In the Measure of His Love: The Clergy vis-à-vis the BEC (Mgr. Delgado)

Fr. Jose Marie Delgado

INTRODUCTION

For a Priest, ordination day is one solemn event of two-sided realities.  It is a moment of deep gratitude for the unmerited grace received where he is “configured” to Christ Head-Shepherd of His Body, the Church. It is also a moment where he publicly acknowledges, with faith and conviction, that his participation in Christ’s ministry as a Shepherd is defined primarily in terms of the Church and her mission  rather than the Church being defined  by what he wants done.

This presupposes that the whole seminary formation,  has constantly and intentionally engaged him –to discover by heart – what kind of Church he seeks to serve. In doing so, this formative process attunes his heart to the necessity of intimacy with the Lord Jesus Christ, within the “framework” and “under the standard” as it were of the  Church which is His Body. His “configuration” to Christ commits him  simultaneously to a painstaking yet fulfilling “immersion” into the life and ministry of the Church.  Being now “re-presenting” Jesus Christ as Head and Shepherd of the Christian Community – they, the entire body of Christ descends on the priest and makes from out of his ministerial life their own; and from out of their life his own.

In this backdrop there is a distinct interior message that overwhelms his heart on the day of his ordination.  In the deepest recesses of his being he is offered a unique invitation by the greatest Shepherd of them all  to feed His lambs.  This mission spelled quite rightly is really  to love the flock…in the measure of His Love!

The Church as experienced by many does not lack an image of the priest as the one  “feeding the lambs” through his pastoral ministry. Indeed his presence is pervasive in the life of a Christian Community. He is as it were an “axis” around whom, for better or worse the life and ministry of the parish revolves. He is perceived as the “doer” in the limelight, the rest are spectators and beneficiaries in the sidelines. In fact no less than the present President of the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines made this official observation:

“But it is probably not far from the truth to say that most laypeople consider themselves more as            beneficiaries of the Church’s evangelizing mission than as active participants. Even in today’s age of lay             associations and lay movements, most lay people would probably say that the mission of proclaiming the     Gospel really belongs to priests, religious, bishops and catechists.”[1]

What is lacking though is really an honest “evaluation” whether the “feeding of the flock” is defined in terms of the Church and her mission  rather than by one’s individual preference or priority! Are we ready  for a kind of renewal with this focus? That is, making a serious adjustment of our life and ministry so that it becomes congruent with the consciousness of the Church defining her life and ministry at this particular moment of our history?

These questions are really difficult to answer and if squarely faced will lead one  to a spiritual interior struggle. Why?  Because its answers will not come in handy and in theory. The demands will be incisive and engaging. It will call forth openness and initiatives to work with divine grace to “renew”  one’s mind set and/or heart.   It is a call for “metanoia” – a change in the level of one’s “second nature” which determines one’s  “zone of comfort” and  decides on things based on myopic interests and agenda. Does one  has a resource in facing this?

These questions lead back the priest to his day of ordination.  For in that day when the Bishop rests his hands on his head; invoke the heavens for the gift of consecration; anoints his hands  with  holy oil tracing on it the sign of the Cross; he becomes in faith a shepherd after the Heart of the Good Shepherd.  This indelible mark of unique friendship  with the Lord  assures him of a mysterious capacity – given to him as a gift. So that in the midst of his limitations, brokenness, pains, fears and doubts, a priest is able to love in the measure of His Love!

Thus, this work is more of a pastoral reflection than an exhaustive study in theology. It is a modest contribution, as it were,  borne out of a struggle to account and adjust parts of my priestly life spent directly for ministry to the Christian Community. The themes I am expounding here may not be as erudite or compelling, yet they are part of the treasure trove I am so greatly blessed to have.

I am presenting this paper as an attempt to set some workable bases in evaluating priestly ministry in terms of the Church and her mission of BEC building. I shall do this by covering the following interconnected parts: (1) The Introduction done above, reflects on the gift of priestly ordination that sets the direction  of pastoral ministry in the service of the Church of Communion. (2) As a backdrop, I attempt a brief review of the Trinitarian Life as the basis of the “Church of Communion.” I hope to highlight the COMMON DIGNITY of the priest and the lay,  as it is actualized in “Co-Responsibility” in the mission of the Church; (3) And as a concrete expression of Co-Responsibility there is an elaboration of complementary themes -regarding the Mission of Integral Evangelization- based on the Spirituality of Communion and  characterized basically by  BEC building among others; (4) the Conclusion is intended as a challenge for genuine intimacy with the Lord upon which rests the integrity of all forms of ministry in the  Church.

