Sunday, April 7, 2013

Easter 2013

During past seasons of Lent I have always focused my attention on the sufferings of Jesus, on the Stations of the Cross. It never occurred to me what it was like for Mary the Mother of Jesus. We had a Lenten Series here and one of the themes was on our "Sorrowful Mother." I can't even begin to imagine what Jesus' suffering and death must have been like for Mary the Mother of God. As I began to imagine Mary walking the Stations of the Cross with her son my heart actually begin to ache for her.

During our short time of reflection my thoughts of Mary's suffering led me to think about those today who suffer in silence. Those who for whatever reason have tragedy within their lives they are suffering from. How alone they feel. How isolated they are within their agony. In her own way our Blessed Mother suffered alone on her journey to the cross with her son. Mary understands the unique suffering of others. Where did she get the courage and grace to trust in our Heavenly Father? How was Mary able to stand, at a slight distance, and watch her son Jesus in his agony walk to the hill of Calvary?

Mary's faith in God was incredible! Her being able to trust in the mystery of God's love is simply amazing and leaves me in awe! Oh to trust in the mystery of God's love for us...what a gift we have been given.

As I further reflected on the image of the "Pieta" (Mary holding her son Jesus in her arms and lap after he was taken down from the cross) once again I was left in awe at the depth of Mary's love, trust and faith. I realized even today Mary holds each of us as if we were her own child, in the midst of our struggles and heartache.

I imagined myself looking up at our Blessed Mother and peering deeply into her eyes and briefly sensing, experiencing a tiny glimpse of the sacred deep within Mary's being. A wow moment of sacred awareness that Mary's being carries each of us in her being. And at the same time and moment it was confusing and scary. My humanness could hardly comprehend this gift, this grace and yet my desire to love and know Mary, the mother of God better drew me into her sacred space.

As I continued to reflect on our Mother of Sorrows I wished and even longed for those I know, love and care about to have such a "Sacred Moment" with Mary. To imagine being held in the arms and lap of our Mother of Sorrows and know and experience her presence among us today. To know and experience the love she has for each of us individually and to experience her presence in the midst of our very-being. ...Experiencing a moment of Blessed Sacredness in the awareness that Our Blessed Mother holds you close to her heart. Indeed what a Blessed Easter this would be for each of us.

Thinking of you in this season of rebirth and renewal and wishing you God's blessings of peace, love and joy.


Prayerfully yours Gods Struggling Servant,
Sr. Joan Louise Packer MSBT

Thursday, February 7, 2013

The Missionary Cenacle Family and the New Evangelization :Ecclesial Base Communities

“The place where they gathered shook as they prayed. They were filled with the Holy Spirit and continued to speak God’s word with confidence. The community of believers were of one heart and one mind… With power, the Apostles bore witness to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and great respect was paid to them all” (Acts of the Apostles 4: 31-33).
This is the way in which the communities of faith gathered and prayed in the early Church. The Acts of the Apostles relates to us how these communities mutually attended to each other’s needs. They felt united in the same spirit and faith, as well as, in their shared task to announce the salvation and freedom that Jesus Himself gives to us through His own life.

An ecclesial base community (CEB) is a gathering of people who know each other and share interpersonal relationships. They are united in their conviction to follow Christ in imitation of His person and His saving and liberating actions which are to be incarnated whenever and wherever two or more gather in His name. The group is open to both receiving the Word and proclaiming the Word as a fruit of their participation in the life of the Church, allowing themselves to be transformed, and at the same time, transforming the reality in which they find themselves into the Kingdom of God, always in union with other base communities and in union
with the larger Church.

Just as every faith community that gathers to pray and do apostolic work can be considered Church, likewise, the purpose of the base community is to be “Church” as well. Given the fact that the Church has been given a specific way of existing and acting that is uniquely based on Jesus’ life, a base community should be about specific tasks which shake us from attitudes, as individuals and as a society, of selfishness and indifference, and in turn, place us at the heart of God’s love. This is done in response to each situation or reality in which the community finds
itself, being attentive to God’s Word, and in union with other base communities and the Church.

This is precisely what makes a base community Church. The base community should be much more than just a social gathering of like-minded and committed people, it should also be “Church”, otherwise, it ceases to be such. In other words, all the elements that make up part of the larger Church should also be found in the base community even though the entirety of the Church is not necessarily that base community. That which distinguishes it from the larger Church is merely its much smaller size and the specific reality in which the community exits.

In order to be faithful to its mission to be Church, the base
community should come together on various levels: Around the Word of God, the sacramental life of the Church, and be influenced by the reality in which it exists. For the sake of credibility, the base community must be rooted in its worldly reality, as well as, in the Kingdom of God.

