I can’t help but feel excited (tinged with a little trepidation) about the coming year of Faith which begins this week. It feels to me like a year that’s going to surpass any other in its importance and significance at this time on earth for devout as well as resting Catholics in a Western culture steeped in secularism. The Church in Her wisdom, decides on ventures over a period of years after much planning, debating and prayer. I think the decision about the Year of Faith could not have been better timed.
This evening at Mass, we heard a powerful message from our Archbishop Peter of Southwark, that ignited within an even more fervent desire to make a difference (however small) in this coming year.
Herewith an excerpt that made an impression on me: (emphasis is mine)
And quite recently Pope Benedict drew on that image of the Church, speaking of that participation of all the baptised in terms of the “co-responsibility” of all the baptised in proclaiming the Gospel. This is what he said: “Co-responsibility requires a change of mentality, particularly with regard to the laity in the Church, who should be considered not as ‘collaborators’ with the clergy, but as persons truly ‘co-responsible’ for the being and activity of the Church. It is important, therefore, that a mature and committed laity be united, who are able to make their own specific contribution to the Church’s mission, in accordance with the ministries and tasks each one has in the life of the Church, and always in cordial communion with the bishops. Your particular vocation as lay faithful, who are called to be courageous witnesses in every sphere of society, is that the Gospel might be the light that brings hope in difficult situations, in troubles and in the darkness that we today so often find along the path.”
He goes on to say:
I also want to encourage every parish, either through the parish council or a specially commissioned group within the parish, to get together and determine what you can do as a parish community in co-operation with your parish priest, to participate fully in the Year of Faith. I think that will be a good way to foster Pope Benedict’s understanding of the exercise of ‘co-responsibility’ and build up our parishes as communities of prayer, of vibrant and confident faith and good works, open to welcome those who come in search of Our Saviour, Jesus Christ. And to discover too what gifts the Holy Spirit has given each of us to be committed and steadfast ‘proclaimers of the Gospel’ in our neighbourhoods, at work and wherever we take our leisure. May God bless you all in your endeavours, and let’s pray for each other and support each other in this great opportunity the Holy Father has given us.
How can his requests possibly be ignored? It feels so good to hear these directives from the leader of the Flock here in Southwark. I feel motivated and rearing to go. I do like the idea of being a in a responsible partnership with our parish priest and I do hope that the other parishioners feel the same way.
Follow this link to read the Bishop’s entire letter.