 

The Trinitarian Life as the Fundamental  Basis of Communion

The documents of the Second Vatican Council (esp. “Lumen Gentium” and “Gaudium et Spes”) made  conscious efforts to explicitate the self-understanding of the Church about her nature and mission in the context of the present day realities.  This brought into the forefront the image of the Church as People of God and a Community of Particular Churches. This image is the fruit of understanding the Trinitarian Life as the Fundamental Basis of the Church’s nature and mission. For “the universal Church is seen to be ‘a people brought into unity from the unity of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.’”[2]

Resting truthfully the life of the Church on the life of the Trinity brings one to a dynamic appreciation of the Church – for indeed, in all times and circumstances, it is the Trinity that caused the Church to exist and to be fully life-giving:

“God is not a solitaire; a lonely being.  He is Trinity.  He lives in Community…of three persons in One…The person whom we call ‘Father’ does not keep his life and power to himself, He is

constantly giving …not only a part of His being, but all of it…the one who receives it, is not just a small part of Him, but is completely like Him.  He is the “Son.”  He is completely equal to the Father…

This sharing…(of the Father and the Son) is a continual process…going on (even) at this very moment and it will ever continue.  This process is so completely unselfish that it does not make the one greater and the other smaller…

This love between the Father and the Son … is not a thing…not a strong current which is powerful but no feeling.  It is a person…a love-person …as great as the Father and the Son.  We call this person “the Holy Spirit”…He is the ‘go-between.’ He is love. He is sharing in perfection.  He is continual giving and taking.  This is why we can say that in God there is continual movement and continual community life.

Love always want to share with others.   Therefore God does not want this community life always to remain confined to himself alone…(but) for his creatures to take part in it.  He created them  ‘in His image,’ so that they too would always long to live a life of sharing.” [3]

Expanding this image in salvation history – when God created man “in His image and likeness” (cf Gen. 1:26), He created man to be  “a person-in-community.”   Thus He did not only call individuals but a people – for His Plan of Salvation[4]. In times past, He did not just call Abraham nor Moses but the People of Israel; and partially manifested, through a long drawn out process, this saving plan for them.[5] The covenant that He had established with them (Jer.31:31-34) enhanced more centrally His intent of “deep communion” with His people while at the same time serving as an abiding reminder of a coming moment where He will fully manifest Himself and His Saving Plan through His chosen people, in history-in the person of the Messiah that He is going to send.

 

And Jesus came!

Because of His great love, He emptied himself, became man in every way sharing our life, heartaches, joys and pains except sin (cf.Phil.2). And with the “twelve” whom he first called and established in a community as partners, He proclaimed “insta opportune importune” the Kingdom of His Father. Serving everyone especially the poor with determined compassion until crucifixion and death – He stood out as a “Sign of Contradiction” for the values, the world would love to embrace. In the end people came to believe in him. Once risen, He became the Head of this Body, the Church, while sending the Spirit of Truth to sustain her life and confirm her with gifts and ministries. And seated at the right hand of the Father to come again at the end of time, he promises for now to be the constant most intimate companion and defender, at every time and every age – of the value of every believer, of every person and all humanity.

 

Pope John Paul II presented this truth succinctly when he said:

“the human person, every person without exception, has been redeemed by Christ,- because Christ is in a way united to every human person, every person without exception, even if the individual may not realize this fact. ‘Christ who died and was raised for us all, ‘for every human being and for all human beings can through his Spirit offer man the light and strength to measure up to his supreme destiny.”[6]

This whole experience brought to realization God’s Plan of establishing, in the end:

“one chosen People of God : ‘one Lord, one faith, one baptism’ (Eph. 4:5); there is a common dignity of members deriving from their rebirth in Christ, a common grace as sons, a common vocation to perfection, one salvation, one hope and undivided charity.  In Christ and in the Church there is, then, no inequality arising from race or nationality, social condition or sex, for ‘there is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor freeman, there is neither male nor female.  For you are all ‘one’ in Christ Jesus.”[7]

 

From this brief account we see the dynamic movements of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit within the world, in ushering the life of the Church.

