Presentation on theme: "Synod 2008 Archdiocese of Kingston, Jamaica, West Indies."— Presentation transcript:
Synod 2008 Archdiocese of Kingston, Jamaica, West Indies
“IT SEEMED GOOD TO US AND THE HOLY SPIRIT” The Acts of the Apostles, Chapter 15, records for us the Council of Jerusalem which occurred in the first century when the Apostles and the elders of the Church in Jerusalem met with Paul and Barnabas over the vexing question of the admission of the Gentiles into the Church without
having to subscribe to the Jewish practice of circumcision. The debate was heated. But at the end of the day, Paul and Barnabas were vindicated and sent back to Antioch to continue their missionary activity.
We, the delegates of the thirty-first Archdiocesan Synod, whose theme is “The Word of God in the Life and Mission of the Church in Jamaica,” have had some very spirited discussions, not unlike that of the Council of Jerusalem.
However, at the end of our own gathering, we can echo the words of the said Council: “We, with the Holy Spirit, have decided not to put any other burden on you except what is necessary” (Acts 15: 28). What, then, would be the necessary things that should be put in this charge that I give?
REGNOCENTRICITY VS ECCLESIOCENTRICITY First of all, I charge you to love one another, not with your own feeble, human love, but with the love of God that has been poured into our hearts by the indwelling of God’s Holy Spirit. It is a love that is unconditional, bearing all things, looking out for the other’s well-being rather than one’s own selfish desires.
That means that we not only become our brothers and sisters’ keepers, but we also allow for differences—be it at Parish, Deanery or Archdiocesan levels—that do not sacrifice the necessary realities of faith which we must guard quite jealously as Catholic Christians.
In other words, we are called and sent to be “regnocentric” (as opposed to merely “ecclesiocentric”) in order to further, in collaboration with others, kingdom values: justice, peace, love, unity and joy in the Holy Spirit [cf. Rom. 14:17].
That is the general overarching charge of this Synod. The desirable vision of the Archdiocese, to be more vibrant, more visible and more vocal, has as its objective the kingdom of God.
PROMINENCE OF THE WORD IN OUR LIFE AND WORSHIP To be kingdom-oriented people we need to give more prominence to the Word of God in our lives: in our homes and in our liturgy (worship).
Consequently, the Word begins to affect or influence our private, personal decisions and deliberations, our choice of a specific vocation (as opposed to our general vocation through baptism), and our business endeavours. How do we begin to accomplish this?
I propose that as a symbolic-oriented people, we need to enthrone the written Word in a prominent place in our homes, a sort of a prayer corner, where the faith is first handed on. The Word in our Homes
When the Word is thus enshrined, we gradually become aware of the importance of that Word for our inner spiritual growth. The reverse of the saying “out of sight, out of mind,” becomes a reality.
Individual and/or familial devotion (e.g., lectio divina, praying meditatively the Psalms) in the domestic church orientates Catholic Christians to be empowered by an awareness of God’s Presence in our lives. Such a devotion in the home also conditions family members to listen to the voice of God in terms of a specific vocation [cf. 1 Sam. 3: 1 – 21].
Especially at our Sunday liturgy (Mass or Liturgy of the Word), we ought to enshrine at the beginning the Scriptures in a prominent place that is adorned with lighted candles to remind us that God’s “word is a lamp to my feet, a light on my path” [Ps. 119: 105]. The Word in our Liturgy
It is certainly not right only to light candles for the liturgy of the Eucharist, and ignore totally the Word being proclaimed.
The highlighting of the Word is in keeping with the integral connection of the Scriptures and the Eucharist [cf. Luke 24: 13 – 35]. However, candles are not the only thing to highlight the importance of the Word…
The proper proclamation by well-trained lectors helps to let the Word become in truth and in fact a “two-edged sword” melodiously penetrating the hearing and lodging in the inner region of the hearers’ mind and heart [cf. Heb. 4:12].
THE WORD OF GOD IS COMMUNICATIVE “The Word was made flesh, and dwelt amongst us” [John 1: 14] to bring humankind the Good News of God’s love [cf. John 3:16]. This indicates that communication is a key to evangelization and catechesis and community building for the sake of the kingdom.
Jesus, the living Word communicated the love and Presence of the Father and built up a community of faith, hope and love.
To emphasize this prominence of the Word in the liturgy, the lectern should only be used for the proclamation and breaking of the Word. All other announcements should be made from elsewhere, and certainly not from the altar.
But, this communication is relational, and spans the pastoral, spiritual, moral and educational considerations of Christian formation. Hence, there is need to utilize and enhance the structures and organizations that obtain in the Archdiocese of Kingston.
With the shortage of priests and the scope of the Parish, the Pastor must foster and encourage Collaborative Ministries with deacons, Religious and trained and equipped lay people
Parish Community This essential structure is the “community of communities,” encompassing the domestic churches within its jurisdiction with its the various cells (be they Pastoral and Finance Councils, B.E.C., or other Organizations and Committees: Liturgy, Evangelization/Mission, Catechetical, Voca-tion, Family Life, etc).
