On January 1, Gathering for Mission concludes three weeks of tweeting excerpts taken from Nonviolence: A Style of Politics for Peace, Pope Francis’ Message for the 50th World Day of Peace. Thoughtfully reading this annual message reveals ideas to ponder when choosing a challenging New Year’s resolution rooted in the Gospel of Christ. You may find more, but here are some to start the process:
- Acknowledge one another as sacred gifts endowed with immense dignity.
- Make active nonviolence my way of life.
- Cultivate nonviolence in my most personal thoughts and values.
- Resist the temptation to retaliate.
- Become an instrument of reconciliation.
- Embrace Jesus’ teaching about nonviolence not merely as a tactical behavior but as a way of being.
- Learn to fight for justice without violence.
- Renounce class struggle and war.
- Embrace the ethics of fraternity and peaceful coexistence.
- Begin the politics of nonviolence in my home.
- Practice the little way of love, not to miss out on a kind word, a smile, or any small gesture which sows peace and friendship.
- Live Jesus’ eight Beatitudes.
- Build up society, communities, and businesses by acting as peacemakers.
- Choose solidarity as a way of making history and building friendship in society.
- Show mercy by refusing to discard people, harm the environment, or seek to win at any cost.
- Pray for the guidance of Mary, the Queen of Peace.
- Dedicate myself prayerfully and actively to banishing violence from my heart, words and deeds.
The Church’s liturgical year begins five weeks before January 1 with the Season of Advent. Prior to social inquiries for New Year resolutions, Christians are called to prepare and wait for the celebration of the Incarnation – part of the most transformative experience in time with The Creator of All freely and fully moving into the humility of the human experience as an infant born in poverty. The Incarnation continues today as Christians are called to transformation so that they too may give birth to the Christ.
Moving through the Advent and Christmas readings for Mass, the faithful are reminded again of those transformed while preparing and waiting for their God: from Isaiah to Elizabeth and Zechariah to Mary and Joseph to shepherds to Anna and Simeon, and countless others. The simple phrase “their God” does not reflect the intimate nature of the unique relationship between God and God’s people from time immemorial.
The transformative work of Gathering for Mission is inspired through relationships with God and by the voice and vision of Pope Francis. For the 50th World Day of Peace, the Holy Father writes, “At the beginning of this New Year…I wish peace to every man, woman and child, and I pray that the image and likeness of God in each person will enable us to acknowledge one another as sacred gifts endowed with immense dignity…let us respect this, our ‘deepest dignity,’ and make active nonviolence our way of life.”
Pope Francis’ call for peace, dignity, and nonviolence echoes that of the Holy Infant born in a stable. With God’s grace, it can be accomplished when the faithful are open to transformation as Gathering for Mission’s tagline suggests.
May the grace of God – the Creator, the Christ, the Holy Spirit – be upon you and your loved ones during the Season of Christmas and throughout the New Year.
Whom do you know that would be interested in Gathering for Mission? Whom do you know that is open to transformation? Please share our work with them.
Pope Francis calls the Church to create a culture of encounter, and engage in the practice of dialogue. Inspired to respond to his call, Catholic Committee of the South (CCS) is fundraising to secure startup costs for its new effort, Gathering for Mission, in which the words Pope Francis spoke to the U.S. bishops last year at Washington’s Cathedral of St. Matthew are put into practice: “The path ahead, then, is dialogue among yourselves, dialogue in your presbyterates, dialogue with lay persons, dialogue with families, dialogue with society. I cannot ever tire of encouraging you to dialogue fearlessly.” Bringing the vision and voice of Pope Francis, Gathering for Mission invites the bishops, clergy, women religious, and other church leaders in the United States and Canada into that dialogic process.
Gathering for Mission launches its first retreat day on November 13 at the 2016 Fall Assembly of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB). Organized around contemplation and dialogue, the day will give bishops a taste of what can happen amidst deep listening and open sharing. After the retreat day, participating bishops can invite Gathering for Mission to conduct similar days for their clergy and pastoral staff. Mindful of tomorrow’s leadership, CCS will offer seminaries and sisters formation programs the opportunity to experience Gathering for Mission as well.
Maryknoll Media is partnering with Gathering for Mission to produce a triptych video to provide a common experience at retreat days for respective segments of church leadership. The triptych will feature the words/stories of Jesus of Nazareth, the dialogic mode of Pope Francis, and the work of the local church. It will be a touch-point of missionary discipleship, tapping the power of story, bleeding into transformational leadership.
For the chair of CCS’ Bishops Advisory Council, Bishop Robert Guglielmone of the Diocese of Charleston, SC, the challenge of Pope Francis to the Church of the United States and Canada requires all of us – bishops, clergy, religious, and laity – to enter into a process of transformation through which the Good News is embodied in each local church. He sees Gathering for Mission as the Spirit moving each and all from fear and judgment to grace and mercy. Other members of the council are Bishop Joseph Kopacz of Jackson, MS; Bishop William Medley of Owensboro, KY; Bishop Roger Morin of Biloxi, MS; Bishop John Noonan of Orlando, FL; and Bishop Joseph Strickland of Tyler, TX.
CCS is a network of Church leaders, bishops, field workers, and grassroots organizers across the South who are committed to solidarity with those who struggle to claim respect and human dignity. The mission of CCS is to listen to the cry of struggling peoples, identify the injustice, bring the voice of the Gospel to the reflection, and encourage the faith community to take action. Founded in 1939 to address issues of land, labor, and race, CCS is incorporated independently of the Catholic Church in the State of Mississippi; but it is listed in the Official Catholic Directory, giving it 501(c)3 status.
Foundations and/or individuals wanting more information, or interested in making financial donations to support Gathering for Mission may contact Sister Mary Priniski, OP, Project Coordinator, at 678.982.9441 or Leslye Colvin, Communications Coordinator, at 404.202.1456. Donations may also be made at http://www.gofundme.com/gathering4mission.