This issue of Being One looks at marriage in the aftermath of the recent synods and Pope Francis' post-synodal exhortation, Amoris Lætitia.
The insights and experiences gathered here focus on the theme of the "wounds" that occur in married life and explore the experience of how to prevent these and how to accompany those who suffer from them. Each of these articles look at the topic from a variety of angles: those married couples who have undergone trials in their relationships; thinkers and professionals who have tried to understand and assist couples and their families undergoing tensions and break-ups; and ordained ministers who are called to bring the mercy and love of God to families and society at large.
What is presented is hopefully evidence of the positive sharing that can take place when each one brings their own special gift to the reality affecting everyone in one way or another.
This edition of Being One is dedicated to the Eucharist and its social impact. To help us speak about such an inexhaustible reality - no words will ever be enough - you will see that we have taken a slightly different approach to the usual format. In place of many experiences and testimonies from around the world, we have included a greater number of articles under the headings of 'spirituality, reflection, and going into depth' that lead to meditation and contemplation. However, you will still find an experience of life in action!
For if there is one thing we must strive for it is to translate these vast horizons into pastoral life, and there are still many steps to take if we do not wish to undermine the full extent of the social, anthropological and even environmental implications and potential to be found in Eucharist.
This issue gives reflections and experiences about the Church’s mission to reach out to the world of today.
It is widely accepted that the main purpose of the Second Vatican Council was to allow the Church a period of self-reflection. Already in the decades leading up to Vatican II, the Church had begun to return to her patristic, biblical and liturgical roots, after centuries of being viewed predominantly as a juridical institution, entering a period of ecclesiological renewal which culminated in the Second Vatican Council when a complete review of the Church was undertaken. However, the paradox of ecclesial life lies: the more that the Christian community goes deeper into becoming its true self, that is, immersed in God, the more it can then reach out; and the more is reaches out evangelically, the more it discovers that intimacy within itself which comes from reliving the pro-existence of Christ.
Parishes are among the best “barometers” of the state of the church, and of the ecclesial models that we see in them. For this reason it is important that parishes allow themselves to be inspired principally by the model of the church as communion.
In this issue of Being One there are a number of reflections on the role of the parish in the life of the Church and testimonies from different countries on how the parish can face the challenges of the Church in the modern world.
The issue examines the response of the Church to the decline in religious practice in the Western world. Some, such as Pope John Paul II, have described this as a 'collective dark night' which is a prelude to a new dawn, a re-awakening, the beginnings of a new creativity in the life of the Church and humanity. Those new beginnings and manifestation of God's presence are to be found in a spirituality leading towards communion and community and which is rooted in the experience of Christ on the cross.
This issue looks at 'wisdom' which St. Thomas Aquinas defined as "a gift of the Spirit which grows with charity". Charity creates communion within the Church and it is that which bears witness to the Truth, to the living reality of Christ in our midst. There are reflections on wisdom from Chiara Lubich, foundress of the Focolare Movement, and Pasquale Foresi, one of her close collaborators. The inseparability of theology and life (Professor Tom Norris) has been a challenge to the Church in every age but never more so when faced with what is happening in the contemporary culture of the West (Giuseppe Zanghi). All of this demands a dialogue with the world around us but especially in field of ecumenism (Tomás Surlis and Pope John Paul II).
For some time now, names such as Charismatic Renewal, Communion and Liberation, Cursillo, Faith and Light, Focolare, L’Arche, Neo-Catechumenal Way, St. Egidio and other names of large and small communities are becoming part of the Church’s vocabulary. The new and fresh spiritual impetus they are bringing to the Church has been noted, for instance, in recent synods of Bishops. Pope John Paul II has pointed out that as well as bringing this new impetus, these new communities and movements are opening up a new apostolic methodology.
The most recent significant example of a new collaboration among the Movements was the meeting “New Ecclesial Movements and the New Evangelization” in which 1300 priests, deacons and seminarians took part. The goal was to come into direct contact with what the Holy Spirit is doing today in the Church through the charisms that lie at the origins of the new Movements. It was an opportunity to see just what is the novelty for evangelisation being indicated by the Holy Spirit through these new communities
Organised by the Priests Centre of the Focolare Movement, the meeting was a powerful experience for all who attended because it showed how the diversity of charisms and the Movements are responding to the spiritual yearnings found in today’s world.