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Cardinal Arinze Gets High PDF Print E-mail
Written by Sherry   
Tuesday, 18 September 2007 06:17
Cardinal Arinze is coming to town this week. He's in Denver today, I believe, speaking to the Archdiocesan Stewardship group (so I was told by the stewardship coordinator who attended last weekend's Called & Gifted in Denver)

Then Wednesday, the Cardinal is speaking at my parish in Colorado Springs. I have one of the precious tickets although I have seen him before years ago at a Franciscan University of Steubenville conference. My parish, Holy Apostles, holds about 1,200 and I imagine it will be full. The topic of the Cardinal's talk is the apostolate of the laity which should be interesting.

Thursday, Arinze addresses the Legatus Summit at our local 5 star resort: the Broadmoor

Via What the Cardinals Believe, comes this related story:

To encourage Catholics to apply their faith in daily life, the Vatican is considering alternative endings to the priest's last line of the Mass: "The Mass is ended. Go in peace."

(Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, September 15, 2007) "Many people, when they hear, 'Go, the Mass is ended,' think that what we are saying is, 'It is finished, you can go and rest,'" said Cardinal Francis Arinze, who heads the Vatican's office on liturgy and sacraments. He spoke Thursday night to 120 people at LeMont Restaurant on Mount Washington, during a benefit for the Apostolate for Family Consecration, an Ohio ministry where he spends part of each summer.

After the Synod for the Eucharist in 2005, Pope Benedict XVI asked Cardinal Arinze's office to consider optional closing words. So far he has received more than 70 suggestions, he said.

Examples include "Go and live what we have celebrated" and "We have celebrated the good news of Christ, go and share this with your brethren," he said.


We've been talking about this for years at our Called & Gifted workshops. The blessing at the end of Mass is a sending forth of apostles, not a ritual "thank goodness that's over".
Wyoming Catholic College Is Open for Business PDF Print E-mail
Written by Sherry   
Tuesday, 18 September 2007 05:57

Evening Light on Soda Butte Creek- Lamar Valley- Yellowstone National Park- Wyoming.jpg

Wyoming Catholic College's class of 2011 - all 35 of them - have begun classes in Lander, Wyoming.

Their freshman orientation program? 21 days straight in the Wind River wilderness west of Lander, in the company of instructors from the National Outdoor Leadership School.

The three-week stint in the wilderness gives students the satisfaction of climbing 11,000-ft. passes and summiting 13,000-ft. peaks, trekking about 100 miles, fly fishing some of the most beautiful lakes in the Rocky Mountains, and cooking their own meals. They are exposed to learning many skills, using teamwork, having to treat all other members with respect, doing a good share of the work, tolerating adversity and uncertainty, and developing leadership. The goal is to give students the skills to enjoy their Rocky Mountain surroundings throughout their college career.

All freshman also participate in the Equine program: Three times a week, WCC freshmen travel to the Central Wyoming College campus where they gain knowledge and experience of horse behavior and horse care.

Attitude with Altitude as we say around here.

An Orthodox Take on Called & Gifted PDF Print E-mail
Written by Sherry   
Monday, 17 September 2007 14:42
Fr. Gregory Jensen attended the Called & Gifted workshop in Perrysburg, OH last weekend and then preached about some of his reactions on Sunday and now has posted at some length on the topic and the implications that he sees for parish life and ministry.

Check it out.
Islam and Christianity PDF Print E-mail
Written by Sherry   
Monday, 17 September 2007 14:12
Speaking of missions, check out this great, articulate blog, Islam and Christianity, written by an evangelistically savvy Christian in the middle east, whom I suspect is Catholic. He protects his anonymity - essential in his situation - by using an Arabic pseudonym.

He has also written a very interesting introductory series of posts on Islam. Read and learn!
Go and Make Disciples PDF Print E-mail
Written by Sherry   
Monday, 17 September 2007 12:18
Interesting conversations and links this morning:

Over at Catholic Sensibility,

Todd (I assume although it was not signed)comments about the International Congress for the New Evangelization going on in Budapest right now.

Budapest Cardinal Peter Erdo’s three points:

In Budapest we saw that what was needed first of all was to deepen the faith, spirituality and missionary awareness of those who are already working in the parishes, that is, priests, religious, catechists and laypeople, those who are completely dedicated to parish service.

“Then in a second step we must get in contact with the whole parish community, also in a liturgical way.