Indelibly marked thus by the life of the Trinity, this Church – the Community of the Faithful – gifted with rich diversity in roles and charisms, is essentially ONE COMMUNITY, where there is a RADICAL EQUALITY OF DIGNITY among its members (priest and lay); and where a bond of respect, responsibility and sharing is established, nourished and brought to fulfillment.[8] In this context, the plan of salvation takes a significantly concrete turn: that is, to be saved … to be an heir of the Kingdom is not just having a “one-on-one saving hotline” with God but to be inserted into an experience of genuine Communion and Co-Responsibility for Mission in the Life of the Christian Community.

 

Our Mission of  Evangelization

(A) As the Church-at-large inherits the life of Communion from the Trinity; it flows out in a unique manner to the life of priest through the charism of community leadership in order to build  Communion of Communities.

Historically, our Lord entrusted the leadership of his Church to the Twelve Apostles with Peter as the Head   (Mt. 16:1829; Lk.10:16; Mt.28:19-20). The Apostles are succeeded by the Bishops with the Pope as Peter’s successor.  In order for them to fulfill their duty as leaders of the Church they are invested with authority to TEACH, SANCTIFY and GOVERN.[9] But they “who are invested with a sacred power, are in fact dedicated to promoting the interests of their brethren … (in order to) attain salvation.”[10] As this “sacred power” communicates no equality in authority between the priest and the lay this does not in anyway intended to undermine equality in dignity of all the baptized.

In the context of genuine communion seen above,  “the promotion of the interests of the brethren” can never be something peripheral.  But it means primarily that the ministerial priesthood (priest) builds its mission on the basis of fundamental experience of “co-responsibility”  expressed in genuine “partnership” with the baptismal priesthood (lay) in the mission of evangelization.  It is not to “substitute” or “fill-up” an absent  entity. Instead it serves the lay in such a way that they are “empowered” to develop their baptismal grace, grow in love of God and their fellow human beings, live a life of community and become saints. Thus, the Ministry of the Bishops (with priests and deacons) are seen fundamentally as a Ministry of leadership for Service in the building up of the community.

Understood properly then, the priest and lay are not “opposites” on the level of being Christian. It is rather within the “Unity” of all Christians, the salient points of which we elaborated above that we can correctly view the distinction. It has to do, after all, with specific call and mission from within the context of “Communion.”[11] Seen in this light, the Priestly ministry is defined in terms of the Church.  In these terms the Church is the beneficiary for she is at its best when the priest and lay (re: also priest-priest; Bishop-priest; lay-lay; Bishop-lay) become genuine PARTNERS in the one Mission of EVANGELIZATION!

(B) But we have to acknowledge as well that this “paradigm” of service and co-responsibility is really like an arrow thrust into the marrow of a mindset and lifestyle that understands “sacred power” on its isolated terms where it emphasizes wittingly or unwittingly domination of others.  In this case the demands of congruence of ministry to the life and mission of the Church becomes, especially for those who have become distortedly attach to sacred powers and its benefits and fearful of losing or sharing it, a threatening development or worse an anticipated or real traumatic experience. Unhealthy tensions especially in the level of relationships among community leaders and members surface.

As the official direction of the Church shifts towards this life of Communion and Co-Responsibility, resistances are expected. Some wants to do away or slow down the initiative so that this movement is simply taken for  granted. On the other hand, it could happen that in the various quarters of our communities we may have “mental agreements” to set our direction towards developing forms and practices of Communion, but the operative values underneath is concerned of maintaining the status quo or even arbitrarily defending it. If this attitude is not effectively addressed it can create an environment of conflict, indifference, skepticism or outright antagonism that can siphon out of legitimate attempts its valuable energy and spirit.

(C) Being faithful to the direction set to us by the Church and responsive to the area of concern identified above,  will lead us to take serious efforts in pursuing the following initiatives:

1. Fostering the “Spirituality of Communion.”  In the universal reading of the Church in this new millennium, in order to sustain and move our pastoral initiatives forward we should ultimately find its guiding principle in the “Spirituality of Communion.” It is thus necessary that side-by-side with the awareness of our reality we develop distinctively this form of spirituality.

