1. Donüft forget about ügPut out
into the Deepüh
ü@Happy New Year!
Last year (2002), in order to promote
Collaborative Ministry for Mission in Kyoto diocese, I sent out a New Year Pastoral Letter entitled, ügPut out
into the Deepüh. In that word of our Lord I identified six aspects or images: ç@ challenge, çA unconditional trust, çB outlook for the future, çC the new
needs of the present age, çD prayer and çE community.
The main objective of the letter was to
deal with the theme ügchallengeüh. In order to make the idea that the entire
diocese is now engaged in Collaborative Ministry for Mission a serious
practical reality, I set up a ügCollaborative Mission for Ministry
Implementation Teamüh. I also realized during pastoral visitation of each block
of parishes that many of you, the faithful of this diocese, are responding to
my call to take up this challenge. I am truly pleased
by this response.
In other Japanese dioceses, there are to
some extent differing ideas and understandings of the same term üeCollaborative
Ministry for Missionüf. Nevertheless a shared awareness is rapidly emerging that some new
approach is necessary in order to renew the church, specifically different from
the notion of a diocese whose missionary activity is administered with the
emphasis on individual parishes.
2. This Yearüfs Target: to Experience ügA Community of Faithüh
As Christians, believing that the love of
God the Father is revealed to us in Jesus Christ, we have chosen to live in
such a way that we love one another as brothers and sisters. ügThe community (of
believers) is itselfüc.. the Church, the visible
sacrament of salvation.üh (Pope Paul VI, Evangelii
nuntiandi, No.23) In order to be a sign of Godüfs Kingdom and an instrument
of salvation the Church must become a community whose members can, by
experiencing the paschal mystery, grow and develop together in their faith. If
we are to develop our own faith, community is indispensable.ü@Collaborative Ministry for Mission requires that the
structure and organization of the Church be renewed but more importantly it
requires that we should experience the Church as ügCommunityüh.
For this reason I would like to call on
each of you, as this yearüfs objective in the implementation of Collaborative
Ministry for Mission, to work at making ügCommunityüh the
experience we will have of ügChurchüh.
3. Why the Church is a Community
When our Lord Jesus sent out his disciples
to spread the gospel, he sent them out two by two. It is easy to understand why
he did that. As their missionary activity progressed they experienced not only
joy and success but also hardship and failure. They were able to persevere in
their missionary work, and to grow spiritually even in trying circumstances,
precisely because they were not alone but together with a friend, the pair of
them mutually supporting one another. Because they shared their work for
Christ, they were able to manage together the prayers, the tasks and the
liturgies that they could not have managed alone. It is Christüfs wish,
therefore, that the Church, gathered by Him and sent out as His disciples,
should fulfil that mission by building community. Furthermore, the mission of
Kingdom of God which Jesus initiated was proclaimed as one which is gradually
fulfilled by mutual involvement as is made clear by these words from the
gospel: ügTruly, the Kingdom of God is in your midstüh. (Luke 17:21) In other
words you might say that this new reality of Church, by which people are
mutually involved in evangelization, is the Kingdom of God. In that case if we,
who for the sake of the Kingdom of God need to serve people by being involved
with them, are not ourselves a community whose members are genuinely concerned
for one another, we are not properly equipped for the work of evangelization.
For the two reasons given above, we cannot be said to be ügChurchüh unless we are
a genuine ügCommunityüh.
4. The Community is Evangelized
When we think about the community of the
Church it is vital that we donüft understand it simply as some kind of
institution. It is the community of faith. It is there that, based on our faith
with Jesus at our centre, we share in prayer, the Word and the Bread. We cannot
separate our faith from our relationships with other people.
My dear People, I ask you to think over
again your own connection to the Church and then to keep on studying about what
the Church is for, what the essential mission and role of the Church is. If you
see the Church as simply as an institution to make use of for safeguarding your
own faith, a place for fulfilling obligations or for taking part in the liturgy
then your faith stands in need of evangelization.
When the members of the Church are living
out the gospel together with Christ in their everyday lives and are actively
handing on that faith then it is truly the Church. Jesus promised that, ügwhere
two or three are gathered together in my name, I am there with them.üh (Matt.
18:20) If Church activities are only for the maintenance of the institution and
its organization then that is not enough.
The sacraments and liturgy are signs of
grace and actions of the Church community. The liturgy is also the activity of
a community that, itself, needs continually to be evangelized. The gospel is
first and foremost something that is alive where people are practically
committed to one another, not where each is an individual with no relationship
to the others. In order to direct the gospel message outwards and hand it on to
others the Church must first be living the gospel truly as a community.
The meaning of experiencing ügCommunityüh in our Christian Lives
The reason why we should deepen further
the experience of community in our Christian lives and Church activity is
because we want to change our understanding of the faith. We want to change
from a way of thinking which puts commandments and doctrine at the centre to
one which puts living the faith in our everyday lives, and living it with joy,
at the heart. In order to nurture this faith we must at all costs be a
By implementing Collaborative Ministry for Mission, Christians who are joined together with the community only by attending Sunday Mass are enabled to bring about a new way of doing things based on genuinely communal sharing and involvement. This change cannot be made by one person or by just a part of the community. It
begins when all the faithful come to a new awareness and take their part in building
a new kind of church. Most important of all is what we can learn from our own
experience. Please think of it as something in which I must take part rather
than running away from it with excuses like üeitüfs too difficult for meüf, üeit
doesnüft concern meüf, or üeIüfm too busyüf or suggesting that it may be suitable
elsewhere. Even if you cannot yet feel totally committed, start to do something
practical and your awareness will be changed by this practical action.