“The third step is a gradual opening to the world. This opening up to the world is not just directed toward our immediate environment, our city, the quarter where we live and where many do not believe and do not know Christ’s message or have not been baptized; it is also a look at the whole world, the most distant continents, through the witness of those people — priests, religious, missionaries and laity — who have lived in those parts of the world.”

Todd writes:

This is worth some reflection. The cardinal suggests starting with parish staffs. I’m assuming a big part of point two is good liturgy. The third step is likely the stumbling block for many people. How does the local parish open up to the world? Is it through charity? Catholics do that pretty well, even though it’s often through a generous check and not so much the hands on approach. How well do you think our example as Catholics plays out in our “immediate environment”?

I wonder what our friends at Intentional Disciples think of this, and if they’ve participated in this event in the past?

Alas, your friends at Intentional Disciples have never been to the Congress or to Budapest (but are always open to invitations to visit Europe!) but we have been thinking, praying, and working on these questions a long time - and have started to see some real fruit at the parish level.

It was exactly this issue that gave birth to the Making Disciples, Equipping Apostles seminars that we have been offering since the summer of 2004. They were 4 or 5 day seminars intended to enable pastoral leaders at all levels from vicar generals to pastors, diocesan and parish staff and lay leaders to really grasp the big picture and it's implications. The Church's primary mission of evangelization and that the parish is the most natural and accessible place where the apostles, saints, and leaders of the 21st century can be challenged to intentional discipleship, formed as Christians and apostles, and helped to discern and live their God-given vocation(s) - most of which will take them outside the parish to the world.

It is very critical that the secular nature of the vast majority of lay vocation(s) and the critical nature of the secular mission of the Church be emphasized throughout. The stranglehold of the "intra-ecclesial maintenance is our mission paradigm" must be broken. When leaders "get" that we really are a community of over 1 billion apostles, anointed and gifted for mission, that the Church's primary mission is outward, not inward, and that the mission field of 99.8% of our apostles lies outside ecclesial structures, then things start to change.

The amazing thing is see that change take place. We witnessed over and over pastoral leaders leave MDEA who had gotten it and were passionately committed to making it happen. They went home and changed their own ministry priorities and started to change those of their parish. Mission, not maintenance was the order of the day - and the formation of people, not sustaining programs was the priority. Houses of lay formation were springing up around the country!

And this seems to be intensifying with complete reworking of MDEA that we did last winter/spring. The new Making Disciples (as we call it now)is completely focused upon the initial pastoral work of effectively challenging Catholics to intentional discipleship and includes some cutting edge practical tools that are unique in the Catholic world. Our first Making Disciples last month was the most successful that we have ever held and seems to have been very successful in enabling participants to make the necessary paradigm shift from institutional maintenance to evangelical mission. So it is happening but it doesn't happen accidentally.

As we say: Disciples don't happen. Apostles don't happen. Weeds happen!.

Disciples and apostles are the fruit of an intentional plan effort by the Christian community.

The Cardinal's third point about local mission vs. global mission is an interesting one. As anyone who reads ID on a regular basis knows, I write a lot about global Christianity and missions and its implications for Catholic pastoral practice. I come from a world where it was normal for lay men and women to be knowledgeable and passionate about missions, not just at a concrete and specific level (as in what is happening in a orphanage that you are supporting in Mexico) but at the macro level (such as the fact that Christianity is exploding in China and that thousands of Muslims around the world are becoming Christians, often in response to visions of Christ).

I very much appreciate the Cardinal's point but my experience is that cultivating an outward, mission focus of any kind among Catholics - whether toward their own neighborhood, city or state or toward people on the other side of the globe - requires a great deal of spiritual and intellectual energy because their imagination and experience usually has no category for it. Why that is remains a mystery to me - and of course, it isn't true for everyone. But after working directly with 32,000 Catholics in 80 dioceses, I'd have to say that it is true of the overwhelming majority.

The principle involved in communicating a new idea to adults remain the same: Always start with the concrete and move toward the universal. That's why discerning charisms can be such a catalyst in this area because it enables adults to mentally link concrete lived experience with the concept "God is really calling me to a mission because he gave me this gift" and then the great "AHA" follows and all the world looks new.

