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The Importance of Philosophical Studies in Priestly and Religious Formation
Claretian Ashram, College of Philosophy organized a National Seminar on “The Importance of Philosophical Education in Priestly and Religious Formation” on the occasion of her Silver Jubilee on 7th and 8th of February 2014. On 7th evening the seminar was solemnly inaugurated Rev. Dr Saju Chackalackal cmi, the President of Dharmaram Vidhya Kshetram Bangalore, at a formal public function at 6.30pm in the presence of a whopping 200 participants. Dr Augustine Mundiath, the Rector and President of Claretian Ashram, welcomed the Chief Guest, the speakers, the moderators and all the participants. There were 6 prominent speakers from renowned institutes across the county. The participants, who were brothers of both Darsana and Clartetian Ashram and sisters especially those in formations from the neighbouring communities of different congregations, registered their attendance from 6.00pm onwards for the seminar.
Apostolic Letter of Pope John Paul II at the close of the Great Jubilee Year 2000
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15. .. But if we ask what is the core of the great legacy it (Jubilee Year) leaves us, I would not hesitate to describe it as the contemplation of the face of Christ: Christ considered in his historical features and in his mystery, Christ known through his manifold presence in the Church and in the world, and confessed as the meaning of history and the light of life’s journey.
Now we must look ahead, we must “put out into the deep”, trusting in Christ’s words: Duc in altum! What we have done this year cannot justify a sense of complacency, and still less should it lead us to relax our commitment. On the contrary, the experiences we have had should inspire in us new energy, and impel us to invest in concrete initiatives the enthusiasm which we have felt. Jesus himself warns us: “No one who puts his hand to the plough and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God” (Lk 9:62). In the cause of the Kingdom there is no time for looking back, even less for settling into laziness. Much awaits us, and for this reason we must set about drawing up an effective post-Jubilee pastoral plan.
It is important however that what we propose, with the help of God, should be profoundly rooted in contemplation and prayer. 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”. In this regard we should recall how Jesus reproved Martha: “You are anxious and troubled about many things; one thing is needful” (Lk 10:41-42). In this spirit, before setting out a number of practical guidelines for your consideration, I wish to share with you some points of meditation on the mystery of Christ, the absolute foundation of all our pastoral activity.
A FACE TO CONTEMPLATE
16. “We wish to see Jesus” (Jn 12:21). This request, addressed to the Apostle Philip by some Greeks who had made a pilgrimage to Jerusalem for the Passover, echoes spiritually in our ears too during this Jubilee Year. Like those pilgrims of two thousand years ago, the men and women of our own day — often perhaps unconsciously — ask believers not only to “speak” of Christ, but in a certain sense to “show” him to them. And is it not the Church’s task to reflect the light of Christ in every historical period, to make his face shine also before the generations of the new millennium?
Our witness, however, would be hopelessly inadequate if we ourselves had not firstcontemplated his face. The Great Jubilee has certainly helped us to do this more deeply. At the end of the Jubilee, as we go back to our ordinary routine, storing in our hearts the treasures of this very special time, our gaze is more than ever firmly set on the face of the Lord.
The witness of the Gospels
17. The contemplation of Christ’s face cannot fail to be inspired by all that we are told about him in Sacred Scripture, which from beginning to end is permeated by his mystery, prefigured in a veiled way in the Old Testament and revealed fully in the New, so that Saint Jerome can vigorously affirm: “Ignorance of the Scriptures is ignorance of Christ”.8 Remaining firmly anchored in Scripture, we open ourselves to the action of the Spirit (cf. Jn 15:26) from whom the sacred texts derive their origin, as well as to the witness of the Apostles (cf. Jn 15:27), who had a first-hand experience of Christ, the Word of life: they saw him with their eyes, heard him with their ears, touched him with their hands (cf. 1 Jn 1:1).
What we receive from them is a vision of faith based on precise historical testimony: a true testimony which the Gospels, despite their complex redaction and primarily catechetical purpose, pass on to us in an entirely trustworthy way.9
18. The Gospels do not claim to be a complete biography of Jesus in accordance with the canons of modern historical science. From them, nevertheless, the face of the Nazarene emerges with a solid historical foundation. The Evangelists took pains to represent him on the basis of trustworthy testimonies which they gathered (cf. Lk 1:3) and working with documents which were subjected to careful ecclesial scrutiny. It was on the basis of such first-hand testimony that, enlightened by the Holy Spirit’s action, they learnt the humanly perplexing fact of Jesus’ virginal birth from Mary, wife of Joseph. From those who had known him during the almost thirty years spent in Nazareth (cf. Lk 3:23) they collected facts about the life of “the carpenter’s son” (Mt 13:55) who was himself a “carpenter” and whose place within the context of his larger family was well established (cf. Mk 6:3). They recorded his religious fervour, which prompted him to make annual pilgrimages to the Temple in Jerusalem with his family (cf. Lk 2:41), and made him a regular visitor to the synagogue of his own town (cf. Lk 4:16).
Without being complete and detailed, the reports of his public ministry become much fuller, starting at the moment of the young Galilean’s baptism by John the Baptist in the Jordan. Strengthened by the witness from on high and aware of being the “beloved son” (Lk 3:22), he begins his preaching of the coming of the Kingdom of God, and explains its demands and its power by words and signs of grace and mercy. The Gospels present him to us as one who travels through towns and villages, accompanied by twelve Apostles whom he has chosen (cf.Mk 3:13-19), by a group of women who assist them (cf. Lk 8:2-3), by crowds that seek him out and follow him, by the sick who cry out for his healing power, by people who listen to him with varying degrees of acceptance of his words.
The Gospel narrative then converges on the growing tension which develops between Jesus and the dominant groups in the religious society of his time, until the final crisis with its dramatic climax on Golgotha. This is the hour of darkness, which is followed by a new, radiant and definitive dawn. The Gospel accounts conclude, in fact, by showing the Nazarene victorious over death. They point to the empty tomb and follow him in the cycle of apparitions in which the disciples — at first perplexed and bewildered, then filled with unspeakable joy — experience his living and glorious presence. From him they receive the gift of the Spirit (cf.Jn 20:22) and the command to proclaim the Gospel to “all nations” (Mt 28:19).
The life of faith
19. “The disciples were glad when they saw the Lord” (Jn 20:20). The face which the Apostles contemplated after the Resurrection was the same face of the Jesus with whom they had lived for almost three years, and who now convinced them of the astonishing truth of his new life by showing them “his hands and his side” (ibid.). Of course it was not easy to believe. The disciples on their way to Emmaus believed only after a long spiritual journey (cf. Lk 24:13-35). The Apostle Thomas believed only after verifying for himself the marvellous event (cf. Jn20:24-29). In fact, regardless of how much his body was seen or touched, only faith could fully enter the mystery of that face. This was an experience which the disciples must have already had during the historical life of Christ, in the questions which came to their minds whenever they felt challenged by his actions and his words. One can never really reach Jesus except by the path of faith, on a journey of which the stages seem to be indicated to us by the Gospel itself in the well known scene at Caesarea Philippi (cf. Mt 16:13-20). Engaging in a kind of first evaluation of his mission, Jesus asks his disciples what “people” think of him, and they answer him: “Some say John the Baptist, others say Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets” (Mt 16:14). A lofty response to be sure, but still a long way — by far — from the truth. The crowds are able to sense a definitely exceptional religious dimension to this rabbi who speaks in such a spellbinding way, but they are not able to put him above those men of God who had distinguished the history of Israel. Jesus is really far different! It is precisely this further step of awareness, concerning as it does the deeper level of his being, which he expects from those who are close to him: “But who do you say that I am?” (Mt16:15). Only the faith proclaimed by Peter, and with him by the Church in every age, truly goes to the heart, and touches the depth of the mystery: “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God” (Mt 16:16).
20. How had Peter come to this faith? And what is asked of us, if we wish to follow in his footsteps with ever greater conviction? Matthew gives us an enlightening insight in the words with which Jesus accepts Peter’s confession: “Flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven” (16:17). The expression “flesh and blood” is a reference to man and the common way of understanding things. In the case of Jesus, this common way is not enough. A grace of “revelation” is needed, which comes from the Father (cf. ibid.). Luke gives us an indication which points in the same direction when he notes that this dialogue with the disciples took place when Jesus “was praying alone” (Lk 9:18). Both indications converge to make it clear that we cannot come to the fullness of contemplation of the Lord’s face by our own efforts alone, but by allowing grace to take us by the hand. Only the experience of silence and prayer offers the proper setting for the growth and development of a true, faithful and consistent knowledge of that mystery which finds its culminating expression in the solemn proclamation by the Evangelist Saint John: “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, full of grace and truth; we have beheld his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father” (1:14).
