Archbishop’s column – collaboration the way forward

It is just 16 weeks before the next Synod of the Archdiocese of Wellington. I ask for your prayers for the success of the synod and for the ongoing planning to enrich the life of our Church. We are ‘salt and light together’.
In this column I want to

It is just 16 weeks before the next Synod of the Archdiocese of Wellington. I ask for your prayers for the success of the synod and for the ongoing planning to enrich the life of our Church. We are ‘salt and light together’.

In this column I want to emphasise the word ‘together’ not just because it is the theme of the synod, but because it is who we are as baptised women and men. We are people who belong together, who together pray and work to be the Church of Jesus Christ dedicated to mission in the modern world.

I have often said in the past that our faith is personal but that it is not private – it is not something we keep to ourselves. How could anyone possibly want to keep his or her relationship with God to themselves? It is so good we must share it. Remember the words of Jesus and think about what it means when we try to relate them to our own lives:

‘What I say to you in the dark, tell in the daylight: what you hear in whispers, proclaim from the housetops.’ (Matt 10:27)

What does it mean for you to proclaim God’s love from the housetops?

Once, not so many years ago, we did think that our relationship with God was a very individual affair; we went to Mass, said our prayers and went home again. Now we have a much greater appreciation of the missionary nature of the Church. Think of the words from the Decree on the Church’s Missionary Activity:

The church on earth is by its very nature missionary since, according to the plan of the Father, it has its origin in the mission of the Son and the Holy Spirit. This plan flows from the fountain-like love of God the Father.’ (AG 2)

We also know that we are to work with each other, with no one being better or more important. Laity, religious and priests are to work together, each discovering and offering their own gifts. Every member of the parish is called to be a partner in ministry. The great theologian Karl Rahner once said:

it is here, in partnership, that the future of the Church and the Church of the future must surely lie.

That’s why there are new partnerships being set up in the diocese this year. The first lay pastoral leader has been employed in Petone parish. Cushla Quigan is working collaboratively with Monsignor Charles Cooper from Eastbourne parish. She is not working for him, she is working with him.

When we think about the missionary nature of the Church and the call to be salt and light together, we begin to think of how important relationships are and that it is through the way we pray, live and work together that we bring new life into the Church. It is through the loving relationships of believers that the Church appears as the sign and sacrament of God’s love.

In his letter Novo Millennio Ineunte Pope John Paul II wrote:

The 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. (NMI 43)

As we think about being salt and light together and as the diocese has established the first lay pastoral leader and priest working collaboratively with equal responsibility, it may be helpful to prayerfully reflect on whether or not we see the light of the mystery of the Trinity shining on the faces of our brothers and sisters. Surely that is something we would want to ‘proclaim from the housetops’.

The late Holy Father also wrote:

A Spirituality of Communion is not possible unless we are able 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 others’ burdens and resisting the selfish temptations which constantly beset us and provoke competition, careerism, distrust and jealousy. (NMI 43)

I love that paragraph – I find it challenging, and I find it realistic. Being Church means that we all – laity, priests, lay pastoral leaders, women and men religious, archbishop – risk the journey and face the future. That is simply to walk in faith, for there are no words that capture the massive mystery of God. We stand as pilgrims, clothed in grace and showered with blessings, we are escorted into tomorrow by Love, who gives us everything we need.

Let us Pray

Disturb us God, to dare more boldly,

to venture on wider seas,

Where storms will show your mastery:

Where losing sight of land

we shall find the stars.

We ask you to push back the horizons

of our hopes and to push us into the

future in strength, courage hope and love.