2007-Aparecida- Bishops of Latin america & the Caribbean

THE FORMATIVE ITENERARY OF MISSIONARY DISCIPLES

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 6.1 A TRINITARIAN SPIRITUALITY OF ENCOUNTER WITH JESUS CHRIST

 240. An authentic proposal of a encounter with Jesus Christ must be established upon a solid foundation of Trinity-Love. The experience of a triune God who is inseparable unity and community enables us to overcome selfishness and fully find ourselves in service to the other. The baptismal experience is the starting point of all Christian spirituality, which is based on the Trinity.

 241. It is God the Father who attracts us through the eucharistic surrender of his Son

(cf. Jn 6:44), gift of love with which he went out to meet his children, so that renewed by the power of the Spirit, we might call him Father:

 But when the fullness of time had come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to ransom those under the law, so that we might receive adoption. As proof that you are children, God sent the spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying out, “Abba, Father!” (Gal. 4:4-6).

 This is a new creation, where the love of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit renews the life of creatures.

 242. In the story of Trinitarian love, Jesus of Nazareth, man like us and God with us, died and risen, is given to us as Way, Truth, and Life. In the encounter of faith with the astonishing realism of his Incarnation we have been able to hear, see with our eyes, contemplate, and touch with our hands the Word of life (cf. 1 Jn 1:1),and we experience

 God himself who goes in search of the “stray sheep,” a suffering and lost humanity. When Jesus speaks in his parables of the shepherd who goes after the lost sheep, of the woman who looks for the lost coin, of the father who goes to meet and embrace his prodigal son, these are no mere words:they constitute an explanation of his very being and activity. [136]

 This definitive proof of love has the character of a radical humiliation (kenosis), because Christ “humbled himself, becoming obedient to death, even death on a cross” (Phil 2:8).

 6.1.1 The encounter with Jesus Christ

 243. The Christ-event is therefore the beginning of this new subject emerging in history that we call “disciple”:

 Being Christian is not the result of an ethical choice or a lofty idea, but the encounter with an event, a person, which gives life a new horizon and a decisive direction[137]

 This is precisely what all the gospels have preserved, while presenting it differently, as the beginning of Christianity: a faith encounter with the person of

Jesus. (cf. Jn 1:35-39).

 244. The very nature of Christianity therefore consists of recognizing the presence of Jesus Christ and following Him. That was the marvelous experience of those first disciples, who upon encountering Jesus were fascinated and astonished at the exceptional quality of the one speaking to them, especially how he treated them, satisfying the hunger and thirst for life that was in their hearts. The evangelist John has portrayed for us the image of the impact produced by the person of Jesus on the first two disciples who met him, John and Andrew. Everything starts with a question: “What are you looking for?” (Jn 1:38). That question is followed by the invitation to live an experience: “Come and you will see” (Jn 1:39). This account will remain in history as a unique synthesis of the Christian approach.

 245. The very same question full of expectation is asked today in our Latin American continent: “Rabbi, Where are you staying?” (Jn 1:38), where do we find you adequately in order to “initiate an authentic process of conversion, communion and solidarity”?[138]Which are the places, the persons, the gifts that tell us of you, put us in communion with you, and enable us to be your disciples and

missionaries?

 6.1.2 Places of encounter with Jesus Christ

 246. Due to the invisible action of the Holy Spirit, the encounter with Christ takes place in faith received and lived in the Church. With Pope Benedict XVI’s words, we repeat with certainty:

 The Church is our home! This is our home! In the Catholic Church we find all that is good, all that gives grounds for security and consolation! Anyone who accepts Christ, “the way, the truth and the life” in his totality,is assured of peace and happiness, in this life and in the next! [139]

247. We encounter Jesus in Sacred Scripture read in the church. Sacred scripture, “Word of God written by inspiration of the Holy Spirit,”[140]is, along with tradition, source of life for the Church and soul of its evangelizing action. To be ignorant of scripture is to be ignorant of Jesus Christ and to fail to proclaim him.