The depth of the mystery
21. The Word and the flesh, the divine glory and his dwelling among us! It is in the intimate and inseparable union of these two aspects that Christ’s identity is to be found, in accordance with the classic formula of the Council of Chalcedon (451): “one person in two natures”. The person is that, and that alone, of the Eternal Word, the Son of the Father. The two natures, without any confusion whatsoever, but also without any possible separation, are the divine and the human.10
We know that our concepts and our words are limited. The formula, though always human, is nonetheless carefully measured in its doctrinal content, and it enables us, albeit with trepidation, to gaze in some way into the depths of the mystery. Yes, Jesus is true God and true man! Like the Apostle Thomas, the Church is constantly invited by Christ to touch his wounds, to recognize, that is, the fullness of his humanity taken from Mary, given up to death, transfigured by the Resurrection: “Put your finger here, and see my hands; and put out your hand, and place it in my side” (Jn 20:27). Like Thomas, the Church bows down in adoration before the Risen One, clothed in the fullness of his divine splendour, and never ceases to exclaim: “My Lord and my God!” (Jn 20:28).
22. “The Word became flesh” (Jn 1:14). This striking formulation by John of the mystery of Christ is confirmed by the entire New Testament. The Apostle Paul takes this same approach when he affirms that the Son of God was born “of the race of David, according to the flesh” (cf. Rom 1:3; cf. 9:5). If today, because of the rationalism found in so much of contemporary culture, it is above all faith in the divinity of Christ that has become problematic, in other historical and cultural contexts there was a tendency to diminish and do away with the historical concreteness of Jesus’ humanity. But for the Church’s faith it is essential and indispensable to affirm that the Word truly “became flesh” and took on every aspect of humanity, except sin (cf. Heb 4:15). From this perspective, the incarnation is truly a kenosis— a “self-emptying” — on the part of the Son of God of that glory which is his from all eternity (Phil 2:6-8; cf. 1 Pt 3:18).
On the other hand, this abasement of the Son of God is not an end in itself; it tends rather towards the full glorification of Christ, even in his humanity: “Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (Phil 2:9-11).
23. “Your face, O Lord, I seek” (Ps 27:8). The ancient longing of the Psalmist could receive no fulfilment greater and more surprising than the contemplation of the face of Christ. God has truly blessed us in him and has made “his face to shine upon us” (Ps 67:1). At the same time, God and man that he is, he reveals to us also the true face of man, “fully revealing man to man himself”.11
Jesus is “the new man” (cf. Eph 4:24; Col 3:10) who calls redeemed humanity to share in his divine life. The mystery of the Incarnation lays the foundations for an anthropology which, reaching beyond its own limitations and contradictions, moves towards God himself, indeed towards the goal of “divinization”. This occurs through the grafting of the redeemed on to Christ and their admission into the intimacy of the Trinitarian life. The Fathers have laid great stress on this soteriological dimension of the mystery of the Incarnation: 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.12
The Son’s face
24. This divine-human identity emerges forcefully from the Gospels, which offer us a range of elements that make it possible for us to enter that “frontier zone” of the mystery, represented by Christ’s self-awareness. The Church has no doubt that the Evangelists in their accounts, and inspired from on high, have correctly understood in the words which Jesus spoke the truth about his person and his awareness of it. Is this not what Luke wishes to tell us when he recounts Jesus’ first recorded words, spoken in the Temple in Jerusalem when he was barely twelve years old? Already at that time he shows that he is aware of a unique relationship with God, a relationship which properly belongs to a “son”. When his mother tells him how anxiously she and Joseph had been searching for him, Jesus replies without hesitation: “How is it that you sought me? Did you not know that I must be about my Father’s affairs?” (Lk2:49). It is no wonder therefore that later as a grown man his language authoritatively expresses the depth of his own mystery, as is abundantly clear both in the Synoptic Gospels (cf. Mt 11:27; Lk 10:22) and above all in the Gospel of John. In his self-awareness, Jesus has no doubts: “The Father is in me and I am in the Father” (Jn 10:38).
However valid it may be to maintain that, because of the human condition which made him grow “in wisdom and in stature, and in favour with God and man” (Lk 2:52), his human awareness of his own mystery would also have progressed to its fullest expression in his glorified humanity, there is no doubt that already in his historical existence Jesus was aware of his identity as the Son of God. John emphasizes this to the point of affirming that it was ultimately because of this awareness that Jesus was rejected and condemned: they sought to kill him “because he not only broke the sabbath but also called God his Father, making himself equal with God” (Jn 5:18). In Gethsemane and on Golgotha Jesus’ human awareness will be put to the supreme test. But not even the drama of his Passion and Death will be able to shake his serene certainty of being the Son of the heavenly Father.
A face of sorrow
25. In contemplating Christ’s face, we confront the most paradoxical aspect of his mystery, as it emerges in his last hour, on the Cross. The mystery within the mystery, before which we cannot but prostrate ourselves in adoration.
The intensity of the episode of the agony in the Garden of Olives passes before our eyes. Oppressed by foreknowledge of the trials that await him, and alone before the Father, Jesus cries out to him in his habitual and affectionate expression of trust: “Abba, Father”. He asks him to take away, if possible, the cup of suffering (cf. Mk 14:36). But the Father seems not to want to heed the Son’s cry. In order to bring man back to the Father’s face, Jesus not only had to take on the face of man, but he had to burden himself with the “face” of sin. “For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God” (2 Cor 5:21).
We shall never exhaust the depths of this mystery. All the harshness of the paradox can be heard in Jesus’ seemingly desperate cry of pain on the Cross: ” ‘Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?’ which means, ‘My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?’ ” (Mk 15:34). Is it possible to imagine a greater agony, a more impenetrable darkness? In reality, the anguished “why” addressed to the Father in the opening words of the Twenty-second Psalm expresses all the realism of unspeakable pain; but it is also illumined by the meaning of that entire prayer, in which the Psalmist brings together suffering and trust, in a moving blend of emotions. In fact the Psalm continues: “In you our fathers put their trust; they trusted and you set them free … Do not leave me alone in my distress, come close, there is none else to help” (Ps 22:5,12).
26. Jesus’ cry on the Cross, dear Brothers and Sisters, is not the cry of anguish of a man without hope, but the prayer of the Son who offers his life to the Father in love, for the salvation of all. At the very moment when he identifies with our sin, “abandoned” by the Father, he “abandons” himself into the hands of the Father. His eyes remain fixed on the Father. Precisely because of the knowledge and experience of the Father which he alone has, even at this moment of darkness he sees clearly the gravity of sin and suffers because of it. He alone, who sees the Father and rejoices fully in him, can understand completely what it means to resist the Father’s love by sin. More than an experience of physical pain, his Passion is an agonizing suffering of the soul. Theological tradition has not failed to ask how Jesus could possibly experience at one and the same time his profound unity with the Father, by its very nature a source of joy and happiness, and an agony that goes all the way to his final cry of abandonment. The simultaneous presence of these two seemingly irreconcilable aspects is rooted in the fathomless depths of the hypostatic union.
27. Faced with this mystery, we are greatly helped not only by theological investigation but also by that great heritage which is the “lived theology” of the saints. The saints offer us precious insights which enable us to understand more easily the intuition of faith, thanks to the special enlightenment which some of them have received from the Holy Spirit, or even through their personal experience of those terrible states of trial which the mystical tradition describes as the “dark night”. Not infrequently the saints have undergone something akin to Jesus’ experience on the Cross in the paradoxical blending of bliss and pain. In the Dialogue of Divine Providence, God the Father shows Catherine of Siena how joy and suffering can be present together in holy souls: “Thus the soul is blissful and afflicted: afflicted on account of the sins of its neighbour, blissful on account of the union and the affection of charity which it has inwardly received. These souls imitate the spotless Lamb, my Only-begotten Son, who on the Cross was both blissful and afflicted”.13 In the same way, Thérèse of Lisieux lived her agony in communion with the agony of Jesus, “experiencing” in herself the very paradox of Jesus’s own bliss and anguish: “In the Garden of Olives our Lord was blessed with all the joys of the Trinity, yet his dying was no less harsh. It is a mystery, but I assure you that, on the basis of what I myself am feeling, I can understand something of it”.14 What an illuminating testimony! Moreover, the accounts given by the Evangelists themselves provide a basis for this intuition on the part of the Church of Christ’s consciousness when they record that, even in the depths of his pain, he died imploring forgiveness for his executioners (cf. Lk 23:34) and expressing to the Father his ultimate filial abandonment: “Father, into your hands I commend my spirit” (Lk 23:46).
