God the Holy Spirit works in & through the Sacraments
The Sacraments are the Work of God, in fact, they are God at work. Jesus established the Sacraments, he gave them to us, it is His Passion, Death and Resurrection that makes them effective, but it is God the Holy Spirit who applies them to us.
We need the Sacraments if we are going to make it into heaven. We cannot do it alone. We have heard Jesus tell us that unless we believe and are baptised we cannot enter Heaven….. Unless we eat His Flesh and drink His Blood we have no life in us. We received His Teaching from His Apostles (those chosen by Him and those He gave His authority to) that Confirmation completes our Baptism – we need the laying on of hands in order to receive and be sealed with the Holy Spirit.
Jesus established the Sacraments and He established the way we receive them. Jesus chose His instruments, His Apostles. The way the Church is formed, the way She operates was decided by Jesus and now, God the Holy Spirit continues His work in His Church. This is the reality of the Church. This is one of the foundation stones we will be using as we build the parish during this Pandemic time.
As we slowly and safely open up the parish, we’re going to make sure that each step we take is leading us in the right direction. We have an opportunity now to start again and we are going to take it. Our task, as we reopen is not to get back to what we were before the lockdown, but to get back to what the Lord designed for us to be: A vessel of His Holy Grace. A place where we come to meet Him and offer Him adoration, prayer and worship. We’re going to put God First and rediscover all that He gives to us in and through His Sacraments.
Sacraments & Apostolic Succession
We need God the Holy Spirit if we are going to be able to celebrate the Sacraments. We receive the Holy Spirit in Baptism, but Baptism is only the beginning! In order for our Baptism to be complete, in order for us to be sealed with the Holy Spirit, we need to be Confirmed. It’s through the laying on of hands (and the anointing with Chrism Oil) that we receive God the Holy Spirit in Confirmation. We receive His 7 gifts. Our soul is changed, we have a new ‘Spiritual Character’. We are ‘marked’ by Him. It’s by the laying on of hands of a Bishop that we are directly connected to the Apostles who received the Holy Spirit today, at Pentecost.
Everyone ‘Confirmed’ by a bishop can trace their way back to the Apostles through the laying on of hands. This ‘tracing back’ is called Apostolic Succession; the Church is Apostolic. This is also true for the Ordination of priests and bishops. There is a laying on of hands in the sacrament of Ordination (Holy Orders) too.
If the Apostolic Succession is broken, there is no sacramental power or authority. If that succession is broken, they cannot trace their way back to the Apostles, it’s not part of the One, Holy, Catholic and APOSTOLIC Church.
The life of the Church is Sacramental. That’s why the Church exists, to share what Jesus entrusted to the Church, to be handed on by the hands of the Apostles. This Sacramental Foundation Stone is crucial to our building the parish moving forward. We are firstly sacramental. That’s our focus, that’s our purpose.
The phrase ‘The Parish will never be the same again’ might sound disturbing, challenging even alarming, but it’s not negative! We are going to become MORE of what we should be…. MORE Catholic, not less! We’re going to be building on all that Jesus said and did and asks of us. Let’s take courage and hope in the Lord!
‘You are Peter, and upon this Rock I will build my church……
The Church is for God. God created it, He designed it, He wills it. We benefit form the fruits which God produces in and through His Church, but the church does not belong to us, it’s not for us….. it belongs to God; it is for Him.
St Paul reminds us: ‘All that exists comes from him; all is by him and for him. To him be glory for ever!’ God made everything, He designed everything, including His church. We hear God say in the Gospel today that He will build His church Himself, upon Peter the ‘rock’ the first Pope. We have been called into the Church by the Lord. He has invited us to join Him and to participate in His Mysteries while we are still on earth. This is an incredible gift that we often take for granted.
Let’s ask the Holy Spirit today to help us never to forget that we are guests in the House of God. Let’s ask the Holy Spirit to renew within us the gifts or awe and wonder in His Presence.
‘You are Peter, and upon this Rock I will build my church……
‘The Church’ is not an institution or an organisation, it is a reality. A reality which crosses two realms, the spiritual and the material…. The Church exists on Earth, in Heaven and in Purgatory. In those three different ‘states of existence’ we are ‘gathered into one by the Holy Spirit’. That’s why the church is always more than just a ‘community’ we are ‘communion’, we are in communion with all those other members of the Church in Heaven and in Purgatory.
The church the Lord builds upon Peter is much more than what we see and experience here and now.
We have a ‘physical membership’ in as much as we are present, we turn up, we belong….. but we also have a ‘spiritual membership’ as soon as we are baptised and providing we remain in a ‘state of grace’.
That’s what being in a ‘state of grace’ means… having that spiritual membership being ‘in communion’ with the Lord and His Church in Heaven and in Purgatory.
Focusing only on the church on earth results in us reducing the Lord’s own Church to our own club, a social event, a man-centred institution. Instead we must grow in our understanding of the mystical nature of the church, the supernatural realities which cross over the realm of the material into the spiritual.
Then, if we accomplish that, we will most certainly never be simply a ‘community’, we will become a ‘communion’ which is what we pray for in every Eucharistic Prayer during every single Mass. Lord, hear us! Lord, graciously hear us!
We pray for the three states of the Church in the Eucharistic Prayer during every Mass:
(1) Remember, Lord, your Church, spread throughout the world, and bring her to the fullness of charity, together with Frances our Pope and Philip our Bishop and all the clergy That is obviously, us, the church on earth!
