The Holy Father’s
Prayer Intentions for March 2018
Formation in Spiritual Discernment
That the Church may appreciate the urgency of formation in
spiritual discernment, both on the personal and communitarian levels.
A Living Message of God
1. The joy of the gospel fills the hearts and lives of all who encounter Jesus. Those who accept His offer of salvation are set free from sin, sorrow, inner emptiness and loneliness. With Christ joy is constantly born anew. In this Exhortation I wish to encourage the Christian faithful to embark upon a new chapter of evangeliSation marked by this joy, while pointing out new paths for the Church’s journey in years to come.
115. The People of God is incarnate in the peoples of the earth, each of which has its own culture. The concept of culture is valuable for grasping the various expressions of the Christian life present in God’s people. It has to do with the lifestyle of a given society, the specific way in which its members relate to one another, to other creatures and to God. Understood in this way, culture embraces the totality of a people’s life. Each people in the course of its history develops its culture with legitimate autonomy. This is due to the fact that the human person, “by nature stands completely in need of life in society” and always exists in reference to society, finding there a concrete way of relating to reality. The human person is always situated in a culture: “nature and culture are intimately linked”. Grace supposes culture and God’s gift becomes flesh in the culture of those who receive it.
117. When properly understood, cultural diversity is not a threat to Church unity. The Holy Spirit, sent by the Father and the Son, transforms our hearts and enables us to enter into the perfect communion of the blessed Trinity, where all things find their unity. He builds up the communion and harmony of the people of God. The same Spirit is that harmony, just as He is the bond of love between the Father and the Son. It is He who brings forth a rich variety of gifts, while at the same time creating a unity which is never uniformity but a multifaceted and inviting harmony. Evangelisation joyfully acknowledges these varied treasures which the Holy Spirit pours out upon the Church. We would not do justice to the logic of the incarnation if we thought of Christianity as monocultural and monotonous. While it is true that some cultures have been closely associated with the preaching of the Gospel and the development of Christian thought, the revealed message is not identified with any of them; its content is transcultural. Hence in the evangelisation of new cultures, or cultures which have not received the Christian message, it is not essential to impose a specific cultural form, no matter how beautiful or ancient it may be, together with the Gospel. The message that we proclaim always has a certain cultural dress but we in the Church can sometimes fall into a needless hallowing of our own culture and thus show more fanaticism than true evangelising zeal…EVANGELII GAUDIUM OF THE HOLY FATHER, FRANCIS
Reflection: The Holy Father says that the expression of truth can take different forms. In the same way that each individual member of the community needs to re-examine themselves and critically establish if we are not too set in our ways, in practising and promoting customs, which are no longer relevant and also labelling any changes within the Church, as wrong and undesirable. The message of God remains the same – that really is all that matters. However, the manner in which we express and live it, has to adapt to the society and culture that is being addressed. Let us keep an open heart and mind always and know, that where we are in the world, is not where my brother or sister, in the Mystical Body, is!