I’m grateful for Rock’s providing us the text of Archbishop Rowan Williams’ remarks at the synod. I appreciate the strong theme of contemplation as a remedy for the dangers of being so narcissistic as we strive to do the mission of Jesus Christ. This thought begins an unfolding theme in the address:
To be contemplative as Christ is contemplative is to be open to all the fullness that the Father wishes to pour into our hearts. With our minds made still and ready to receive, with our self-generated fantasies about God and ourselves reduced to silence, we are at last at the point where we may begin to grow. And the face we need to show to our world is the face of a humanity in endless growth towards love, a humanity so delighted and engaged by the glory of what we look towards that we are prepared to embark on a journey without end to find our way more deeply into it, into the heart of the trinitarian life. St Paul speaks (in II Cor 3.18) of how ‘with our unveiled faces reflecting the glory of the Lord’, we are transfigured with a greater and greater radiance. That is the face we seek to show to our fellow-human beings.
Read the whole address. I recommend it. There’s much more there.
As I strive for more contemplation and less of myself, I see the archbishop’s reflection as fitting for anyone in ministry. I don’t know how much was poking at the Catholic bishops present, but I see much that applies to me, and to the ministries in which I serve that are liturgical as well as evangelical.
Contemplation should move us from old ways of thinking: how we see ourselves and our place in the world. Contemplation also urges us to new ways of relationships. Instead of people who cling to others for what they can do for me, we become people who cultivate relationships based on what they can do for God. The evangelical mindset would have us ponder each person and wonder: how will they take their part in the Great Commission, in the mind and intent of Christ?
This is difficult, and wholly countercultural, even within the Church. Yet people are watching. Do they see believers using each other just like people in the world use others? Or do they see this substrate of contemplation penetrate our relationships and ministries, not just as a tool for individuals to “get ahead” with God? But as a discipline in which we strive to imitate Christ, and to acknowledge the interior opportunities for growth, change, and even metanoia?
Speaking for myself, I have to consider how I view parishioners. Cogs in a liturgical machine? Souls to be opened by God? People aligning with my mission and ministry? Brothers and sisters each with their own calling? More and more, I sense the truer and deeper path in parish ministry, at least the way I see it, is less as an orchestrator of tasks and more a facilitator of the interior life, urging people to go deep into Christ and come forth with their own great mission in the Lord.
What do you think about Dr Williams’ address, or the impact this view on contemplation may have on parish spirituality and life? Or the bishops in Rome?
Sections 100-121 address the needs of various liturgical rites in a church building. Speaking for the people of the Church, the primary focus is always on the assembly–those for whom public rites are celebrated:
§ 100 § The church building is the space for the celebration of the other sacraments, in addition to the Eucharist. While preserving the primary focus upon the eucharistic assembly and the unity and integrity of the building as a whole, the design of the church must also accommodate the needs of these rites.
The roadmap on BLS for the next week or so includes a very briefly discussion of initiation (BLS 101), followed by Orders (102), Penance (103-105), Marriage (106-108), Anointing of the Sick (109), Funerals (110-114), the Liturgy of the Hours (115), Sunday Celebrations in the Absence of a Priest (116), the ambry (117), and the Rite of Dedication of a Church and Altar (118-121).
All texts from Built of Living Stones are copyright © 2000, United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, Inc. All rights reserved. Used with permission.
Three main problems: narrow vision from within the Church, resistance to the message, and secular persecution. Despite what many Catholics are saying these days, the American problem is more the first than either of the others.
50. In the course of twenty centuries of history, the generations of Christians have periodically faced various obstacles to this universal mission. On the one hand, on the part of the evangelizers themselves, there has been the temptation for various reasons to narrow down the field of their missionary activity. On the other hand, there has been the often humanly insurmountable resistance of the people being addressed by the evangelizer. Furthermore, we must note with sadness that the evangelizing work of the Church is strongly opposed, if not prevented, by certain public powers. Even in our own day it happens that preachers of God’s Word are deprived of their rights, persecuted, threatened or eliminated solely for preaching Jesus Christ and His Gospel. But we are confident that despite these painful trials the activity of these apostles will never meet final failure in any part of the world.
A rather frank admission that barriers to evangelization are often thrown up by believers themselves. This is one of my worries with the “new” evangelization: an intentional narrowing of the scope, and a patting on the back for a job that was poorly done from the start. It’s also important to realize what actual Christian persecution is and what it is not. Being confronted with impolite ideological opponents is not persecution.
Despite such adversities, the Church constantly renews her deepest inspiration, that which comes to her directly from the Lord: To the whole world! To all creation! Right to the ends of the earth! She did this once more at the last Synod, as an appeal not to imprison the proclamation of the Gospel by limiting it to one sector of mankind or to one class of people or to a single type of civilization. Some examples are revealing.
And those examples are touched upon in sections 51-58, which we’ll examine more closely in the coming week of posts.