The face of the One who is Risen
28. As on Good Friday and Holy Saturday, the Church pauses in contemplation of this bleeding face, which conceals the life of God and offers salvation to the world. But her contemplation of Christ’s face cannot stop at the image of the Crucified One. He is the Risen One! Were this not so, our preaching would be in vain and our faith empty (cf. 1 Cor 15:14). The Resurrection was the Father’s response to Christ’s obedience, as we learn from the Letter to the Hebrews: “In the days of his flesh, Jesus offered up prayers and supplications, with loud cries and tears, to him who was able to save him from death, and he was heard for his godly fear. Son though he was, he learned obedience through what he suffered; and being made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation to all who obey him” (5:7-9).
It is the Risen Christ to whom the Church now looks. And she does so in the footsteps of Peter, who wept for his denial and started out again by confessing, with understandable trepidation, his love of Christ: “You know that I love you” (Jn 21:15-17). She does so in the company of Paul, who encountered the Lord on the road to Damascus and was overwhelmed: “For me to live is Christ, and to die is gain” (Phil 1:21).
Two thousand years after these events, the Church relives them as if they had happened today. Gazing on the face of Christ, the Bride contemplates her treasure and her joy. “Dulcis Iesus memoria, dans vera cordis gaudia”: how sweet is the memory of Jesus, the source of the heart’s true joy! Heartened by this experience, the Church today sets out once more on her journey, in order to proclaim Christ to the world at the dawn of the Third Millennium: he “is the same yesterday and today and for ever” (Heb 13:8).
III- STARTING AFRESH FROM CHRIST
29. “I am with you always, to the close of the age” (Mt 28:20). This assurance, dear brothers and sisters, has accompanied the Church for two thousand years, and has now been renewed in our hearts by the celebration of the Jubilee. From it we must gain new impetus in Christian living, making it the force which inspires our journey of faith. Conscious of the Risen Lord’s presence among us, we ask ourselves today the same question put to Peter in Jerusalem immediately after his Pentecost speech: “What must we do?” (Acts 2:37).
We put the question with trusting optimism, but without underestimating the problems we face. We are certainly not seduced by the naive expectation that, faced with the great challenges of our time, we shall find some magic formula. No, we shall not be saved by a formula but by a Person, and the assurance which he gives us: I am with you!
It is not therefore a matter of inventing a “new programme”. The programme already exists: it is the plan found in the Gospel and in the living Tradition, it is the same as ever. Ultimately, it has its centre in Christ himself, who is to be known, loved and imitated, so that in him we may live the life of the Trinity, and with him transform history until its fulfilment in the heavenly Jerusalem. This is a programme which does not change with shifts of times and cultures, even though it takes account of time and culture for the sake of true dialogue and effective communication. This programme for all times is our programme for the Third Millennium.
But it must be translated into pastoral initiatives adapted to the circumstances of each community. The Jubilee has given us the extraordinary opportunity to travel together for a number of years on a journey common to the whole Church, a catechetical journey on the theme of the Trinity, accompanied by precise pastoral undertakings designed to ensure that the Jubilee would be a fruitful event. I am grateful for the sincere and widespread acceptance of what I proposed in my Apostolic Letter Tertio Millennio Adveniente. But now it is no longer an immediate goal that we face, but the larger and more demanding challenge of normal pastoral activity. With its universal and indispensable provisions, the programme of the Gospel must continue to take root, as it has always done, in the life of the Church everywhere. It is in the local churches that the specific features of a detailed pastoral plan can be identified — goals and methods, formation and enrichment of the people involved, the search for the necessary resources — which will enable the proclamation of Christ to reach people, mould communities, and have a deep and incisive influence in bringing Gospel values to bear in society and culture.
I therefore earnestly exhort the Pastors of the particular Churches, with the help of all sectors of God’s People, confidently to plan the stages of the journey ahead, harmonizing the choices of each diocesan community with those of neighbouring Churches and of the universal Church.
This harmonization will certainly be facilitated by the collegial work which Bishops now regularly undertake in Episcopal Conferences and Synods. Was this not the point of the continental Assemblies of the Synod of Bishops which prepared for the Jubilee, and which forged important directives for the present-day proclamation of the Gospel in so many different settings and cultures? This rich legacy of reflection must not be allowed to disappear, but must be implemented in practical ways.
What awaits us therefore is an exciting work of pastoral revitalization — a work involving all of us. As guidance and encouragement to everyone, I wish to indicate certain pastoral priorities which the experience of the Great Jubilee has, in my view, brought to light.
30. First of all, I have no hesitation in saying that all pastoral initiatives must be set in relation to holiness. Was this not the ultimate meaning of the Jubilee indulgence, as a special grace offered by Christ so that the life of every baptized person could be purified and deeply renewed?
It is my hope that, among those who have taken part in the Jubilee, many will have benefited from this grace, in full awareness of its demands. Once the Jubilee is over, we resume our normal path, but knowing that stressing holiness remains more than ever an urgent pastoral task.
It is necessary therefore to rediscover the full practical significance of Chapter 5 of the Dogmatic Constitution on the Church Lumen Gentium, dedicated to the “universal call to holiness”. The Council Fathers laid such stress on this point, not just to embellish ecclesiology with a kind of spiritual veneer, but to make the call to holiness an intrinsic and essential aspect of their teaching on the Church. The rediscovery of the Church as “mystery”, or as a people “gathered together by the unity of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit”,15was bound to bring with it a rediscovery of the Church’s “holiness”, understood in the basic sense of belonging to him who is in essence the Holy One, the “thrice Holy” (cf. Is 6:3). To profess the Church as holy means to point to her as the Bride of Christ, for whom he gave himself precisely in order to make her holy (cf. Eph 5:25-26). This as it were objective gift of holiness is offered to all the baptized.
But the gift in turn becomes a task, which must shape the whole of Christian life: “This is the will of God, your sanctification” (1 Th 4:3). 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”.16
31. At first glance, it might seem almost impractical to recall this elementary truth as the foundation of the pastoral planning in which we are involved at the start of the new millennium. Can holiness ever be “planned”? What might the word “holiness” mean in the context of a pastoral plan?
In fact, to place pastoral planning under the heading of holiness is a choice filled with consequences. It implies the conviction that, since Baptism is a true entry into the holiness of God through incorporation into Christ and the indwelling of his Spirit, it would be a contradiction to settle for a life of mediocrity, marked by a minimalist ethic and a shallow religiosity. To ask catechumens: “Do you wish to receive Baptism?” means at the same time to ask them: “Do you wish to become holy?” It means to set before them the radical nature of the Sermon on the Mount: “Be perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect” (Mt 5:48).
As the Council itself explained, this ideal of perfection must not be misunderstood as if it involved some kind of extraordinary existence, possible only for a few “uncommon heroes” of holiness. The ways of holiness are many, according to the vocation of each individual. I thank the Lord that in these years he has enabled me to beatify and canonize a large number of Christians, and among them many lay people who attained holiness in the most ordinary circumstances of life. The time has come to re-propose wholeheartedly to everyone this high standard of ordinary Christian living: the whole life of the Christian community and of Christian families must lead in this direction. It is also clear however 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 recognized by the Church.
32. This training in holiness calls for a Christian life distinguished above all in the art of prayer. The Jubilee Year has been a year of more intense prayer, both personal and communal. But we well know that prayer cannot be taken for granted. We have to learn to pray: as it were learning this art ever anew from the lips of the Divine Master himself, like the first disciples: “Lord, teach us to pray!” (Lk 11:1). Prayer develops that conversation with Christ which makes us his intimate friends: “Abide in me and I in you” (Jn 15:4). This reciprocity is the very substance and soul of the Christian life, and the condition of all true pastoral life. Wrought in us by the Holy Spirit, this reciprocity opens us, through Christ and in Christ, to contemplation of the Father’s face. Learning this Trinitarian shape of Christian prayer and living it fully, above all in the liturgy, the summit and source of the Church’s life,17 but also in personal experience, is the secret of a truly vital Christianity, which has no reason to fear the future, because it returns continually to the sources and finds in them new life.
33. Is it not one of the “signs of the times” that in today’s world, despite widespread secularization, there is a widespread demand for spirituality, a demand which expresses itself in large part as a renewed need for prayer? Other religions, which are now widely present in ancient Christian lands, offer their own responses to this need, and sometimes they do so in appealing ways. But 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.
