Week 17, Tuesday. Saint Ignatius of Loyola. Evangelizing Thought of the Day (ETD)

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

72. The religious sector had particular resonance in the Church. The responses to the Lineamenta first mentioned ecumenical dialogue, repeatedly emphasizing how these various changes have fostered the development of major ecumenical endeavors. Realistically speaking, they also recounted difficult times and tense moments which are being addressed with patience and determination. The new situations taking place within the various sectors, where we as Christians are called to live out our faith and proclaim the Gospel, have revealed the necessity for a real unity among Christians, which is not to be seen merely as cordial relations or cooperation in some joint-project, but rather as the desire to let ourselves be transformed by the Spirit, so that we may increasingly be conformed to the image of Christ. This unity is essentially spiritual in nature and must be prayed for, even before it is actually realized. If this ecumenical aspect is to be a part of the conversion and renewal of the Church’s members, which is called for by the current crisis, efforts must continue to be made, in a convincing way, to see all Christians as united in showing the world the prophetic and transforming power of the Gospel message. This is an imposing task which can only be met in a communal effort, guided by the Spirit of the Risen Christ, who left us a mandate in his prayer: “That they may all be one” (John 17:21).
73. Secondly, the religious sector concerns interreligious dialogue, which, in a variety of ways, is a necessity today throughout the world. Interreligious dialogue has already had some positive results. The countries of an ancient Christian tradition see in the expanding presence of the great religions, particularly Islam, an incentive to develop new forms of involvement, visibility and proposing the Christian faith. Generally speaking, interreligious dialogue and discussion with the great religions of the East can be an opportunity for our Christian communities to deepen their understanding of our faith, in virtue of the questions that such a discussion raise in us, questions about the course of human history and God’s presence in it. Interreligious dialogue also provides an occasion to refine the instruments of dialogue and the places of collaboration in developing peace in an increasingly human society. (Instrumentum Laboris, “Chapter 2: Time for a New Evangelization,” paragraph 72-73)

For the glory of your name, O Lord, deliver us. (Psalm 79:9, Mass).

O God, Who raised up Saint Ignatius of Loyola in Your Church
to further the greater glory of Your Name,
grant that by his help we may imitate him
in fighting the good fight on earth and
merit to receive with him a crown in heaven.
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.

Returning to the sector added in the Instrumentum Laboris, the religious sector, today’s selections focus on ecumenical and interreligious efforts.

In terms of the ecumenical dialogue, no Christian can shy away from this work. True, our little human fiefdoms have grown over time and become entrenched in particular ways of acting and thinking. Yet the haunting prayer of Jesus the night before He died looms over ALL Christians: “I pray not only for them, but also for those who will believe in Me through their word, so that they may all be one, as You, Father, are in Me and I in You, that they also may be in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me (John 17:20-21).” Of all the concerns that Jesus had for His disciples and the small community formed by His words and deeds, unity was and remains central. It is vital, however, that Christians properly approach unity. This is not a call to ‘all get along.’ This is not a call to adulterate teachings to the least common denominator so as to show a semblance of cohesiveness to the world. Rather, the unity Jesus prayed for and the unity that guides ecumenical work is the oneness of the Most Holy Trinity. Our work as Christians, our unity must be Trinitarian – not a mere humanly agreed grouping of differing beliefs and practices under some cloak of togetherness that misses the mark of Trinitarian Unity. Here, as in so many of the sectors that the New Evangelization addresses, catechesis is paramount as there are a plethora of expressions among all Christians as to the identity of the Divine Persons and the relationship They experience among themselves. In some respects, one may wonder if it is not the fourth century all over again as we struggle to reclaim a proper expression of God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit. Together with a proper Trinitarian catechesis, the present times also call for a renewed study and valuing of Church History. The study of Church History – AND – the Fathers of the Church as well, offer insights as to why and how human nature chose particular paths that lead to division within Christianity. Understanding how we have humanly gotten to where we are today can help at the ‘ecumenical table.’

The interreligious efforts of the Church involve a different methodology. Much remains unknown and distorted among world religions and even among the monotheistic traditions. The Instrumentum Laboris notes geographical shifts in lands that were once dominated by one religious tradition now the place of another. We know in our present times tensions among these groups that erupts in violence and death. Yet there are episodes of respect that offer a glimmer of hope for the eventual cessation of hostility that could lead to productive dialogue among fellow human beings. Once again, a proper study of history – a study punctuated at all times by honesty – can be of immeasurable assistance in an eventual celebration of the oneness of the human family. Consider:
  • Where is ecumenism and interreligious dialog on the radar of your life?
  • Does your parish promote prayer and efforts to experience the oneness of belief and practice that Jesus prayed for the night before He died?

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