Not only will the Pastor be spared early burn-out, but it will underscore the general vocation of all to be responsible for their Church Community in the task of furthering kingdom values.
With this collaborative ministry approach to Parish life, the Pastor can devote himself to those things that are more proper to his priestly ministry: proper preparation of homilies and well- planned liturgies that will take into consideration the various groups in the Parish.
It is in the Parish where our Catholic faith and culture, devotions, symbols, and history ought to be taught with the aid of the resources available: St. Michael’s Theological College; Catechetical Centre; Family Life Commission, etc.
Here is communicated the “best tried” in the pertinent Parishes so that the ongoing evangelization and kingdom building can be realized. Deanery Collaboration
It is at this level where attempts should first be made to address the problematic of priest-less Parishes and outlying communities. Within deaneries there should be consideration given for periodic “pulpit sharing” to give the faithful a new voice once in awhile, and the priests new challenges.
Calendaring : need to promote a coordinated effort to avoid conflicts of dates/activities, etc at Parish, Deanery and Archdiocesan Levels.
To be our brothers and sisters’ keepers in their pastoral and spiritual well-being, serious thought will be given to this last resort approach to maximize the limited manpower that we now have. Merger/Consolidation of Urban Parishes
Notwithstanding the short term proposal to import priests from Africa and the Philippines (which has its drawback if the cultural differences cannot be bridged, and which is no assurance),
Pastor and delegates should share with their Church Communities the crisis that we face, in order to sensitize them to the possibility of this move. The Eucharist is at the centre of our Catholic identity and spirituality, and yet some rural communities have Mass only twice per month, while urban Parishes in close proximity have only one Mass each but at the very same hour.
This seems like poor stewardship! This idea of sharing personnel should first start at the deanery level before any decision is made at Archdiocesan level.
In homes, as mentioned before, a spiritual foundation should be laid with family devotions and reflection on the Word of God and Prayer for Vocation. Creating a Culture of Vocation
In Parishes, there should be some explicit attempt to foster vocation, example being Eucharistic Adoration on specific day(s) of the week; also, parishioners—as well as clergy—should identify youngsters who seem to be close to the Church.
At the Archdiocesan level, there is need to resurrect a Vocations Commission comprising priests, Religious and deacons to work together to promote vocations at all levels, including marriage and single dedicated life. This general Vocations Commission would be different from the present Diocesan priests Vocation Team.
The Archdiocesan Education Board must definitely intensify their efforts to establish the Catholic identity in our Catholic Schools and other centres of formation. The Board does this by equipping promising and dedicated Catholic men and women with leadership training so that they can carry on the task of holistic Catholic formation and education. Catholic Formation and Education
More scholarships should be sought—even from abroad, if necessary—to effect this urgent task. In the meantime, the commendable start of Campus Ministry should continue.
Too, efforts should be made by the Parishes to utilize better the services offered by the St. Michael’s Theological College and the Catechetical Centre for formation in faith and ministries. This redounds to the vibrancy of the Parishes
The cry for more formation of our Catholic faithful and the shortage of personnel (clergy and teachers/lecturers) would seem to beg a genuine consideration of a Radio Station that would disseminate Catholic programmes, human interest stories, the social teaching of the Church, the Catholic position on moral and life issues, devotions, and Church history. Catholic Radio Station
Experts in our Catholic Church will be sought to investigate the feasibility and sustainability of this project.
The Word of God is prophetic and should be communicated to the society, not only by the written or spoken word, but primarily by the lives Catholic Christians live. The contrast society proposed by theologian Peter Phan should be considered by disciples of Jesus who are promoting kingdom values. Church and Society
To this end the Justice and Human Development Commission and the Family Life Commission must intensify their efforts to make known in a none- judgmental way the Catholic understanding of life in all aspects—from womb to natural death. A culture of life (inclusive of the quality of life) is definitely a contrast to the culture of death.
The brief Statement from Synod commenting on the violence and murders in our society is but one instance of saying a prophetic Word. The positive endeavors of the Mustard Seed Communities and the Missionaries of the Poor emphasize this prophetic Word in action and underscore the sacredness of life—no matter the condition—of the human person whose dignity the Church must champion.
“What is the human person that you should keep him in mind… Yet you have made him a little less than a god, you have crowned him with glory and splendour” [Psalm 8: 4 – 5].
May the Lord who has inspired us all through this Synod strengthen our resolve to put into action, after prayer reflection, all that we have enthusiastically pledged to do when we return to our Parishes. The Lord is counting on your being serious in collaborating with him, because he does not call you servants, but friends [cf. John 15:15] +Donald J. Reece Archbishop of Kingston Synod 2008