New Global and Ecclesial Trends and their Impact on Mission Today
Fr. JosÃ© Cristo Rey Garcia Paredes CMF, our resource person,Â developed the theme in three stages:
- New trends in the theology of mission
- New global trends in our world and their impact on mission today
- New ecclesial trends and their impact on mission today
Throughout his talk he stressed that mission is the work of the Holy Spirit who is the agent and first principle of mission. He used the expression â€œaccomplices of the Spiritâ€ or a â€œspeaker of the Wordâ€ to describe the vital link that exists between the Holy Spirit and mission. The Spirit needs us!
There is no greater dignity for a human being than that of being an accomplice of the Spirit. For someone to be chosen to enter the flow of the Creator and re-creator Spirit, that someone be designated as speaker of the divine Word, exceeds any dream or aspiration. This is the identity of those of us who have felt the call, of those of us who have been invested and consecrated with the missionary vocation. This is the vocation of the SSpS.
A congregation is not shaping or defining mission, he said, rather mission is shaping and defining congregations. The mission is not in crisis; those who are in crisis are those who are disconnected from the Spirit, the structures and institutions that have closed themselves off from the authentic mission to become mere employees, work organizations of administration. The solution comes from paying attention to persons in our world with the gift of vision; they may not always belong to our circle but through them the Spirit illumines our vocation.
Explaining the new global trends in our world and their impact on mission, and taking examples from the scientific and technological world of discoveries, the speaker said that the rapidly changing social scene is pushing the Church and mission to a point of no return. He said that a new consciousness is awakening through the fusion of two paradoxical movements that we are witnessing: one, a movement towards correlation where our common humanity is celebrated and upheld and the other, a movement towards â€œthe differentâ€ where persons and groups defend and promote their identity and uniqueness.
He spoke of the progressive expansion of human consciousness throughout its immense evolutionary journey. We have passed from tribal identity, belonging to a national state/transnational/continental identity and belonging to groups, peoples, nations, to reach the planetary identity. We are reaching the planetary expansion of consciousness… a new vision in which humans, animals and the environment, that is the total ecology of the planet, are integrated. We are human beings gifted with hospitality, compassion, sociable reason, wisdom, humanity, and unlimited potential in large part still unrealized.
Speaking of new ecclesial trends and their impact on mission today, Fr. JosÃ© enumerated three traditional mission areasâ€”education, health care and missionary witnessâ€”and showed how these conventional fields of apostolate can be made relevant today with renewed vigour and commitment.
Mission as witness brings us face to face with the fundamental call to discipleship. Some of the paradigm shifts in mission, he said, would require structural change while others call for attitudinal conversion. He concluded his talk by inviting the Sisters to re-read the Apostolic Exhortation “Evangelii Gaudiumâ€ with the concrete objective of making possible in religious life a series of â€œpastoral conversionsâ€.