About this, the Holy Father declares:

“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 on the face of the brothers and sisters around us. (It) … 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.  “(It) implies also the ability to see what is positive in others, to welcome it and prize it as a gift from God … (and) “a gift for me.  “(It) means, finally, to know how to “make room” for our bothers and sisters, bearing “each other’s burdens” (Gal.6:2) and resisting the selfish temptations which provoke … competition, careerism, distrust and jealousy.”[12]

In addition, he cautions that when this is taken for granted it will make “external structures of communion… mechanisms without a soul, “masks” of communion rather than its means of expression and growth.”[13]

Evidently, with this emphasis, the reform of ordained ministry mutually existing with the ministry of the baptized takes on a turn to interiority.  To be able to effectively minister in the Church of Communio, the priest works out  a “creative space” for him to journey inside, again and again,  in order to discover himself anew.  In this process, by the workings of grace, he will be surprised of the self that he is discovering.  He will find it surprisingly “bigger” than what he thinks it is because it helps him see God there…meet Jesus there…receive the fire of the Spirit there and he is never the same again.

Interior Life leads us to the most intimate and private side of God. And paradoxically, the more private we become of this God in prayer and contemplation,  the more we discover that he is deeply and essentially a community in mission.

This experience launches us, as catalysts, to draw out from others their capacity to journey interiorly and experience also a renewed friendship with the Lord from within. And from this experience of friendship we shall learn to see beyond external images of persons and really look at them “as brothers and sisters…as gifts from God and gifts for me.” By this friendship with God deeply experienced we have an inner resource in building communities. Our main efforts then towards this direction will not primarily depend on programs and organizational/technical skills, though these have rightful places in our endeavors,  but indeed on the gracious mystery of conversion to intimate partnership with God and with one another!

2. Challenging the Priest to a more Consultative Management Style.  In this vein  PCP-II  has provided us with a sense of urgency and direction:

“With due regard for the rights and duties of Bishops and Pastors as set forth in the Code of Canon Law, dioceses and parishes shall be run as consultative bodies on the model of Community of Disciples with all members playing their proper role in shared decision-making as the normal mode of operation, so that the diocese and parish become centers of Church renewal towards building Christian communities, all working together as active partners in the work of God.”[14]

And since on closer look, “shared decision-making” as the “normal mode” of parish management, at this time, is more of a wish than a reality, efforts for a more participatory and consultative styles of management must therefore be set in place.  Attempts in this area should consider the “serious” operation of the Parish Councils and the periodic Pastoral Planning Process through Assemblies/Congresses on BEC complemented by an On-going Formation on Pastoral Management Skills for the priests, among others.  A more “long term” approach would be to address the seminary formation program so that it becomes responsive to this need.

What is basically addressed then by these efforts is a genuine renewal of the concept of “authority” in the Church as “empowering” rather than “dominating;” a privileged gift of humble service rather than an exclusive institution of dominance and power over others. Once renewed, authority of the ordained minister becomes a “wellspring” of authentic guidance, teaching, animation and inspiration for the entire community.

(3) This “normal mode of consultation and shared decision-making” has a flip-side. It is one call for two respondents. On the part of the Lay, it is a call for Empowerment. The lay’s direct participation in the mission of the Church and the prominence being given them as partners and agents in evangelization, with the priest, is not primarily because of shortage of priests, the growing emphasis of creativity and cooperation in the world, or even the more participatory conduct of Church affairs. Rather, it is based in a clearer and deeper awareness of the Church itself and its mission in today’s world which insists that:

“Inserted as they are in the Mystical Body of Christ by baptism and strengthened by the power of the Holy Spirit in confirmation, it is by the Lord himself that they are assigned to the apostolate.  If they are consecrated a kingly priesthood and a holy nation (cf. Pet. 2:4-10), it is order that they may in all their actions offer spiritual sacrifices and bear witness to Christ all the world over.”[15]

Furthermore, though the laws of the Church clearly point out that the power and authority (leader ship) in the Church is principally vested in the ordained, that is, those who have received the sacred orders, as we have seen above,  the Lay nevertheless, through the Sacraments of Baptism and Confirmation share in these functions, in this authority.  Conscious, therefore of their role and their rights, the laity should pursue active participation in the building of Communities; membership in the Parish Councils; in the Ministries of Worship; Teaching and Serving ; and in the gathering of resources to fund the program of evangelization. Seminars to equip them of the necessary orientation and skills must be provided.