So I think we'll have to start at the level of the concrete for most people (and one's own neighborhood or city is great for that) and then expand to the global.
Because in this matter of building a culture of mission and vocation at the parish level, we are, for all practical purposes, at Ground Zero.
A Few Words in Favor of Zealotry PDF Print E-mail
Written by Michael Fones   
Monday, 17 September 2007 05:02
John Allen has an article on why Fr. Peter Phan's book, "Being Religious Interreligiously: Asian Perspectives on Interreligious Dialogue" is being investigated by the CDF and the U.S. Bishops' Committee on Doctrine. The latter is questioning whether Fr. Phan's writing is obscuring three important points:
The uniqueness of Jesus Christ and the universality of his salvific mission
The salvific significance of non-Christian religions (without connection to Christ and the Holy Spirit)
The uniqueness of the church as the universal instrument of salvation

It's an interesting article, and I linked it in the title of this post. What struck me most, however, was the difference between what John Allen was reporting about Fr. Phan's writing, and what I was reading this weekend while traveling back and forth across the country.

In a wonderful book by Fr. Robert Barron, "the Strangest Way," Fr. Barron quoted Fr. Anthony de Mello (another theologian whose writing was discussed by the CDF posthumously) as saying that attachment is "anything in this world - including life itself - that we convince ourselves we cannot live without." Fr. Barron continues, "The implication, of course, is that in Christ we CAN live without anything in this world, and to know that in our bones is to be detached, spiritually free. To live in the infinite power of God is to realize that we NEED nothing else, that we CRAVE nothing more, that we CAN LET GO of everything else...To become focused on something less than God (anything created, including our own lives) is therefore to place ourselves in spiritual danger and desperately frustrate the will." (pp. 50-51)

It is Jesus who reveals this truth in a variety of ways, "How hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom," "Sell all you have and give to the poor, then come follow me." The poor, meek, sorrowful, persecuted for the sake of Jesus are blessed precisely because they are not attached to things, status, and good feelings, but are attached to Jesus, for whom they willingly suffer persecution.

This is a kind of zeal that is seldom found within Catholic Christianity these days. We reserve such singlemindedness to the saints. Part of the testimony at the canonization process of St. Dominic reads, "he was zealous for souls, fervent in prayer and preaching, and unrelenting in his pursuit of heretics. He loved poverty, was strict with himself, but kind towards others. He was chaste, humble and patient, calm under persecution, and joyful amid tribulations. He was deeply religious and held himself in low regard."

Another book I'm reading is by the Evangelical George Barna, head of the Barna Research Group. In "Growing True Disciples" he writes about the cost of discipleship, "When we hear that the apostles were followers of Jeesus, the image that comes to mind is of people who tagged along after the Lord..." but "Each of the twelve disciples abandoned his profession. Each lived a minimalist lifestyle, carrying frew possessions and having no enduring sense of residential stability. The disciples learned new principles constantly and were expected to apply those principles on demand. Although all they tried to do was help people, they suffered persecution because their Teacher and His ways were so radical and threatening to some of society's powerbrokers...There were no textbooks on which they could rely, so they had to be constantly alert and retain all of the information and insights gleaned during their training stage. In short, they had no life apart from what they were being trained to do. Being a follower of Jesus Christ was an all-consuming obsession."

While many Christians would agree with that description, we tend to hear it as what described the Twelve, rather than as a model for all disciples of Jesus. Barna disagrees. "[Jesus] is seeking people who are absolutely serious about becoming new creations in Him - individuals who are fanatics, zealots, mesmerized, passionate about the cause, completely devoted to mimicking their model down to the last nuance. Discipleship is not a program. It is not a ministry. It is a life-long commitment to a lifestyle." (pp 18-19).

We can't be zealous in following Christ simply because he can help us lead a fulfilling life, or because he can help free us from attachments that screw up our priorities and make us addicted. We can be filled with zeal in following him only if we believe he is truly God incarnate, the sole Way, Truth and Life. While that zeal and full commitment might be preached differently in different cultures (and inculturation is a key point among many theologians working in non-Western cultures), the starting point is always Jesus, and not the culture.

I would propose that it might well be the postmodern West that will be the most opposed to the kind of zeal called for in the Scriptures, and the western consumer-oriented culture in which it might be the most difficult in which to be a passionate - and unencumbered - disciple of Jesus
Culture and Conversion PDF Print E-mail
Written by Sherry   
Friday, 14 September 2007 09:01
The relationship between culture and conversion is fascinating. An established Christian culture can foster conversion but it cannot replace conversion. Culture can powerfully transmit the kerygma but it can also obscure it.