The great mystical tradition of the Church of both East and West has much to say in this regard. It shows how prayer can progress, as a genuine dialogue of love, to the point of rendering the person wholly possessed by the divine Beloved, vibrating at the Spirit’s touch, resting filially within the Father’s heart. This is the lived experience of Christ’s promise: “He who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and manifest myself to him” (Jn14:21). It is a journey totally sustained by grace, which nonetheless demands an intense spiritual commitment and is no stranger to painful purifications (the “dark night”). But it leads, in various possible ways, to the ineffable joy experienced by the mystics as “nuptial union”. How can we forget here, among the many shining examples, the teachings of Saint John of the Cross and Saint Teresa of Avila?
Yes, dear brothers and sisters, 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”. Intense prayer, yes, but it does not distract us from our commitment to history: by opening our heart to the love of God it also opens it to the love of our brothers and sisters, and makes us capable of shaping history according to God’s plan.18
34. Christians who have received the gift of a vocation to the specially consecrated life are of course called to prayer in a particular way: of its nature, their consecration makes them more open to the experience of contemplation, and it is important that they should cultivate it with special care. But it would be wrong to think that ordinary Christians can be content with a shallow prayer that is unable to fill their whole life. Especially in the face of the many trials to which today’s world subjects faith, they would be not only mediocre Christians but “Christians at risk”. They would run the insidious risk of seeing their faith progressively undermined, and would perhaps end up succumbing to the allure of “substitutes”, accepting alternative religious proposals and even indulging in far-fetched superstitions.
It is therefore essential that education in prayer should become in some way a key-point of all pastoral planning. I myself have decided to dedicate the forthcoming Wednesday catecheses toreflection upon the Psalms, beginning with the Psalms of Morning Prayer with which the public prayer of the Church invites us to consecrate and direct our day. How helpful it would be if not only in religious communities but also in parishes more were done to ensure an all-pervading climate of prayer. With proper discernment, this would require that popular piety be given its proper place, and that people be educated especially in liturgical prayer. Perhaps it is more thinkable than we usually presume for the average day of a Christian community to combine the many forms of pastoral life and witness in the world with the celebration of the Eucharist and even the recitation of Lauds and Vespers. The experience of many committed Christian groups, also those made up largely of lay people, is proof of this.
The Sunday Eucharist
35. It is therefore obvious that our principal attention must be given to the liturgy, “the summit towards which the Church’s action tends and at the same time the source from which comes all her strength”.19 In the twentieth century, especially since the Council, there has been a great development in the way the Christian community celebrates the Sacraments, especially the Eucharist. It is necessary to continue in this direction, and to stress particularly the Sunday Eucharist and Sunday itself experienced as a special day of faith, the day of the Risen Lord and of the gift of the Spirit, the true weekly Easter.20 For two thousand years, Christian time has been measured by the memory of that “first day of the week” (Mk 16:2,9; Lk 24:1; Jn20:1), when the Risen Christ gave the Apostles the gift of peace and of the Spirit (cf. Jn20:19-23). The truth of Christ’s Resurrection is the original fact upon which Christian faith is based (cf. 1 Cor 15:14), an event set at the centre of the mystery of time, prefiguring the last day when Christ will return in glory. We do not know what the new millennium has in store for us, but we are certain that it is safe in the hands of Christ, the “King of kings and Lord of lords” (Rev 19:16); and precisely by celebrating his Passover not just once a year but every Sunday, the Church will continue to show to every generation “the true fulcrum of history, to which the mystery of the world’s origin and its final destiny leads”.21
36. Following Dies Domini, I therefore wish to insist that sharing in the Eucharist should really be the heart of Sunday for every baptized person. It is a fundamental duty, to be fulfilled not just in order to observe a precept but as something felt as essential to a truly informed and consistent Christian life. We are entering a millennium which already shows signs of being marked by a profound interweaving of cultures and religions, even in countries which have been Christian for many centuries. In many regions Christians are, or are becoming, a “little flock” (Lk 12:32). This presents them with the challenge, often in isolated and difficult situations, to bear stronger witness to the distinguishing elements of their own identity. The duty to take part in the Eucharist every Sunday is one of these. The Sunday Eucharist which every week gathers Christians together as God’s family round the table of the Word and the Bread of Life, is also the most natural antidote to dispersion. It is the privileged place where communion is ceaselessly proclaimed and nurtured. Precisely through sharing in the Eucharist, the Lord’s Day also becomes the Day of the Church,22 when she can effectively exercise her role as the sacrament of unity.
The Sacrament of Reconciliation
37. I am also asking for renewed pastoral courage in ensuring that the day-to-day teaching of Christian communities persuasively and effectively presents the practice of the Sacrament of Reconciliation. As you will recall, in 1984 I dealt with this subject in the Post-Synodal Exhortation Reconciliatio et Paenitentia, which synthesized the results of an Assembly of the Synod of Bishops devoted to this question. My invitation then was to make every effort to face the crisis of “the sense of sin” apparent in today’s culture.23 But I was even more insistent in calling for a rediscovery of Christ as mysterium pietatis, the one in whom God shows us his compassionate heart and reconciles us fully with himself. It is this face of Christ that must be rediscovered through the Sacrament of Penance, which for the faithful is “the ordinary way of obtaining forgiveness and the remission of serious sins committed after Baptism”.24 When the Synod addressed the problem, the crisis of the Sacrament was there for all to see, especially in some parts of the world. The causes of the crisis have not disappeared in the brief span of time since then. But the Jubilee Year, which has been particularly marked by a return to the Sacrament of Penance, has given us an encouraging message, which should not be ignored: if many people, and among them also many young people, have benefited from approaching this Sacrament, it is probably necessary that Pastors should arm themselves with more confidence, creativity and perseverance in presenting it and leading people to appreciate it. Dear brothers in the priesthood, we must not give in to passing crises! The Lord’s gifts — and the Sacraments are among the most precious — come from the One who well knows the human heart and is the Lord of history.
The primacy of grace
38. If in the planning that awaits us we commit ourselves more confidently to a pastoral activity that gives personal and communal prayer its proper place, we shall be observing an essential principle of the Christian view of life: the primacy of grace. There is a temptation which perennially besets every spiritual journey and pastoral work: that of thinking that the results depend on our ability to act and to plan. God of course asks us really to cooperate with his grace, and therefore invites us to invest all our resources of intelligence and energy in serving the cause of the Kingdom. But it is fatal to forget that “without Christ we can do nothing” (cf. Jn 15:5).
It is prayer which roots us in this truth. It constantly reminds us of the primacy of Christ and, in union with him, the primacy of the interior life and of holiness. When this principle is not respected, is it any wonder that pastoral plans come to nothing and leave us with a disheartening sense of frustration? We then share the experience of the disciples in the Gospel story of the miraculous catch of fish: “We have toiled all night and caught nothing” (Lk 5:5). This is the moment of faith, of prayer, of conversation with God, in order to open our hearts to the tide of grace and allow the word of Christ to pass through us in all its power: Duc in altum! On that occasion, it was Peter who spoke the word of faith: “At your word I will let down the nets” (ibid.). As this millennium begins, allow the Successor of Peter to invite the whole Church to make this act of faith, which expresses itself in a renewed commitment to prayer.
Listening to the Word
39. There is no doubt that this primacy of holiness and prayer is inconceivable without a renewed listening to the word of God. Ever since the Second Vatican Council underlined the pre-eminent role of the word of God in the life of the Church, great progress has certainly been made in devout listening to Sacred Scripture and attentive study of it. Scripture has its rightful place of honour in the public prayer of the Church. Individuals and communities now make extensive use of the Bible, and among lay people there are many who devote themselves to Scripture with the valuable help of theological and biblical studies. But it is above all the work of evangelization and catechesis which is drawing new life from attentiveness to the word of God. Dear brothers and sisters, this development needs to be consolidated and deepened, also by making sure that every family has a Bible. It is especially necessary that listening to the word of God should become a life-giving encounter, in the ancient and ever valid tradition of lectio divina, which draws from the biblical text the living word which questions, directs and shapes our lives.
Proclaiming the Word
40. To nourish ourselves with the word in order to be “servants of the word” in the work of evangelization: this is surely a priority for the Church at the dawn of the new millennium. Even in countries evangelized many centuries ago, the reality of a “Christian society” which, amid all the frailties which have always marked human life, measured itself explicitly on Gospel values, is now gone. Today we must courageously face a situation which is becoming increasingly diversified and demanding, in the context of “globalization” and of the consequent new and uncertain mingling of peoples and cultures. Over the years, I have often repeated the summons to the new evangelization. I do so again now, especially in order to insist that we must rekindle in ourselves the impetus of the beginnings and allow ourselves to be filled with the ardour of the apostolic preaching which followed Pentecost. We must revive in ourselves the burning conviction of Paul, who cried out: “Woe to me if I do not preach the Gospel” (1 Cor 9:16).
