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AN INVITATION TO “FAN INTO FLAME” THE GIFTS OF THE SPIRIT IN THE CATHOLIC CHURCH

By Sr. Brenda Walsh, Racine Dominican

 

Shortly after Cardinal Martini gave his final interview on the state of the Catholic Church, many people decided that rather than walking away from a church in seeming disarray, it was time to explore how we can “fan into flame” the gifts of the Spirit. Martini’s assessment was that the church is 200 years behind the times and is tired and bureaucratic and several religious buildings are now empty, leaving many people disappointed and discouraged. Walking away is definitely not the answer. Through the power and influence of the Spirit, much can be done to achieve this goal of renewal.

 

WHAT ARE THE REASONS WHY SO MANY ARE WALKING AWAY FROM THE CHURCH?

 

The reasons given by people interviewed are these:

 

1.      The clergy abuse and the response given to it, caused great discouragement and a sense of hopelessness and left a dark cloud surrounding all priests and Bishops, even those not involved in the abuse.

 

2.      Many people are walking away for lack of soul food. Young people especially are feeling this lack and are looking for guidance and inspiration in their daily lives. They are also looking for meaningful ways to reach out and help the poor and vulnerable all around them or far away in mission lands.

 

3.      People of all ages are looking for meaningful ways of serving in and through the church. Their voices need to be heard and given a response.

 

4.      The church needs to relate to the struggles and hopes of people’s lives

and to help them find meaningful ways to deal with their struggles.

 

This will require listening and praying with small groups and coming up with ways to help resolve their problems. Vatican 11 reminds us that we are to make the hopes and fears and joys of people our own.

 

WHAT CAN BE DONE TO RESTORE FAITH, CONFIDENCE AND HOPE IN THE CHURCH TODAY?

 

1.      The clergy abuse is now being dealt with publicly and it appears that some good results are coming out of it. We also need to look at the role of women in the church and use the gifts of all people to respond to the needs of the time. The gifts of all are essential to help the church flourish.

 

2.      Training is needed to prepare people for good preaching that relates to the scripture readings of the day and to the lives of the listeners, including the children in the congregation. Priests coming from foreign lands can be trained in speaking good English so that listeners can understand them.  The gifts of the elders also need to be used to help them regain a sense of purpose in their daily lives. Intergenerational dialog can be productive.

 

3.       Many good resources are available for training of preachers. Check out www.preacherexchange.com.Workshops can be set up for people who are preparing to preach. We also need to remind people that preaching is not just words. We must all preach by the witness of our lives.

 

4.      Groups of people can be gathered each week to explore ways that they can understand and live the Gospel message and contribute to a community of peace, hope and love. Many are gathering to celebrate the 50th Anniversary of Vat. Cl. 11 and the Year of faith in 2013.

 

5.      Congregations can get involved in social issues such as human trafficking, care of creation, high unemployment, people lacking housing, health care and basic necessities of life. Children can be helped to be better prepared for school and youth need to learn the importance of completing their education in order to secure work that will sustain them in the future.

 

Addressing social justice issues is very important and ways can be pointed out showing people how to get involved  in solution to the problems.

 

This can be through volunteer work, financial help and prayer and support for the project.

To accomplish these goals, there is a great need to rely on the guidance and power of the Spirit. People can be invited to regularly spend time in prayer, contemplation and faith sharing as well as the study of Scripture, and see how it relates to the issues that are to be addressed. People can also imagine what a renewed parish/congregation would look like and the then decide what part they would like to play in the renewal process.

 

Together, we can all help prepare for the full coming of the Spirit into our lives and fan into flame  the gifts of the Spirit waiting to restore the full energy of the Catholic Church., Prayer and reflection and a deep reliance in the power of the Spirit is to be the foundation of this endeavor, to ready the soil for new growth. Together we can imagine a re-evangelized church and work together to make it a reality.

 


Preaching Essay Archive

Just click on an Essay title below to read it.
(The latest submissions are listed first.)

• The Journey Through Lent •
• A New Year - A Time To Choose •
• Called To Continue Our Journey As Peacemakers •
• CALLED TO NAME •
• CHOOSING HOPE IN TIMES OF DARKNESS AND CHALLENGE •
• Easter: A Call To Renew Our Faith •
• Fan Into Flame •
• Grieving Our Losses •
• IMAGINING A RE-EVANGELIZED CHURCH •
• The Importance of Inter-Religious Sharing •
• THE PROMISE OF EASTER –“ THAT ALL MAY HAVE LIFE AND HAVE IT IN ABUNDANCE.” •
• Are We Living In Pentecost Times? •
• Living With Gratitude and Hope •
• “Lumen Fidei” – the Call and the Challenge •
• What is the "New Evangelization"? •
• Pentecost •
• PRAYER OF PREACHERS •
• Inculturated Liturgy Challenges Preaching to Flower •
• Preaching Lent - Year C •
• Preaching Luke •
• Preaching Mark •
• Reflection - Psalm 127 •
• Reaching Youth Today •
• The Need To Reclaim And Live With Moral Courage •
• The Sacred Triduum •
• STRENGTHEN OUR HOPE TO REPAIR A BROKEN WORLD •
• Welcoming the Stranger •
• Working for Peace •

Blessings on your preaching.


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