Questions for Reflection:
1. In our Cenacles, which are a kind of base community, do we tend to live isolate in relationship to others, especially with those persons or groups in our surroundings, or are there structures that facilitate communication and outreach to other groups?
2. What are some of the elements found in the wider ecclesial community that can also be found in our cenacles (ie. Gathering regularly around the Word, making time to pray together, celebrating the sacramental life of the Church together, socializing and eating with each other and other forms of communal life, mutual collaboration in a pastoral plan, etc.?
3. What are some of the needs that exist around us or in our region that might demand a response on our part, but we are unsure as to how to respond or what do?

La Familia del Cenaculo Misionero y La Nueva Evangelizacion:
Comunidades Eclesiales de Base

“Al terminar su oración, el lugar en que estaban reunidos tembló; todos quedaron llenos del Espíritu Santo y se pusieron a anunciar la palabra de Dios con toda valentía. En el grupo de los creyentes todos pensaban y sentían lo mismo… Por su parte, los Apóstoles daban testimonio con mucha fortaleza de la resurrección de Jesús, el Señor, y todos gozaban de gran estima” (Hechos 4, 31-33).
Así se reunían y rezaban las primeras comunidades de fe en la Iglesia primitiva. El libro de los Hechos de los Apóstoles nos muestra como unas y otras comunidades se preocupaban mutuamente por su bienestar y se ayudaban. Se sentían unidas en la misma fe, en el mismo espíritu y en la misma labor de vivir y anunciar la salvación liberadora que Jesús mismo nos dio por medio de su propia vida.

Una comunidad eclesial de base (CEB) es un conjunto de personas conocidas con relaciones interpersonales fraternales. Están unidas por su convicción de seguirle a Jesús en su persona y en su acción salvadora y liberadora con el fin de encarnarlo en cada sitio y época donde dos o tres personas se reúnen en su nombre. La comunidad está abierta a recibir la Palabra y proclamarla como fruto de su participación activa en la vida de la Iglesia, tanto recibiendo como proclamando la Palabra de Dios, dejando que se transforme y, a la vez, transformar en el Reino de Dios la realidad que se vive en su entorno, en unión con las otras comunidades eclesiales, siempre en unión con la Iglesia universal.

En el sentido más amplio, toda comunidad que se reúna o haga alguna labor apostólica es Iglesia, también se puede decir lo mismo de una comunidad de base porque la finalidad de esa comunidad es ser Iglesia. De la misma manera en que la Iglesia tiene un modo de ser y actuar muy preciso que le dejó Jesús, también una comunidad de base debería cumplir una tarea muy precisa, es decir, una obra que nos saque, como personas y como sociedad, del egoísmo y de la indiferencia, y nos coloque integralmente en el amor de Dios. Esto lo hace, respondiendo y
encarnándose en cada situación, atento a la Palabra de Dios, en unión con las otras CEB y con la Iglesia.

Esto es lo que hace que la CEB sea Iglesia. Es decir, ese pequeño grupo de personas es mucho más que un grupo social de personas comprometidas que se reúnan, porque si no es así, entonces deja de ser Iglesia. En otras palabras, todos los elementos que se encuentran en la Iglesia más amplia, se deberían encontrar también en la Comunidad de Base, aunque todos los elementos de la Iglesia más amplia no se encuentren en esa CEB. Lo que se distingue la CEB de la Iglesia más amplia es solamente su dimensión más pequeña y algunos de los aspectos
concretos de la realidad en que se encuentre.
Para ser fiel a su misión de ser Iglesia, la CEB debe unirse en niveles eclesiales que son importantes, abarcando: La Palabra de Dios, la vida sacramental y la realidad en que se vive esa comunidad dentro de esa región. Para tener credibilidad la Comunidad de Base debe ser arraigado tanto en su realidad terrena como en el Reino de Dios.

1. En nuestros cenáculos, que son un estilo de CEB, ¿Tendemos a vivir aislados y separados de las demás personas, especialmente de las personas o grupos a nuestro alrededor, o hay estructuras que facilitan lazos y comunicación los unos con los otros?
2. ¿Cuáles son algunos de los elementos esenciales de la comunidad eclesial más grande que también se encuentran en nuestro cenáculo (reunirse alrededor de la Palabra, tomar tiempo para rezar juntos, celebrar la vida sacramental juntos, apartar tiempo para convivir y comer juntos, tener una pastoral donde podemos colaborar juntos, etc? ¿En cuáles áreas fallamos?
3. ¿Cuáles son algunas de las necesidades a nuestro alrededor o en nuestra región que exigen una respuesta de parte de nosotros, pero no sabemos cómo responder o qué debemos hacer necesariamente?

By the Missionary Cenacle Family  Ad Hoc committee on the New Evangelization