 Hence Benedict XVI’s invitation:

At the beginning of this new phase that the missionary Church of Latin America and the Caribbean is preparing to enter, starting with this Fifth General Conference in Aparecida, an indispensable pre-condition is profound knowledge of the word of God. To achieve this, we must train people to read and meditate on the word of God: this must become their staple diet, so that, through their own experience, the faithful will see that the words of Jesus are spirit and life (cf. Jn 6:63). Otherwise, how could they proclaim a message whose content and spirit they do not know thoroughly? We must build our missionary commitment and the whole of our lives on the rock of the word of God.[141]

 248. It thus becomes necessary to offer the Word of God to the faithful as gift of the Father for the encounter with Jesus Christ living, path of “authentic conversion and of renewed communion and solidarity”[142]This proposal will mediate encounter with the Lord if the revealed Word contained in scripture is presented as source of evangelization. Disciples of Jesus yearn to be nourished with the bread of the Word: they want to have access to proper interpretation of the biblical texts, to use them as mediation of dialogue with Jesus, and that they be the soul of evangelization itself and of proclamation of Jesus to all. Hence, the importance of a “biblical ministry” understood as a biblical impetus to pastoral ministry, that it serve as school of interpretation or knowledge of the Word, of communion with Jesus, or prayer with the Word, and of inculturated evangelization or proclamation of the Word. This demands that bishops, priests, deacons, and lay ministers of the Word approach sacred scripture in a way that is not merely intellectual and instrumental, but with a heart “hungry to hear the Word of the Lord” (Am 8:11).

 249. Among the many ways of approaching sacred scripture, there is one privileged way to which we are all invited: Lectio divina or the practice of prayerful reading of sacred scripture. This prayerful reading, when well practiced, leads to the encounter with Jesus-Master, to the knowledge of the mystery of Jesus-Messiah, to communion with Jesus-Son of God, and to the testimony of Jesus-Lord of the Universe. With its four moments (reading, meditation, prayer, and contemplation), prayerful reading fosters the personal encounter with Jesus Christ in the manner of so many figures in the Gospel: Nicodemus and his longing for eternal life (cf. Jn 3:1-21), the Samaritan woman and her yearning for true worship (cf. Jn 4:1-42), the man born blind and his desire for inner light (cf. Jn 9), Zacchaeus and his wish to be different (cf. Lk 19:1-10), and so forth. Thanks to this encounter, all of them were enlightened and recreated because they opened themselves to the experience of the mercy of the Father who offers himself through his Word of truth and life. They did not open their heart to something of the Messiah, but to the Messiah himself, route of growth in “maturity according to his fullness” (Eph 4:13), process of discipleship, of communion with brothers and sisters and commitment to society.

 250. We encounter Jesus Christ in an admirable way in the Sacred Liturgy. In living it, celebrating the paschal mystery, Christ’s disciples delve deeper into the mysteries of the Kingdom and sacramentally express their vocation as disciples and missionaries. Vatican II’s Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy shows us the place and function of the liturgy in the following of Christ, in the missionary action of Christians, in new life in Christ, and in the life of our peoples in Him.[143]

 251. The Eucharist is the privileged place of the disciple’s encounter with Jesus Christ. With this sacrament, Jesus attracts us to himself and makes us enter into his dynamism toward God and toward neighbor. There is a close connection between the three dimensions of the Christian vocation: believing, celebrating, and living the mystery of Jesus Christ, so that Christian existence truly acquires a Eucharistic form. In each Eucharist, Christians celebrate and take on the paschal mystery by participating in it. Therefore the faithful must live their faith in the centrality of the paschal mystery of Christ through the Eucharist, so that their whole life is increasingly eucharistic life. The Eucharist, inexhaustible source of the Christian vocation, is at the same time inextinguishable source of missionary drive. In it the Holy Spirit strengthens the identity of disciples, and awakens in them the firm intention of boldly proclaiming to others what they have heard and lived.

 252. Thus becomes clear the great importance of the Sunday obligation, of “living according to Sunday” as an inner need of the believer, the Christian community, and the parish community. Without active participation in the Sunday Eucharistic celebration and on holy days of obligation, there will be no mature missionary disciple. Every great reform in the church is linked to the rediscovery of faith in the Eucharist.[144]Hence it is important to promote the “Sunday ministry,” and give it “priority in pastoral programs,”[145]for a new impulse in the evangelization of the people of God on the Latin American continent.

