A REFLECTION ON RENEWAL IN THE IRISH CHURCH 3
In To Live Is to Love, Ernesto Cardenal says, “If in everything you fulfil God’s will rather than your own, every encounter in the street, every telephone call, every letter you receive, will be full of meaning, and you will find that everything has its good reason and obeys a providential design. Our God-given tasks are best done with joy. “Jesus in no way wants us to leave our many-faceted world. He wants us to live in it, but firmly rooted in the centre of all things who is Jesus himself. Jesus does not speak of a change of activities or even a change of pace. He speaks of a change of heart. This change of heart makes everything different, even while everything appears to be the same. All our previous concerns will then become as “gifts or challenges that strengthen and deepen the new life which we have discovered.” This doesn’t mean that things will become easier. “Sometimes; it is even more intense Poverty, pain, struggle, anguish, agony, and even inner darkness may continue to be part of our experience.
But life is no longer boring, resentful, depressing, or lonely because we have come to know that everything that happens is part of our journey along the road to the house of the Father.” Emulating the sacred, tender heart of Jesus means that we make room in our own hearts for everyone, not just those who are naturally close to us or with whom we are most comfortable.This doesn’t mean that we don’t have a justified predilection for our family and friends. It does mean that we are willing to break out of our usual family, work, and social groups to be present to those who seem alone or lost. We need to die to our own selfish wants and needs. Dying to self means caring enough to have room in our own hearts for all who come.
Faith is the assurance of things we hope for born from the conviction of things not seen”.(Hebrews: 11,1). We must be prepared to witness to things unseen, the unseen things of faith as an important part of life but of course it is difficult to be such a witness, precisely because they are things unseen, and how can they believe in him if they have never heard of him? And how will they hear of him unless there is a preacher for them? and how will there be a preacher for them if one is not sent? So faith comes from hearing and what is heard comes from the preaching of Christ. (Romans:10,14-17.17)
The spiritual life of faith cannot be lived only in a pew, in church because the hard bench will sooner or later become a soft bed. It takes imagination to get out and do something and to come in to that pew for solace and spiritual rejuvenation every Sunday and on many other occasions that arise for us to come together in prayer. The life of St. Therese of Lisieux on the surface seems serene and tranquil, but it took hard work for her to live the life that became the little way. It took imagination to see a boring daily chore as a new challenge, a new way of transforming an ordinary event into an act of love in God. Our lives in this world take on the character of a journey in very many ways, but none more so than the way of salvation. In our pilgrimage of faith to our heavenly destination we sometimes fall or turn away.
I believe that many people who have strayed away from faith and the Church are starting to return to faith. At times the steps necessary for our walk back to the Father may seem too many and too arduous for us and we hesitate even to make the first move. This is what the apostle Paul says: “Awake, O sleeper, and rise from the dead” (Eph 5,14). Up you get, then, and hurry along: there is the Father, there the Son, there the Holy Spirit. He who hears you speaking in the intimate depths of your soul is coming to meet you, and when you are still far off he sees you and starts running. He sees your heart; he runs up lest anyone delay you and embraces you.He flings his arms around your neck to raise you up, you who were prostrate, burdened with sins, face to the ground. He turns you over to face heaven so that you can seek your Creator there. Christ flings his arms around you so as to free your neck from slavery’s yoke and set his gentle yoke upon you.
Perhaps it is only when we open our eyes and see, like the Prodigal Son, that we are then willing to rouse ourselves to take the path of conversion that leads to the merciful embrace of our heavenly Father, so rich in mercy. Proper celebration of the faith and life of the Church should lead to unfailingly serenity and hope despite , all that life will throw at us.
We as Church will renew the faith community by creating new perspectives, new perceptions, new understandings, and new enthusiasms and all of these will lead to renewed life. Let us not be afraid to take up the challenge the challenge that will lead us to new perspectives, new perceptions, new understandings, and new enthusiasms that bring about renewal of ourselves and those around us. I do not believe that the church should be looking to get people back to sitting in Church the days of overflowing churches won’t be back any day soon I think that what we need to do is to help people realize that God is there in their lives as a the person who will be with them thought their lives in good and bad times journeying with them. It really is about giving our people food for their faith journey.
Then we will see people coming into Church on Sunday coming in for solace and spiritual rejuvenation every Sunday and on many other occasions that arise. It was Pope Saint John Paul who called on all of us to open our hearts to the redeemer upon his election as pope in 1978. So now what are we waiting for the time for action is here and it has been here for some time what that action will be for each person, each parish each diocese and each country will be different.
As I am writing this we are at the feast of Corpus Christi that is the feast of the Body and Blood of Christ. If we are to have any success in our efforts we must commit ourselves and our ideas for renewal to prayer and the greatest prayer there is the Mass. As we move forward we pray that God will guide us through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit and so we pray:
Glory to you, O Lord our God. Your love calls us to be your people.
By sharing our many and diverse gifts we share in your mission. We ask you, Lord, to shape us into a community of faith.
Nourish us by your word and sacraments that we may grow into the image of Jesus.
Through the power of your Holy Spirit, heal us that we, in turn, may heal the wounded.
Form us to be instruments of love, justice, and peace in our land , and send us to proclaim your saving work. renew us, Lord, that we may renew the face of the earth. Amen