Thus when CO-RESPONSIBIILTY expressed in EMPOWERMENT is emphasized in this aspect of renewal they now see their presence and apostolate as resting essentially in the very nature of the Church. In this Church, together with the priest, they share a common dignity. Thus, the “Church can never be without the lay apostolate; it is something that derives from the layman’s vocation as a Christian.”[16]

(4) With  the basic emphasis on the formation of Spirituality of Communion coupled with the more practical initiatives of developing both the priest’s capacity for a more consultative Pastoral Management style; and the Empowered participation of the Lay – foundations are laid down to embark in the actual exercise of Evangelization specifically in the area of organizing the Parish into a “Communion of Communities” or Basic Ecclesial Communities. PCP-II takes this matter into the forefront:

“The CBCP should encourage the various dioceses to study the models of the Church under which they operate in such a way that the parish becomes a center of Church renewal and a community of Christian communities and families.”[17]

The decree’s orientation is clear.  The centrality of the Parish is affirmed in the works of evangelization but there is a catch here, so to say: not in the sense though of what the parish is for us now (i.e. “maintenance parish”) but  what it can still become (i.e. “creative parish”).

She is prominently placed as an “axle” in the process of the Church’s renewal but with a pastoral mandate to build herself into “a COMMUNION of COMMUNITIES.” So that when parishes in the Diocese, in reality have turned into “Communion of Communities” they become, as it were, “centers of renewal.” The Diocese in the end, is renewed from the inside.

Concretely the creative movement of the Parish  starts from what is basic – the home and neighborhood. With the “chapel”/kapilya” perhaps as its center, families in the neighborhood are organized (by the Parish) into clusters of cells, building their life with more pronounced marks of the Church ofCommunion: UNITY; DIVERSITY; EQUALITY in DIGNITY; SHARING and PARTICIPATION. [18]

Unity – coming from various social standing, families in the neighborhood grow in personal relationships; in embracing a process of cooperative planning; and in the joy of celebrating together organically linked with other cells and the bigger life and ministry of the Parish where they belong.  This is usually facilitated by a regular meeting in one of the homes of the members led by their own local leader where they basically pray the scriptures as a family.  Such regular “faith-sharing7′ where hearts are opened; unique charisms are recognized/appreciated; conflicts are resolved; concensus for actions are done; resources are shared – bring different families altogether to an experience of deep communion and sharing in the neighborhood. (cf. Eph 4:5, Phil 2:1-5, 1Cor 12, Lumen Gentium #4)

Diversity - In this neighborhood community variety of roles/charisms/status are recognized and respected. Therefore each one is encouraged to share, contribute, cooperate with the thought, that what he has  is no lesser gift but an essential part in the completion of a more integrated and wholesome experience of community life. Even just within the neighborhood cells, there is already a rich display of charisms/ ministries: catechesis, worship-devotion, service, temporalities/finance, etc … (cf. Eph 4:1-16, Jn 17:20-23)

Equality in Dignity – The experience of meeting Jesus in person through common reflection and sharing serves as the anchor in the recognition of the presence of the risen Lord in their midst and in one another. Among members, self-respect as well as deep respect and compassion for each one (regardless of social condition) is recovered; – and their corresponding resources are generously channeled to sustain community life. “Knowing” Jesus this way raises their conviction that all belong as one, to “His Body” and He is truly the foundation of their life in the community. (cf. Gal 3:28, Lumen Gentium#32, Mt 23:8-12, James 2:2-4)

Sharing and Participation – Being transformed in the process, members see to it that the lonely, sick, downtrodden, impoverished in their neighborhood experience not only “prayer and praising” but the caring love of the Lord through them, His present-day disciples.  Indeed, they have become so convinced that Christian life is not a life lived in “zones of comforts,” but in being involved in the affairs of their local Church, environment, justice and a wider range of other social issues, putting into action the love they have received from Christ by serving one another especially the poor, downtrodden, oppressed and lost. (cf. Acts 2:42-47, Acts 4:32-35/Acts 15:2-23, Gal 2:11-14, Mt 18:15-18)

As these marks of Christian life see light in the “grass roots,” so to say, we have examples of the “wheat” growing healthier than the “weeds.” CONVERSION towards a deeper Christian life is taking place and becomes the core-experience of the community, graced by God, through the efforts of the community. Here, we have a living sign that an evangelized community is turning more concretely into an empowered, evangelizing “Community of Compassion.”

