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Posted February 8, 2003

The Pastoral Work of Communion
in Novo Millennio Inuente

A Reflection offered by Msgr. Cristian Precht Banados
Episcopal Vicar of the Southern Pastoral Zone
Archdiocese of Santiago
Secretariat for the Church in Latin America
United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, Washington, DC

Excerpt from Document:

What is a Spirituality of Communion?

A spirituality of communion indicates above all the heart's contemplation of the mystery of the Trinity dwelling in us, and whose light we must also be able to see shining on the face of the brothers and sisters around us.

A spirituality of communion also means an ability to think of our brothers and sisters in faith within the profound unity of the Mystical Body, and therefore as "those who are a part of me." This makes us able to share their joys and sufferings, to sense their desires and attend to their needs, to offer them deep and genuine friendship.

A spirituality of communion implies also the ability to see what is positive in others, to welcome it and prize it as a gift from God: not only as a gift for the brother or sister who has received it directly, but also as a "gift for me."

A spirituality of communion means, finally, to know how to "make room" for our brothers and sisters, bearing "each other burdens" and resisting the selfish temptations which constantly beset us and provoke competition, careerism, distrust and jealousy.

As if this were not enough, John Paul II is insistent in his conclusion: "Let us have no illusions: unless we follow this spiritual path, external structures of communion will serve very little purpose. They would become mechanisms without a soul, ‘masks' of communion rather than its means of expression and growth."

Another Excerpt from the Document:

The Challenges of Today

Beside the serious problems of the poor, our pastoral planning must address new challenges that also involve the pastoral work of communion, such as the "ecological crisis which is making vast areas of our planet uninhabitable and hostile to humanity," "the problems of peace, so often threatened by the specter of catastrophic wars," contempt for the fundamental human rights" and other emergencies" to which every Christian heart must be sensitive." All of these undermine communion.

Some radical aspects of the gospel message, which are frequently misunderstood, must also be included in our pastoral plan. "I am speaking of the duty to be committed to respect for the life of every human being, from conception until natural death. Likewise, the service of humanity leads us to insist, in season an out of season, that those using the latest advances of science, especially in the field of biotechnology, must never disregard fundamental ethical requirements by invoking a questionable solidarity which eventually leads to discriminating between one life and another and ignoring the dignity which belongs to every human being."

Table of Contents:

1. The Spirituality of Communion
1.1 God's plan
1.2 The yearnings of humanity
What is a spirituality of communion?
The "heart's contemplation" of the Holy Trinity
The "heart's contemplation" of our neighbor
The "heart's contemplation" of the Church

2. The Pastoral Work of Communion
2.1 Place of communion
2.2 The variety of vocations
2.3 Ecumenism and interreligious dialogue
Dialogue and mission in light of the Council
Communication at the service of communion

3. Stake Everything on Charity
3.1 The pastoral work of solidarity: charity and human promotion
Christ identifies with the poor
Solidarity with the style of Jesus
A new style of evangelization 3.2 The challenges of today
A few fundamental challenges
Recognizing our options

4. Walking with Hope