 253. With deep pastoral affection, we want to tell the thousands of communities with their millions of members who do not have the opportunity to participate in the Sunday Eucharist, that they also can and must live “according to Sunday.” They can nourish their already admirable missionary spirit by taking part in the “Sunday celebration of the Word,” which makes the paschal mystery present in the love that draws together (1 Jn 3:14), in the Word received (cf. Jn 5:24-25), and in community prayer (cf. Mt 18:20). Certainly, believers must yearn for full participation in the Sunday Eucharist and hence we also encourage them to pray for priestly vocations.

254. The sacrament of Reconciliation is the place where the sinner experiences in a singular manner the encounter with Jesus Christ, who has compassion on us and gives us the gift of his merciful forgiveness, gives us the sense that love is stronger than the sin committed, frees us from whatever keeps us from remaining in his love, and returns to us the joy and enthusiasm of proclaiming Him to others with open and generous heart.

 255. It is in personal and community prayer that the disciple, fed by the Word and the Eucharist, cultivates a relationship of deep friendship with Jesus Christ and seeks to embrace the will of the Father. Daily prayer is a sign of the primacy of grace in the missionary disciple’s journey. Hence, “we have to learn to pray, as it were learning this art ever anew from the lips of the Divine Master.”[146]

 256. Jesus is present in the midst of a living community in faith and fraternal love. There he fulfills his promise: “where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them” (Mt 18:20). He is in all disciples who strive to make Jesus’ existence their own, and to live their life hidden in Christ’s life (cf. Col 3:3). They experience the power of his resurrection to the point of identifying deeply with Him: “yet I live, no longer I, but Christ lives in me” (Gal 2:20). He is in the shepherds, who represent Christ himself (cf. Mt 10:40; Lk 10:16).

The bishops by divine institution have succeeded to the place of the apostles, as shepherds of the Church, and he who hears them, hears Christ, and he who rejects them, rejects Christ and Him who sent Christ (Lumen Gentium, 20).

He is in those who give testimony to the struggle for justice, for peace, and for the common good, sometimes even surrendering their own life, and in all the events in the life of our peoples, who invite us to seek a more just and more fraternal world, in every human reality, whose limitations we sometimes find painful and overwhelming.

 257. We also encounter Him in a special way in the poor, the afflicted, and the sick (cf. Mt 25:37-40) who reclaim our commitment and give us testimony of faith, patience in suffering, and constant struggle to go on living. How many times do the poor and those who suffer actually evangelize us! In the recognition of this presence and nearness, and in the defense of the rights of the excluded, the Church’s faithfulness to Jesus Christ is at stake.[147]The encounter with Jesus Christ in the poor is a constitutive dimension of our faith in Jesus Christ. Our option for them emerges from contemplation of his suffering face in them[148]and from the encounter with Him in the afflicted and outcast, whose immense dignity He himself reveals to us. It is our very adherence to Jesus Christ that makes us friends of the poor and unites us to their fate.

 6.1.3 Popular piety as space of encounter with Jesus Christ

 258. The Holy Father emphasized the “rich and profound popular religiosity, in which we see the soul of the Latin American peoples,” and presented it as “the precious treasure of the Catholic Church in Latin America.”[149]He called for it to be promoted and protected. This way of expressing the faith is present in different manners in all social sectors, in a multitude that merits our respect and affection,because their piety “manifests a thirst for God which only the simple and poor canknow.”[150]The “religion of the Latin American people is an expression of the Catholic faith. It is a people’s Catholicism,”[151]deeply inculturated, which contains the most valuable dimension of Latin American culture.

 259. Among the expressions of this spirituality are: patron saint celebrations, novenas, rosaries, the Way of the Cross, processions, dances and songs of religious folklore, affection for the saints and angels, solemn promises, and family prayer. We highlight pilgrimages, where the People of God can be recognized in their journey. There the believer celebrates the joy of feeling surrounded by myriad brothers and sisters, journeying together toward God who awaits them. Christ himself becomes pilgrim, and walks arisen among the poor. The decision to set out toward the shrine is already a confession of faith, walking is a true song of hope, and arrival is the encounter of love. The pilgrim’s gaze rests on an image that symbolizes God’s affection and closeness. Love pauses, contemplates mystery, and enjoys it in silence. It is also moved, pouring out the full load of its pain and its dreams. The confident prayer, flowing sincerely, is the best expression of a heart that has relinquished self-sufficiency, recognizing that alone it can do nothing. A living spiritual experience is compressed into a brief moment.[152]

 260. In it, pilgrims undergo the experience of a mystery that goes beyond them, the transcendence not only of God, but also of the Church, which transcends their family and their neighborhood. At shrines many pilgrims make decisions that mark their lives. These walls contain many stories that millions could tell of conversion, forgiveness, and gifts received.

