essential to the Christian life, we remain equally affirmed in our belief that if there exists the need for a spiritual renewal to be taken seriously, then we need to adopt a heightened awareness towards a fresh openness to the Holy Spirit.
We seek to respond to the opportunities the Church makes available to us to foster such openness and encourage all to be Baptised in the Holy Spirit, whilst recognising that God has and does move in other ways, as He wills, to fill people afresh with the Holy Spirit.
Moving in the Spiritual Gifts
There exists a distinct difference between the sevenfold gifts of the Holy Spirit, as are commonly received during the sacraments of initiation, and the ‘special graces’ or spiritual gifts also known as charisms, both in terms of grace received and purpose. The former, given to all who receive the sacraments of baptism and confirmation, is gifted in the form of sanctifying grace that assists with personal growth in the character and virtues of Christ thus enabling us to live the Christian life (cf. Isaiah 11:1-3). The latter is gifted as supernatural grace, extraordinary manifestations of the Holy Spirit, gifted to whomsoever God pleases – as He wills, with the sole purpose being to grow in ministry and service in order to build up (edify) the church to the glory of God (cf. 1 Cor 12:4-11, Rom 12:6-8, Eph 4:11-12).
The Sacrament of Confirmation largely focuses on these sanctifying gifts of Isaiah yet surely confirmation is about being equipped for mission? Whilst we understand the need to grow in the likeness of Christ, in sanctifying grace, we also have to gain a proper understanding of Confirmation being linked to mission. Therefore, to move in effective mission in Christ necessitates Confirmation being linked to all the gifts of the Spirit and the building of our knowledge, understanding and use of these special graces. These are, after all the specific tools that God has provided to properly equip and enable us to fulfill Christ’s mission.
Such spiritual gifts are not something to remain in ignorance of, shy away from or find in any way unacceptable. Both Scripture and the Church exhort us to fully open ourselves to them and embrace them as something useful and necessary for the Church and beyond.
Paul tells us, ‘Now about spiritual gifts, brothers, I do not want you to be ignorant’ (1 Cor 12:1). He goes further by suggesting it’s not just a question of growing in knowledge over them but exhorts us to, ‘Eagerly desire spiritual gifts’ (1 Cor 14:1). In recognising those who do desire them he then directs their attention towards their main purpose, ‘Since you are eager to have spiritual gifts, try to excel in gifts that build up the church’ (1 Cor 14:12). This implies that the spiritual gifts, though gifted as special graces, require our efforts to help develop our use of them. In other words, they require us to work at them, be trained in their use and so grow in maturity and confidence for our part in building up the church.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church describes these special graces, their purpose and the level of acceptance to be accorded them in the following terms, ‘The Church, a communion living in the faith of the apostles which she transmits, is the place where we know the Holy Spirit in the charisms and ministries by which the Church is built up’ (CCC, n. 688). ‘Charisms are to be accepted with gratitude by the person who receives them and by all members of the Church as well. They are a wonderfully rich grace for the apostolic vitality and for the holiness of the entire Body of Christ’ (CCC, n.800).
The Catechism talks in terms of ‘Communion in Spiritual Goods’, under the section titled, ‘Part 1 – The Profession of Faith’. This includes such references as ‘The Communion of Saints’, ‘Communion in the faith’, ‘Communion of the sacraments’, etc. The Catechism goes on to draw our attention to the ‘Communion of charisms’ and their benefit to the whole Church stating, ‘Within the communion of the Church, the Holy Spirit “distributes special graces among the faithful of every rank” for the building up of the Church. Now, “to each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good”’ (CCC, n. 951).
Pope John Paul II spoke specifically on these special graces saying, ‘The Holy Spirit, the giver of every gift and the main principle of the Church’s vitality, does not only work through the sacraments’ but He, ‘also distributes special graces among the faithful of every rank. By these gifts he makes them fit and ready to undertake various tasks and offices for the renewal and building up of the Church’.32He goes on to acknowledge the part that lay people have to play in the Church if we can but open ourselves more to the Holy Spirit – ‘We cannot but admire the great wealth of gifts bestowed by the Holy Spirit on lay people as members of the Church in our age as well. Each of them has the necessary ability to carry out the tasks to which he is called for the welfare of the Christian people, and the work’s salvation, if he is open, docile, and faithful to the Holy Spirit’s action’.33
In conclusion, if we recognise that the Church is in need of being rebuilt, yet we have failed to fully utilise the tools that God has provided in these times, then we need look no further than ourselves for our demise. If we continue failing to embrace the gifts that God provides for the renewal and edification of His Church, then we are effectively working handicapped with a plan ‘B’ approach instead of the intended plan ‘A’ that God makes available to us through His Spirit of Love and Gift, thereby enabling us to co-operate more fully in bringing His work to completeness.
We seek to encourage openness to the spiritual graces that God desires to give His Church, and to foster development and training in their use in order to build confidence to respond more readily to His will as the Holy Spirit leads.
Formation for Youth
In today’s society we have lost at least one generation, if not two, who have received little, if any, Christian input or upbringing, let alone Catholic teaching. Due to a number of factors such as this generation gap, the state of fatherlessness in the nation, the breakdown of family life, the drop in the birth rate over the last two generations, our Churches and schools have been haemorrhaging young people with alarming pace.
Our Catholic schools provide an excellent education basis and ethos to support the faith of the decreasing number of Catholic students in attendance, as does the Church where it is able to serve the needs of the even smaller attendance at Mass. If there is little or no support from the family home however, what chance then of our young people sustaining a viable and enlivened faith for their future lives?
Over the same period of this generation gap in our young people’s faith input, which has coincided with an increase in secularism and relativism etc, it is interesting to note that God has increased, through the manifestations of the Holy Spirit, the special graces that are needed to build one another up, to edify the Church and to reach our youth in new ways. By using these, we are able to expose our young people to the experiential dimension of Christ, where those who have little or no faith can receive something new and dynamic, whilst enabling others to deepen their faith, thus allowing them to make a conscious decision to receive Jesus as their personal Lord and Saviour. Indeed, Scripture would appear to support this increase in grace during times of darkness as we read Paul’s letter to the Romans, ‘But where sin increased, grace increased all the more, so that, just as sin reigned in death, so also grace might reign through righteousness to bring eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord’ (Rom 5:20-21).
The problem is that it is often not until later in life, after facing some crisis or other, that a few of those who come to the realisation of or have been searching for that ‘something missing’ in their lives, stumble across the revelation of there being a personal and experiential dimension of faith available to them. They reach out to God more in desperation than hope. The solution is that young people need to be given the opportunity to be open to and enter into this experiential dimension of Christ, encountering Him and forming a relationship with Him, at an earlier stage than presently occurs.
Many of our young people will wrestle with the meaning of their lives through their struggle to maturity and beyond. Many of us will recognise the simple explanation provided in the ‘Penny Catechism’ of the 20th Century – a question and answer format to explaining our Faith. To the question of, ‘Why did God make you?’ it provides the answer, ‘God made me to know Him, to love Him and to serve Him in this world, so I can be happy with Him in the next’. The full text from the Catechism is, ‘God put us in the world to know, to love, and to serve him, and so to come to paradise. Beatitude makes us “partakers of the divine nature” and of eternal life. With beatitude, man enters into the glory of Christ and into the joy of the Trinitarian life’. (CCC, no.1721). Surely this is ultimately the meaning of life – our relationship with God? Something that is personal, meaningful and sustainable.
The essence of spiritual communion with our Triune God is to be found in the depth of relationship that we establish with Jesus Christ through the power of the Holy Spirit. Therefore, the need to experience a real and personal encounter with Jesus and enter into that deeply personal and intimate relationship with Him, sustained constantly by the leading of the Holy Spirit, becomes paramount in our journey to holiness and the fulfilment of Christian life. For those young people who have been brought up with a faith input or to use the term ‘as cradle Catholics’, this may require at some stage, a breaking off from parental or ‘non personalised’ faith, head knowledge of faith, or simply of living out an institutionalised faith from some sense of obligation or duty.
