February 9, 2020 - Pastor Message02/28/2020
THE YEAR OF DISCIPLESHIP COLLABORATION (CONT.) “’A parish is a definite community of the Christian faithful established on a stable basis within a particular church; the pastoral care of the parish is entrusted to a pastor as its own shepherd under the authority of the diocesan bishop’ (Code of Canon Law 515). It is the place where all the faithful can be gathered together for the Sunday celebration of the Eucharist. The parish initiates the Christian people into the ordinary expression of the liturgical life; it gathers them together in this celebration; it teaches Christ’s saving doctrine; it practices the charity of the Lord in good works and brotherly love” (Catechism of the Catholic Church 2179).
Last week we began our reflection on collaboration as this month’s theme for our Year of Discipleship. We considered how collaboration has been a central part of the mission of Christ and the Church he established from the very beginning, calling together his first disciples to support one another and to work together to further the mission of the Gospel. Those disciples went out and established small Christian communities in the various villages, towns, and cities around the known world of their time, communities of Christians who could support each other in the mission, who could celebrate the liturgy together and the sacramental life, who could teach the Gospel to others, and who could carry out the works of charity crucial to Christian life. Once Christianity became legalized and began to take on the organizational structure of the Roman Empire, these small Christian communities would develop into dioceses and parishes essentially as we know them today.
That is what a parish is, a community of disciples, called together to work as one in the mission of the Gospel. It is a community who prays together in liturgical and devotional prayer, who studies the faith together in lifelong faith formation, and who works together in acts of self-giving love for others. At least, that is what a parish is in theory. In practice, that all takes a lot of work. It takes a commitment on the part of the parishioners to think of each other before themselves, to share their gifts and talents in union with other parishioners to advance the mission of the Church, and to at times set their own preferences aside for the greater good. In a word, it requires sacrifice.
But, when you think about it, the Church has always been the fruit of sacrifice the sacrifice of Christ. The water and blood that flowed from his side on the cross have been seen since the dawn of the Church as a symbol of the birth of the sacramental life in Baptism and the Eucharist, and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on the gathered disciples at Pentecost, traditionally celebrated as the birthday of the Church, would not have been possible without Christ’s death and resurrection. When we make the sacrifices necessary to be a parish today, we join Christ in his sacrifice, and we give birth to new life for the Church. We continue his saving mission together, which is the only way that we can together. Let us make the sacrifices needed to work together here at St. Boniface, and may Christ bless us with new life as a true parish.
Fr. Marc Stockton