EG 131: Diversity

Vasnetsov_Maria_MagdaleneOn the topic of charisms, Evangelii Gaudium 131 gives a brief elaboration on the theme of diversity:

131. Differences between persons and communities can sometimes prove uncomfortable, but the Holy Spirit, who is the source of that diversity, can bring forth something good from all things and turn it into an attractive means of evangelization. Diversity must always be reconciled by the help of the Holy Spirit; he alone can raise up diversity, plurality and multiplicity while at the same time bringing about unity. When we, for our part, aspire to diversity, we become self-enclosed, exclusive and divisive; similarly, whenever we attempt to create unity on the basis of our human calculations, we end up imposing a monolithic uniformity. This is not helpful for the Church’s mission.

From what I’ve seen in church life the past thirty-some years, this is an accurate assessment.

Sincere people can try too hard one way or the other to either stand apart with “their” gifts, or to impose rigidity on something that seems “messy.” My sense of the Ignatian way is that there is a time in which it is good to let variety surface. We keep in mind two things: that in the Christian context we have the mission of Christ, and that within the mission of evangelization we have a focus on presenting the Gospel to non-disciples, seekers, and non-believers.

Given that, it is easy to see we will need a variety of methods to draw people in. It is also easy to perceive that a unified presentation is essential. What does that mean? Message is consistent: Jesus Christ. Means of communicating: dependent on various charisms in the evangelizing community.

Getting back to the Ignatian way, the context of seeking unity is prayer and discernment. Uniformity is to be distrusted when it is false, monolithic, and undiscerned.

About catholicsensibility

Todd lives in Minnesota, serving a Catholic parish as a lay minister.
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