Making the Church the Home and School of Communion

We have the habit of making the sign of the cross before starting, a job, a meal, a journey. So I wish to do as we start speaking about what is at the bases of the vocation to be a missionary in the Church and in the world today.

Whatever comes from God has the imprint of God who is Trinity, the perfect and eternal love with structures of perfect relationships. We have been created in the image and likeness of God, and therefore we are called lo live on earth the life of the Trinity – mutual love, unity and distinction. This call is embedded in the heart of every person of whatever time culture, religion or sex, he or she maybe. It is in our human nature that we thirst for God.In his Apostolic Exhortation The Joy of the Gospel, Pope Francis tells us: “Today, our challenge is not so much atheism as the need to respond adequately to many people`s thirst for God, lest they try to satisfy it with alienating solutions or with a disembodied Jesus who demands nothing of us with regards to others. Unless these people find in the Church a spirituality which can offer healing and liberation, and fill them with life and peace, while at the same time summoning them to fraternal communion and missionary fruitfulness, they will end up by being taken in by solutions which neither make life truly human nor give glory to God.” With these words, the Pope is urging all Christians to become an evangelizing community and continues that they become, “a sanctuary where the thirsty come to drink in the midst of their journey.”

Together with his predecessors, Pope Francis emphasizes the communitarian and missionary aspect of the Church.  We will be offering you concrete steps to accomplish this on the local level in the parish, and in the local community.

At the start of the millennium, St. John Paul II, in his Apostolic Letter Novo Millennio Ineunte, gave us pastoral directives for the future course of the Church of the third millennium. He said that we Christians need to promote a spirituality of communion so that the Church may be made “the home and school of communion.”

The word communion implies a love that goes out and returns, a relationship of reciprocity.

Why did he insist so much on promoting a spirituality of communion?  He commented:

“Let`s have no illusions: unless we follow this spiritual path, external structures of communion will serve very little purpose. They would become a mechanism without a soul, ‘masks’ of communion rather than its means of expression and growth.”

We conclude this short introduction with what St. John Paul II wrote in no. 43 of his Apostolic Letter Novo Millenio Ineunte:

To make the Church the home and the school of communion: this is the great challenge facing us in the millennium that is now beginning, if we wish to be faithful to God`s plan and respond to the world`s deepest yearnings.

But what does this means in practice?

Here too, our thoughts could run immediately to the action to be undertaken, but that would not be the right impulse to follow. Before making practical plans, we need to promote a spirituality of communion, making it the guiding principle of education wherever individuals and Christians are formed, wherever ministers of the altar, consecrated persons and pastoral workers are trained, wherever families and communities are being built up.

A spirituality of communion

A spirituality of communion indicates above all the heart`s contemplation of the mystery of the Trinity dwelling in us, and whose light we must also be able to see shining in the faces of our brothers and sisters around us.

A spirituality of communion also means an ability to think of our brothers and sisters in faith within the profound unity of the mystical body, and therefore as “those who are part of me.” This makes us able to share their joys and sufferings, to sense their desires and attend to their needs, to offer them deep and genuine friendship.

A spirituality of communion also implies the ability to see what is positive in the others, to welcome it and value it as a gift from God: not only as a gift for a brother or sister who received it directly, but also as a “gift for me.”

A spirituality of communion means to know how “to make room” for our brothers and sisters, bearing “each other`s burdens” (Gal 6:2) and resisting the selfish temptations that constantly beset us and provoke competition, careerism, distrust and jealousy.

Let us have no illusions: unless we follow this spiritual path, external structures of communion will serve very little purpose. They would become mechanisms without a soul, ‘masks’ of communion rather than its means of expression and growth.

Every month we will be presenting in a pedagogical order the  points of spirituality  that will help us live the Spirituality of Communion.