 261. Popular piety delicately permeates the personal existence of each believer, and even though he or she lives in a multitude, it is not a “mass spirituality.” At different moments of daily struggle, many go back to some small sign of God’s love: a crucifix, a rosary, a candle lit to accompany a child in his or her illness, an Our Father murmured amidst tears, a tender glance at a beloved image of Mary, or a smile directed toward heaven in the midst of a simple joy.

262. It is true that faith that was incarnated in the culture can be deepened and permeate ever better how our peoples live. But this can happen only if we value positively what the Holy Spirit has already sown. Popular piety is an “indispensable starting point in deepening the faith of the people and in bringing it to maturity.” [153]Hence, the missionary disciple must be “sensitive to it, know how to perceive its interior dimensions and undeniable values.”[154]When we say that it has to be evangelized or purified, we do not mean that it is devoid of gospel wealth. We simply want all members of the believing people, recognizing the testimony of Mary and also of the saints, to try to imitate them more each day. Thus they will strive for a more direct contact with the Bible and greater participation in the sacraments, come to enjoy the Sunday celebration of the Eucharist, and express even better the service of love in solidarity in their lives. This is the way which will make it possible to draw on the rich potential of holiness and social justice encompassed in the people’s mysticism.

 263. We cannot deprecate popular spirituality, or consider it a secondary mode of Christian life, for that would be to forget the primacy of the action of the Spirit and God’s free initiative of love. Popular piety contains and expresses a powerful sense of transcendence, a spontaneous ability to find support in God and a true experience of theological love. It is also an expression of supernatural wisdom, because the wisdom of love does not depend directly on the enlightenment of the mind, but on the internal action of grace. That is why we call it popular spirituality, that is, a Christian spirituality which, while it is a personal encounter with the Lord, includes much of the bodily, the perceptible, the symbolic, and people’s most concrete needs. It is a spirituality incarnated in the culture of the lowly, which is not thereby less spiritual, but is so in another manner.

264. Popular spirituality is a legitimate way of living the faith, a way of feeling part of the Church and a manner of being missionaries, where the deepest vibrations of America’s depths come together. It is part of a “cultural historic originality”[155]of the poor of this continent, and fruit of a “synthesis between their cultures and the Christian faith.”[156]In the environment of secularization experienced by our peoples, it is still a powerful confession of the living God who acts in history, and a channel for handing on the faith. Journeying together to shrines and taking part in other manifestations of popular piety, also taking one’s children or inviting others, is in itself an evangelizing gesture by which the Christian people evangelizes itself and fulfills the Church’s missionary calling.

 265. Our peoples particularly identify with the suffering Christ; they look at him, kiss him or touch his wounded feet as though saying: This is he “who has loved me and given himself up for me” (Gal. 2:20). Many of them, beaten, ignored, dispossessed, hold their arms aloft. With their characteristic religiosity, they firmly adhere to the immense love that God has for them and that continually reminds them of their own dignity. They also find God’s affection and love in the face of Mary. In it they see reflected the essential gospel message. From the shrine of Guadalupe our beloved Mother makes her littlest children feel that they are in the fold of her cloak. Now from Aparecida she invites them to cast their nets into the world to bring out of anonymity those who are sunk in oblivion, and bring them to the light of faith. Gathering her children, she brings our peoples together around Jesus Christ.

 6.1.4 Mary, disciple and missionary

266. The greatest realization of Christian existence as trinitarian living as “children in the Son” is given us by the Virgin Mary, who by her faith (cf. Lk 1:45) and obedience to God’s will (cf. Lk 1:38) and by her constant meditation on the Word and on the actions of Jesus (cf. Lk 2:19, 51), is the Lord’s most perfect disciple.[157]As the Father’s interlocutor in his project of sending his Word to the world for human salvation, Mary, by her faith, becomes the first member of the community of believers in Christ, and also collaborates in the spiritual rebirth of the disciples. Her figure emerges from the Gospel as a free and strong woman, consciously directed toward true following of Christ. She has fully experienced the entire pilgrimage of faith as mother of Christ and then of the disciples, and yet has not been saved from incomprehension and continually having to seek the Father’s project. Thus she came to stand at the foot of the cross in deep communion, so as to then fully enter into the mystery of the covenant.

