Let’s continue to explore the mission of Christ and how we take it up with bishops and religious faithful. Remember, you can check the full document online here.
Today, one absolute:
The absolute necessity of union with God
16. Mission, which begins with the Father, requires that those who are sent exercise their awareness of love in the dialogue of prayer. Therefore, in these times of apostolic renewal, as always in every form of missionary engagement, a privileged place is given to the contemplation of God, to meditation on His plan of salvation, and to reflection on the signs of the times in the light of the Gospel so that prayer may be nourished and grow in quality and frequency.
Before we can dialogue with non-believers, skeptics, and seekers, we must be prepared to encounter the Living God. And listen.
The responsibility of bishops and clergy:
It is urgently necessary that everyone appreciate prayer and have recourse to it. Bishops and their priest-collaborators (cf. Lumen Gentium 25; 27; 28; 41), “dispensers of the mysteries of God” (1 Cor 4:1) “should aim to make of one mind in prayer all who are entrusted to their care, and to ensure their advancement in grace through the reception of the sacraments, and that they become faithful witnesses to the Lord” (Christus Dominus 15).
… and of men and women in religious life:
Religious, in turn, inasmuch as they are called to be, as it were, specialists in prayer (Paul VI, Oct. 28, 1966), “should seek and love above all else God…” and “in all circumstances they should take care to foster a life hidden with Christ in God (cf. Col 3:3) which is the source and stimulus of love of neighbor” (Perfectae Caritatis 6).
The “efficacy” of the mission demands we “give ourselves up,” and if this is true for bishops and religious, it is certainly urged for every other believer:
By disposition of divine Providence, today many of the faithful are led by an inner impulse to gather in groups to hear the Gospel, to meditate and give themselves up to contemplation. Consequently for the very efficacy of mission, it is indispensable to make certain that all, especially pastors, give themselves up to prayer, and likewise that religious institutes preserve in their form of dedication to God, both by fostering the eminent role that communities of contemplative life hold in this field (cf. PC 7 and Ad Gentes 18), and by providing that religious, dedicated to apostolic work nourish their intimate union with Christ and give clear witness of it (cf. PC 8).
I think there’s a distinction between the “hidden life” of the contemplative, and the need to model and guide others by example. What goes on with a bishop in prayer? What happens behind cloistered enclosures? How do people get encouraged in that very essential prayer? And if we don’t see this prayer, how can we trust that a bishop, a religious, or whomever is actually living a life given over to God?
Thoughts or comments?
As for clergy and bishops’ duty to ‘model and guide others by example’: on one level we don’t and can’t “see this prayer”, any more than they could see ours. We have to trust the fruits of it, that we can see. That being said, the reverence with which a priest or bishop presides and prays during a liturgy is one form of modeling. Ideally their prayer should show in their preaching, and other presentations, writings, etc. Beyond that, those close to a priest or bishop would be most likely to have the opportunity observe his use of time, demeanor at prayer, etc.