This passion will not fail to stir in the Church a new sense of mission, which cannot be left to a group of “specialists” but must involve the responsibility of all the members of the People of God. Those who have come into genuine contact with Christ cannot keep him for themselves, they must proclaim him. A new apostolic outreach is needed, which will be lived as the everyday commitment of Christian communities and groups. This should be done however with the respect due to the different paths of different people and with sensitivity to the diversity of cultures in which the Christian message must be planted, in such a way that the particular values of each people will not be rejected but purified and brought to their fullness.
In the Third Millennium, Christianity will have to respond ever more effectively to this need for inculturation. Christianity, while remaining completely true to itself, with unswerving fidelity to the proclamation of the Gospel and the tradition of the Church, will also reflect the different faces of the cultures and peoples in which it is received and takes root. In this Jubilee Year, we have rejoiced in a special way in the beauty of the Church’s varied face. This is perhaps only a beginning, a barely sketched image of the future which the Spirit of God is preparing for us.
Christ must be presented to all people with confidence. We shall address adults, families, young people, children, without ever hiding the most radical demands of the Gospel message, but taking into account each person’s needs in regard to their sensitivity and language, after the example of Paul who declared: “I have become all things to all men, that I might by all means save some” (1 Cor 9:22). In making these recommendations, I am thinking especially ofthe pastoral care of young people. Precisely in regard to young people, as I said earlier, the Jubilee has given us an encouraging testimony of their generous availability. We must learn to interpret that heartening response, by investing that enthusiasm like a new talent (cf. Mt25:15) which the Lord has put into our hands so that we can make it yield a rich return.
41. May the shining example of the many witnesses to the faith whom we have remembered during the Jubilee sustain and guide us in this confident, enterprising and creative sense of mission. For the Church, the martyrs have always been a seed of life. Sanguis martyrum semen christianorum:25 this famous “law” formulated by Tertullian has proved true in all the trials of history. Will this not also be the case of the century and millennium now beginning? Perhaps we were too used to thinking of the martyrs in rather distant terms, as though they were a category of the past, associated especially with the first centuries of the Christian era. The Jubilee remembrance has presented us with a surprising vista, showing us that our own time is particularly prolific in witnesses, who in different ways were able to live the Gospel in the midst of hostility and persecution, often to the point of the supreme test of shedding their blood. In them the word of God, sown in good soil, yielded a hundred fold (cf. Mt 13:8, 23). By their example they have shown us, and made smooth for us, so to speak, the path to the future. All that remains for us is, with God’s grace, to follow in their footsteps.
IV – WITNESSES TO LOVE
42. “By this all will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another” (Jn13:35). If we have truly contemplated the face of Christ, dear Brothers and Sisters, our pastoral planning will necessarily be inspired by the “new commandment” which he gave us: “Love one another, as I have loved you” (Jn 13:34).
This is the other important area in which there has to be commitment and planning on the part of the universal Church and the particular Churches: the domain of communion (koinonia),which embodies and reveals the very essence of the mystery of the Church. Communion is the fruit and demonstration of that love which springs from the heart of the Eternal Father and is poured out upon us through the Spirit which Jesus gives us (cf. Rom 5:5), to make us all “one heart and one soul” (Acts 4:32). It is in building this communion of love that the Church appears as “sacrament”, as the “sign and instrument of intimate union with God and of the unity of the human race”.26
The Lord’s words on this point are too precise for us to diminish their import. Many things are necessary for the Church’s journey through history, not least in this new century; but without charity (agape), all will be in vain. It is again the Apostle Paul who in the hymn to lovereminds us: even if we speak the tongues of men and of angels, and if we have faith “to move mountains”, but are without love, all will come to “nothing” (cf. 1 Cor 13:2). Love is truly the “heart” of the Church, as was well understood by Saint Thérèse of Lisieux, whom I proclaimed a Doctor of the Church precisely because she is an expert in the scientia amoris: “I understood that the Church had a Heart and that this Heart was aflame with Love. I understood that Love alone stirred the members of the Church to act… I understood that Love encompassed all vocations, that Love was everything”.27
A spirituality of communion
43. To make the Church the home and the school of communion: that is the great challenge facing us in the millennium which is now beginning, if we wish to be faithful to God’s plan and respond to the world’s deepest yearnings.
But what does this mean in practice? Here too, our thoughts could run immediately to the action to be undertaken, but that would not be the right impulse to follow. Before making practical plans, we need to promote a spirituality of communion, making it the guiding principle of education wherever individuals and Christians are formed, wherever ministers of the altar, consecrated persons, and pastoral workers are trained, wherever families and communities are being built up. A spirituality of communion indicates above all the heart’s contemplation of the mystery of the Trinity dwelling in us, and whose light we must also be able to see shining on the face of the brothers and sisters around us. A spirituality of communion also means an ability to think of our brothers and sisters in faith within the profound unity of the Mystical Body, and therefore as “those who are a part of me”. This makes us able to share their joys and sufferings, to sense their desires and attend to their needs, to offer them deep and genuine friendship. A spirituality of communion implies also the ability to see what is positive in others, to welcome it and prize it as a gift from God: not only as a gift for the brother or sister who has received it directly, but also as a “gift for me”. A spirituality of communion means, finally, to know how to “make room” for our brothers and sisters, bearing “each other’s burdens” (Gal 6:2) and resisting the selfish temptations which constantly beset us and provoke competition, careerism, distrust and jealousy. Let us have no illusions: unless we follow this spiritual path, external structures of communion will serve very little purpose. They would become mechanisms without a soul, “masks” of communion rather than its means of expression and growth.
44. Consequently, the new century will have to see us more than ever intent on valuing and developing the forums and structures which, in accordance with the Second Vatican Council’s major directives, serve to ensure and safeguard communion. How can we forget in the first place those specific services to communion which are the Petrine ministry and, closely related to it, episcopal collegiality? These are realities which have their foundation and substance in Christ’s own plan for the Church,28 but which need to be examined constantly in order to ensure that they follow their genuinely evangelical inspiration.
Much has also been done since the Second Vatican Council for the reform of the Roman Curia, the organization of Synods and the functioning of Episcopal Conferences. But there is certainly much more to be done, in order to realize all the potential of these instruments of communion, which are especially appropriate today in view of the need to respond promptly and effectively to the issues which the Church must face in these rapidly changing times.
45. Communion must be cultivated and extended day by day and at every level in the structures of each Church’s life. There, relations between Bishops, priests and deacons, between Pastors and the entire People of God, between clergy and Religious, between associations and ecclesial movements must all be clearly characterized by communion. To this end, the structures of participation envisaged by Canon Law, such as the Council of Priests and the Pastoral Council, must be ever more highly valued. These of course are not governed by the rules of parliamentary democracy, because they are consultative rather than deliberative;29 yet this does not mean that they are less meaningful and relevant. The theology and spirituality of communion encourage a fruitful dialogue between Pastors and faithful: on the one hand uniting them a priori in all that is essential, and on the other leading them to pondered agreement in matters open to discussion.
To this end, we need to make our own the ancient pastoral wisdom which, without prejudice to their authority, encouraged Pastors to listen more widely to the entire People of God. Significant is Saint Benedict’s reminder to the Abbot of a monastery, inviting him to consult even the youngest members of the community: “By the Lord’s inspiration, it is often a younger person who knows what is best”.30 And Saint Paulinus of Nola urges: “Let us listen to what all the faithful say, because in every one of them the Spirit of God breathes”.31
While the wisdom of the law, by providing precise rules for participation, attests to the hierarchical structure of the Church and averts any temptation to arbitrariness or unjustified claims, the spirituality of communion, by prompting a trust and openness wholly in accord with the dignity and responsibility of every member of the People of God, supplies institutional reality with a soul.
The diversity of vocations
46. Such a vision of communion is closely linked to the Christian community’s ability to make room for all the gifts of the Spirit. The unity of the Church is not uniformity, but an organic blending of legitimate diversities. It is the reality of many members joined in a single body, the one Body of Christ (cf. 1 Cor 12:12). Therefore the Church of the Third Millennium will need to encourage all the baptized and confirmed to be aware of their active responsibility in the Church’s life. Together with the ordained ministry, other ministries, whether formally instituted or simply recognized, can flourish for the good of the whole community, sustaining it in all its many needs: from catechesis to liturgy, from the education of the young to the widest array of charitable works.
Certainly, a generous commitment is needed — above all through insistent prayer to the Lord of the harvest (cf. Mt 9:38) — in promoting vocations to the priesthood and consecrated life. This is a question of great relevance for the life of the Church in every part of the world. In some traditionally Christian countries, the situation has become dramatic, due to changed social circumstances and a religious disinterest resulting from the consumer and secularist mentality. There is a pressing need to implement an extensive plan of vocational promotion, based on personal contact and involving parishes, schools and families in the effort to foster a more attentive reflection on life’s essential values. These reach their fulfilment in the response which each person is invited to give to God’s call, particularly when the call implies a total giving of self and of one’s energies to the cause of the Kingdom.
