The Catechetical Review - Communicating Christ for a New Evangelization

From the Shepherds — A Broad View Makes for Fruitful Ministry

Authored by Archbishop Charles Thompson in Issue #10.3 of Catechetical Review

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Art image of Jesus and the apostles at the Last Supper

Given the vast richness of the Catholic Church, we run the proverbial risk of failing to see the forest for the trees. At any given moment, there are great things happening in a parish, diocese, province, region, or the Church universal. For instance, in addition to the Synod on Synodality taking place in the Church universal and the National Eucharistic Revival and Congress happening in the United States, the Archdiocese of Indianapolis is engaged in a pastoral planning process, while several of its parishes have their own special projects going on. If we are to be true to our profession of being one, holy, catholic, and apostolic Church, then we must resist any temptation to allow a particular focus of ministry or service to exist in some type of silo apart from what’s happening in the holistic life of the Church. This requires that we be intentional about being missionary disciples of Jesus Christ rather than driven by a particular ego, ideology, or agenda.

While the Eucharist provides a foundation for our faith lives as individuals, families, parishes, dioceses, and the universal Church, the National Eucharistic Revival and Congress must not be divorced in our minds and hearts from the Synod on Synodality. One of more eloquent theological canons in the 1983 Code of Canon Law, drawing from various documents of the Second Vatican Council, is canon 897:

The most August sacrament is the Most Holy Eucharist in which Christ the Lord himself is contained, offered, and received and by which the Church continually lives and grows. The eucharistic sacrifice, the memorial of the death and resurrection of the Lord, in which the sacrifice of the cross is perpetuated through the ages is the summit and source of all worship and Christian life, which signifies and effects the unity of the People of God and brings about the building up of the body of Christ. Indeed, the other sacraments and all the ecclesiastical works of the apostolate are closely connected with the Most Holy Eucharist and ordered to it.

The theme for the Synod on Synodality, “For a Synodal Church: Communion, Participation, and Mission,” resonates with this Eucharist-centered understanding of our shared identity and mission as members of the one, holy, catholic, and apostolic Church. In contrast to a deeply polarized world driven by ever-widening division of egos, personalities, and ideologies, the synodal process of mutual respect, dialogue, accompaniment, and encounter is made possible through an intentional effort on the part of all the baptized to be Christ-centered rather than self-centered or agenda driven. The Real Presence of Jesus Christ in the Eucharist—Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity—nourishes and sustains us to live out our baptismal call to holiness and mission. Being intentional about living out this baptismal call in a spirit of co-responsibility enables us to grow in our understanding and commitment to be a synodal Church. Our ministries of evangelization and catechesis, as well as all related forms of pastoral outreach, bear the good fruit that our Lord intends—all by his grace and mercy.

While there is great worldly consternation toward organized religion, especially toward some of the more challenging tenets of Catholic teaching, both the National Eucharistic Congress and the Synod on Synodality give us reason to celebrate the divine grace that unites us as a community of believers, inspired by Word and sacrament to go forth as missionary disciples of service to the Good News of Jesus Christ. In his 2013 Apostolic Exhortation on the Proclamation of the Gospel in Today’s World Evangelii Gaudium (“The Joy of the Gospel”), Pope Francis provides a glimpse of what this entails:

The Church which “goes forth” is a community of missionary disciples who take the first step, who are involved and supportive, who bear fruit and rejoice. An evangelizing community knows that the Lord has taken the initiative, he has loved us first (cf. 1 Jn 4:19), and therefore we can move forward, boldly take the initiative, go out to others, seek those who have fallen away, stand at the crossroads and welcome the outcast. Such a community has an endless desire to show mercy, the fruit of its own experience of the power of the Father’s infinite mercy (no. 24).

The Archdiocese of Indianapolis is honored to be hosting the National Eucharistic Congress while engaging in the synodal process and pastoral planning, all in the spirit of “communion, participation, and mission” for the sake of the Gospel and kingdom of God. United as the Body of Christ, the People of God, may we be transformed by the divine grace made available in each of these opportunities building upon one another through the foundation of the Passion, Death, and Resurrection of Jesus Christ. In him, all things are possible!

Most Reverend Charles Thompson is Archbishop of Indianapolis and Chairman of the USCCB Committee on Evangelization and Catechesis.

This article originally appeared on page 29 of the printed edition.

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This article is from The Catechetical Review (Online Edition ISSN 2379-6324) and may be copied for catechetical purposes only. It may not be reprinted in another published work without the permission of The Catechetical Review by contacting [email protected]

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