PRAYING THROUGH THE CHANGE
We are well into our IGNITE THE MISSION discernment for the future of our family of parishes transitioning from a culture of maintenance (trying to hang on to what we are and have now) to mission (where the Lord is calling us) to share the Good News and bring others to Christ. This change is required not just in an attempt to survive but to respond to our baptismal call to be a light of hope and faith in a world that is in great need for Christ.
Our current circumstances and a plan forward is described in our IGNITE THE MISSION: APOSTLES FOR A NEW ERA document. We have sought feedback and input via our seven sharing sessions in March 2023 (sharing sessions will continue as a form of consultation and planning in the future) which produced the FEEDBACK FORMS GENERAL SUMMARY REPORT in June of 2023. This feedback has been a rich treasure of wisdom, advice and support for our journey forward.
We are facing a very different world today than even twenty years ago. We have declining attendance, declining financial resources, limited volunteers, insufficient staff and aging buildings requiring maintenance. As a family of parishes, we are running substantial deficits that are rapidly diminishing any reserve funds we do have. There is no doubt that there is a need to change—but not one in an attempt to survive or hang on to what we have. The change required is one that sets us up as missionaries being able to connect, engage and transform our modern culture bringing the light and love of Christ. What is most important at this time is to pray through the change embracing a future full of hope and faith!!
A PRAYER FOR CONVERSION
The most important part of our IGNITE THE MISSION discernment journey is prayer. We have been praying our IGNITE THE MISSION PRAYER at our Masses and it is regularly in our bulletin. I encourage you to pray this special prayer everyday so that we as a family of parishes can be transformed by Christ so that we can then transform the world.
No one likes change. It requires patience, determination and sacrifice. Yet change is a regular part of our lives. Many people change jobs, homes and even cities or countries. Change happens in our families with children who then grow up and leave home. Change can be difficult and painful, but it can also be refreshing and liberating. Change allows us to adapt and do things better than we could ever before. Change can bring hope, joy and new life!
I want to take a few bulletin articles to reflect on our IGNITE THE MISSION PRAYER and see how it can stir our hearts to follow Christ’s call in our lives. As we all know, when we pray we don’t try to change God’s mind, but prayer changes our hearts to follow God. Prayer changes us and not God.
Heavenly Father, full of tenderness for your children; you fill us with your grace, joy, and your peace. As faithful disciples of Jesus, we ask that every member of our family of parishes be made aware of their baptismal call to live the Gospel by sharing who they are and what they have at the service of their brothers and sisters—
especially those in most need.
This first stanza sets the tone for the rest of the prayer. We are called to be missionaries of faith.
(1) GOD IS GOOD TO US
We are God’s children and our Heavenly Father always takes care of us with grace, joy, hope and peace. We strive to be faithful disciples following the path that God offers us and not our own.
(2) WE ARE CALLED & CHOSEN THROUGH BAPTISM
The Sacrament of Baptism is not simply a rite of passage but the doorway of a powerful relationship with Christ and His people. In this sacrament we are given the Holy Spirit for the sake of mission. We are anointed with Chrism knowing we are chosen to share God’s love, light, hope and truth with the world. The sacrament is not for our own benefit but for all those around us who do not know Jesus. We are baptized to be a living and real sign to the world that Christ is risen.
(3) HOW DO WE PROCLAIM THE GOSPEL?
Being chosen and anointed, we share with the world who we are (the gifts that are unique to each of us) and what we have (our possessions, finances, opportunities). We all are unique and have particular gifts, talents and chances to share Christ’s love. Do we recognize our gifts and embrace occasions to share mercy, love, peace and hope?
(4) WHOM ARE WE CALLED TO SERVE?
The world tells us that we should serve ourselves first but Jesus calls us to give our lives away and help those who are in most need. It is clear that we are all called to serve the homeless, poor, lost, alone and forgotten. This is at the heart of our faith.