(5) The nurturing of BEC Program demands likewise development of enhancing structures in the Parish and beyond:

 

COrganizing/ Sustaining Parish Councils. Conscious of its identity and vocation, the parish encourages the structure of organized lay leadership to enhance co-responsibility among the lay with the priest in the over-all shepherding of the community. The intent is far from setting the lay against the hierarchical part of the Church or to form them (through their leaders) in a so-called ‘Church of the People,’ understood as having no place for hierarchical authority or office.”[19] It is not there to substitute for the ordained minister’s pastoral role but to link-up with him in bringing about a more united and coordinated efforts in evangelization activities.[20

CPeriodic Pastoral Planning Process. With the Parish Councils in place, this process of coordinate planning, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of evangelization plans is set into motion as a normal feature in the life of the Christian community.[21] Through it, the lay faithful

“accustom themselves to working in the parish in close union with their priests, bringing to the Church community their own and  the  world’s  problems  as well  as  questions   concerning human salvation, all of which need to be examinee together and solved through general discussion.”[22]

In addition, a very distinct part of this planning process is a long-term formation IN Culture.  Evangelization does not exist in a vacuum. It has a context. The Gospel “is always transmitted to a given people with their own distinct way of life, their culture…but more properly speaking, culture is (also) the object of evangelization…’Evangelii Nuntiandi’ speaks of the evangelization of cultures as a primary task of the Church today.” [23]

Being Asians, part of what we have is a “a soul that yearns, is restless, thirsts, searches, inquires, hungers … for the meaning of life.  But deep down, as the Holy Father puts it, there is the thirst for the Divine.”[24] Moreover, this Asian soul in us, in the Philippines today, lives and struggles within the pervasive dehumanizing “culture of poverty” because of endemic inequality and massive poverty among our people.

Thus in our pastoral agenda we have to take this “context” seriously. We have to start where we are. We have to begin our efforts to build ‘genuine’ experiences of Communion from within our spirit that thirsts for the  Divine and from our resources  as “Church of the Poor.” Since we are all united in this experience, we have to essentially let our people participate fully in the life of the Church and let the Church fully participate in the life of our people.

When and how is this to be done depends a lot on the initiatives of the parish but it must be said so that in substance the whole direction of this planning process takes on the mission of evangelization with a deep desire for “inculturation.”

 

COrganizing the Lay Organizations, Movements and Associations  and/or the Council of the Laity

The diversity of charisms in the Church also resides in the existence of genuine Church organizations and movements. In reality they have provided environment and support for apostolic endeavors;[25] and as communities exemplifying fraternal belonging, love of the Word of God and love of prayer, have become schools of evangelistic zeal.[26] And so, “Basic Ecclesial Communities do not necessarily make such associations superfluous.” [27]

But within and among themselves, there has to be also a process of constant “discernment” in relation to the bigger reality of “Communion andMission” in the Church so that they don’t “degenerate into elitist religious clubs.” [28]

This discernment guided by the leadership of the Church need to be complemented by more objective pastoral guidelines and policies so that “charisms” present in these associations and movements may really be channeled for the ecclesial body:

“To this effect, recognized organizations, councils, movements, especially those related to national groupings, must see to it that:

1.  their constitution and by-laws are not contrary to the laws of the Church;

2.  their work is in harmony with, diocesan/ parish plans;

3.  they work within the context of the parish and its structure, and coordinate with one another; and

4.  they utilize such leadership training, retreats and seminars as are necessary for the new thrust of re-evangelization”[29]

 

Thus, the concrete implications of this “discernment process” mean that ORGANIZATIONS/MOVEMENTS AND ASSOCIATIONS have to become “parish based” in the sense that (a) as groups within, they participate with the bigger Church in the pastoral planning process or membership in the parish councils and its ministries “as leaven and light” in the building of ecclesial communities; (b) through the same process, they adopt BEC processes and become BEC themselves.

CThe celebration of the Diocesan Synod. The journey of pastoral renewal does not end in the parish. The “synodal processes” bring the efforts of the local communities for Communion and Co-Responsibility  in the Diocesan Level and SETS IN THESE LEVELS normative decisions for pastoral renewal and disciplines

Normally this assembly of priests and lay involves reading and reflection of the situations of the Local Church … of coming up with a sort of Vision-Mission to guide the pastoral initiatives … of harnessing the charisms and resources of the community … and of coming up with an “evangelization plan” that will set the Local Church into a more active state of mission.  Hence the celebration of this will greatly institutionalize  initiatives for Basic Ecclesial Community building.