It is in this perspective that we see the value of all other vocations, rooted as they are in the new life received in the Sacrament of Baptism. In a special way it will be necessary to discover ever more fully the specific vocation of the laity, called “to seek the kingdom of God by engaging in temporal affairs and by ordering them according to the plan of God”;32 they “have their own role to play in the mission of the whole people of God in the Church and in the world … by their work for the evangelization and the sanctification of people”.33
Along these same lines, another important aspect of communion is the promotion of forms of association, whether of the more traditional kind or the newer ecclesial movements, which continue to give the Church a vitality that is God’s gift and a true “springtime of the Spirit”. Obviously, associations and movements need to work in full harmony within both the universal Church and the particular Churches, and in obedience to the authoritative directives of the Pastors. But the Apostle’s exacting and decisive warning applies to all: “Do not quench the Spirit, do not despise prophesying, but test everything and hold fast what is good” (1 Th5:19-21).
47. At a time in history like the present, special attention must also be given to the pastoral care of the family, particularly when this fundamental institution is experiencing a radical and widespread crisis. In the Christian view of marriage, the relationship between a man and a woman — a mutual and total bond, unique and indissoluble — is part of God’s original plan, obscured throughout history by our “hardness of heart”, but which Christ came to restore to its pristine splendour, disclosing what had been God’s will “from the beginning” (Mt 19:8). Raised to the dignity of a Sacrament, marriage expresses the “great mystery” of Christ’s nuptial love for his Church (cf. Eph 5:32).
On this point the Church cannot yield to cultural pressures, no matter how widespread and even militant they may be. Instead, it is necessary to ensure that through an ever more complete Gospel formation Christian families show convincingly that it is possible to live marriage fully in keeping with God’s plan and with the true good of the human person — of the spouses, and of the children who are more fragile. Families themselves must become increasingly conscious of the care due to children, and play an active role in the Church and in society in safeguarding their rights.
CONCLUSION – DUC IN ALTUM!
58. Let us go forward in hope! A new millennium is opening before the Church like a vast ocean upon which we shall venture, relying on the help of Christ. The Son of God, who became incarnate two thousand years ago out of love for humanity, is at work even today: we need discerning eyes to see this and, above all, a generous heart to become the instruments of his work. Did we not celebrate the Jubilee Year in order to refresh our contact with this living source of our hope? Now, the Christ whom we have contemplated and loved bids us to set out once more on our journey: “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit” (Mt 28:19). The missionary mandate accompanies us into the Third Millennium and urges us to share the enthusiasm of the very first Christians: we can count on the power of the same Spirit who was poured out at Pentecost and who impels us still today to start out anew, sustained by the hope “which does not disappoint” (Rom 5:5).
At the beginning of this new century, our steps must quicken as we travel the highways of the world. Many are the paths on which each one of us and each of our Churches must travel, but there is no distance between those who are united in the same communion, the communion which is daily nourished at the table of the Eucharistic Bread and the Word of Life. Every Sunday, the Risen Christ asks us to meet him as it were once more in the Upper Room where, on the evening of “the first day of the week” (Jn 20:19) he appeared to his disciples in order to “breathe” on them his life-giving Spirit and launch them on the great adventure of proclaiming the Gospel.
On this journey we are accompanied by the Blessed Virgin Mary to whom, a few months ago, in the presence of a great number of Bishops assembled in Rome from all parts of the world, I entrusted the Third Millennium. During this year I have often invoked her as the “Star of the New Evangelization”. Now I point to Mary once again as the radiant dawn and sure guide for our steps. Once more, echoing the words of Jesus himself and giving voice to the filial affection of the whole Church, I say to her: “Woman, behold your children”(cf. Jn 19:26).
59. Dear brothers and sisters! The symbol of the Holy Door now closes behind us, but only in order to leave more fully open the living door which is Christ. After the enthusiasm of the Jubilee, it is not to a dull everyday routine that we return. On the contrary, if ours has been a genuine pilgrimage, it will have as it were stretched our legs for the journey still ahead. We need to imitate the zeal of the Apostle Paul: “Straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on towards the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus” (Phil 3:13-14). Together, we must all imitate the contemplation of Mary, who returned home to Nazareth from her pilgrimage to the Holy City of Jerusalem, treasuring in her heart the mystery of her Son (cf. Lk 2:51).
The Risen Jesus accompanies us on our way and enables us to recognize him, as the disciples of Emmaus did, “in the breaking of the bread” (Lk 24:35). May he find us watchful, ready to recognize his face and run to our brothers and sisters with the good news: “We have seen the Lord!” (Jn 20:25).
This will be the much desired fruit of the Jubilee of the Year 2000, the Jubilee which has vividly set before our eyes once more the mystery of Jesus of Nazareth, the Son of God and the Redeemer of man.
As the Jubilee now comes to a close and points us to a future of hope, may the praise and thanksgiving of the whole Church rise to the Father, through Christ, in the Holy Spirit.
In pledge of this, I impart to all of you my heartfelt Blessing.
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Pope John Paul II, Encyclical
On the permanent validity of the Church’s missionary mandate
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Missionaries and Religious Institutes Ad Gentes
65. Now, as in the past, among those involved in the missionary apostolate a place of fundamental importance is held by the persons and institutions to whom the Decree Ad Gentes devotes the special chapter entitled “Missionaries.” This requires careful reflection, especially on the part of missionaries themselves, who may be led, as a result of changes occurring within the missionary field, no longer to understand the meaning of their vocation and no longer to know exactly what the Church expects of them today.
The following words of the Council are a point of reference: “Although the task of spreading the faith, to the best of one’s ability, falls to each disciple of Christ, the Lord always calls from the number of his disciples those whom he wishes, so that they may be with him and that he may send them to preach to the nations. Accordingly, through the Holy Spirit, who distributes his gifts as he wishes for the good of all, Christ stirs up a missionary vocation in the hearts of individuals, and at the same time raises up in the Church those institutes which undertake the duty of evangelization, which is the responsibility of the whole Church, as their special task.”
What is involved, therefore, is a “special vocation,” patterned on that of the apostles. It is manifested in a total commitment to evangelization, a commitment which involves the missionary’s whole person and life, and demands a self giving without limits of energy or time. Those who have received this vocation, “sent by legitimate authority, go out, in faith and obedience, to those who are far from Christ, set aside for the work to which they have been called as ministers of the Gospel.” Missionaries must always meditate on the response demanded by the gift they have received, and continually keep their doctrinal and apostolic formation up to date.
66. Missionary institutes, drawing from their experience and creativity while remaining faithful to their founding charism, must employ all means necessary to ensure the adequate preparation of candidates and the renewal of their members’ spiritual, moral and physical energies. They should sense that they are a vital part of the ecclesial community and should carry out their work in communion with it. Indeed, “every institute exists for the Church and must enrich her with its distinctive characteristics, according to a particular spirit and a specific mission”; the guardians of this fidelity to the founding charism are the bishops themselves.
In general, missionary institutes came into being in churches located in traditionally Christian countries, and historically they have been the means employed by the Congregation ofPropaganda Fide for the spread of the faith and the founding of new churches. Today, these institutes are receiving more and more candidates from the young churches which they founded, while new missionary institutes have arisen in countries which previously only received missionaries, but are now also sending them. This is a praiseworthy trend which demonstrates the continuing validity and relevance of the specific missionary vocation of these institutes. They remain “absolutely necessary,” not only for missionary activity ad gentes, in keeping with their tradition, but also for stirring up missionary fervor both in the churches of traditionally Christian countries and in the younger churches.
The special vocation of missionaries “for life” retains all its validity: it is the model of the Church’s missionary commitment, which always stands in need of radical and total self-giving, of new and bold endeavors. Therefore the men and women missionaries who have devoted their whole lives to bearing witness to the risen Lord among the nations must not allow themselves to be daunted by doubts, misunderstanding, rejection or persecution. They should revive the grace of their specific charism and courageously press on, preferring – in a spirit of faith, obedience and communion with their pastors – to seek the lowliest and most demanding places.…….
The Missionary Fruitfulness of Consecrated Life
69. From the inexhaustible and manifold richness of the Spirit come the vocations of theInstitutes of Consecrated Life, whose members, “because of the dedication to the service of the Church deriving from their very consecration, have an obligation to play a special part in missionary activity, in a manner appropriate to their Institute.” History witnesses to the outstanding service rendered by religious families in the spread of the faith and the formation of new churches: from the ancient monastic institutions, to the medieval Orders, up to the more recent congregations.
