Ministry Tip of the Week
Vision directs action. Action (says good philosophy) follows being: what something does, is based on what something is. So, in other words, the specific things we do and what we strive toward is determined primarily by what... or, better yet, who we understand ourselves to be. Our vision, and the steps we take to achieve that vision, is determined by who we are and why we're here. How does this affect parish ministry? As members of a particular community, we must ask the question, "What... or, better yet, who is the Parish?"
We do this individually in our daily lives, but we also do it communally out of our parish campus (which, in our case in Laconia, spans two worship sites and a number of other buildings). In a special way, we represent the universal Church through our involvement. Every Sunday when we come to mass, and throughout the week as 'we take advantage of various celebrations, events, and ministries on the campus, we're called to embrace a "missionary responsibility." We never know who from the wider community (our parish zip codes) might be visiting the campus. But if we're there, it's our faces they see, and our actions they come into contact with. Are we creating a Christ-like welcome? Do we share Christ with them through a simple smile? Do we understand ourselves as having an important share in the hospitality our campus provides?
Although it hasn't always been stressed in recent history, we have a call to make our parish home a place of welcome for all who visit. When outsiders arrive, especially un-churched seekers and the poor, they're not just discerning us but the truth of Jesus Christ through us. In a very real way, we are Jesus' hands and feet in the Church's mission here in the Lakes Region. The Catholic parish, specifically the practicing faithful, must consciously reclaim the Church's understanding of this great and dignified responsibility.
May we always approach our Eucharistic Lord with this in mind. May we come to him always hungering for the love we're called to share. May we live the Eucharist, first and foremost through open hearts as we receive him in communion, and then through our embrace of his mission alive inside us. May our vision be shaped by this understanding of what, and who the parish is, and may our actions be animated by our self-identification with the life and mission of Jesus Christ, the humble servant.