Posted by: Thomas Richard | January 8, 2010

The World Needs the Mission of the Church!

Pope Benedict XVI has strongly encouraged the use of Lectio Divina. He wrote, “I would like in particular to recall and recommend the ancient tradition of Lectio divina: the diligent reading of Sacred Scripture accompanied by prayer brings about that intimate dialogue in which the person reading hears God who is speaking, and in praying, responds to him with trusting openness of heart (cf. Dei Verbum, n. 25). If it is effectively promoted, this practice will bring to the Church — I am convinced of it — a new spiritual springtime.”

Yesterday I wrote a post describing Lectio Divina, a traditional method of listening to, meditating upon, Holy Scripture. Why did I do this? Because we in the Church need that “intimate dialogue” with God. The Church and the world need a “new spiritual springtime.” We need to awaken, and learn to listen to God. We need to treasure and hold His revealed light in the midst of this dark and darkening culture.

We need to hear God because He has given us a job to do, and many of us are sleeping. The world needs living witnesses of the saving truth of God in Jesus Christ – and if we are to be His witnesses (and we have been sent for that very purpose), then we need to take hold of that mission with a fervor, a sincerity, an urgency and an authenticity that have so far escaped us. If “mission” is our work, our vocation as Church, then many of us are asleep on the job.

So many, so many in the Church are asleep. The ruler of this world is not asleep! The kingdom of this world is advancing, becoming more organized, spreading its network by all the modern means available. This “post-Christian” culture paused for a moment in recent history to welcome a sort of inter-religious unity and equivalence, giving lip service to all the faiths and belief systems around the whole world – but not for long. Belief in anything greater than man must give way, because man will exalt himself above God, above anyone’s God, to fully reveal the man of sin. The world that hated and crucified Jesus will hate and persecute His followers also.

Who is safe from the hatred of the world, in a world that rejects God? Only those whose god is content with mere ritual and ceremony, with mere pretty but sterile words, with believers who are drunk with the pleasures and powers and toys of this world, with believers who are asleep.

Struggling within Himself, within His humanity, in the Garden of Gethsemane Jesus Christ prepared His soul for the martyrdom that was to come. He prayed to His Father, in what we have called “the agony in the Garden.” Seeing His disciples sleeping, He said, “Are you still sleeping and taking your rest? Behold, the hour is at hand, and the Son of man is betrayed into the hands of sinners.” (Mt 26:45)

The Church needs to awaken because we have a mission to the world. This confused and drunken world is peopled by God, who created each person in His own image, and for eternal life. The Church needs to awaken to get to work, to do what God has sent us to do, while it is still light. As Jesus said, “We must work the works of him who sent me, while it is day; night comes, when no one can work.” (Jn 9:4)

Christ is light. The light of the Son is brighter than the light of the sun, on this poor and decaying world. The interior dawn of Christ in the soul is a greater awakening than any sunrise can bring. When a person begins to hear – to really hear – His Word that “pierces to the Heart,” then persons change – and a new springtime can come upon the world.


  1. Dear Thomas,

    There is little I can add here, since I responded to yesterday’s post on “Lectio divina”, but I do want to say something about being a “contemplative in action”.

    Some persons think that contemplation is not possible for persons whose vocation calls them into the marketplace of busyness. Some think that holiness is “really” for monks, but not for most “busy”priests, active religious, and especially not for most laity. But the Lord told us that when lifted up, He would draw all humankind to Himself (cf John12:32). All are called to holiness.

    Some do not see the necessity of seeking contemplation or holiness as part of our Mission but Jesus sends His disciples to share Him, the Father’s Good News of great joy! We can enter the Father’s House through His Pierced Heart.

    The Church’s Mission as you encourage us to embrace it, Thomas, demands that we become deeply in union with Him in order that we may give Him, and nothing less. It is His Holiness which must radiate from us and give light in the darkness; His Word must come from the fullness of our heart and be that which we speak.

    Like the Wise Men of Old, let us return not to old paths or strange alliances, but let us set forth on that bridge before us, a new way, encouraged by God’s unfailing Word: “Arise, shine…your light has come…” (Isa 60:1)

  2. Dear Thomas,

    Pope Benedict again recommends “Lectio divina”:

    “To be authoritative witnesses of the truth about the human being, prayerful listening to the word of God is essential. In this regard, I would like above all to recommend the ancient tradition of lectio divina. The parishes and the various ecclesial realities, also thanks to the booklet prepared by the Vicariate, will be able to promote this ancient practice and put it to good use so that it becomes an essential part of ordinary pastoral care.” –from homily of Benedict XVI delivered Dec. 31, 2009, at first vespers of the solemnity of Mary Mother of God, celebrated in St. Peter’s Basilica.

    May all our bishops join with the Bishop of Rome in promoting this “bridge to holiness”! May all the people of God seek Him.

    “Rise, let us go hence” (Jn 14:31)

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