Christian culture is not self-sustaining. Christian culture is the fruit of personal faith. Without the preaching of the kerygma and personal conversion which is a source of renewal in every generation, Christian culture ultimately withers away and dies.
Discovering Christ PDF Print E-mail
Written by Sherry   
Friday, 14 September 2007 08:52
As commenter Pete Acosi points out in the discussion of the Alpha course below, Christlife of Baltimore is developing an interesting 6 week process called "Discovering Christ" to help adults (especially young adults) encounter Jesus and the fundamental kerygma in a supportive community.

Pete helped put it on for 60 young adults this summer and saw good fruit. Check it out.
Life After Sunday: Intentional Discipleship, Intentional Community PDF Print E-mail
Written by Sherry   
Friday, 14 September 2007 08:22
If your small group or parish is looking for small group discussion materials, consider Life After Sunday.

Life After Sunday is clearly influenced by the lay movement, Communion & Liberation, and has a balance that I don't often find in Catholic small group materials: Heart and head, intuition and intellect, catechesis and companionship. Reflecting C & L's emphasis on living encounter with Christ in and through others, their materials seem remarkably inclusive of whole person and their longings for love, beauty, joy, and significance while remaining totally faithful to Church teaching.

As their website puts it:

While in Boston attending the installation of Archbishop Sean O’Malley, Cardinal J. Francis Stafford, then president of the Pontifical Council for the Laity, sat with a reporter for The Pilot to talk about the crisis in the Church. “Many of the problems that we are experiencing in the priesthood, I think, especially the sexual abuse, are due to a crisis, not just an acute crisis, but a long-term crisis in the parish and in the community of the parishes that is lived out. Part of it is rooted in the fact that people do not really experience love within the parish; it is a place in which they really do not trust one another enough to be able to experience the forgiving love of Jesus as that is mediated by the community.”[emphasis ours]

We believe the Cardinal has articulated well the most pressing need for the new evangelization in America today. In many parishes, relationships among parishioners can be casually indifferent in a way that often does not communicate Christ’s passionate, merciful love for each person “in the flesh.” As a result, the personal experience of God’s love can appear as distant as the impersonal contact with a fellow parishioner; faith in the Presence of Christ can become increasingly difficult to recognize in the breaking of the bread, in the Word and in the faces of the people in the pews or on parish committees. In the meantime, many Catholics attend Mass on Sunday, but then live the rest of the week without the mystery of the intimate Presence they have just received, a Presence who longs to permeate their lives every day. While many Sunday Catholics make an earnest attempt to live their faith, they still experience the faraway God of isolated Christians in the popular culture.

When Jesus is experienced only as One who “left a long time ago,” when parish leaders organize and plan as if they are on their own with only “a book to believe in” and “a lot to learn,” they may worry that everything is principally up to them. Failing to recognize and live the mystery of Christ’s living Presence in their midst, some parish leaders now fall back on calculating practices of the secular culture to “build community.” Some parish councils rely entirely on corporate models for planning, organization, communications, leadership skills and team-building. Even models of catechesis are often based on “values education” and psychological methods, rather than the real encounter with the Person who lives at the center of all existence. While many pastoral initiatives are well-meaning, there can be little fruitfulness among the persons the Lord has gathered unless there is first a foundational appreciation for his love…for his movement…for his mystery in their lives. In the midst of the very real work of parish life, Christ calls parishioners to shed their dependence upon secular practices alone and retrieve a real sacramental view of human life as his Body, lived through, with and in HIM in union with his Spirit of Love for the Father.

Clinging to Christ in Everyday Life

Inspired by the words of Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI, Life After Sunday seeks to help parishioners see that intimacy with Jesus Christ—an intimacy that begins with recognizing his living Presence in the heart of the parish—is the key to the new evangelization and the discovery of the truth and destiny of each human person. When parishioners have an encounter with “the forgiving love of Jesus,” when they have the experience of being brought into his “event of Love” with the Father and the Holy Spirit as a member of his Body in parish life, then they truly begin to live Life After Sunday.

"If we let Christ into our lives, we lose nothing, nothing, absolutely nothing of what makes life free, beautiful and great," says the Pope. "Only in this friendship are the doors of life opened wide. Only in this friendship is the great potential of human experience truly revealed. Only in this friendship do we experience beauty and liberation."

With Cardinal Stafford and the Pope, we believe that this intimate friendship with Christ is meant to be experienced in a deeper way within the larger community of the parish, within smaller groups of friends that can help each other recognize the Presence of Christ in the sacramental life of the Church and experience that Presence “in the flesh” through their enduring bonds of friendship with each other.

To which I can only say "Amen!" We saw this hunger for fellowship manifested so clearly and intensely when putting on Making Disciples this summer and at our Building Intentional Community Day.