 267. With her, providentially united to the fullness of time (Cf. Gal 4:4), the hope of the poor and desire of salvation comes to fulfillment. The Virgin of Nazareth had a unique mission in the history of salvation, conceiving, educating, and accompanying her Son to his ultimate sacrifice. From the cross, Jesus Christ entrusts to his disciples, represented by John, the gift of Mary’s motherhood, which springs directly from the paschal hour of Jesus: “And from that hour the disciple took her into his home” (Jn 19:27). Persevering along with the apostles awaiting the Spirit (cf. Acts 1:13-14), she aided in the birth of the missionary Church, imprinting on it a Marian seal that deeply marks its identity. As mother of multitudes, she strengthens the fraternal bonds among all, promotes reconciliation and forgiveness, and helps the disciples of Jesus Christ experience themselves as family, the family of God. In Mary, we are with Christ, with the Father and the Holy Spirit, and likewise with our brothers and sisters.

 268. As in the human family, the Church-family is generated around a Mother, who confers “soul” and tenderness on shared family life.[158]Mary, Mother of the Church, and model and paradigm of humanity, is shaper of communion. One of the fundamental events of the Church is when the “yes” sprang forth from Mary. She draws multitudes to communion with Jesus and his Church, as we often experience at Marian shrines. Hence, the Church, like the Virgin Mary, is mother. This Marian vision of the church is the best antidote to a merely functional or bureaucratic Church.

 269. Mary is the great missionary, continuer of her Son’s mission, who forms missionaries. As she gave birth to the Savior of the world, she brought the Gospel to our Americas. In the Guadalupe event, together with the humble Juan Diego, she presided over Pentecost, which opened us to the gifts of the Spirit. Since then, countless communities have found in her the closest inspiration for learning how to be disciples and missionaries of Jesus. We joyfully note that she has become part of the journey of each of our peoples, deeply entering into the fabric of their history and taking on the noblest and most significant features of the people in them. The various devotions and shrines spread all over the continent attest to Mary’s closeness to the people, and they likewise manifest the faith and trust that her devotees feel toward her. She belongs to them and they experience her as mother and sister.

 270. Today when the emphasis is being given to discipleship and mission in our Latin American and Caribbean continent, it is she who shines before our eyes as the complete and absolutely faithful image of the following of Christ. This is the hour of the most radical follower of Christ, of her teaching for discipleship and mission, to which Pope Benedict XVI directs us:Mary Most Holy, the pure and immaculate Virgin, is for us a school of faith destined to guide us and give us strength on the path that leads us to the Creator of Heaven and Earth. The Pope has come to Aparecida with great joy so as to say to you first of all: “Remain in the school of Mary.” Take inspiration from her teachings, seek to welcome and to preserve in your hearts the enlightenment that she, by divine mandate, sends you from on high[159].

 271. She who “kept all these things, reflecting on them in her heart” (Lk 2:19; cf. 2:51), teaches us the primacy of listening to the Word in the life of the disciple and missionary.

The Magnificat is entirely woven from threads of Holy Scripture, threads drawn from the Word of God. Here we see how completely at home Mary is with the Word of God, with ease she moves in and out of it. She speaks and thinks with the Word of God; the Word of God becomes her word, and her word issues from the Word of God. Here we see how her thoughts are attuned to the thoughts of God, how her will is one with the will of God. Since Mary is completely imbued with the Word of God, she is able to become the Mother of the Word Incarnate.[160]

 This familiarity with the mystery of Jesus is facilitated by praying the rosary,where:

The Christian people sits at the school of Mary and is led to contemplate the beauty on the face of Christ and to experience the depths of his love.Through the Rosary the faithful receive abundant grace, as though from the very hands of the Mother of the Redeemer.[161]

 272. With her eyes on her children in their needs as at Cana of Galilee, Mary helps keep alive attitudes of attention, service, commitment, and selfless generosity that should distinguish the disciples of her Son. She also indicates what pedagogy should be used so that the poor “feel at home” in every Christian community.[162] She creates communion and educates to a way of life shared in solidarity, in fraternity, in caring for and welcoming the other, especially if he or she is poor or in need. Her strong presence in our communities has enriched and will continue to enrich the Church’s motherly dimension and its welcoming attitude, which makes it “home and school of communion,”[163]and spiritual space that prepares for mission.