In terms of formation for many of our youth, we appear to have ‘missed the boat’ over the years in recognising the timing and approach in helping them arrive at this point of discovery. Without relationship there is nothing but mechanical response to an obligational sense of duty and this can become tiresome, giving way to the much heard mantra of ‘boring’. There comes a time in most young people’s lives, in the teenage years, when they look to experience more and more out of life, and the ‘world’ awaits in anticipation to offer them as much experience as they can grasp, most of it unfortunately to their detriment.
Would our youth be in a better position to make more considered and discerned choices in life if forming those choices based on a deepening relationship in Christ? We believe so.
Some seven years or so after the sacrament of Confirmation the world knows young people are looking for an experiential dimension of life and provides it in abundance through alcohol, drugs, the occult, new age practices etc. Yet the greatest and most fulfilling experience they can gain, is the reality of the living presence of God within, the heart acceptance and personal touch of Jesus in their lives as they open themselves up to the fullness of the Holy Spirit.
We believe more can be done with regard to their formation in helping them come to this realisation and making a conscious decision to invite Jesus to become real and personal to them. At around the age of sixteen or so, through teaching, prayer, training, encouragement and helping them to become more open to the ‘new’ things of the Holy Spirit throughout their teenage years, they can then move with expectancy and hope into embracing a life of personal experience of the Lord when they can cry out, ‘Jesus is Lord in me!’
The theme of the 19th World Youth Day, in Rome 2004, which was Pope John Paul II’s last appearance at such an event before his death was, ‘We wish to see Jesus’ (John 12:21). During his message to the youth, he encouraged them to be ‘moved by a desire to “see Jesus”’. He continued with, ‘May your search be motivated not simply by intellectual curiosity, though that too is something positive, but be stimulated above all by an inner urge to find the answer to the question about the meaning of your life…In order to see Jesus, we first need to let him look at us!…My dear young people, allow Jesus to gaze into your eyes so that the desire to see the Light, and to experience the splendour of the Truth, may grow within you’.34
He goes on to exhort them, ‘Christianity is not simply a doctrine: it is an encounter in faith with God made present in our history through the incarnation of Jesus. Try by every means to make this encounter possible, and look towards Jesus who is passionately seeking you.’35
We remain conscious that openness to the Holy Spirit and instruction on the special graces combined with prayer and support in this area are not the only means available to us that the Church provides to help us encounter Christ. In so far as it is the Holy Spirit who deepens our conversion in Christ, we do however recognise the part this plays in trying ‘by every means to make this encounter possible’. The greater openness we can have to the Holy Spirit, the greater the depth in Christ we will reach.
Therefore, by becoming involved in the formation of our youth through fostering a greater openness to the Holy Spirit and supporting them in their journey to explore new depths of relationship with Christ, we become part of the solution for their search. As Pope John Paul II emphatically puts it, ‘Only an encounter with Jesus can give full meaning to your lives: “for you made us for yourself, and our hearts find no peace until it rests in you” (Saint Augustine, ‘The Confessions’, book 1, chapter 1). Do not let yourselves be distracted from this search. Persevere in it because it is your fulfilment and your joy that is at stake’. 36
We seek to help foster the opportunities for our young people to encounter Christ, and for them to come to know a living and active faith in Him by experiencing the power of the Holy Spirit in their lives, helping them to recognise that it is the Spirit who leads us ever deeper into Christ, where moving under the special graces of the Holy Spirit becomes natural so they can play their part in edifying the Church.
Hearing, Listening, Discerning, Responding
The nature of Christ’s Church is to be and move prophetically in line with the prophetic office of Christ so that we can co-operate in bringing to fulfilment the prophetic message of Christ and his Church. Part of the demise of the Church in this country, however, is that we have stopped moving as a prophetic Church, having become a domesticated Church and one in which we have become far too comfortable and complacent in our domestication of God to the extent that, in reality, all we are doing is fire-fighting and putting all our energies into running a maintenance programme yet failing even at that. Too much fear and apprehension towards change prevails, with people preferring to hold on to what has always been and what they are used to, rather than move under the direction of the Holy Spirit in alignment with God’s will for us.
The result is that we have stopped responding to the prophetic voice of God through His Church.
By virtue of our baptism we are called to share in the threefold office of Christ – priest, prophet and king, which means the role of the layperson in the Church is not a passive one. As priest we are called to give witness, intercede, make offerings of thanks for all the Lord has given us each day and pray in all the situations we may find ourselves with the priestly power and authority that we have in the name of Jesus. As king we are called to live as a people of hope, instilling Godly family values whilst displaying proper parental governance over our children and to play our part in the co-operative work of the Holy Spirit in the transformation of society and the world. Generally speaking, however, we at least appear more willing to fulfill these two missions than to accept and move in our prophetic calling.
To share in the prophetic office of Christ calls us to live out our faith in accordance with the heart and mind of Christ i.e. “what would Jesus do?” – then actually doing it – following through. To move forward as Church, amidst all the secular situations we find ourselves in, requires us to proclaim and action our prophetic ministry in our lives in order to fully respond to the call of our baptism. This is not just a call to the Church hierarchy as is made clear in ‘Lumen Gentium’, the Dogmatic Constitution on the Church: ‘Christ, the great Prophet, who proclaimed the Kingdom of His Father both by the testimony of His life and the power of His words, continually fulfills His prophetic office until the complete manifestation of glory. He does this not only through the hierarchy who teach in His name and with His authority, but also through the laity whom He made His witnesses and to whom He gave understanding of the faith (sensu fidei) and an attractiveness in speech…Let them not, then, hide this hope in the depths of their hearts, but even in the programme of their secular life let them express it by a continual conversion and by wrestling “against the world-rulers of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness”(Eph 6:12).’ 37
Pope John Paul II reflects this when he shares that, ‘when we become aware that we share in Christ’s triple mission, his triple office as priest, as prophet and as king, we also become more aware of what must receive service from the whole of the Church as the society and community of the People of God on earth, and we likewise understand how each one of us must share in this mission and service.’38
To move prophetically usually means to apply the Word to our present circumstance. It is about the ministry of the word, the teaching we receive and having a willingness to respond to His word, which is always alive and active, when we hear it. It is also involves, however, the gift of prophecy, part of the special graces the Lord imparts, when He inspires us by thought or word for ourselves or others. In all cases it is important to test what we hear by using the measuring lines of Scripture and the teaching of the Magisterium of the Church.
As well as forming our lives and enabling us to co-operate in the transformation of others, Paul indicates to us in Scripture how the prophetic word can also lead to the edification of the Church, as he exhorts us to eagerly desire especially the gift of prophecy, ‘And in the church God has appointed first of all apostles, second prophets, third teachers…’ (1 Cor 12:28). ‘…and eagerly desire spiritual gifts, especially the gift of prophecy…everyone who prophesies speaks to men for their strengthening, encouragement and comfort…he who prophesies is greater than the one who speaks in tongues, unless he interprets, so that the church may be edified.’ (1 Cor 14:1-5).
If we have stopped being a prophetic people, how then can we move forward in accordance with the will of God? How do we renew, support and edify the church? How do we propel ourselves under the dynamic power of the Holy Spirit or fulfill our mission and the prophetic calling of our baptism? What do we need to do in order to renew and transform our communities and society at large? How can we adequately and fully respond to the call ‘Rebuild my Church’?
How can this situation be restored? Simply, through prayer and thereby hearing the voice of God again, listening to Him, discerning His word and above all responding to it. Unfortunately the situation we appear to have found ourselves in is that when we hear His voice we do not listen, when we listen we do not discern, when we discern we do not respond and when that happens we stop moving forward in the dynamism of the Holy Spirit who is always looking to take us forward in Christ.
The Catechism tells us that, ‘In their “one to one” encounters with God, the prophets draw light and strength for their mission. Their prayer is not flight from this unfaithful world, but rather attentiveness to The Word of God. At times their prayer is an argument or a complaint, but it is always an intercession that awaits and prepares for the intervention of the Saviour God, the Lord of history.’ (CCC, n. 2584).
We seek therefore to hear the voice of God afresh through prayer, then to make renewed and committed efforts to seek His will for us by listening intently and discerning wisely, before responding fully to it and thereby living out in action the prophetic call of God through His Church for our lives.