Each of the 23 topics (with names like Wonder, Follow, Beauty, Security) can be covered in 1, 2, or up to 4 meetings, depending upon they dynamic of your group. They can also be organized for groups with special focuses like New Catholics for mystagogia, men's groups, mom's groups, established groups, etc.

You buy and download the materials online. I've done so and really liked what I saw although I haven't had a chance (because of my schedule) to try them out with a group. Check it out.
Alpha and the Meaning of Life PDF Print E-mail
Written by Sherry   
Thursday, 13 September 2007 13:33
Catholic Online carried a story yesterday about the kick-off of the Alpha Course's national million dollar advertising campaign in Canada.

For those who aren't familiar with Alpha, let's just say that it is the global juggernaut of evangelical/charismatic evangelistic processes. Alpha started at a charismatic Anglican church in London and has been experienced by 10 million people all over the world (30,000 courses are taking place in 163 countries right now, many of them in Catholic parishes and settings).

For more on Alpha from a Catholic perspective, go here
and here

(To put these numbers in perspective, consider that 8 million have attended Cursillo since its beginning in the 1940's and that 60 million Catholics have attended Life in the Spirit seminars since the late 60's.)

What is striking is how media savvy Alpha leaders are. Take a look at some of their marketing video's on the Alpha home page. (If you search for Alpha marketing videos on YouTube, you will find dozens in different languages (Chinese, Korean, Portuguese, Spanish, etc.)some produced by local churches to market their course, others produced by Alpha International.)

How do the videos stike you? Remember that they are aimed, not at the churched, but at the unchurched of all backgrounds or none. Think about your non-practicing Catholic friends and family members. Would they be drawn or put off by these videos? Why?
Absolutely Fabulous PDF Print E-mail
Written by Sherry   
Thursday, 13 September 2007 13:17

hat tip: Catholic Land
Spanning the Globe to Give You the Constant Variety of Discernment PDF Print E-mail
Written by Sherry   
Thursday, 13 September 2007 12:44
As C. S. Lewis observed (reflecting his academic life), autumn is a wonderful time to begin new things - or to discern new things

So if you're interested in beginning to discern the ways that God has called & gifted you for the sake of others, consider attending a Called & Gifted workshop at a parish near you. We're working hard to give you lots of options.

Last weekend, our Australian team did a C & G at Corpus Christi Catholic Church, Gowrie, near Canberra.

This coming weekend (September 14/15)

I'm at Our Lady of Fatima in Lakewood, CO (Denver) with our Front Range team

Fr. Mike is flying off today to Perrysburg (Toledo)Ohio where Sherry Curp (the other Sherry of this blog) will join him.

There will also be a C & G at at St. Joseph's Catholic church in Libertyville, IL this weekend.

On the weekend of September 21/22, Called & Gifted workshops will be held in

Greenville, SC at the famous St. Mary's Church;

in Santa Clarita (Los Angeles)California at Bl. Kateri Tekakwitha Church where I will be teaching with Keith Strohm, one of our ID bloggers,

and at St. Mary's Catholic Church in Manchester, Iowa.

And closing out the month (September 28/29)

there will be a Called & Gifted in Ham Lake, MN (St. Paul's) where you can meet and greet Fr. Mike

while I will be speaking at the Colorado Springs Diocesan Ministry Congress.

We hope to see you there - and please come up and introduce yourself. We'd love to meet you.
"To hunt, to shoot, to entertain" - is that all there is to the lay vocation? PDF Print E-mail
Thursday, 13 September 2007 12:28

Written by Kathleen Lundquist

I just discovered Catholic author and blogger Mark Shea's latest article, which is up on the website of InsideCatholic (the successor to Crisis magazine).

It's on the subject of clericalism, which has been much discussed amongst those of us who have struggled with Protestant vs. Catholic concepts of Christian leadership. This is a very charitable and clear-headed consideration of the issue. Here's a taste:

"A few years back, Russell Shaw wrote a terrific book called To Hunt, To Shoot, To Entertain: Clericalism and the Catholic Laity. It took its title from an amazing remark by a 19th-century English monsignor who loftily declared, 'What is the province of the laity? To hunt, to shoot, to entertain. These matters they understand, but to meddle with ecclesiastical matters they have no right at all.'

"John Henry Cardinal Newman disagreed, pointing out that during the Arian crisis, it was the laity who kept the Faith while the majority of bishops vacillated, caved to heresy, or were silent during the 60 years of the crisis. That doesn't mean that the Church operates on the principle vox populi, vox Dei. But it does mean that clericalism ought to be avoided."

