IT IS NOT ENOUGH TO ASSEMBLE A LOT OF PEOPLE IN THE CHURCH

Eugene had participated in the first ten days of the mission in Ventabren. He then had to return to Marseille and left it in the hands of the two young priests and the scholastic brother Marius Bernard.

A week later, Father Honorat did not seem to be having the hoped-for success in the mission at Ventabren, and Eugene was worried about its eventual outcome.

As things are at present, it is imperatively necessary that I or Father Suzanne go to your help. It is not enough to assemble a lot of people in the church, one must instruct them, one must move them in a manner that they will be converted.
You are far from the objective if you only have reached half the men and I am worried about the final result.

 Letter to Jean Baptiste Honorat, 27 January 1824, EO VI n. 127

The charge that “it is not enough to assemble a lot of people in the church” still hold true today. The Oblate was meant to teach and convert those present. It is a pertinent question for those of us who are responsible for liturgy in our churches: are we clearly focused on what we want to achieve with the people entrusted to our care?

 

The Christian faith is not simply teachings, wise sayings, a code of morality or a tradition. The Christian faith is a true encounter and relationship with Jesus Christ. Transmitting the faith means to create in every place and time the conditions which lead to this encounter between the person and Jesus Christ. The goal of all evangelization is to create the possibility for this encounter, which is, at one and the same time, intimate, personal, public and communal.”    Article 18 of the working document in preparation for the synod on “The New Evangelization for the Transmission of the Christian Faith.”

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One Response to IT IS NOT ENOUGH TO ASSEMBLE A LOT OF PEOPLE IN THE CHURCH

  1. Eleanor Rabnett, Oblate Associate says:

    Wow – there is so much here this morning. I love what Eugene is saying. When we are preaching (and although this has been written to ordained priests I believe it applies to us all) be it from the pulpit, at a gathering of any type, in conversation, over coffee, etc; those whom we are with need to not just hear the words. The conversion that Eugene is speaking about, I believe, is when we relate, when we are touched by, when we experience God. It is something shared – as said later it is communal (because it is with and through each other) while at the same time intensely personal.

    I dare this morning to quote Luke: “….He has sent me to preach good news to the poor….” How do I do that? How do I live that? For sure I believe it is not only for the ordained but for us all. There is in here a personal responsibility somehow. Frank has written; “….are we clearly focused on what we want to achieve with the people entrusted to our care?” Are we speaking, whether from the pulpit, in a classroom, during a retreat, over coffee with a friend(s) to hear ourselves speak, to show what great speakers we are, to say a lot of holy and truly good words? Or do we speak because we have something so precious and important that we can do nothing but share it. So that the we all share and live in this awesome life with Jesus, so that we come to know personally of such indescribable love and life? These questions can be applied to all of us. I should love to see this quote printed as a reminder for all of us in ministry printed on the doors we walk through – just to remind us. It reminds me a bit of the questions from the Dec 17 2010 postings.

    And last but not least – from the personal and communal to the overall Church. I tend (less and less thank God) to see something written by “the Church” and read the words without allowing them to touch me. I am getting better because this morning I “read” Franks quote and reread it and loved it and thought that yes, here is the Holy Mother Church, here is the Church which I find myself loving more and more, sometimes so much that it surprises me. “Transmitting the faith means to create in every place and time the conditions which lead to this encounter between the person and Jesus Christ. The goal of all evangelization is to create the possibility for this encounter, which is, at one and the same time, intimate, personal, public and communal.” Creating the conditions, perhaps bringing together a group of people to share with and allow them each to hear and be touched by God in their own ways, and calling them to share it, allowing God to do what only God can do. It is intimate and personal, public and communal. I have realized something new, or deeper or something this morning. An unexpected gift to be able to uncover something that has always been there but which becomes spoken or alive somehow on a personal level. Gratitude is with me.

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