 

CONCLUSION

In this paper through varied ways and different angles I tried to repeatedly communicate the value of making our priestly ministry congruent to the nature and mission of the Church as she sees best at this particular historical moment – in this case through Basic Ecclesial Communities.  This is a journey that starts from within our heart but moves out to a horizon that is at times familiar and encouraging but at other times unpredictable even hostile.  In whatever situation our faith beckons us to make our hearts…as our compass; to risk loving the Church…her life…her mission…not in our terms but in the power and measure of His Love!  Our task is unfinished so do our loving…

And just as we are about to lift again our feet to climb the heights…let the mysterious melody of this little poem by H.de la Costa, SJ multiply courage in our hearts!

“He will fill our nets with fish;

but only if we are willing to fish all night

even if we catch nothing.

He will make our water wine;

but only if we take our jars to the well

and stagger back with them filled,

not halfway, but to the brim.

He will feed multitudes;

but only if we are willing to share

our limited resources

our five loaves and two fishes.”

HE WILL … BUT ONLY IF…

 

Through all the twists and turns  brought about by  our reflections…let it not be forgotten that our first partnership…the partnership which is the source of all partnerships…is with HIM!

A.M.D.G.

Rev. Fr. Jose Marie S. Delgado

Executive Director

Jaro Archdiocesan Pastoral Secretariat

Priest-In-Charge

Nuestra Señora del Pilar Chaplaincy


[1] Quevedo, National Congress of the Laity,PICC, Manila, June 28-30, 2001

[2] Lumen Gentium.  Dogmatic Constitution on the Church. #4 par. 2

 

[3] LUMKO Institute, Booklet 19P, Building Small Christian Communities, 4-5

[4] cf. Ad Gentes. Decree on the Church’s Missionary Activity, #2

[5] cf.  Lumen Gentium. Dogmatic Constitution on the Church, # 9

[6] Redemptor Hominis. Encyclical Letter of Pope John Paul II on The Mystery of Redemption and the Dignity of Man., March 4, 1979, # 14

[7] Gal. 3:28; Lumen Gentium. Dogmatic Constitution on the Church, #32

[8] cf. Gaudium et Spes. Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World #24

[9] cf. Canon 375,#1,2

[10] Lumen Gentium. Dogmatic Constitution on the Church, 3 #18

[11]cf. Walter Kasper, “The Mission of the Laity”, in Theological Digest, 1988

[12] Novo Millenio Ineunte , #43, pars. 2 and 3, Apostolic Letter

[13] ibid.

[14] Second Plenary Council of the Philippines Acts and Decrees. January 20-February 17, 1991, Art. 2 #2

 

[15] Apostolican Actuositatem. Decree on the Apostolate of the Laity #3, par. 1

[16] ibid.# 1

[17] Second Plenary Council of the Philippines Acts and Decrees. January 20-February 17, 1991, Art. 2# 1

[18] cf. “Towards a Community ChurchLumko Institute Booklet #28 T, 2nd ed., 42-43

 

[19] cf. Second Plenary Council of the Philippines Acts and Decrees. January 20-February 17, 1991, #100

[20]cf. Ecclesia in Asia.  Apostolic Exhortation of the Holy Father John Paul II on Jesus Christ the Savior and His Mission of Love and Service in Asia. #25, par.2

 

[21] c.f. Second Plenary Council of the Philippines Acts and Decrees.    January 20   -  February 17, 1991,#600, par2; Ecclesia in Asia.  Apostolic Exhortation of the Holy Father John Paul II on Jesus Christ the Savior and His Mission of Love and Service in Asia #25, par.3

[22] cf Christifidelis Laici.  The Vocation and the Mission of the Lay Faithful in the Church and in the World.  Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation of Pope John Paul II. 30 December 1988. #27, par. 3

[23] Claver, 8th Visayas Region Pastoral Assembly, Oct. 16-18,2001

[24] Tagle, 8th Visayas Region Pastoral Assembly,, Oct.16-18,2001

[25] Second Plenary Council of the Philippines Acts and Decrees.    January 20   - February 17, 1991, #608

[26]ibid. #610

26 ibid. #608

[28] ibid. #609

[29] ibid. Art. 115 # 2