Week 14, Saint Benedict. Evangelizing Thought of the Day (ETD)

DAILY SEQUENTIAL EXCERPTS from The New Evangelization for the Transmission of the Christian Faith – Instrumentum Laboris:

41. The missionary mandate which the Church received from the Risen Lord (cf. Mk 16:15) has assumed new forms and methods over time, depending on the places and situations where it was realized and various moments in history. Even though proclaiming the Gospel in our day is much more complicated than in the past, the Church's task is one and the same as from the very beginning. Since the mission has not changed, it can be rightly said that we can make our own, even today, the enthusiasm and courage which characterized the Apostles and early disciples. The Holy Spirit, who moved them to throw open the doors of the Cenacle and sent them forth as evangelizers (cf. Acts 2: 1-4), is the same Spirit who guides the Church today and prompts a renewed proclamation of hope to the people of our time.
42. The Second Vatican Council reminds us that “groups among which the Church dwells are often radically changed, for one reason or other, so that an entirely new set of circumstances may arise.” With far-reaching perception, the Council Fathers saw on the horizon the cultural change we readily witness today. This change, which has created an unexpected situation for believers, requires special attention in proclaiming the Gospel, if we are to render an account of our faith in the present situation which, unlike in the past, has a variety of new and important aspects. (Instrumentum Laboris, “Chapter 2: Time for a New Evangelization,” paragraph 41 and 42)

Seek always the face of the Lord. (Psalm 105:4, Mass).

O God, who made the Abbot Saint Benedict
an outstanding master in the school of divine service,
grant, we pray, that, putting nothing before love of you,
we may hasten with a loving heart in the way of your commands.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
Who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
One God, for ever and ever.

We have made our way through the first chapter of the Instrumentum Laboris and before plunging into the challenges of the second chapter, it is vital to take with us the central hermeneutic of the Synod: the personal encounter with Jesus Christ in Word and Sacrament that forms a relationship with Him in His Body, the Church summoning each and all to conversion and faith.

In groups of people who have been prayerfully reflecting and studying the Lineamenta, it is interesting to note how Catholic Christians (and indeed all Christian) understand the theological vocabulary. It seems that when Catholics open the ‘Catholic Lexicon’ to a particular word, we only read the first entry, ignoring meaning 2, 3 or 4 – all of which are valid AND necessary for a grasp of the Faith that is engaging and sparks a desire to “full, active and conscious participation” in the life of Jesus.

Case in point: the Instrumentum Laboris references Jesus’ “missionary mandate” at the outset of chapter 2. The difficulty is that most Catholics understand anything connected with “missionary” to mean ‘missionary people working is a distant, normally poor, country.’ ‘Missionary work’ is a work that special people in the Church do, not me. The Gospel certainly views “mission” in a very broad and encompassing vision and does so in a way that recognizes the need to adapt and ‘tweak’ our faith expressions as needed for the Gospel of Jesus Christ to speak to the signs of the times.

  • Theological words have rich and deep meanings. How can we as a Church help our members to grasp the urgency and necessity of ongoing faith development?
  • How do I understand Jesus’ “Missionary Mandate?” Is there a need for “missionary work” in the geography of my life?

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