 6.1.5 The apostles and the saints

273. The apostles of Jesus and the saints have also marked the spirituality and way of life of our churches. Their lives are privileged places of encounter with Jesus Christ. Their testimony remains valid and their teachings inspire the being and action of the Christian communities of the continent. Among them, the apostle Peter to whom Jesus entrusted the mission of confirming the faith of his brothers (cf. Lk 22:31-32), helps them to strengthen the bond of communion with the pope, his successor, and to find in Jesus the words of eternal life. Paul, the tireless evangelizer, has shown them the path of missionary boldness and the will of approaching each cultural reality with the Good News of salvation. John, the disciple loved by the Lord, has revealed to them the transforming power of the new commandment and the fecundity of remaining in his love.

 274. Our peoples nourish affection and special devotion to Joseph, Mary’s husband, the just, faithful, and generous man who knows how to lose himself in order to find himself in the mystery of the Son. St. Joseph, the silent teacher, fascinates, attracts, and teaches, not with words but as the shining testimony of his virtues and his firm simplicity.

 275. Our communities bear the stamp of the apostles, and they also recognize the Christian testimony of so many men and women who sowed the seeds of the Gospel in our lands, even spilling their blood as martyrs. Their example of life and holiness constitutes a precious gift for the believing journey of Latin Americans, and at the same time, a stimulus for imitating their virtues in new cultural expressions in history. With the passion of their love for Jesus Christ,

they have been active members and missionaries in their ecclesial community.They have courageously persevered in promoting people’s rights, they were clearsighted in critically discerning reality in the light of the church’s social teaching and credible through the coherent testimony of their lives. We contemporary Christians draw on their legacy and we feel called to continue with renewed apostolic and missionary zeal the evangelical style of life that they have transmitted on to us.

 6.2 THE PROCESS OF FORMATION OF MISSIONARY DISCIPLES

 276. The vocation and commitment to be disciples and missionaries of Jesus Christ today in Latin America and the Caribbean requires a clear and firm option for the formation of our communities, for the sake of all the baptized, regardless of the role they play in the Church. We look to Jesus, the Master who personally formed his apostles and disciples. Christ gives us the method: “Come and see” (Jn 1:39), I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life” (Jn 14:6). With Him we can develop the potentialities in people and form missionary disciples. With enduring patience and wisdom, Jesus invited all to follow Him. He led those who agreed to follow him into the mystery of the Kingdom of God, and after his death and resurrection, he sent them to preach the Good News in the power of his Spirit. His style becomes emblematic for those doing formation, and takes on special relevance when we think of the patient work of formation that the Church must undertake in the new sociocultural context of Latin America.

 277. The formative itinerary of the follower of Jesus sinks its roots down into the dynamic nature of the person and in the personal invitation of Jesus Christ, who calls his own by name, and they follow him because they know his voice. The Lord awakened the deep aspirations of his disciples and drew them to himself, full of astonishment. Following him is fruit of a fascination that responds to the desire for human fulfillment and to the yearning for full life. A disciple is someone who is passionate for Christ, and recognizes him as the master leading and accompanying him.

 6.2.1 Aspects of the process.

278. We highlight five fundamental aspects in the process of forming missionary disciples. They appear differently at each step of the journey but are closely intertwined and draw nourishment from one another:
a) The Encounter with Jesus Christ: Those who will be his disciples are already seeking him (cf. Jn 1:38), but it is the Lord who calls them: “Follow me” (Mk 1:14; Mt 9:9). The deeper meaning of the search must be discovered, and the encounter with Christ that leads to Christian initiation must be fostered. This encounter must be constantly renewed by personal testimony, proclamation of the kerygma, and the missionary action of the community. The kerygma is not simply a stage, but the leitmotiv of a process that culminates in the maturity of the disciple of Jesus Christ. Without the kerygma, the other aspects of this process are condemned to sterility, with hearts not truly converted to the Lord. Only out of the kerygma does the possibility of a true Christian initiation occur. Hence, the Church should have it present in all its actions.