Prophetic Response Unit
Hearing the voice of God is achieved through prayer, that ‘one to one’ encounter with God where His grace is poured out and we have entered into that place where He dwells in the depths of our hearts to receive it. God reveals Himself through that inner voice within us – the still quiet voice that emanates from the contemplative silence of God as well as other ways that He speaks to us such as Scripture and through the spiritual gifts such as words of knowledge, prophecy, interpretation of tongues and mental images to name but a few. If we have stopped hearing His voice, how can we follow Him – how can He lead us? (John 10:3-4). If we have stopped listening and responding to the voice of God in our lives how then can we move in accordance with God’s will for us as individuals, groups and as Church in allowing ourselves to be spiritually transformed by the renewing of our minds?
We listen firstly through the disposition of our hearts being in the right place then by paying attention to the word, sharing it with and receiving it from others, in the knowledge that we only have part of the picture, ‘For we know in part and we prophesy in part’ (1 Cor 13:9). In this way, by receiving the word from the various contributing sources, any risk of misleading, directive or prideful false prophecy from the one source can be minimised.
Discernment of the word can be easier to do within a prayer group setting or gathering of the church for a particular event where, after the word is heard and shared, discernment may be given by someone or a team who has a spiritual gift or charism for this. Through the collective words spoken and shared, an overall sense emerges of what the Holy Spirit wants to convey to those gathered. This overall message that is formed from the multiple parts of the word coming together, can subsequently be imparted to the group by those discerning. It is then up to the individuals or group as a whole to make whatever responses in their lives they feel moved to. From an individual perspective, where someone is praying alone and feels they have heard from God, it can be good practise to share this with a trusted friend, whom you know has a gift of discernment, to help provide a sense of what the Holy Spirit is saying or indeed confirm your own discernment.
Of course, any discernment must be approached with proper use of the spiritual gift by the discerner sifting out what is of God’s Spirit, as opposed to our own human spirit or an evil spirit. This can be accomplished by way of relying on God’s grace, seeking confirmation from other sources and ensuring that what is being discerned is in alignment with Scripture and the teachings of the Catholic Church, whilst remaining open to all things being tested in submission to the Church, as Pope John Paul II reminds us, ‘Those who have charge over the Church should judge the genuineness and proper use of these gifts, through their office not indeed to extinguish the Spirit, but to test all things and hold fast to what is good 39 (1 Thes 5:19-21).
However, responding to the voice of God in these times would appear to be by far the harder task for us as church to accomplish. There seems to be an inability or inertness to actually respond to all we have heard and to follow through with what we believe God is asking from us or, to go in the direction He seeks from us. Once again, this can be easier to achieve within a group or event situation if there is a good leader in charge who can exhort and encourage the people to follow through on God’s word and direction. Otherwise, it is up to individuals to respond and for many, whether on a group or individual basis, this requires the one intrinsically important but oftentimes missing ingredient – obedience. This is the key – moving in simple obedience to the will of God. It is the depth of surrender that God requires from us, motivated purely out of our love for Him. It is only through such submission to His will that we come into the fullness of the holiness we are called to, and so our ‘strive for holiness’ cannot be effectively progressed without moving in complete obedience to Him.
The Catechism terms this as ‘Obedience of faith’ and teaches us this through the most basic tenets of our Catholic faith when it refers to ‘Man’s response to God’ upon Him revealing himself to us, as His friends, ‘By his Revelation, “the invisible God, from the fullness of his love, addresses men as his friends, and moves among them, in order to invite and receive them into his own company.” The adequate response to this invitation is faith.’ (CCC, n. 142). It then pursues how submission to God in faith leads to obedience, ‘By faith, man completely submits his intellect and his will to God. With his whole being man gives his assent to God the revealer. Sacred Scripture calls this human response to God, the author of revelation, “the obedience of faith”’ (CCC, n. 143). The Catechism then further describes this ‘Obedience of faith’ thus, ‘To obey (from the Latin ob-audire, to “hear or listen to”) in faith is to submit freely to the word that has been heard, because its truth is guaranteed by God, who is Truth itself.’ (CCC, n. 144).
If it is proving difficult enough for the individual or localised group “to submit freely to the word that has been heard”, how do we then respond to the bigger picture that God weaves, when the Holy Spirit is speaking to the wider church? This may be through a collective of prayer groups, or groups spread over a sizeable geographic area, or perhaps interdiocesan, nationally or even to the whole church interdenominationally. ‘Let anyone who can hear, listen to what the Spirit is saying to the churches’. (cf. Rev 2 & 3). It may be a word to encourage us to move forward in a particular direction or respond to an important issue that He wants to bring to our attention. This requires a good and strong leadership moving in obedience to God with a sound process set up to discern, communicate, inform and take forward our response.
There is a need for us to retain a consciousness of the bigger picture that God is working on, especially in terms of the wider church, so as to have a better understanding of how our own small efforts fit into the overall co-operative work of the Holy Spirit. This in turn enables us to stay in alignment with God’s will and direction for us. We therefore have to find ways of ‘tuning in’ co-operatively in order that we may respond more effectively.
Infact the Church supports this through the Second Vatican Council who ‘strongly encourages the lay faithful actively to live out their belonging to the particular Church, while at the same time assuming an ever-increasing “catholic” spirit: “Let the lay faithful constantly foster”-we read in the Decree on the Apostolate of Lay People- “a feeling for their own diocese, of which the parish is a kind of cell, and be always ready at their bishops’ invitation to participate in diocesan projects’. 40 However it then further encourages us to look beyond the Diocesan needs to the wider church, whilst assuming this “catholic spirit”, in order to become more conscious of the fuller picture, ‘Indeed, if the needs of cities and rural areas are to be met, lay people should not limit their cooperation to the parochial or diocesan boundaries but strive to extend it to interparochial, interdiocesan, national and international fields, the more so because the daily increase in population mobility, the growth of mutual bonds, and the ease of communication no longer allow any sector of society to remain closed in upon itself.’41
With this in mind, as well as the need to respond to the Holy Spirit led direction God gives us from a local, diocesan, national and even international perspective, we seek to establish a process which helps us to move forward prophetically, through obedience to Him and in accordance with His Holy will for us.
The proposed process would involve establishing a Prophetic Response Unit comprising a co-ordinator and a discernment team which would feed into the core leadership team.
The co-ordinator would be responsible for collating the word from the different sources over each quarterly period, then arranging to meet with the discernment team, before minuting the discernment made and feeding this to the core leadership team (whom it is envisioned would consist of lay people and clergy). They in turn would act as facilitators to assimilate and implement the word, channelling it as appropriate i.e. a call to action, an issue for intercessory prayer, a particular direction to follow, a warning etc. The co-ordinator would not necessarily be part of the discernment team or have the gift of discernment, but would have to have good organising and administration skills. The discernment team would prayerfully discern everything received, identifying issues of similarity from the various sources and piecing together the different parts of the jigsaw to form the bigger picture.
We seek therefore, through time, to form and establish such a Prophetic Response Unit in order to help move us forward prophetically, both in terms of seeking and responding to His voice and in accordance with His will for us.
Prophetic Round Table
In addition to hearing from the various sources such as individuals, prayer groups, cell groups, event days, etc, via the Prophetic Response Unit, we would also endeavour to draw on those who have a particularly strong gift of prophecy within the Church. To put on and know the mind of Christ is the first step towards being able to follow Him more intently, so that when we ‘allow God to transform us inwardly by the complete renewing of our minds’ (Rom 12:2), we may be in a better disposition to hear Him more clearly. Those with a strong prophetic spiritual gifting will have already gone through this process, and indeed, will continue to allow such transformation to take place whilst always remaining open to the Holy Spirit. If we want to be sure we are following God’s will for us in terms of direction, guidance, focal points, hearing His voice, etc, then the more evidence of confirmation available, to add to that still quiet voice within from our own discernment as individuals, the better. So, gather the prophets.
We would propose, through time, to establish a Prophetic Round Table where those operating in a strong prophetic ministry can be identified and come together on a quarterly basis to hear from the Lord, following a time of spiritual preparation through prayer and fasting each time. The outcome would then be fed back to the core leadership team for them to add to the overall assimilation of prophetic input. This would then be tested for alignment with Scripture and Church teaching, as part of the discernment process, thereby providing stronger evidence of confirmation and resulting in a more robust process.
