Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Consecrated Life May 2015

Reflection on the Year of Consecrated Life
May 2015
Call to prayer:       Come, let us worship Christ, who shows his love for the Church.

Psalm 119: 33-40                 (Today’s English Version /ABS)

(A Prayer for Understanding)

Teach me, Lord, the meaning of your laws, and I will obey them at all times.
Explain you law to me, and I will obey it.  I will keep it with all my heart.
Keep me obedient to your commandments, because in them I find happiness.
Give me the desire to obey your laws rather than get rich.
Keeping me from paying attention to what is worthless; be good to me, as you promised.
Keep your promise to me your servant – the promise you make to those who obey you.
Save me from the insults I fear; how wonderful are your judgments!
I want to obey your commands; give me new life, for you are righteous.

Scripture:               Matthew 18:14

“…it is not the will of your heavenly Father that one of these little ones be lost.”

Or                               John 10: 14 – 16

“I am the good shepherd, who is willing to die for the sheep.  When the hired man, who is not a shepherd and does not own the sheep, sees a wolf coming, he leaves the sheep and runs away; so the wolf snatches the sheep and scatters them.  The hired man runs away because he is only a hired man and does not care about the sheep.  I am the good shepherd.  As the Father knows me and I know the Father, in the same way I know my sheep and they know me.  And I am willing to die for them.  There are other sheep which belong to me that are not in this sheep pen.  I must bring them, too; they will listen to my voice, and they will become one flock with one shepherd.”

 Reflection:               “Sentire cum Ecclesia”

Fr. Lemoncelli* asks (…) Religious of the U.S.: Is Sentire cum Ecclesia a strong feature of our institute?  He also asks, do we seek the goals of the Church biblically, liturgically, dogmatically, and pastorally in missionary and social fields?   In our Rule of Life no.17 we read: “Our reading should include Missionary Cenacle writings and, in keeping with our maxim, sentire cum ecclesia, we are to reflect prayerfully on the documents of the Church.”   Are we personally faithful to this? 

In the 1928 Constitution of the Missionary Servants of the Most Holy Trinity, Fr. Judge stressed fidelity to the principle “Sentire cum Ecclesia”.  Since the Holy Spirit guides and inspires the Church, every Missionary Servant must be open to the workings of the Spirit.
In a letter to Mother Boniface, Fr. Judge explained that Cenacle missionaries must always be true to the Gospel and the teachings of the Church.  No sacrifice should be too great to defend the Gospel and Church teachings.  (Dennis Berry, S.T., God’s Valiant Warrior, 270-271)
As stated in Ecclesial People,  (Joseph Miriam Blackwell, M.S.B.T  (1974),  l5. ) “Sentire cum Ecclesia” means to experience, endure, suffer, undergo and be affected by the needs, teachings and efforts of the Church, the Spouse of Christ, the People of God.  It is more than an intellectual concept. “…the Church seeks but a solitary goal: to carry forward the work of Christ Himself under the lead of the befriending Spirit.”  Documents of Vatican II, Guadium et Spes, no.3.  We carry this out by imitating the obedience of Jesus, acting in love, faith, generosity and forgetfulness of self.  Rule of Life, no. 31.

The Church understands herself as the sign of Christ and instrument for achieving union with God and unity of all humankind.  Today there is a sense of urgency to bring this awareness to everyone.  Documents of Vatican II,  Lumen Gentium, no. 1.   Since 1892, the Church has been raising our consciousness by issuing documents on social issues that affect people over the world and calls for our response.  In order to respond to these documents, we strive to be versed in them, converse together about them and plan how we can respond as Missionary Cenacle Family.

Another aspect of “sentire cum ecclesia” is discussed in Vita Consecrata, where we hear that “A great task also belongs to the consecrated life in the light of the teaching about the Church as communion…. Consecrated persons are asked to be true experts of communion and… (be) witnesses and architects of the plan for unity which is the crowning point of human history in God’s design.”  This leads to mission.  Being in communion includes allegiance of mind and heart with the teachings of the Church and cooperating with the Bishops, VC, no. 46.  We have always been true to this.

We are reminded that “today’s world is expecting to see in consecrated men and women the concrete reflection of Jesus’ way of acting, of his love for every person without distinction or qualification.  ” Origins,  Starting Afresh From Christ: A Renewed Commitment to Consecrated Life in the Third Millennium (July 4, 2002), vol. 32: NO 8, 131.  The emphasis in the article is for people to be touched by the grace that comes from consecrated men and women living like Christ.

Pope Francis offers the same challenge and adds to it with missionary enthusiasm and joy. He calls all in the church to have a missionary spirituality, have personal contact with the people, see Jesus in each person and tolerate the nuisances of life with fraternal love.   (The Joy of the Gospel (2013) 40-47)

Perhaps we can take our temperature to see how true we live out Jesus’ basic message among those we encounter in the providence of our daily life.  If God’s unconditional love is deeply rooted in our hearts, how do we communicate Christ’s message of love and salvation to each person?  We are meant to impact society by our attitudes, actions and words.  “The attitude you should have is the one that Christ Jesus had:… he gave up all he had and took on the nature of a servant… he was humble and walked the path of obedience…” (6) Good News Bible, Philippians 2: 5-8    Can others see us as the sacrament of Christ?   

Today we are more aware of needs.  As Missionary Servants, we seek ways to best respond, both communally and personally, to the needs of the church today.  The Church wants us to welcome everyone and manifest God’s desire for all to experience God’s love, life, compassion and forgiveness.   In a world of violence there is an urgency to show respect, openness and understanding to those of other faiths and cultures.   We are called to work for justice and peace and defend the value of life and dignity of others. Then as church, we can respond as signs of hope to those enslaved, violated, persecuted, denied or oppressed.  

How are we, as church, affected by the needs, desires and teachings of the Church?  Those of us in Ministry of Prayer can touch the spiritual lives and social world through those who minister, serve or visit us and with whom we have any contact and interact, and in our daily prayer

Those in the “field or vineyard” take the needs of God’s people to prayer and liturgy, but also have the opportunity to minister to them by letting them know what is important to God’s Church and how to understand the Church today, especially in their culture.  There are great many challenges in pastoral ministry today in remaining true to the Church while truly being church to others, especially those who feel on the fringes (for whatever reason) and for those who have never known a reason for hope.  We can only do this with the wisdom and fortitude of the Holy Spirit. 

Do you feel like Fr. Judge who “wished to be enveloped in the life of the church, to feel it, to have a love for it, to suffer with it, to have no life apart from it”?   (Blackwell, 15)

        *Fr. Hank Lemoncelli is an undersecretary from the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life.

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