 b) Conversion: It is the initial response of those who have listened to the Lord in wonder, who believe in Him through the action of the Spirit, and who decide to be His friend and go with him, changing how they think and live, accepting the cross of Christ, conscious that dying to sin is attaining life. In Baptism and the sacrament of Reconciliation Christ’s Redemption is actualized for us.

 c) Discipleship: The person constantly matures in knowledge, love, and following of Jesus the master, and delves deeper into the mystery of His person, his example, and his teaching. Ongoing catechesis and sacramental life are of fundamental importance for this stage; they strengthen initial conversion, and enable missionary disciples to persevere in Christian life and mission in the midst of the world that challenges them.

 d) Communion: There can be no Christian life except in community: in families, parishes, communities of consecrated life, base communities, other small communities, and movements. Like the early Christians who met in community, the disciples take part in the life of the Church, and in the encounter with brothers and sisters, living the love of Christ in solidarity, in fraternal life. They are also accompanied and encouraged by the community and its shepherds as they mature in the live of the Spirit.

 e) Mission: As they get to know and love their Lord, disciples experience the need to share with others their joy at being sent, at going to the world to proclaim Jesus Christ, dead and risen, to make real the love and service in the person of the neediest, in short, to build the Kingdom of God. Mission is inseparable from discipleship, and hence it must not be understood as a stage subsequent to formation, although it is carried out in different ways, depending on one’s own vocation and on the moment in human and Christian maturation at which the person stands.

 6.2.2 General criteria

 6.2.2.1 Comprehensive, kerygmatic , and ongoing formation

 279. The primary mission of formation is to help the members of the Church to always be with Christ, and thus to recognize, welcome, internalize, and develop the experience and values that constitute Christian identity and mission in the world. Hence formation entails a integral process, that is, it encompasses varied dimensions, all harmonized among themselves in vital unity. At the foundation of these dimensions is the power of the kerygmatic proclamation. People feel the contagious power of the Spirit and the Word and are led to listen to Jesus Christ, to believe in Him as their Savior, to recognize him as the one who gives full meaning to their life, and to follow in his footsteps. The proclamation is based on the fact of the presence of the Risen Christ today in the church, and it is an absolutely necessary factor in the process of forming disciples and missionaries. At the same time, formation is ongoing and dynamic, in accordance with people’s development and with the service that they are called to provide in the midst of the demands of history.

 6.2.2.2 A formation attentive to diverse dimensions.

 280. Formation encompasses diverse dimensions that must be integrated harmoniously throughout the formation process, namely the human and communal, spiritual,intellectual, and pastoral missionary dimensions.

 a) The Human and Communal Dimension. It tends to accompany formation processes that lead to taking on one’s own history and healing it, so as to become capable of living as Christians in a pluralistic world, with balance, strength, serenity, and inner freedom. It entails developing personalities that mature in contact with reality and are open to Mystery.

 b) The Spiritual Dimension. This is the formative dimension that grounds Christian existence in the experience of God made manifest in Jesus, and leads it by the Spirit over the paths of a deep maturation. Through the various charisms, the person is rooted in the journey of life and service proposed by Christ, with a personal style. It makes it possible to pursue wholeheartedly by faith, like the Virgin Mary, the joyful, luminous, sorrowful, and glorious paths of one’s Lord and Teacher.

 c) The Intellectual Dimension. The encounter with Christ, Word made Flesh, empowers the dynamism of reason which seeks the meaning of reality and opens up to Mystery. It is expressed in serious reflection, constantly updated through study, which opens intelligence to truth with the light of faith. It also trains for discernment, critical judgment, and dialogue on the overall situation and the culture. It particularly assures well grounded biblical and theological knowledge, and knowledge of the human sciences, in order to acquire the necessary competence for the sake of the ecclesial services required and so as to be suitably present in secular life.

 d) The Pastoral and Missionary Dimension. An authentic Christian journey fills theheart with joy and hope and moves believers to proclaim Christ continually intheir life and their environment. It projects toward the mission of forming missionary disciples at the service of the world. It trains for proposing appealing projects and styles of Christian life, with organic actions and fraternal collaboration with all members of the community. It helps combine evangelization and pedagogy, communicating life and offering pastoral itineraries in accordance with the Christian maturity, age, and other conditions proper to persons or groups. It fosters the responsibility of lay people in the world for building the Kingdom of God. It arouses continual concern for those who have distanced and for those who are oblivious to the Lord in their lives.