I encourage you to click on the link in the title of this post and read it all. Great food for thought.

Are We Willing to Live with Tension? PDF Print E-mail
Written by Michael Fones   
Thursday, 13 September 2007 05:39
I've been thinking about Sherry's post on "The Existential Cost of Love." On a number of occasions, Sherry has pointed out that although I've taken a vow of poverty (along with chastity and obedience), my life seems much more secure as a Dominican friar than hers does as a lay woman attempting to follow the call Jesus has entrusted to her.

I don't get offended by this observation, because it seems to be true.
1) I have job security like no other, unless someone accuses me of sexual impropriety in a convincing way,
2) I will always have food, shelter, education, automatic status within most Catholic contexts,
3) I will live a middle class American lifestyle that would qualify as luxury to most people around the world, and
4) I don't have to worry about retirement. Of course, most friars in my Province don't retire until we're convinced by the community that it would be best for the people of God, but I digress.

Sherry's post dealt with the cost of following one's personal call from God, and responded to a concern that a woman writing under the name of Chrys had regarding the discerning and use of gifts. In a nutshell, her concern was that discerning and living a mission from God based on the discernment of spiritual gifts can get bound up in the ego, so that one is no longer serving God, but one's own needs.

This is a valid concern, and the phenomenon of selfishly twisting a call to serve others into self-service is not at all uncommon. In the Catholic church, however, we seem to have become suspicious of the charismatic (here I'm not speaking simply about the Charismatic Renewal but the expression and struggle to follow the promptings of the Holy Spirit). One possible sign of this is what tends to happen in religious communities, whether composed of men or women. The community is founded by a "charismatic" man or woman – meaning they have a vision of how one's life can change to become more life-giving, more Christocentric. They envision a way of living the Gospel that is fresh and new in their own time and place, and that helps others encounter the Gospel in a surprising way.

We then institutionalize the founder's vision in a rule or set of laws to attempt to legislate behavior in the next generation that had flowed from the intimate relationship that the founder had with Christ. The group, over time, may lose sight of its end, or purpose, and focus on the external means that are meant to support and promote it. It can happen that the group fails to adapt the means (while maintaining the principles and values behind them) and thus fails to communicate with the culture that has changed around them.

For example, the Dominican Order of Preachers "was founded, from the beginning, especially for preaching and the salvation of souls." We have a very beautiful way of life that is meant to help focus our effort to evangelize and be "useful to souls." We Dominicans have to be careful that our legislation regarding our way of life continually refers to that mission, that our discussions of any aspect of our life include the question, "Yes, but how does it help us be better disciples, and thus better preachers?"

There often is not a creative tension between the institution, which helps to order and regulate our life and tends toward the pragmatic and known (and thus more comfortable), and the charismatic, which tends more toward the spontaneous and surprising. Our parishes, religious orders, small Christian communities, lay movements can become comfortable with the predictable, and view the charismatic with suspicion. We can fail to "test the spirits to see whether they belong to God" and instead simply, "not trust every spirit" (cf. 1 John 4:1)

In his 1998 address to the World Congress of Ecclesial Movements and New Communities, Pope John Paul II addressed this tension:

"Whenever the Spirit intervenes, He leaves people astonished. He brings about events of amazing newness; He radically changes persons and history. This was the unforgettable experience of the Second Vatican Ecumenical Council during which, under the guidance of the same Spirit, the Church rediscovered the charismatic dimension as one of her constitutive elements: “It is not only through the sacraments and the ministrations of the Church that the Holy Spirit makes holy the people, leads them and enriches them with His virtues. Allotting His gifts according as He wills (cf. 1 Cor 12:11), He also distributes special graces among the faithful of every rank….” (Lumen Gentium, # 12) The institutional and charismatic aspects are co-essential, as it were, to the Church’s constitution."

"Co-essential" means that both are absolutely necessary to the health of the Church and all of its elements. It is the charismatic element, the willingness to follow the Holy Spirit, that helps us creatively bring the Gospel to bear upon the needs and challenges of our present generation. Without it, we will eventually lose sight of our mission given us by Jesus to "go, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you." Mt 28:19-20a

We will baptize without making disciples.
We will attempt to teach, but it will be without authority and effect.
We will observe the commandments, but only live the letter of the law, rather than in the Spirit that inspires it.
We won't believe Jesus' promise, "I am with you always, until the end of the age." (Mt.28:20b)
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