Engaging and Participating
We, the people of the Catholic Diocese of Broken Bay, strive to live as a communion of vibrant Eucharistic communities, seeking to welcome the giftedness and value of each person as we journey and grow in our Christian discipleship, and as we continue to building the unity of the Body of Christ.
Reflection on Key Terms
The Eucharist is at the heart of our identity as a Catholic communion. It is the source and summit of
This is because of the belief that Eucharist makes present the defining event in Christian faith. As one ancient dictum notes, “The Church makes the Eucharist and the Eucharist makes the Church.”
It is in the Eucharist that we both bring to mind and make present the central mystery of our discipleship of Christ – his own self-emptying-become-a self giving so that life in abundance might be shared for the world.
It is into this mystery of sacrificial love, redemptive of the world’s brokenness, that our discipleship of the Risen Christ impels us.
Even if circumstances might inform how and when the Eucharist is celebrated in our own particular ecclesial context, the Eucharistic mystery cannot but shape our identity and the way in which we form our life together.
Built on the foundation of the Eucharist, our life together becomes a celebration of the implications of the mystery of which the Eucharist a sign and symbol.
We seek to be places of welcome and places of care and reverence for one another, in which community structures and processes cultivate the experience of communion. Thus, we seek to build communities known for their common commitment and collaboration. Every member is to be respected in such a way that their contribution to the common life might be truly encouraged.
Discernment of the gift they bring to the community is an essential means for facilitating their experience of inclusion.
This presents as an essential expression of leadership so that as many as possible in the community may enjoy both the experience of belonging and the sense of contributing to the building up of the life of the community whether this be liturgically, administratively, or pastorally.
In this regard the pastor, especially, is to be “a man of communion” facilitating dialogue, co-operation and communication.
In particular, each community bears the responsibility of building up the experience of communion with all other Christians in sound and creative ways.
As the late pope John Paul II wrote, Jesus’ invocation that they may be one (John 17:21)
“is, at one and the same time, a binding imperative, the strength that sustains us, and a salutary rebuke for our slowness and closed-heartedness. It is on Jesus’ prayer and not on our own strength that we base the hope that even within history we shall be able to reach full and visible communion with all Christians.”.
To make the Church the home and the school of communion: that is the great challenge facing us in the millennium ... if we wish to be faithful to God's plan and respond to the world's deepest yearnings...
But what does this mean 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 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 on the face of the 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 a 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 implies also the ability to see what is positive in others, to welcome it and prize it as a gift from God: not only as a gift for the brother or sister who has received it directly, but also as a "gift for me".
A spirituality of communion means, finally, to know how to "make room" for our brothers and sisters, bearing "each other's burdens" (Gal 6:2) and resisting the selfish temptations which 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.
Such a vision of communion is closely linked to the Christian community's ability to make room for all the gifts of the Spirit. The unity of the Church is not uniformity, but an organic blending of legitimate diversities.
It is the reality of many members joined in a single body, the one Body of Christ (cf. 1 Cor 12:12).
Therefore the Church of the Third Millennium will need to encourage all the baptized and confirmed to be aware of their active responsibility in the Church's life.
Together with the ordained ministry, other ministries, whether formally instituted or simply recognized, can flourish for the good of the whole community, sustaining it in all its many needs: from catechesis to liturgy, from the education of the young to the widest array of charitable works.
Questions for Reflection
- What is your response to this statement?
- What are the words or phrases that resonate with you?
- What images come to in when you reflect on the term “vibrant Eucharistic community?” – what does that look like to you?
- What is your experience of “vibrant eucharist?”
- When have you experienced the giftedness of each person being brought together on the journey?
- The eucharist is “God’s hospitality”, what are your personal experiences of that hospitality? When have you experienced God’s hospitality? Where do you see God’s hospitality in your life?
- How have you been nourished by the Eucharist?
- What are the things that sustain you, as you journey and grow in your relationship with Christ?
- In welcoming all we are challenged to “see with the eyes of Christ” – what does this mean to you?