(a) Echoing the Council, I invite institutes of contemplative life to establish communities in the young churches, so as to “bear glorious witness among non-Christians to the majesty and love of God, as well as to unity in Christ.” This presence is beneficial throughout the non-Christian world, especially in those areas where religious traditions hold the contemplative life in great esteem for its asceticism and its search for the Absolute.
(b) To institutes of active life, I would recommend the immense opportunities for works of charity, for the proclamation of the Gospel, for Christian education, cultural endeavors and solidarity with the poor and those suffering from discrimination, abandonment and oppression. Whether they pursue a strictly missionary goal or not, such institutes should ask themselves how willing and able they are to broaden their action in order to extend God’s kingdom. In recent times many institutes have responded to this request, which I hope will be given even greater consideration and implementation for a more authentic service. The Church needs to make known the great gospel values of which she is the bearer. No one witnesses more effectively to these values than those who profess the consecrated life in chastity, poverty and obedience, in a total gift of self to God and in complete readiness to serve humanity and society after the example of Christ.
70. I extend a special word of appreciation to the missionary religious sisters, in whom virginity for the sake of the kingdom is transformed into a motherhood in the spirit that is rich and fruitful. It is precisely the mission ad gentes that offers them vast scope for “the gift of self with love in a total and undivided manner.” The example and activity of women who through virginity are consecrated to love of God and neighbor, especially the very poor, are an indispensable evangelical sign among those peoples and cultures where women still have far to go on the way toward human promotion and liberation. It is my hope that many young Christian women will be attracted to giving themselves generously to Christ, and will draw strength and joy from their consecration in order to bear witness to him among the peoples who do not know him.
CHAPTER VIII – MISSIONARY SPIRITUALITY
87. Missionary activity demands a specific spirituality, which applies in particular to all those whom God has called to be missionaries.
Being Led by the Spirit
This spirituality is expressed first of all by a life of complete docility to the Spirit. It commits us to being molded from within by the Spirit, so that we may become ever more like Christ. It is not possible to bear witness to Christ without reflecting his image, which is made alive in us by grace and the power of the Spirit. This docility then commits us to receive the gifts of fortitude and discernment, which are essential elements of missionary spirituality.
An example of this is found with the apostles during the Master’s public life. Despite their love for him and their generous response to his call, they proved to be incapable of understanding his words and reluctant to follow him along the path of suffering and humiliation. The Spirit transformed them into courageous witnesses to Christ and enlightened heralds of his word. It was the Spirit himself who guided them along the difficult and new paths of mission.
Today, as in the past, that mission is difficult and complex, and demands the courage and light of the Spirit. We often experience the dramatic situation of the first Christian community which witnessed unbelieving and hostile forces “gathered together against the Lord and his Anointed” (Acts 4:26). Now, as then, we must pray that God will grant us boldness in preaching the Gospel; we must ponder the mysterious ways of the Spirit and allow ourselves to be led by him into all the truth (cf. Jn 16:13).
Living the Mystery of Christ, “the One who was sent”
88. An essential characteristic of missionary spirituality is intimate communion with Christ. We cannot understand or carry out the mission unless we refer it to Christ as the one who was sent to evangelize. St. Paul describes Christ’s attitude: “Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form he humbled himself and became obedient unto death, even death on a cross” (Phil 2:5-8).
The mystery of the Incarnation and Redemption is thus described as a total self-emptying which leads Christ to experience fully the human condition and to accept totally the Father’s plan. This is an emptying of self which is permeated by love and expresses love. The mission follows this same path and leads to the foot of the cross.
The missionary is required to “renounce himself and everything that up to this point he considered as his own, and to make himself everything to everyone.” This he does by a poverty which sets him free for the Gospel, overcoming attachment to the people and things about him, so that he may become a brother to those to whom he is sent and thus bring them Christ the Savior. This is the goal of missionary spirituality: “To the weak I became weak…; I have become all things to all men, that I might by all means save some. I do it all for the sake of the Gospel…” (1 Cor 9:22-23).
It is precisely because he is “sent” that the missionary experiences the consoling presence of Christ, who is with him at every moment of life – “Do not be afraid…for I am with you” (Acts 18:9-10) – and who awaits him in the heart of every person.
Loving the Church and Humanity As Jesus Did
89. Missionary spirituality is also marked by apostolic charity, the charity of Christ who came “to gather into one the children of God who are scattered abroad” (Jn 11:52), of the Good Shepherd who knows his sheep, who searches them out and offers his life for them (cf. Jn 10). Those who have the missionary spirit feel Christ’s burning love for souls, and love the Church as Christ did.
The missionary is urged on by “zeal for souls,” a zeal inspired by Christ’s own charity, which takes the form of concern, tenderness, compassion, openness, availability and interest in people’s problems. Jesus’ love is very deep: he who “knew what was in man” (Jn 2:25) loved everyone by offering them redemption and suffered when it was rejected.
The missionary is a person of charity. In order to proclaim to all his brothers and sisters that they are loved by God and are capable of loving, he must show love toward all, giving his life for his neighbor. The missionary is the “universal brother,” bearing in himself the Church’s spirit, her openness to and interest in all peoples and individuals, especially the least and poorest of his brethren. As such, he overcomes barriers and divisions of race, cast or ideology. He is a sign of God’s love in the world – a love without exclusion or partiality.
Finally, like Christ he must love the Church: “Christ loved the Church and gave himself up for her” (Eph 5:25). This love, even to the point of giving one’s life, is a focal point for him. Only profound love for the Church can sustain the missionary’s zeal. His daily pressure, as St. Paul says, is “anxiety for all the churches” (2 Cor 11:28). For every missionary “fidelity to Christ cannot be separated from fidelity to the Church.”
The True Missionary Is the Saint
90. The call to mission derives, of its nature, from the call to holiness. A missionary is really such only if he commits himself to the way of holiness: “Holiness must be called a fundamental presupposition and an irreplaceable condition for everyone in fulfilling the mission of salvation in the Church.”
The universal call to holiness is closely linked to the universal call to mission. Every member of the faithful is called to holiness and to mission. This was the earnest desire of the Council, which hoped to be able “to enlighten all people with the brightness of Christ, which gleams over the face of the Church, by preaching the Gospel to every creature.” The Church’s missionary spirituality is a journey toward holiness.
The renewed impulse to the mission ad gentes demands holy missionaries. It is not enough to update pastoral techniques, organize and coordinate ecclesial resources, or delve more deeply into the biblical and theological foundations of faith. What is needed is the encouragement of a new “ardor for holiness” among missionaries and throughout the Christian community, especially among those who work most closely with missionaries.
Dear brothers and sisters: let us remember the missionary enthusiasm of the first Christian communities. Despite the limited means of travel and communication in those times, the proclamation of the Gospel quickly reached the ends of the earth. And this was the religion of a man who had died on a cross, “a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles”! (1 Cor 1:23) Underlying this missionary dynamism was the holiness of the first Christians and the first communities.
91. I therefore address myself to the recently baptized members of the young communities and young churches. Today, you are the hope of this two-thousand-year-old Church of ours: being young in faith, you must be like the first Christians and radiate enthusiasm and courage, in generous devotion to God and neighbor. In a word, you must set yourselves on the path of holiness. Only thus can you be a sign of God in the world and re-live in your own countries the missionary epic of the early Church. You will also be a leaven of missionary spirit for the older churches.
For their part, missionaries should reflect on the duty of holiness required of them by the gift of their vocation, renew themselves in spirit day by day, and strive to update their doctrinal and pastoral formation. The missionary must be a “contemplative in action.” He finds answers to problems in the light of God’s word and in personal and community prayer. My contact with representatives of the non-Christian spiritual traditions, particularly those of Asia, has confirmed me in the view that the future of mission depends to a great extent on contemplation. Unless the missionary is a contemplative he cannot proclaim Christ in a credible way. He is a witness to the experience of God, and must be able to say with the apostles: “that which we have looked upon…concerning the word of life,…we proclaim also to you” (1 Jn 1:1-3).
The missionary is a person of the Beatitudes. Before sending out the Twelve to evangelize, Jesus, in his “missionary discourse” (cf. Mt 10), teaches them the paths of mission: poverty, meekness, acceptance of suffering and persecution, the desire for justice and peace, charity – in other words, the Beatitudes, lived out in the apostolic life (cf. Mt 5:1-12). By living the Beatitudes, the missionary experiences and shows concretely that the kingdom of God has already come, and that he has accepted it. The characteristic of every authentic missionary life is the inner joy that comes from faith. In a world tormented and oppressed by so many problems, a world tempted to pessimism, the one who proclaims the “Good News” must be a person who has found true hope in Christ.
