Archbishop’s column: God’s great enterprise of self-giving

Archbishop John Dew December 2010 This is a wonderful phrase ‘God’s great enterprise of self-giving’. We prepare during this Season of Advent for the self-giving of God at Christmas. We…

Archbishop John Dew
December 2010

Archbishop's column: God's great enterprise of self-giving Archdiocese of WellingtonThis is a wonderful phrase ‘God’s great enterprise of self-giving’. We prepare during this Season of Advent for the self-giving of God at Christmas. We are blessed to be the people who benefit from the self-giving of God in every liturgy we celebrate:

Liturgy is essentially something given and, in this, it expresses a fundamental feature of all prayer… it is central to prayer that we let ourselves become involved in God, in God’s great enterprise of self-giving, and all the various interests and concerns that form part of this. (Simon Tugwell OP)

Each day, when I take time for personal prayer, I find nourishment in a small booklet, Magnificat, which has the readings of the day, a shorter morning and evening prayer, as well as a brief reflection for the day. The above quote is a gem that throws light on the changes in the liturgy that were introduced in New Zealand on the first Sunday of Advent.

But it is also a way for us to renew our commitment to living ‘God’s great enterprise of self-giving’ that the liturgy places before us.

Celebrating the liturgy, the public prayer of the church, is a daily invitation to each one of us to be invited beyond our immediate concerns and interests into the mind and heart of God. Wouldn’t this be a great New Year goal for us, ‘in your minds you must be the same as Christ Jesus,’ (Philippians 2:5). Our liturgy, well celebrated and prayed, enables us to have the mind of Jesus.

Father Simon Tugwell continues: ‘The liturgy, faithfully celebrated, should be a long-term course in heart-expansion, making us more and more capable of the totality of love that there is in the heart of Christ.’

Advent is a turning point in the year: I look back in gratitude for the year that has been – for the support and generosity of all those who work for the mission of the church in the archdiocese in parish, pastoral, social, educational and administrative services; for the sabbatical I spent as a pilgrim, culminating in the canonisation of St Mary of the Cross MacKillop, for the decisions we have made together to step into the future.

The coming year is also full of promise:

  • There are some new priests coming for service in the archdiocese;
  • the launching of the national Catholic Institute of Aotearoa New Zealand (CIANZ) which will provide for tertiary studies in scripture, theology and catechetical studies;
  • the Social Justice hui in February and Stewardship institute in August.

Many of you have heard the word ‘stewardship’ used in a new way in the past few months. What does this mean?
It means that:

  • the archdiocese is committed to the discovery and affirmation of the gifts each one has to offer in the service of the church and community.
  • each one of us will live as a disciple of Jesus, learning his way, praying with his heart, alone and with others.
  • joy in placing our gifts at the service of the community, fully part of ‘God’s great enterprise of self-giving’.
  • consciously making a disciple’s response every day as we recognise and acknowledge that everything is gift and God is the giver.

Last month, the Wellington Catholic Education Centre held its final graduation because, from next year, it will be part of the single national provider, the Catholic Institute of Aotearoa New Zealand, Te Putahi Katorika ki Aotearoa (CIANZ).

CIANZ is being established for the unified provision of courses for people working in pastoral ministry, teachers, chaplains and Catholics interested in learning more about their faith. Bioethics, professional development currently managed by NCRS and research into educational, pastoral, theological and moral issues are part of CIANZ. I look forward to this exciting new development in the church and hope that many will take the opportunity to study and to grow in faith.

I want to thank all those who have worked on the development of the WCEC over the past 15 years into the professional organisation it has become today. Their work, particularly in offering courses throughout New Zealand, has laid the foundation for the newly established Catholic Institute.

I thank all who have contributed to the life of the archdiocese in any way during 2010. Many people give of their time, treasure and talents; many people work to make our parishes and communities places of holiness, helping, healing and hospitality. Thank you.

As we prepare to celebrate and pray the wonder of Christmas at every liturgy, may we be blessed in abundance by ‘God’s great enterprise of self-giving’.