ü@The implementation of
joint Collaborative Ministry is bringing about a new way of being Church, not
simply by thought and discussion but personally experiencing it.
Community is for ügHuman Growth and Faith Developmentüh – through Sharing
The Church community has two functions.
Firstly it is for üghuman growth and Faith developmentüh; secondly it is üga base
for the evangelization of Societyüh.
I would like to speak first about the
communityüfs function as a place for human growth and Faith development and Iüfd
like here especially to deal with Sharing in the community. In recent years it
has been already emphasized in the Church, and mutual faith development by
means of the deepening practice of this Sharing is an indispensable means of
The evangelization of the faithful does
not stop at the level of intellectual change; it extends to the reform of our
sense of values, our way of looking at things and thinking about them, our
whole way of life. It is important that we first recognize that, as believers,
we ourselves are constantly being changed by the power of the gospel and then,
seeing that change as an experience of grace, talk about it in our own words.
This is never a matter of self-praise or showing off but rather of praising the
wonderful power of Jesus, in joy and thanksgiving, when we have overcome some
difficult experience. It was especially for this reason that Christ sent us the
Holy Spirit.ü@The person does not speak
according to human ability but according to the power of the Holy Spirit; the
person who listens does so through the work of the Holy Spirit. We must
familiarize ourselves and become accustomed to expressing our own faith
experience in words because it is through sharing in this way that our faith is
I would like to here to touch
specifically on celebrations led by someone other than a priest. On these
occasions, instead of the sermon preached by the priest, a member of the
congregation gives a ügtestimonyüh. This time of sharing is extremely important
as a community experience, so please make sure it is well prepared and
Community is ügA Base from which to Evangelize Societyüh
was said in 1987 at NICE I (National Implementation Conference on
Evangelization), the lack of any point of reference to involvement with Society
in the Churchüfs Faith education up to now has resulted in a separation of
Church and Society and the isolation of faith from everyday life. Based on this
reflection, we were able to implement widely a programme of lifelong Faith
development in order to produce ügpeople who are walking together with Society,
sharing peopleüfs sufferings, becoming the conscience of Society and can make a
contribution to the building of a new Societyüh. Because of this, a new Church
movement savouring the Word in the midst of life, gaining insights into and
making judgements and decisions about the reality of Society from the viewpoint
of the gospel and translating these into actions has begun. This new direction
of the Churchüfs activities, coming from the laity, is opening up a wider field
The gospel comes to life particularly in
the form of wanting to change peopleüfs sufferings and anxieties, their prayers
and actual situation into something better. The fact that practical fellowship
with people who are suffering discrimination and oppression brings about
maturity in both the Christian and the Church has come to be known from
personal experience. This is the Way by which the community supported by the
inspiration of the gospel can grow into a community that evangelizes Society.
Community as a ügBlock of Parishesüh
The experience of community does not end
within a single parish but can be brought about also at the level of the block
of parishes grouped for Collaborative Ministry for Mission. The development of
Community and fellowship within the community flow naturally together.
In Kyoto Diocese the necessity for
Collaborative Ministry for Mission and its purpose have been grasped by many of
us. As the priests and laity unite more and more as one body to face new
challenges, the next stage in the development of the block will become clearer.
For the parishes within a block there will be a steadily growing awareness that
whilst each of them is a parish community they also belong to the same block
In this way, as they are freed from a
narrow sense of belonging only to their own parish, a more ügopen relationshipüh
of shared fellowship and cooperation between friends is beginning to grow. It
can be said that working at this new relationship between parishes, that they
have been brought together as a Block for Collaborative Ministry for Mission in
üga developmentüh which is here to stay, will be one of the tasks for implementation
of Collaborative Ministry for Mission from now on. The most difficult point about
this is how each small parish community, while continuing its efforts as an independent
community, will be able to act together with other parishes in the block as an
with Maryüfs Prayer, the Rosary
In his Apostolic letter Rosarium Virginis Mariae (October 16,
2002) Pope John-Paul II pointed out that the rosary is a prayer for peace and
the family and also that it is a powerful prayer for contemplating the mystery
of Christ. He also introduced five new ügMysteries of Lightüh and proclaimed a ügYear
of the Rosaryüh (until October 2003).
By making the spiritual journey of the
rosary we are each, together with Mary, made Christ-like and develop
continually as followers of Christ.
ü@May we who are making an
effort to experience ügCommunityüh this year, try to live in a fraternal
relationship by which we, ügRejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who
weepüh. Let us, ügGive the same consideration to everyone, not think too highly
of ourselves but meet humble people on their own terms,üh (Romans 12:15-16) with
Mary as our model. Let us take good care of one another and reflect together
about whether we relate to others in such a way as to enrich their lives. Let
us aim constantly to become a community, ügUnited in heart and mind,üh so that
the life and warmth of Christ can spread to the hearts and minds of many.
New Yearüfs Day 2003