VINE & BRANCHES: Mystery of Church
5th Week of EASTER
RCIA Session, May 3
Acts of the Apostles 9:26-31
Psalm 22:26-27, 28, 30, 31-32
1 John 3:18-24
“The church throughout all Judea, Galilee, and Samaria was at peace. It was being built up and walked in the fear of the Lord, and with the consolation of the Holy Spirit it grew in numbers." -cf. Acts 9:26-31
"I am the vine, you are the branches. Whoever remains in me and I in him will bear much fruit, because without me you can do nothing." -cf. John 15:1-8
- Thursday, May 3: Family Gathering rather than usual youth classes: reflect on the Mystery of the Church
- Thursday, May 10: Usual class groups -- reflecting on the Mystery of the Holy Spirit; Confession available with one priest from 6:00-8:30 pm; it will be organized by class groups
- Thursday, May 17: Usual class groups - reviewing the Sacrament of Confirmation; special dinner night for English-speaking adult group; Usual Parish Confession at 6:00 pm; two priests available from 7pm to 8pm
MAIN GOALS THIS WEEK:
- To understand the Church, ourselves, as the People of God: see Chapter 10 of the USCCA
- To understand the relationship between Father, Son, Spirit and Church
- To continue to grow in our relationships with God and each other
- To continue to grow in hearing how God would like us to be his People in the world
PRACTICE THE FAITH: Join a Small Christian Community in the Parish
- St. Monica Parish has many Small Christian Communities that meet in homes. These provide great support for those who wish to live and grow in faith, and who look for support to take up the mission of the Church. Contact Anne Corcoran to join one or to form one.
REFLECTING TOGETHER THIS WEEK:
It would be easy, and it has often happened, that after hearing and responding to the call of Jesus to follow, disciples want instinctively to hide safely away from those who do not understand or hear the same call. It is important to notice that on the Feast of Pentecost, the timid and very frightened disciples immediately ran out of the place where they were hiding, and began to announce loudly the good news that they had come to believe and love. Fear could get the best of them only when the Spirit did not fill them. For the rest of the book of Acts, and even the epistles, we hear of beating, stoning, imprisonment and trials - and these things are all mentioned casually, as if they were of no real important and not worth talking about. Always, an extreme fervor for the good news of Jesus was the focus of all that those first apostles and disciples did and said. Communities of believers sprang up everywhere the apostles went.
What do I believe? Do hardships, frustrations, or persecution fill my thoughts and direct my actions, or have I found the Holy Spirit leading me through these unsafe waters to new and wonderful places?
Who can I trust? Who do I have trouble trusting?
How do I receive the love of Jesus, and stay close to him, connected to him? How do I receive the love of our Father? How does this change my life - is there an image from nature that might express how God's love changes me, my life?
How has the Holy Spirit helped me live the command to love all persons? Is there any person who I am called to love more at this time? Is there any person I have refused to love? What does love "look like" with the different persons in my life?
How are we all called to be the presence of God in the world, instruments and vessels of the Father for people we may not even know?
EXPLORING MORE DEEPLY: Documents on the Church
Read the two important documents on the Church from Vatican Council II, 1962-1965: The Dogmatic Constitution on the Church (Lumen Gentium) and the Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World (Gaudium et Spes)
The joys and the hopes, the griefs and the anxieties of the men of this age, especially those who are poor or in any way afflicted, these are the joys and hopes, the griefs and anxieties of the followers of Christ. Indeed, nothing genuinely human fails to raise an echo in their hearts. For theirs is a community composed of men. United in Christ, they are led by the Holy Spirit in their journey to the Kingdom of their Father and they have welcomed the news of salvation which is meant for every man. That is why this community realizes that it is truly linked with mankind and its history by the deepest of bonds.
Hence this Second Vatican Council, having probed more profoundly into the mystery of the Church, now addresses itself without hesitation, not only to the sons of the Church and to all who invoke the name of Christ, but to the whole of humanity. For the council yearns to explain to everyone how it conceives of the presence and activity of the Church in the world of today. -from Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World, #1 & #2, Vatican Council II, 1965
Before all things, however, the Kingdom is clearly visible in the very Person of Christ, the Son of God and the Son of Man, who came "to serve and to give His life as a ransom for many:"
When Jesus, who had suffered the death of the cross for mankind, had risen, He appeared as the one constituted as Lord, Christ and eternal Priest, and He poured out on His disciples the Spirit promised by the Father. From this source the Church, equipped with the gifts of its Founder and faithfully guarding His precepts of charity, humility and self-sacrifice, receives the mission to proclaim and to spread among all peoples the Kingdom of Christ and of God and to be, on earth, the initial budding forth of that kingdom. While it slowly grows, the Church strains toward the completed Kingdom and, with all its strength, hopes and desires to be united in glory with its King. -from the Dogmatic Constitution on the Church, #5, Vatican Council II, 1964
Just as Christ carried out the work of redemption in poverty and persecution, so the Church is called to follow the same route that it might communicate the fruits of salvation to men. Christ Jesus, "though He was by nature God . . . emptied Himself, taking the nature of a slave", and "being rich, became poor" for our sakes. Thus, the Church, although it needs human resources to carry out its mission, is not set up to seek earthly glory, but to proclaim, even by its own example, humility and self-sacrifice. Christ was sent by the Father "to bring good news to the poor, to heal the contrite of heart", "to seek and to save what was lost". Similarly, the Church encompasses with love all who are afflicted with human suffering and in the poor and afflicted sees the image of its poor and suffering Founder. It does all it can to relieve their need and in them it strives to serve Christ. While Christ, holy, innocent and undefiled knew nothing of sin, but came to expiate only the sins of the people, the Church, embracing in its bosom sinners, at the same time holy and always in need of being purified, always follows the way of penance and renewal. The Church, "like a stranger in a foreign land, presses forward amid the persecutions of the world and the consolations of God", announcing the cross and death of the Lord until He comes." By the power of the risen Lord it is given strength that it might, in patience and in love, overcome its sorrows and its challenges, both within itself and from without, and that it might reveal to the world, faithfully though darkly, the mystery of its Lord until, in the end, it will be manifested in full light. --from the Dogmatic Constitution on the Church, #8, Vatican Council II, 1964