We seek to establish and support the development of a Prophetic Round Table in order to hear and respond in a more active and effective way to God’s direction for us and hence enable us to move forward prophetically, as church, under the dynamism of the Holy Spirit.
Our Duty to Ecumenism
Before we continue with the deeper explanations of the methods to support the ‘core values’ it is necessary, under this section, to explore and position the responsibility and obligations that we, as Catholics, have towards ecumenism. Such has been the range of attitudes to this subject matter in this country from negative to lukewarm to a minority of positive response.
Due to the range of differing attitudes surrounding this topic, let us first clarify what is meant by the term ‘ecumenical’ and who it applies to. In the Vatican document ‘Unitatis Redintegratio’, the Church’s ‘Decree on Ecumenism’ we learn that ‘In recent times more than ever before, He has been rousing divided Christians to remorse over their divisions and to a longing for unity. Everywhere large numbers have felt the impulse of this grace, and among our separated brethren also there increases from day to day the movement, fostered by the grace of the Holy Spirit, for the restoration of unity among all Christians. This movement toward unity is called “ecumenical.”’ 42 The document goes on to clarify that, ‘The term “ecumenical movement” indicates the initiatives and activities planned and undertaken, according to the various needs of the Church and as opportunities offer, to promote Christian unity.’ 43 It further clarifies that those who belong to the ecumenical movement are those, ‘who invoke the Triune God and confess Jesus as Lord and Saviour, doing this not merely as individuals but also as corporate bodies.’ 44
Ecumenism for many would appear to be too difficult a path to tread, yet we are mandated to do so by Christ and the Church. Infact to be Catholic in these days is to be ecumenical. Otherwise, how can we consider ourselves part of the universal church of Christ if we remain isolated and act as though we are apart from Christ’s followers in their other expressions of our one faith and common baptism in Him? (cf. Eph 4:4-5).
Pope John Paul II strongly exhorts us all to engage in the ecumenical dimension through his encyclical ‘Ut Unum Sint’ – ‘On commitment to Ecumenism’, when he makes it clear that this is an expectation upon the whole church, clergy and lay people alike. Bishops in particular are called by their office, as shepherds, to lead the way in their support and encouragement towards fostering such initiatives promoting Christian unity, as is seen by this exhortation from Pope John Paul II, ‘I therefore exhort my Brothers in the Episcopate to be especially mindful of this commitment. The two Codes of Canon Law include among the responsibilities of the Bishop that of promoting the unity of all Christians by supporting all activities or initiatives undertaken for this purpose, in the awareness that the Church has this obligation from the will of Christ himself. This is part of the episcopal mission and it is a duty which derives directly from fidelity to Christ, the Shepherd of the Church.’ 45 However the work of unity is clearly not something simply to be left to Church hierarchy or clerical offices to pursue, as he goes on to declare, ‘Indeed all the faithful are asked by the Spirit of God to do everything possible to strengthen the bonds of communion between all Christians and to increase cooperation between Christ’s followers: “Concern for restoring unity pertains to the whole Church, faithful and clergy alike. It extends to everyone according to the potential of each”’.46
Furthermore, ecumenism is not something which the Church can choose to pick up or lay down as though it were some sort of optional extra. Rather it is something that is an integral part of being Church. ‘Thus it is absolutely clear that ecumenism, the movement promoting Christian unity, is not just some sort of “appendix” which is added to the Church’s traditional activity. Rather, ecumenism is an organic part of her life and work, and consequently must pervade all that she is and does; it must be like the fruit borne by a healthy and flourishing tree which grows to its full stature.’47
Indeed it could be said that if we are not actively engaging in the field of ecumenism then we are in a state of rebellion against God and the Magisterium of the Church for, ‘Division “openly contradicts the will of Christ, provides a stumbling block to the world, and inflicts damage on the most holy cause of proclaiming the Good News to every creature”.’48 As though that statement alone by Pope John Paul II, as he quoted the Decree on Ecumenism, was insufficient to convince us of the need to be involved ecumenically he later chose to put it in even stronger terms saying, ‘Ecumenism… is a matter of the love which God has in Jesus Christ for all humanity; to stand in the way of this love is an offence against him and against his plan to gather all people in Christ.’49 Therefore the Church hierarchy strongly encourages all the faithful to become so involved, ‘The Sacred Council exhorts all the Catholic faithful to recognize the signs of the times and to take an active and intelligent part in the work of ecumenism.’ 50
Granted, there are many challenges that face us in the work of ecumenism but the above very strong statements of the Church’s stance on ecumenism must surely form the foundation of our approach to praying and working with other Christians. The challenges before us, which are mainly borne out of fear, misunderstandings, misperceptions, lack of knowledge, pride, arrogance, lack of trust, complacency and apathy are challenges worth fighting against so that we learn to see them simply as obstacles to be overcome in order to gain the greater goal of unity that is the heart’s desire of Christ (cf. John 17:21). Despite such difficulties we are indeed reminded that this prayer of Christ ‘becomes an imperative to leave behind our divisions in order to seek and re-establish unity.’ 51 Pope John Paul II recognised these challenges whilst also encouraging us to meet them head on, to do everything possible to overcome them, ‘No one is unaware of the challenge which all this poses to believers. They cannot fail to meet this challenge. Indeed, how could they refuse to do everything possible, with God’s help, to break down the walls of division and distrust, to overcome obstacles and prejudices which thwart the proclamation of the Gospel of salvation in the Cross of Jesus, the one Redeemer of man, of every individual?’52
In recognising the pain caused from the challenges that have presented themselves, there also exists a grave need for the body of Christ to move in repentance and reconciliation towards one another, in order to offload the burden of past hurts and damage that we have caused each other by our acts of division. By so doing we allow healing and the purification of memories to occur, which in turn will foster a greater depth of unity amongst the witnesses to Christ. After all, we share the same bloodline in Christ, with a shared and equal inheritance to the Kingdom of God as brothers and sisters in Christ and as sons of the Father, yet we act so estranged from one another, carrying the wounds of division. We are reminded that ‘the lack of unity among Christians contradicts the Truth’ and consequently ‘gravely damages their witness’ bringing forth the stark realisation that, ‘The division among Christians is a serious reality which impedes the very work of Christ’ and thereby inviting the question, ‘How indeed can we proclaim the Gospel of reconciliation without at the same time being committed to working for reconciliation between Christians?’53 So there is a need not only to confess our own sins to one another and before God, but to confess identificationally the sins of our forefathers, of the sons and daughters of the Church and to receive the confessions of others, in order to pave the way for repentance, forgiveness, reconciliation, healing and unity.