(2) Remember also our brothers and sisters who have fallen asleep in the hope of the resurrection, and all who have died in your mercy: welcome them into the light of your face. This petition is for those who have died and have not yet been ‘welcomed into the light of God’s face’…..Those who have left this world but have not yet made it into heaven, they are the Holy Souls in Purgatory.
(3) Have mercy on us all, we pray, that with the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of God, with the blessed Apostles, and all the Saints who have pleased you throughout the ages, we may merit to be coheirs to eternal life, and may praise and glorify you through your Son, Jesus Christ.
We pray to be admitted into the Company of Heaven…..
A parish is not a community centre. It’s here for the greater glory of God. We are actively working here in this parish to make sure we keep the emphasis on God and not on Man.
with blessings Father Marcin
“The Parish will never be the same again” from ‘community’ to ‘communion’
As we continue to make a conscious and deliberate effort to move from ‘community’ to ‘communion’ it’s important, at this stage to define what we mean by those two words:
Community: is a group sharing a common understanding and often the same language, manners, tradition and law. (physical)
Communion: is a joining together of minds or spirits. (spiritual)
The Church does not only exist on earth; it also exists in Heaven and in Purgatory, it’s more than what we can see and what we experience as ‘church’ here and now in the physical realm. Being aware of the spiritual dimension of the Church drives us on from ‘community’ to a ‘communion’.
Whilst the Church begins as a community ‘sharing an understanding, manners, traditions and laws’, all of that is meant to lead us on to more, much more, to communion with each other and the members of the Church Triumphant (in Heaven) and the Church Suffering in Purgatory and ultimately with God. Less than a month ago, the Vatican issued a document called: “The pastoral conversion of the Parish community in the service of the evangelising mission of the Church” and in that document it addresses this shift from community to communion for us……
The document, issued on 20th July 2020, is a sign of great encouragement for us. It was amazing to read in a document, authorised by the Holy Father, sentiments we have been articulating here in Southsea A sign that the Holy Spirit is at work and we are in tune with Him!
The document rightly highlights a wise caution as we begin this transition: “42. The pastoral conversion of the Parish community, in terms of mission, takes shape and finds expression in a gradual process of a renewal of structures; consequently, different forms of shared pastoral care emerge, as well as forms of participation in it that involve the entire People of God”.
Paragraphs 9 and 10 of the Document: 9. As a living community of believers, the Parish finds itself in a context whereby the territorial affiliation is increasingly less evident, where places of association are multiplied and where interpersonal relationships risk being dissolved into a virtual world without any commitment or responsibility towards one’s neighbour.
10. It is noteworthy how such cultural changes and the evolving territorial ties are fostering within the Church, through the grace of the Holy Spirit, a new discernment around community, “which consists in seeing reality with the eyes of God, with a view to unity and communion”. The whole People of God must urgently embrace the Holy Spirit’s invitation to begin the process of “renewing” the face of the Church.
The document is lengthy, and it will take time (years) to implement in its entirety but without realising it, we are already moving along the right track!
We must be sensitive; we must be careful and gradual but we must also act, must ‘do’. We cannot procrastinate using ‘care’ as an excuse to only pay lip-service to what needs to be done.
Change is not easy, it is uncomfortable, but it is necessary and so we need to foster a spirit of willingness and support instead of allowing ourselves to become disillusioned, desperately trying to stop or hinder what is necessary for our time. This document will now be adopted as our blueprint. We will not be able to achieve everything immediately, but, in time (5 years) we will most certainly be well on the way to doing so.
For now, we will use the paragraphs of the document which speak specifically of the tasks we have already begun, to help shape and guide us and our thoughts moving forward.
Paragraphs 27,28,29 (opposite) seem to be the best place to begin. They speak of community, communion and the missionary activity of the Church present in the Parish….
27. The subject of the missionary and evangelising action of the Church is always the People of God as a whole. The Code of Canon Law emphasises that the Parish is not identified as a building or a series of structures, but rather as a specific community of the faithful, where the Parish Priest is the proper pastor. Pope Francis recalled that “the parish is the presence of the Church in a given territory, an environment for hearing God’s word, for growth in the Christian life, for dialogue, proclamation, charitable outreach, worship and celebration”, and affirmed that it is “a community of communities”.
28. The various components that make up the Parish are called to communion and unity. When each part recognises its complementary role in service of the community, on the one hand, we see the fulfilment of the collaborative ministry of the Parish Priest with his Assistant Priests, while on the other hand, we see how the various charisms of deacons, consecrated men and women and the laity, cooperate in building up the singular body of Christ (cf. 1 Co 12:12).
29. The Parish is a community gathered together by the Holy Spirit to announce the Word of God and bring new children of God to birth in the baptismal font. Assembled by the Parish Priest, the Parish celebrates the memorial of the passion, death and resurrection of the Lord, bearing witness to faith in charity, living in a permanent state of mission, whilst ensuring that no one is excluded from the salvific, lifegiving message. Pope Francis expressed it thus: “The parish is not an outdated institution; precisely because it possesses great flexibility, it can assume quite different contours depending on the openness and missionary creativity of the Parish Priest and the community.
While certainly not the only institution which evangelises, if the parish proves capable of self-renewal and constant adaptability, it continues to be “the Church living in the midst of the homes of her sons and daughters”. This presumes that it really is in contact with the homes and the lives of its people, and does not become a useless structure out of touch with people or a self-absorbed group made up of a chosen few. […] We must admit, though, that the call to review and renew our parishes has not yet sufficed to bring them nearer to people, to make them environments of living communion and participation, and to make them completely mission-oriented”.