Challenge for Christianity Today
The Chinese word for 'crisis' consists of
two characters. One character stands
danger, the other for opportunity.
"It's an opportunity, a time of
graces" stated the Pope when he
reviewing the situation of the Church
a meeting with the Canadian bishops
The Pope identified three problems
the modern man living in the city -
anonymity and inequality. The city
a prison. The heavens are closed and
seems far away. Today man dispenses
God, thus creating a one-dimensional
where everything does as long as it
Only now, only here, only me... are
slogans. Thus a new slavery has crept
- slavery to power, pleasure, money.
The consequences are serious - loss
and loss of the sense of human dignity
eventually begets violence. "At
core of this violence is a protest
deep-seated disappointment: the city
so much, and delivers so little, to
This sense of disappointment is also
to a loss of confidence in institutions
political, legal and educational -
the Church and the family."
Our generation is not succeeding in
on the faith to the next generation
as in the past. In the next 20-30 years,
this will become dramatically visible
In front of this situation the Church
remain stagnant. In many places, unfortunately,
the ecclesial authorities are closing
and joining parishes. 'Clustering of
is the key word in many pastoral circles.
Instead of taking an aggressive stance
vocations, many seminaries are closed
being closed. Many pastoral operators
helpless in front of this onslaught.
This is sad because the Church is and
will be missionary. Modern man needs
the news of salvation and to be freed
chains that are no less dangerous than
former times, just because they are
visible. Missionary means going forward,
blaze open new paths. The frontier
is the city!
"We can no longer expect people
to our communities spontaneously :
must be instead a new missionary outreach
in the cities, with dedicated men and
and young people, going forth in Christ's
name to invite people into the community
of the Church."
Needed today are dynamic urban lay
and truly zealous priests. This is
which the Church must bolt into! And
will be possible if we create in our
"a new and more profound experience
of community in Christ".
Bottom line, if you want a good future
the Church, create small communities,
the Pope. "In such a human context,
it will be easier to gather to hear
of God, to reflect on the range of
problems in the light of the Word,
to make responsible decisions inspired
the all-embracing love of Christ....
at the heart of what Christ is calling
to be and to do in the new evangelization."
"The anonymity of the city cannot
allowed to enter our Eucharistic celebrations."
"Wherever there is a very weak
of this community, we can expect a
number of faithful abandoning religion
turning to sects and pseudo-religious
that respond to their alienation and
among Christians who are disillusioned
the Church, for whatever reason."
Speaking about the parish of the future,
the Pontiff used the formula coined
Synod for America : "a community
communities". It is from this
that the future of Christianity depends.
"Scripture leaves no doubt that
is not encountered apart from the experience
of Christian community," the Holy
In his fine novel The Power and The
Graham Greene narrates the story of
alcoholic Catholic priest who, after
as a fugitive, is finally caught by
Mexican regime and condemned to be
In the evening before his execution,
in his cell with a bottle of brandy
his courage up, and thinks back over
seems to him the dingy failure of his
"Tears poured down his face,"
writes. "He felt an immense disappointment
because he had to go to God empty handed.
It seemed to him at that moment that
have been quite easy to have been a
It would have needed only a little
and a little courage. He felt like
who had missed happiness by seconds
appointed time. He knew now that at
there was only one thing that counted
be a saint."
Yes, only one thing which counts. To
saint! This is what this challenge
(c) Fr. Pius Sammut, OCD. Permission
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