In this way, Pope John Paul II presents to us a way forward and a road towards the unburdening of our pains of the past in order to help set us on a more secure footing towards the path of unity, as he states, ‘Christians cannot underestimate the burden of long-standing misgivings inherited from the past, and of mutual misunderstandings and prejudices. Complacency, indifference and insufficient knowledge of one another often make this situation worse. Consequently, the commitment to ecumenism must be based upon the conversion of hearts and upon prayer, which will also lead to the necessary purification of past memories. With the grace of the Holy Spirit, the Lord’s disciples, inspired by love, by the power of the truth and by a sincere desire for mutual forgiveness and reconciliation, are called to re-examine together their painful past and the hurt which that past regrettably continues to provoke even today.’54
This need for ‘conversion of hearts and prayer’ are crucial components in order to free our minds from the prejudices and set ways of thinking that we have become accustomed to, so that we grow within us a fresh desire, a willingness of heart and mind to align ourselves with the heart’s desire of Christ. ‘What is needed is a calm, clear-sighted and truthful vision of things, a vision enlivened by divine mercy and capable of freeing people’s minds and of inspiring in everyone a renewed willingness, precisely with a view to proclaiming the Gospel to the men and women of every people and nation.’ 55 The Second Vatican Council ‘emphasizes above all the need for interior conversion’ stating that, “There can be no ecumenism worthy of the name without a change of heart” and recognising that this calls for ‘personal conversion as well as for communal conversion.’56
Such conversion may indeed enable us to grasp the full measurement of our unique position to the Church of Christ and therefore our duty of response, in terms of relationship and responsibility, towards the other Churches and Ecclesial Communities. The Dogmatic Constitution on the Church, Lumen Gentium, ‘in a fundamental affirmation echoed by the Decree Unitatis Redintegratio, states that the one Church of Christ subsists in the Catholic Church. The Decree on Ecumenism emphasizes the presence in her of the fullness (plenitudo) of the means of salvation. Full unity will come about when all share in the fullness of the means of salvation entrusted by Christ to his Church.’ 57 If we fully accept that the fullness of the means of salvation exists in the Catholic Church, then greater is our responsibility to engage ecumenically. Otherwise, to remain uninvolved out of some misguided sense of ‘we are alright, we are the one true Church’ only promotes a spirit of self centeredness, protectionism and self righteousness. Indeed we are rightfully encouraged to take the first steps, ‘Catholics, in their ecumenical work, must assuredly be concerned for their separated brethren, praying for them, keeping them informed about the Church, making the first approaches toward them.’58
It is a two-way process. Both ‘sides’ have an equal duty to foster unity in accordance with the will of God. As Catholics, we can neither afford to abdicate our responsibilities nor be deceived into thinking that it is not our problem by adopting an attitude of ‘it was them who left us’. As the Church makes clear, ‘Speaking of the lack of unity among Christians, the Decree on Ecumenism does not ignore the fact that “people of both sides were to blame”, and acknowledges that responsibility cannot be attributed only to the “other side”.’59
Neither is it a question of uniformity with the misguided sense that the goal of ecumenism is a return to the Catholic Church by those who have ‘left us’ as a result of the Reformation. The Second Vatican Ecumenical Council acknowledges ‘that legitimate diversity is in no way opposed to the Church’s unity, but rather enhances her splendour and contributes greatly to the fulfilment of her mission.’60 Instead we need to celebrate the diversity that exists whilst working towards the true goal of full and visible communion, mindful of the fact that the ultimate purpose of unity ‘is above all for the glory of the Father.’62
Whilst fully acknowledging the need for us to engage ecumenically, we do not ignore the fact either that our ‘primary duty is to make a careful and honest appraisal of whatever needs to be done or renewed in the Catholic household itself.’62 However, this becomes neither a question of us being so ecumenically focused that we negate what is needing done in our own household nor a directive that we wait and do nothing about our ecumenical responsibilities until we are ‘sorted’ ourselves. Hence the need for a dual approach and to take a more holistic view to the work of renewal in the Church, thereby encompassing our duty to ecumenism as an integral part of the renewal required. As the Second Vatican Council puts it, in reference to all involved in the ecumenical movement, ‘all are led to examine their own faithfulness to Christ’s will for the Church and accordingly to undertake with vigour the task of renewal and reform.’63
The pursuit of unity is also not simply a dialogue to be left to the domain of theologians but instead, remains the domain of us all through prayer and cooperation. Therefore, prayer and works become crucial components for the fostering of such unity, as Pope John Paul II notes, ‘Besides theological dialogue, mention should be made of other forms of encounter, common prayer and practical cooperation’ which he goes on to state, ‘greatly help to improve mutual knowledge and to increase Christian fraternity.’ 64
The importance of coming together in prayer and praise cannot be underestimated. Indeed there is an old adage attributed to St. Augustine which says, ‘Those who sing pray twice’. The importance of this ‘Primacy of Prayer’ towards the fostering of ecumenism is expounded by Pope John Paul II in his encyclical ‘Ut Unum Sint’, when he acknowledges, ‘”This change of heart and holiness of life, along with public and private prayer for the unity of Christians, should be regarded as the soul of the whole ecumenical movement, and can rightly be called ‘spiritual ecumenism’ “… When brothers and sisters who are not in perfect communion with one another come together to pray, the Second Vatican Council defines their prayer as the soul of the whole ecumenical movement. This prayer is “a very effective means of petitioning for the grace of unity”, “a genuine expression of the ties which even now bind Catholics to their separated brethren”. Even when prayer is not specifically offered for Christian unity, but for other intentions such as peace, it actually becomes an expression and confirmation of unity. The common prayer of Christians is an invitation to Christ himself to visit the community of those who call upon him: “Where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I in the midst of them” (Mt 18:20).’65
He continues to encourage and exhort us to pray together, highlighting the fact that it is only through this drawing close to one another that we will begin to see just how thin the walls of division are – ‘When Christians pray together, the goal of unity seems closer. The long history of Christians marked by many divisions seems to converge once more because it tends towards that Source of its unity which is Jesus Christ. Along the ecumenical path to unity, pride of place certainly belongs to common prayer, the prayerful union of those who gather together around Christ himself. If Christians, despite their divisions, can grow ever more united in common prayer around Christ, they will grow in the awareness of how little divides them in comparison to what unites them. If they meet more often and more regularly before Christ in prayer, they will be able to gain the courage to face all the painful human reality of their divisions, and they will find themselves together once more in that community of the Church which Christ constantly builds up in the Holy Spirit, in spite of all weaknesses and human limitations.’66
It is as well at this point to recognise and issue a note of caution surrounding our coming together in prayer and worship. We acknowledge that there has to be some cognitive intent to witness to unity involved in our coming together, from all sides. The purpose of our joining in common prayer and works involving body of Christ initiatives are to foster ecumenical relationships, move as one in the Spirit and build towards true unity. In other words, going along to a different expression of worship, where a non-Catholic service is being undertaken, does not of itself constitute an ecumenical event. Nor does our presence at such forms of worship foster any sense of unity, as there remains no reciprocal intention to do so. The Decree on Ecumenism reinforces this point as such, ‘Yet worship in common (communicatio in sacris) is not to be considered as a means to be used indiscriminately for the restoration of Christian unity. There are two main principles governing the practice of such common worship: first, the bearing witness to the unity of the Church, and second, the sharing in the means of grace.’67 Therefore it is when our prayer and Holy Spirit led works are of common purpose in recognising the need to belong together, to be part of the whole in our response and foster a spiritual communion, that we can truly become blessing to one another.
Prayer, in turn, then leads to mission and new ways of mutual cooperation. For prayer in itself is not sufficient to break through the walls of division and build the levels of understanding necessary to cement the bonds of unity so sought after. There is much work to be done – together. ‘Ecumenism implies that the Christian communities should help one another so that there may be truly present in them the full content and all the requirements of “the heritage handed down by the Apostles”. Without this, full communion will never be possible. This mutual help in the search for truth is a sublime form of evangelical charity.’68 There is common ground to be covered in expanding the Kingdom of God around us, and there has been an increase over recent years of the Holy Spirit drawing the body of Christ together to engage in the cooperative works He calls us to for the glory of God. ‘Relations between Christians are not aimed merely at mutual knowledge, common prayer and dialogue. They presuppose and from now on call for every possible form of practical cooperation at all levels.’69
Engaging in these works together not only allows us to respond in obedience to the leading of the Holy Spirit, but also fosters unity through the building of relationships and better understanding of one another, thus allowing our cooperative efforts to pave the way for the full unity of faith. As Pope John Paul II emphasises – ‘Moreover, ecumenical cooperation is a true school of ecumenism, a dynamic road to unity. Unity of action leads to the full unity of faith: “Through such cooperation, all believers in Christ are able to learn easily how they can understand each other better and esteem each other more, and how the road to the unity of Christians may be made smooth”. In the eyes of the world, cooperation among Christians becomes a form of common Christian witness and a means of evangelization which benefits all involved.’70
So, let us simply be blessing for one another for we have much to give and much to receive. ‘The Second Vatican Council made it clear that elements present among other Christians can contribute to the edification of Catholics: “Nor should we forget that whatever is wrought by the grace of the Holy Spirit in the hearts of our separated brothers and sisters can contribute to our own edification. Whatever is truly Christian never conflicts with the genuine interests of the faith; indeed, it can always result in a more ample realization of the very mystery of Christ and the Church”.’71
We recognise that Catholics are at different stages in their journeys of faith and for some, this response will mean an active and participative part in front line activities in the fostering of ecumenical relationships. Our desire is that they may do so with the backup and blessing from the church, without feeling in any way marginalised or fearful of persecution from within. Others meanwhile can support them by way of encouragement, care, showing an interest and above all praying for their endeavours in our various groups and communities, so that, in this way, we foster an inclusive response to the work of ecumenism where all can make a worthwhile contribution to the call of Christ and the Church.
