By Oswald Sobrino, J.D.; M.A. (Econ.); M.A. (Theo.); M.L. (Master of Latin), doctoral student, University of Florida.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

How To Obey the Pope

Recently, I quoted a crucial paragraph from the letter written by Pope Benedict XVI to all priests worldwide for the Year for Priests that has just been inaugurated. In that letter, the Pope urges, invites, and, in so many words, commands all Catholic priests worldwide to "discover with faith, recognise with joy and foster diligently the many and varied charismatic gifts of the laity, whether these be of a humble or more exalted kind " [the Pope is quoting from a Vatican II document; see appendix at the end of this post].

Some clergy will ignore the Pope because they are used to doing so--this group could include those who are theologically liberal and so are accustomed to ignoring the Pope or those in the schismatic traditionalist sector who also, ironically like their liberal brethren, are accustomed to ignoring the Pope. Then, there will be some clergy who pride themselves on orthodoxy and are fans of the Pope but are, illogically and unbiblically, hostile to anything called charismatic. It will not be surprising if some of those in this latter group will also find a way to justify ignoring the papal directive to discover, recognize, and foster the varied charismatic gifts. Yet, I also think that the Pope's leadership on this point will begin to open hearts and minds among more clergy concerning the co-essential charismatic dimension of the Church that has been ignored for too long by those who should be least excused from ignoring it.

Recently, I attended a Mass in a major Detroit suburb focused on healing. The event was a prime example of how the clergy can discover, recognize, and foster the varied charismatic gifts of the laity. The evening began with sacramental Confession (individualized, of course) made available to those attending. Then, there was a period of praise and worship in the church before Mass, that including some singing in tongues. Then the priest left the confessional and began the Mass, which included liturgical prayers for healing. After the Mass, the Blessed Sacrament was exposed and adored. Then, people lined up to be blessed by the priest using the monstrance as he commanded each person to be healed in the name of Jesus. Some individuals softly fell to the ground as this happened; this phenomenon is called resting in the Spirit and is a means by which the Lord heals people. Individuals also had the option to receive prayer ministry at different places in the church from lay people. The lay people were affiliated with the church's local charismatic prayer group which sponsored the Mass for healing.

Here, in a suburban church, we see the clergy and the laity working together and exercising the charisms in seamless unity with the sacraments. This event happened on June 17th, one day after the date of the Pope's letter commanding all priests to do the same. One parish responded almost instantaneously. May many others do so so that the People of God may be fed, healed, and built up by the charisms that the Lord so generously bestows, even today, as he did in the first centuries of the Catholic Church. Amen.

Appendix: Below is the Pope's directive to all priests worldwide on this matter from his letter inaugurating the Year for Priests:

In this context of a spirituality nourished by the practice of the evangelical counsels, I would like to invite all priests, during this Year dedicated to them, to welcome the new springtime which the Spirit is now bringing about in the Church, not least through the ecclesial movements and the new communities. "In his gifts the Spirit is multifaceted. ... He breathes where He wills. He does so unexpectedly, in unexpected places, and in ways previously unheard of, ... but he also shows us that He works with a view to the one body and in the unity of the one body". In this regard, the statement of the Decree "Presbyterorum Ordinis" continues to be timely: "While testing the spirits to discover if they be of God, priests must discover with faith, recognise with joy and foster diligently the many and varied charismatic gifts of the laity, whether these be of a humble or more exalted kind". These gifts, which awaken in many people the desire for a deeper spiritual life, can benefit not only the lay faithful but the clergy as well. The communion between ordained and charismatic ministries can provide "a helpful impulse to a renewed commitment by the Church in proclaiming and bearing witness to the Gospel of hope and charity in every corner of the world". I would also like to add, echoing the Apostolic Exhortation "Pastores Dabo Vobis" of Pope John Paul II, that the ordained ministry has a radical "communitarian form" and can be exercised only in the communion of priests with their bishop. This communion between priests and their bishop, grounded in the Sacrament of Holy Orders and made manifest in Eucharistic concelebration, needs to be translated into various concrete expressions of an effective and affective priestly fraternity. Only thus will priests be able to live fully the gift of celibacy and build thriving Christian communities in which the miracles which accompanied the first preaching of the Gospel can be repeated.

Source link [emphasis added by blogger].