92. Today, as never before, the Church has the opportunity of bringing the Gospel, by witness and word, to all people and nations. I see the dawning of a new missionary age, which will become a radiant day bearing an abundant harvest, if all Christians, and missionaries and young churches in particular, respond with generosity and holiness to the calls and challenges of our time.
Like the apostles after Christ’s Ascension, the Church must gather in the Upper Room “together with Mary, the Mother of Jesus” (Acts 1:14), in order to pray for the Spirit and to gain strength and courage to carry out the missionary mandate. We too, like the apostles, need to be transformed and guided by the Spirit.
On the eve of the third millennium the whole Church is invited to live more intensely the mystery of Christ by gratefully cooperating in the work of salvation. The Church does this together with Mary and following the example of Mary, the Church’s Mother and model: Mary is the model of that maternal love which should inspire all who cooperate in the Church’s apostolic mission for the rebirth of humanity. Therefore, “strengthened by the presence of Christ, the Church journeys through time toward the consummation of the ages and goes to meet the Lord who comes. But on this journey …she proceeds along the path already trodden by the Virgin Mary.”
To “Mary’s mediation, wholly oriented toward Christ and tending to the revelation of his salvific power,” I entrust the Church and, in particular, those who commit themselves to carrying out the missionary mandate in today’s world. As Christ sent forth his apostles in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, so too, renewing that same mandate, I extend to all of you my apostolic blessing, in the name of the same Most Holy Trinity. Amen.
Pope Jhn Paul II, Given on 7 December, 1990.
Ecclesiae Sanctae: Implementing the decree Perfectae Caritatis
Part Ii: Some Things to be Adapted and Renewed in the Religious Life
I. The Divine Office of Brothers and Sisters
(NO. 3 OF THE DECREE PERFECTAE CARITATIS)
20. Although Religious who recite a duly approved Little Office perform the public prayer of the Church (cf. Constitution Sacrosanctum Concilium, No. 98), it is nevertheless recommended to the institutes that in place of the Little Office they adopt the Divine Office either in part or in whole so that they may participate more intimately in the liturgical life of the Church. Religious of the Eastern Rites, however, should recite the doxologies and the Divine Lauds according to their own Typika and customs.
II. Mental Prayer
(NO. 6 OF THE DECREE PERFECTAE CARITATIS)
21. In order that Religious may more intimately and fruitfully participate in the most holy mystery of the Eucharist and the public prayer of the Church, and that their whole spiritual life may be nourished more abundantly, a larger place should be given to mental prayer instead of a multitude of prayers, retaining nevertheless the pious exercises commonly accepted in the Church and giving due care that the members are instructed diligently in leading a spiritual life.
(NOS. 5 AND 12 OF THE DECREE PERFECTAE CARITATIS)
22. Religious should devote themselves to works of penance and mortification more than the rest of the faithful. However, the special penitential practices of institutes should be revised insofar as it is necessary so that, taking into account traditions, whether of the East or of the West, and modern circumstances, the members may in practice be able to observe them, adopting new forms also drawn from modern conditions of life.
IV. On Poverty
(No. 13 OF THE DECREE PERFECTAE CARITATIS)
23. Institutes especially through their general chapters should diligently and in concrete manner promote the spirit and practice of poverty according to the intention of No. 13 of the Decree Perfectae Caritatis while also seeking and urging new ways in keeping with the nature of their institute to make the practice and witness of poverty more effective in modern times.
24. It is the right of institutes with simple vows to decree in general chapter whether the renunciation of inheritances which have been acquired and will be acquired should be incorporated into the constitutions and, if this is done, whether such renunciation should be obligatory or optional. They should also decide when this is to be done, that is, whether before perpetual profession or some years later.
V. Living the Common Life
(NO. 15 OF THE DECREE PERFECTAE CARITATIS)
25. In institutes devoted to works of the apostolate the common life, which is so important for Religious as a family united in Christ to renew fraternal cooperation, should be promoted by every means possible in a manner suitable to the vocation of the institute.
26. In institutes of this kind the order of the day cannot always be the same in all their houses, nor at times in the same house for all the members. The order, however, is always to be so arranged that the Religious, aside from the time given to spiritual things and to works, should also have some periods to themselves and be able to enjoy suitable recreation.
27. General chapters and synaxes should explore ways is which members who are called “conversi,” “cooperatores,” or by any other such name, may gradually obtain an active vote in specified community actions and elections and also a passive vote in the case of certain offices. Thus indeed it will come about that they are closely joined with the life and works of the community and the priests will be freer to devote themselves to their own ministry.
28. In monasteries where the stage of having one class of nun has been achieved, choir obligations should be defined in the constitutions, taking into consideration the diversity of persons which the distinction of activities and special vocations requires.
29. Sisters devoted to the external service of the monasteries, whether called oblates or some other name, should be governed by special statutes in which consideration should be given to the needs of their vocation which is not contemplative only and also to the needs of the vocation of the nuns with whom their lives are joined, even though they themselves are—not nuns.
The superioress of the monastery has a grave obligation to have solicitous care for these Sisters, to provide them with a fitting religious training, to treat them with a true sense of charity and to promote a bond of sisterliness between them and the community of nuns.
VI. The Cloister of Nuns
(NO. 16 OF THE DECREE PERFECTAE CARITATIS)
30. The papal enclosure of monasteries must be considered an ascetical institution closely joined to the special vocation of nuns. The enclosure is a sign, safeguard and special expression of their withdrawal from the world.
Nuns of the Oriental rites should observe their own cloister in the same spirit.
31. This enclosure should be arranged in such a way that material separation from the outside world is always preserved. Individual Religious families, according to their own spirit, can establish and define in their constitutions particular norms for this material separation.
32. Minor enclosure is abolished. Nuns, therefore, who by their rule are devoted to external works should define their own enclosure in their constitutions. However, nuns who, although contemplative by the rule, have taken up external works, after a suitable time which is granted them to deliberate, should either retain the papal enclosure and give up their external works or, continuing these works, should define their own enclosure in their constitutions, retaining their status as nuns.
VII. The Training of Religious
(NO. 18 OF THE DECREE PERFECTAE CARITATIS)
33. The training of Religious beginning with the novitiate should not be organized in the same way in all institutes, but the special character of each institute should be considered. In the revision and adaptation of this training an adequate and prudent place is to be given for experience.
34. Those precepts set down in the Decree Optatam Totius (On the Training of Priests), adapted to suit the character of each institute, are to be observed faithfully in the education of Religious clerics.
35. Further training after the novitiate is to be given in a way suitable to each institute. This training is altogether necessary for all members, even for those living a contemplative life, for Brothers in lay religious institutes and for Sisters in institutes dedicated to apostolic works, such as now exists in many institutes and are called juniorates, scholasticates and the like. This training should generally be extended over the entire period of temporary vows.
36. This training is to be given in suitable houses and, lest it be purely theoretical, should for the sake of the inexperienced be complemented by the performance of works and duties in keeping with the nature and circumstances proper to each institute in such a way that they gradually become part of the life to be lived in the future.
37. While always maintaining the formation proper to each institute, when individual institutes cannot give adequate doctrinal or technical training this can be provided by the fraternal collaboration of many. This collaboration can take various forms at different levels: common lectures or courses, loan of teachers, associations of teachers, sharing of facilities in a common school to be attended by members of several institutes.
Institutes equipped with the necessary means should willingly assist others.
38. After adequate experimentation, each institute is to prepare its own suitable norms for the formation of its members.
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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. 
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”:
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”?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
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! 
247. We encounter Jesus in Sacred Scripture read in the church. Sacred scripture, “Word of God written by inspiration of the Holy Spirit,”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.
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”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.
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.Hence it is important to promote the “Sunday ministry,” and give it “priority in pastoral programs,”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.”
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.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 themand 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.”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.”The “religion of the Latin American people is an expression of the Catholic faith. It is a people’s Catholicism,”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.
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.” Hence, the missionary disciple must be “sensitive to it, know how to perceive its interior dimensions and undeniable values.”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”of the poor of this continent, and fruit of a “synthesis between their cultures and the Christian faith.”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.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.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.
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.
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.
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. 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,”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
220.127.116.11 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.
18.104.22.168 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.
22.214.171.124 A formation that is respectful of process
281. Reaching the stature of new life in Christ, identifying deeply with Himand 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.
126.96.36.199 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.
188.8.131.52 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.
Aparecida, May 12, 2007.
the Liturgy,” n. 64.
Aparecida, May 12, 2007.