Let us always be open then to the promptings of the Holy Spirit, who leads us in all things in Christ and increases within each of us the desire and willingness to respond to the work of Christian unity, to the glory of God our Father. In the words of Pope John Paul II, ‘A Christian Community which believes in Christ and desires, with Gospel fervour, the salvation of mankind can hardly be closed to the promptings of the Holy Spirit, who leads all Christians towards full and visible unity. Ecumenism… is a matter of the love which God has in Jesus Christ for all humanity; to stand in the way of this love is an offence against him and against his plan to gather all people in Christ.’72
We seek to respond to such promptings of the Holy Spirit and to engage in the cooperative call to unity. We seek to do so through our involvement in the various opportunities that may present themselves to engage in prayer and works between the various Churches and Ecclesial Communities as led by the Holy Spirit. By so doing we intend to move in our responsibilities towards the task of full and visible communion and contribute our part in the preparation of the Bride for her Groom.
Joint Initiatives of the Holy Spirit
Since division first occurred within the Church of Christ, and increasingly so since the turn of the new millennium, there has been a call from the Holy Spirit for the body of Christ to unify in works of Grace, as the Bride is spiritually prepared to join with the Spirit and say ‘come’ -that cry of ‘Maranatha’. ‘One and the same Spirit is always the dynamic principle of diversity and unity in the Church. Once again we read in the Constitution Lumen Gentium, “In order that we might be unceasingly renewed in him (cf. Eph 4:23), he has shared with us his Spirit who, existing as one and the same being in the head and in the members, gives life to, unifies and moves the whole body… By the power of the Gospel he makes the Church grow, perpetually renews her, and leads her to perfect union with her Spouse. The Spirit and the Bride both say to the Lord Jesus, ‘Come!’ (cf. Rev 22:17)’73
It is a call that those ‘with ears to hear what the Spirit is saying to the churches’ (cf. Rev 2 & 3) are responding. Most of this response however, would appear to be from our separated brethren. For reasons previously discussed, we seem impervious to the need for our involvement or to respond to the call to prayer and action when it involves body of Christ initiatives, even when it is clear that they are wholly Spirit inspired, Spirit led initiatives. There seems to be a sense amongst Catholics that if it is not ‘Catholic’ then it is not allowed or not something to get involved with, whilst completely missing the point that it is of God. It is imperative for us to fill the spiritual gaps that currently exists in the various body of Christ initiatives so that we learn to move as one body to give witness and bring to fruition that which is being asked of us. ‘In the eyes of the world, cooperation among Christians becomes a form of common Christian witness and a means of evangelization which benefits all involved.’74
This is especially true for works of community transformation when dealing with the need for spiritual renewal within our own communities or even nationally. When responding to works of this nature it is incumbent for all factions of the common faith we share to move in agreement and a oneness within our communities in order to stand firm and united in Christ against the pollution affecting our communities. Thereby through common prayer and Spirit led actions of repentance, blessing and prophetic response we can then deal with the stain of sin upon our communities, spiritually changing the atmosphere around us as we bring Christ into our midst, ‘This cooperation based on our common faith is not only filled with fraternal communion, but is a manifestation of Christ himself.’75
Of course there are many other calls upon us to work together in response to Gospel values. ‘It happens more and more often that the leaders of Christian Communities join together in taking a stand in the name of Christ on important problems concerning man’s calling and on freedom, justice, peace, and the future of the world.’ 76 But it is not just leaders who are called to work together as, ‘Many Christians from all Communities, by reason of their faith, are jointly involved in bold projects aimed at changing the world by inculcating respect for the rights and needs of everyone, especially the poor, the lowly and the defenceless.’77
However, insofar as we are concerned with spiritual renewal to bring about personal and community transformation, it is to this end that we would encourage more to become involved ecumenically in the joint initiatives of the Holy Spirit, requiring an active response from the body of Christ. We are called to action and the taking of positive steps in the building of God’s kingdom, so deploying a passive faith is not an option. We are called to respond individually and corporately to the will of God.
‘Before the world, united action in society on the part of Christians has the clear value of a joint witness to the name of the Lord. It is also a form of proclamation, since it reveals the face of Christ.’ 78 Let us so reveal the face of Christ within our communities that our joint witness to the Truth transforms not only our own lives but all those around us.
As led by the Holy Spirit, we seek to promote and become involved in the joint initiatives He calls the body of Christ to within our communities, and so participate and give witness in ways that lead to community transformation.
Breaking Down Barriers, Building Understanding
The walls of division that have been built up over the centuries remain heavily shored up with layers of misunderstanding, misperceptions and lack of knowledge about our different expressions of faith. Of course there are massive doctrinal issues and differences to be overcome in matters of revealed truth. There is much to be done in terms of dialogue and prayer to reach agreement in such matters, but as is expressed in Pope John Paul II’s encyclical ‘Ut Unum Sint’ quoting from his predecessor, Pope John XXIII, ‘”What unites us is much greater than what divides us”’.79 He re-emphasises this point, when talking about the importance of engaging in common prayer ecumenically, by stating, ‘If Christians, despite their divisions, can grow ever more united in common prayer around Christ, they will grow in the awareness of how little divides them in comparison to what unites them.’80
If we do not come to know other Christians and their ways of thinking and how they relate to us, whilst sharing and moving in our faith with them, how can we build mutual understanding and respect? We do not demand that others have to agree with us or join us, but simply that they understand why we believe what we do, so that their reactions to us are not borne out of ill-informed hearsay and misinformation. We need to learn what their thoughts are towards our practices and traditions and their basis for their way of thinking so that we can explain and testify as to why these are important to us and provide the basis for our thinking. Similarly we need to listen, understand and respect their belief in their practices. Through this exchange of dialogue and desire to find common ground, we can learn to accept one another more whilst fully respecting the diversity that exists.
Knowledge therefore of other Christians’ perceptions and thinking of our traditions is extremely important, as is the ability to be able to respond accurately and confidently our own position on such issues in order to provide the clarity that is needed to arrive at the truth and the level of understanding required. There is a reluctance, however, on our part to challenge and invite the ‘difficult questions’, because we are insecure in our own faith and how to properly respond definitively to certain areas of contention that we would rather just avoid. This will require study, dialogue and the desire to break down such barriers, so as to reach that mutual understanding of one another that fosters relationship.
One of the most effective ways of breaking down such barriers, is the body of Christ coming together in use of the Spiritual Gifts, operating in full openness to the Holy Spirit. When this happens, through common prayer and purpose, people’s perceptions about seeing someone under a particular denominational label seem to vanish, as what is ‘seen’ is the outpouring of the Holy Spirit and the hand of God at work as His Church is edified. As Spirit recognises Spirit, there is a unity forged through the oneness of sharing in a Christ centred relationship and the receiving of one another’s gifts, as the different parts of the body of Christ move in alignment with God’s intended purpose, each with their own unique part to play but functioning as one (cf. 1 Cor 12:12-20). As this happens, it pulls down the barrier of distrust and opens the way for harmonious relationships and deeper discussions to take place, providing further opportunities to engage in prayer and works.
Through this coming together regularly in prayer, works and an openness to the Holy Spirit, especially in moving together in the use of the Spiritual Gifts, our understanding of one another builds. Our acceptance levels grow and the walls of division which previously appeared so strong and unmoving suddenly begin to disintegrate as all parties come to the realisation that indeed ‘”What unites us is much greater than what divides us”’.
In this way we start to benefit one another, through our sharing of gifts, talents, support, encouragement and mutual respect – we become blessing to one another. As Pope John Paul II was led to say, ‘”We must take every care to meet the legitimate desires and expectations of our Christian brethren, coming to know their way of thinking and their sensibilities … The talents of each must be developed for the utility and the advantage of all”.’81
We seek to build knowledge and confidence in our response to other Christians’ perception of our faith, through study and approaching the ‘difficult questions’ that materialise in this area. We seek also to engage in the various opportunities to come together, in order to provide better understanding and work towards the breaking down of the denominational barriers that exist.
