Monday, October 18, 2010

Quote of the Day

The Churches in the East have a centuries-old iconic tradition, an admirable capacity for creating a language through images. This is not just the fruit of a spirituality but it is reinforced by and generates a culture as well, a school of life and thought that forms part of the common identity of so many local Churches and society.

Modern-day culture creates and feeds new languages and ways of thought. It pervades mentalities, ways of understanding, ways of learning, topics on which to dialogue. We cannot therefore answer the challenges of today and tomorrow with the solutions of yesterday. We cannot continue to speak in our categories to a population that is increasingly distant from them. For the love of our peoples, we have to make a pastoral conversion, learn again how to listen and communicate, which does not mean running after the latest technology but understanding the categories of the other and using them.

This “digital” culture is marked by its immediacy, by its fast sequence of images, music, by brief concise text. The spoken form too has changed, and words alone are no longer sufficient. Books and the press will not disappear, nor will the simple parish bulletin, but these are no longer enough.

Digital culture is also present in the various nations and the local Churches through TV, radio, cinema, websites and social networks. All this media space has an impact on daily life: it shapes values, choices, opinions and questions, what a person thinks, and it affects Christians too... sometimes with a force that is much more incisive than that of the catechists, the priest in his sermon, the bishop. It is no coincidence the Holy Father has invited us to be present, to exercise a diakonia of this culture, offering the message of Christ in today’s languages, digital and traditional, real and virtual, announcing the mercy of God, listening to the other, love for our enemies, welcome and respect for every human being, in particular, the weak. Diakonia, service to people in their culture.

This is also possible in dialogue with non-believers with so many who are in search of God, opening - as Pope Benedict invited us - “the courtyards of the Gentiles”, that is, of spaces for dialogue and listening for those who have questions and are searching. The media surprises the world with the quantity of books, films, websites, etc that have to do with religion, the search for the transcendent and for spirituality, the search for justice and peace. The Church has to listen, walk with this humility and offer the precious treasure of the Gospel. But it has to seek to do so in the categories that are used today.
--Archbishop Claudio Maria Celli
President of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications
Intervention at the Synod of Bishops
14 October 2010

With the MidEast Synod now at its halfway point, the traditional "opening round" of speeches from the 250 delegates has wrapped, and the closing report on the interventions was given earlier today.

As it approaches its final lap, the global assembly on the cradle of Christianity will begin to formulate each Synod's customary twin closing items: the gathering's series of proposals to be forwarded to Pope Benedict for his consideration, and its climactic message to the global church.

While no shortage of the interventions have been striking -- from the unprecedented addresses by representatives of Shia and Sunni Islam and the second-ever rabbinical turn in the Aula, to calls for patriarchal seats in a conclave and an all-around enhanced standing for the heads of the Eastern churches, Cardinal William Levada's Friday reflection on papal primacy and the development of doctrine, to several powerful takes on the situation of Christians in Iraq... and well beyond -- some assessments have been more universal than others.

Along those lines, the chords touched upon last week by a Franciscan superior in the Holy Land, Conventual Br Cesar Essayan, are worth noting:
The Word of God, so dear to our Father Saint Francis, is the place for meeting face to face with Christ. It is there, in meditation and contemplation, that I join He who is “my Lord and my God”. He who reveals Himself to me and reveals myself to me and invites me to become “the new man”, which Saint Paul spoke to us about in his letters. This is coming into communion with God the Creator and Savior.

Unfortunately, our Christians do not know Christ and His Gospel well. They often use the wrong words to speak about God, and concepts filled with other beliefs. The examples of this are many and all converge on the same idea: we have false images of God. Therefore it is a fundamental issue to return to the Word of God. Because our whole life depends upon, whether we want this or not, our concept of God. And if God is relationship and communion in Himself, our divisions become the source of doubts, suffering and the faithful cannot but distance themselves from a Church that refuses within itself, forgiveness, reconciliation and communion.

Is it not time to walk together for the good of the People of God that are entrusted to us? What would it cost us to co-ordinate our efforts? Would it not be possible to also create indicatives common with our Orthodox brothers? Like for example, ‘Middle Eastern’ common initiatives for the young on the model of [World Youth Day]? Only when [young people] feel that the Church embraces and encourages them through the Pastors will they be able to be witnesses that God expects them to be.

Therefore, this is not a question of speaking about our Christians but about ourselves: up to what point are we willing to take the risk of the Gospel which invites us to love our enemies (who are our brothers)?....

“Have no fear”, Christ repeats and this Synod does as well, “for I am with you until the end of the world”.
PHOTOS: Reuters(1,2); Getty(3)