That within parishes, priests and lay people may collaborate in service to the community without giving in to the temptation of discouragement.

[…] The mission of the laity in the Church is, indeed, of considerable importance, for the laity contributes to the life of the parishes and Christian communities, both in the professional field and as volunteers. It is important to acknowledge and support their commitment, while maintaining the clear distinction between the common priesthood of the faithful and the ministerial priesthood. On this point, I encourage you to continue the formation of the baptized, with regard to the truths of faith and to their meaning for liturgical, parish, family and social life and to choose formation staff with care. In this way you will enable lay people to truly integrate themselves into the Church, to take the place that awaits them there and to render fruitful the baptismal grace received, in order journey together towards holiness for the good of all.

The mission received from the Lord, also invites us to go to meet those with whom we come into contact, even if they differ from us in their culture, their religious confession or their belief. If we believe in the free and generous action of the Spirit, we are able to understand one another well and work together to serve society better, and to contribute to peace in a decisive way.

Ecumenism is a contribution not only to the unity of the Church, but also to the unity of the human family (cf. Evangelii Gaudium, n. 245). It fosters fruitful, peaceful and fraternal coexistence. In prayer and in the common proclamation of the Lord Jesus, however, we must be careful to allow the faithful of each Christian confession to live its faith in a manner that is unequivocal and free of confusion, and without erasing the differences at the expense of truth. On the contrary, if, out of courtesy, we should hide our Eucharistic faith, we would not give sufficient importance either to our valuable legacy nor to our interlocutors. Likewise, the teaching of religion in schools must bear in mind the particularities of each confession.

I encourage you to voice clearly in unison society’s problems, at a time in which different people — even within the Church — are tempted to renounce the realism of the social aspect of the Gospel (cf. Evangelii Gaudium, n. 88). The Gospel has its own original strength to make proposals. It is up to us to present it in its entirety, to render it accessible without clouding its beauty or weakening its attractiveness, in order to reach the people facing the difficulties of everyday life, who are searching for the meaning of their life or who have fallen away from the Church. Disillusioned or abandoned to themselves, they let themselves be tempted by arguments that deliberately deny the transcendent dimension of man, of life and of human relationships, particularly in the face of suffering and death. The testimony of Christians and parish communities can truly enlighten their path and support their aspiration for happiness. […]

1st December 2014

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No to selfishness and spiritual sloth

28. The parish is not an outdated institution; precisely because it possesses great flexibility, it can assume quite different contours depending on the openness and missionary creativity of the pastor and the community. While certainly not the only institution which evangelizes, if the parish proves capable of self-renewal and constant adaptivity, it continues to be “the Church living in the midst of the homes of her sons and daughters”.[26]This presumes that it really is in contact with the homes and the lives of its people, and does not become a useless structure out of touch with people or a self-absorbed group made up of a chosen few. The parish is the presence of the Church in a given territory, an environment for hearing God’s word, for growth in the Christian life, for dialogue, proclamation, charitable outreach, worship and celebration.[27]In all its activities the parish encourages and trains its members to be evangelizers.[28] It is a community of communities, a sanctuary where the thirsty come to drink in the midst of their journey, and a centre of constant missionary outreach. We must admit, though, that the call to review and renew our parishes has not yet sufficed to bring them nearer to people, to make them environments of living communion and participation, and to make them completely mission-oriented.

81. At a time when we most need a missionary dynamism which will bring salt and light to the world, many lay people fear that they may be asked to undertake some apostolic work and they seek to avoid any responsibility that may take away from their free time. For example, it has become very difficult today to find trained parish catechists willing to persevere in this work for some years. Something similar is also happening with priests who are obsessed with protecting their free time. This is frequently due to the fact that people feel an overbearing need to guard their personal freedom, as though the task of evangelization was a dangerous poison rather than a joyful response to God’s love which summons us to mission and makes us fulfilled and productive. Some resist giving themselves over completely to mission and thus end up in a state of paralysis and acedia.

24 November 2013

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