‘Deepening Our Roots’
For many, the reticence to get involved ecumenically, is down to insecurity in our faith and lack of confidence in who we are as Catholics and what we carry as such. Our lack of Scriptural knowledge and self confidence in our identity as Catholics, poor understanding of our faith in terms of being able to support the reasons for our beliefs in matters of revealed truth, leading in turn to a lack of confidence in our ability to properly defend our faith, all culminates towards the stifling insecurities we have in sharing our faith with others. Whether to foster ecumenical relationships, fulfill our baptismal call to evangelisation, or simply to build confidence and strengthen ourselves in our identity as Catholics in our daily circumstances, there exists a great need to grow in stronger conviction of our Catholic faith.
This is not just about being deeply rooted in our faith in terms of doctrine, knowledge and the rubrics of the Church, etc, from a head based approach, but rather from a heart and core conviction that motivates and propels us forward in our faith – because of our faith and not in spite of it. There is an inner belief needing to be instilled and take root deeply within us in terms of the fullness of Truth we possess and what it means to be Catholic. This is required in order to strengthen the core of who we are in our Catholic identity in Christ, particularly in our relationships with others. It is this lack of inner conviction that prevents many from fully engaging ecumenically or indeed from fully witnessing to their baptismal call to evangelisation.
As members of the one true Church established by Christ and sustained by apostolic succession, we can already be assured of a depth of teaching and tradition that is available to equip and enable us to live out our baptismal calling with confidence and authority in Christ. Yet this cerebral knowledge of itself, has proven insufficient for many to take up their baptismal calling or fully respond in obedience to Christ and his Church. There is lacking a huge degree of confidence in who we are as Catholics, what it means to be Catholic and in the reality of what we have to offer. Indeed many have left the Church or stopped practising their faith altogether. To change this position requires a new level of understanding of all that the Church has to offer, bringing fresh meaning to our Catholicity and instilling a new conviction in our hearts that leads to greater acceptance of our identity in Christ, as Catholics.
It is through our identity in Christ, particularly as Roman Catholics, in a Sacramental Church, that we need to develop a heightened sense of value and purpose that becomes imbued within each one of us when recognising ‘that the one Church of Christ subsists in the Catholic Church’ and as such there exists ‘the presence in her of the fullness of the means of salvation.’82
In other words, the means of salvation is made available through the other churches and ecclesial communities – to those ‘who invoke the Triune God and confess Jesus as Lord and Saviour’83, because the Catholic Church exists as instituted by Christ and carries in her the fullness of the means of salvation through such elements as the Apostolic Succession to Peter, the Magisterium, priesthood, the Sacraments, its interpretation of revealed truth, Mary’s part in salvation history and more. Pope John Paul II conveys this point thus, ‘”It follows that these separated Churches and Communities, though we believe that they suffer from defects, have by no means been deprived of significance and value in the mystery of salvation. For the Spirit of Christ has not refrained from using them as means of salvation which derive their efficacy from the very fullness of grace and truth entrusted to the Catholic Church”.’84
We fully recognise the ecclesial elements that are present in the other Christian Communities which give authentic witness to Christ such as, ‘the written word of God; the life of grace; faith, hope and charity, with the other interior gifts of the Holy Spirit, and visible elements too. All of these, which come from Christ and lead back to Christ, belong by right to the one Church of Christ.’85 Therefore we need to learn better how to embrace our brothers and sisters as part of the one Church of Christ whilst moving with renewed conviction on our part in relation to the valuable contribution we have to offer.
Progress can be made through gaining deeper knowledge and understanding of how those wholly Catholic elements and their comparative differences from other Christian Communities affect us and our relationship with them. As we grapple with the reality of this in allowing the full impact of who we are as Catholics to grow in us, we will start to gain a much deeper appreciation of the responsibility that we carry not only in terms of our separated brethren but also in terms of our evangelistic calling to the world. As we grow in our understanding and sense of value in our Catholicity, thus benefitting the development not only of our own growth in faith but also in appreciation of our contribution to the wider church, our inner conviction levels towards ‘owning’ and moving in our identity as Catholics will be strengthened and given greater purpose.
We seek therefore to help strengthen conviction in our faith through developing better understanding through education and to foster an increase in inner belief in order to enable us to better engage with others, not from a position of arrogance and false pride but with humility, a quiet strength and the inner confidence to be Catholic.
Knowledge of Faith
As previously mentioned, in general terms we are not as well versed or knowledgeable on Scripture as many of our counterparts are, as the Word has been more preached than taught to us over the years. Equally, the richness of Church teaching via sources such as Papal encyclicals, Apostolic letters, Dogmatic Constitutions, etc have not easily found their way to the faithful through any structured programme of education from the Church. Instead it is left to the individual to find and grapple with the contents on their own. As such, there is a massive hole in our receiving and understanding of the revealed truth that the Church carries, which in turn has dented our confidence and bred passivity in our outreach to others.
It becomes too daunting an experience, serving only to fuel our insecurities and make us feel threatened, when we are faced with other Christians who have made Scripture study an integral part of life and can quote chapter and verse to support their point of view or theological stance on issues. These of course can differ widely from Catholic theology such is the gap in interpretation of Scripture. However, if we truly believe as Catholics, that the Church possesses the fullness of revealed truth, then we must take lessons from other Christians’ diligence towards building their knowledge of Scripture. It is through Scripture study and Church teaching that we can put ourselves in the position to respond confidently and with conviction in order to stand our ground and make an effective contribution towards the wider church, both ecumenically and evangelically. How else can we effectively and confidently respond to others and witness to the hope we have in Christ, particularly as Catholics, without an increased level of Scriptural knowledge and Church teaching? As the first Pope teaches us, ‘Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have.’ (1 Peter 3:15).
The Church makes her teaching of revealed truth known and provides knowledge of our faith largely via the Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC) and although many were taught as children from this rich foundation, there exists a renewed need to rediscover the value of this resource as adults. There are a great many areas within the Catechism that we rightly were not taught in our younger days as they contain concepts that were too complex for our age at that time but nonetheless are fitting and worthwhile teachings on the Church’s approach to many topics that as adults should concern us, especially in relation to the issues of renewal as discussed here.
Pope John Paul II recognised the rich source of renewal that this inspirational work would provide the church with, when he stated in his Apostolic Constitution ‘Fidei Depositum’ on the publication of the Catechism of the Catholic Church that, ‘this catechism will make a very important contribution to that work of renewing the whole life of the Church, as desired and begun by the Second Vatican Council.’ 86 Its purpose, besides helping the Council ‘to guard and present better the precious deposit of Christian doctrine in order to make it more accessible to the Christian faithful and to all people of good will’87 is stated as such: ‘A catechism should faithfully and systematically present the teaching of Sacred Scripture, the living Tradition of the Church and the authentic Magisterium, as well as the spiritual heritage of the Fathers and the Church’s saints, to allow for a better knowledge of the Christian mystery and for enlivening the faith of the People of God.’88
The Catechism of the Catholic Church is a source of richness which would appear to fully support the specific renewal objectives as described within the core values of this document. It is an invaluable aid to help build knowledge and support us in moving forward in our Mission Statement. Pope John Paul II states this of it, ‘I declare it to be a valid and legitimate instrument for ecclesial communion and a sure norm for teaching the faith. May it serve the renewal to which the Holy Spirit ceaselessly calls the Church of God, the Body of Christ, on her pilgrimage to the undiminished light of the kingdom!’ 89 He goes on to further stipulate, ‘It is also offered to all the faithful who wish to deepen their knowledge of the unfathomable riches of salvation (cf. Jn 8:32). It is meant to support ecumenical efforts that are moved by the holy desire for the unity of all Christians, showing carefully the content and wondrous harmony of the Catholic faith. The Catechism of the Catholic Church, lastly, is offered to every individual who asks us to give an account of the hope that is in us (cf. 1 Pt 3:15) and who wants to know what the Catholic Church believes.’90
It is hoped that through the use of the teachings of lay and clerical Catholic Scripture scholars available to us, other clerical input and a variety of authentic Church teaching resources, we may be able to reverse the current trend of simply avoiding other Christians altogether.