 6.2.2.3 A formation that is respectful of process

 281. Reaching the stature of new life in Christ, identifying deeply with Him[164]and his mission is a long road requiring diversified itineraries that respect personal processes and continual and gradual community rhythms. In the diocese, the central thrust must be a comprehensive formation project approved by the bishop and drawn up with the proper diocesan bodies, taking into account all the leading forces of the particular church: associations, services and movements, religious communities, small communities, social ministry commissions, and various ecclesial bodies so as to offer the comprehensive view and the convergence of the various initiatives. There must also be a suitably prepared training team to assure the effectiveness of the process itself and to accompany people with dynamic, active, and open pedagogies. The presence and contribution of lay men and women on training teams supplies a special unique richness, because out of their experiences and competencies, they offer criteria, contents, and valuable witness for those who are in formation.

 6.2.2.4 A formation that makes provision for accompanying the disciples

 282. Each sector of the People of God asks to be accompanied and formed, in keeping with the particular vocation and ministry to which it has been called: the bishop is the principle of unity in the diocese through the threefold ministry of teaching, sanctifying, and governing; priests by cooperating with the ministry of the bishop in care for the people of God entrusted to them; permanent deacons in life-giving, humble, and persevering service as valuable aid to bishops and priests; consecrated men and women in radical following of the Master; laymen and laywomen who carry out their evangelizing responsibility by collaborating in forming Christian communities and in building the Kingdom of God in the world. Training is therefore required for those who can accompany others spiritually and pastorally.

 283. We emphasize that the formation of lay men and women must contribute primarily to an activity as missionary disciples in the world, from the standpoint of dialogue and transformation of society. Specific formation so that they can have a significant impact on different fields is imperative,

especially in the vast and complicated world of politics, society and economics, but also the world of culture, of the sciences and the arts, of international life, of the mass media. It also includes other realities which are open to evangelization.[165]

 6.2.2.5 A formation in the spirituality of missionary action

 284. Disciples must be formed in a spirituality of missionary action, which is based on docility to the impulse of the Spirit, to its life giving power which mobilizes and transfigures all dimensions of existence. It is not an experience limited to the private spaces of devotion, but rather seeks to penetrate everything with its fire and life. Moved by the drive and zeal that come from the Spirit, the disciple and missionary learns to express it in work, dialogue, service, and everyday mission.

 285. When the impulse of the Spirit permeates and motivates all areas of existence, it also pervades and shapes each individual’s specific calling. Thus the spirituality proper to priests, religious men and women, parents, business people, catechists, and so forth takes shape and develops. Each of the vocations has a concrete and distinctive way of living spirituality which gives depth and enthusiasm to the specific performance of their tasks. Thus life in the Spirit does not enclose us in cozy intimacy, but makes us generous and creative persons, happy in proclamation and missionary service. We become committed to the demands of reality and able to find a profound significance for everything that we are entrusted with doing for the Church and for the world.



[136] DCE

[137] Ibid 1.

[138] EAm 8

[139] BENEDICT XVI, Address at the End of Praying the Holy Rosary at the Shrine of Our Lady of

Aparecida, May 12, 2007.

[140] DV 9.

[141] IA 3

[142] 3EAm 12

[143] Cf.SC 7.

[144] Cf.ibid.6.

[145] IA 4.

[146] NMI 33.

[147] Ibid.49.

[148] Cf. ibid 25.

[149] IA 1.

[150] EN 48.

[151] PD 444.

[152] El Santuario, memoria, presencia, y profecía del Dios vivo. L’Osservatore Romano. Spanish edition, 22,(May 28, 1999).

[153] Congregation for divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, Directory on Popular Piety and

the Liturgy,” n. 64.

[154] EN 48.

[155] PD 446.

[156] IA 1.

[157] Cf. LG 54.

[158] Cf. PD 295.

[159] BENEDICT XVI, Address at the end of the praying of the Holy Rosary at the Shrine of Our Lady of

Aparecida, May 12, 2007.

[160] DCE 41.

[161] RVM 1.

[162] NMI 50.

[163] Ibid. 43.

[164] Cf. EN 19.

[165] EN 70.

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