By developing structures that support the packaging of such materials into weekly seminar sets based around each of the five core values over a three year cycle, it would allow a good level of knowledge and understanding to be gained.
We seek therefore, by means of such input and through mature teaching to increase knowledge and understanding of our Catholic faith and so deepen our roots in order to help build confidence in our identity as Catholics.
So it is then, at the turn of this new century, that Pope John Paul II emulates that invitation to us, as Jesus did to Peter, to “Duc in altum”, via his Apostolic Letter, ‘Novo Millennio Ineunte’ to the Bishops, Clergy and Lay Faithful : ‘At the beginning of the new millennium, and at the close of the Great Jubilee during which we celebrated the two thousandth anniversary of the birth of Jesus and a new stage of the Church’s journey begins, our hearts ring out with the words of Jesus when one day, after speaking to the crowds from Simon’s boat, he invited the Apostle to “put out into the deep” for a catch: “Duc in altum” (Lk 5:4).’91
In our lives, in our Diocese, in our nation and even beyond we are indeed at a new stage of the Church’s journey as the dynamism of the Holy Spirit propels us forward in Christ, closer to that time of fulfilment in Him.
Yet, are we ready to take up the challenge as Peter did and reap the benefits? Dare we emulate Peter and his companions in moving forward with a new level of trust beyond the years of experience already gained? Dare we believe that with Jesus in our midst, new vision, fresh insight, new depths can be reached? ‘Peter and his first companions trusted Christ’s words, and cast the nets. “When they had done this, they caught a great number of fish” (Lk 5:6).’92
In order for us to more effectively fulfil our mission as Christians, we need to develop a greater degree of trust in Him. However, in order for us to more effectively fulfil our mission as Christians through our Catholicism, we need to develop a greater degree of confidence in ourselves as Catholics and in what we carry as such. Pope John Paul II invites us to look forward to the future with confidence, ‘Duc in altum! These words ring out for us today, and they invite us to remember the past with gratitude, to live the present with enthusiasm and to look forward to the future with confidence: “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and for-ever” (Heb 13:8).’ 93 Yet, as Catholics, generally speaking, there appears to be a distinct lack of confidence on display publically and in many cases privately. Instead there exists a greater tendency to move into automatic defence mode where, at times there is even a reticence towards revealing that we are Catholic. This defence mechanism has the effect of having us fight just to justify our position, whilst all too often losing ground, let alone entertain the thought of us moving forward. It is one thing to look forward privately in confidence for the coming of the King but quite another if we cannot confidently fulfil our part in the preparation for this, in preparing the Bride for her Groom, by responding to our baptismal call as Catholics. Put simply, there are not many confident Catholics! This affects our own interior growth, our responsibilities towards ecumenism and our effectiveness in evangelisation.
We need to build confidence in our own beliefs in order to be better able to express our faith and proclaim our Catholicity in a way that adds value to the common witness of the body of Christ. By so doing we can move forward in heralding the Hope who is amongst us and thereby participate in a more cooperative way towards us all looking ‘forward to the future with confidence’.
We seek to help build such confidence through the combination of the various elements discussed such as prayer, knowledge, teaching, training and by providing the support, encouragement and opportunities to engage with each of the elements as described within our ‘core values’ and forming the nucleus of our mission statement for Catholic Spiritual Renewal.
“REBUILD MY CHURCH!”
There are many biblical examples of God calling His people to ‘rebuild’ throughout the centuries, following times of darkness and persecution – calls to rebuild the walls, the ancient ruins, Jerusalem, the temple, the house of God, etc. Although many of these referred to the physical structures, it was a call to repair, to renew those places that had been destroyed – a call to restoration so that they might once again contain the presence of God. However, through Christ’s death, resurrection and ascension, paving the way for the Holy Spirit to dwell within us, we are now God’s temple (cf. 1 Cor 3:16). God’s calling on us today to rebuild His church is the same as when He spoke to St. Frances of Assisi. It is a call for the restoration and renewing of His people in times of darkness and persecution to live in the fullness of God’s dwelling within us. It is a call for us to cooperate and take a proactive role in the responsibilities we each have in the renewing of His church.
In many ways it is about us finding our voice, both inner and external, and rising above the many setbacks we have encountered, whether these are over Church scandals, sectarianism, persecution, secularism, relativism, declining numbers, poor teaching, meeting Christians from other traditions who appear to have ‘all the answers’ etc. It is through developing an inner confidence in the fullness of the faith that we carry as Catholics that we will begin to instil and grow in belief in ourselves sufficiently to make a difference and renew His church. As we learn to appreciate and grow in confidence in who we are in our Catholicism we will be drawn towards who He is in our lives for the renewing of His Church.
The deeper our relationship with Christ, the deeper rooted we become in our faith – the deeper rooted we are in our faith, the deeper our conversion to Christ. As we grow then with confidence in response to Pope John Paul II’s call ‘Duc in altum’, as deep cries out to deep, greater depths are reached in terms of our own lives as well as our response towards ecumenism and evangelisation. This, in turn, allows us to more effectively respond to His call to ‘Rebuild My Church’.
1Novo Millennio Ineunte, n. 29 – Title.
2Ibid., n. 3.
3Ibid., n. 29.
6Ibid., n. 58.
7Lumen Gentium, n. 39 – Title.
8Novo Millennio Ineunte, n. 30.
9Lumen Gentium, n. 42.
10Ibid., n. 39.
11Ibid., n. 40.
13Novo Millennio Ineunte, n. 31.
14Ibid., n. 33.
17Ibid., n. 15.
18Ibid., n. 23.
19Ecclesia De Eucharistia, n. 1.
20Ibid., n. 25.
21Ibid., n. 10.
22Ibid., n. 25.
25Ibid., n. 7.
26Ibid., n. 25.
27Pope John Paul II, Transcript of meeting with Ecclesial Movements, Pentecost May 30th 1998, n. 4.
28Mgr Peter Hocken, ‘Goodnews Archives’, November/December 2007, para. 3.
29Ibid., para. 7.
31Dominum et Vivificantem, n. 2.
32Pope John Paul II, ‘Lay Charisms Build Up The Church’, General Audience, March 9, 1994, para. 1.
33Ibid., para. 5.
34Pope John Paul II, ‘Message to the Youth of the World on the Occasion of the XIX World Youth Day’, April 4 2004, n. 2.
35Ibid., n. 3.
36Ibid. , n. 4.
37Lumen Gentium, n. 35.
38Redemptor Hominis, n. 18.
39Pope John Paul II, Transcript of meeting with Ecclesial Movements, Pentecost May 30th 1998, n. 8.
40Christifideles Laici, n. 25.
42Unitatis Redintegratio, n. 1.
43Ibid., n. 4.
44Ibid., n. 1.
45Ut Unum Sint, n. 101.
47Ibid., n. 20.
48Ibid., n. 6.
49Ibid., n. 99.
50Unitatis Redintegratio, n.4.
51Ut Unum Sint, n. 65.
52Ibid., n. 2.
53Ibid., n. 98.
54Ibid., n. 2.
56Ibid., n. 15.
57Ibid., n. 86
58Unitatis Redintegratio, n. 4.
59Ut Unum Sint, n. 11.
60Ibid., n. 50.
61Ibid., n. 98.
62Unitatis Redintegratio, n. 4.
64Ut Unum Sint, n. 71.
65Ibid., n. 21.
66Ibid., n. 22.
67Unitatis Redintegratio, n. 8.
68Ut Unum Sint, n. 78.
69Ibid., n. 40.
71Ibid., n. 48.
72Ibid., n. 99.
73Christifideles Laici, n. 20.
74Ut Unum Sint, n. 40.
76Ibid., n. 43.
78Ibid., n. 75.
79Ibid., n. 20.
80Ibid., n. 22.
81Ibid., n. 87.
82Ut Unum Sint, n. 86.
83Unitatis Redintegratio, n. 1.
84Ut Unum Sint, n. 10.
85Unitatis Redintegratio, n. 3.
86Fidei Depositum, n. 1
88Fidei Depositum, n. 3.
89Ibid., n. 4.
91Novo Millennio Ineunte, n. 1.