31. Mission and Service
Podcast: Play in new window | Download
Christ sends us with the same passionate trust and love with which the Father sent him into the world. Our mission is to bring men, women and children into closer union with God in Christ, by the power of the Spirit that he breathes into us. Christ is already present in the life of everyone as the light of the world. It is our joy to serve all those to whom we are sent by helping them to embrace that presence in faith. Our mission is being fulfilled as our prayer, worship and daily life in community draw people into life in Christ.
It is also expressed through ministries that demonstrate the wide range of the Spirit’s gifts. These ministries spring from our baptismal vocation; only a few of them are the specific responsibility of the ordained. The Society’s identity is not defined by any particular ministries, since the Spirit is free to change them. Nevertheless our tradition, experience, and discernment of the signs of our own times encourage us to be alert for Christ’s invitation to serve in the following ways:
We are ready to respond to the needs of those who desire to learn how to pray, to understand the things of the Spirit, and to press forward on the way of conversion. Some brothers therefore make themselves available, as the Spirit enables them, for ministries of spiritual formation, initiation and guidance with individuals and groups in the Church, and with seekers outside it. We will be alert to the claims of those who seek solid nourishment for the heart and mind, and be open to God’s call to preach, to teach, and to provide written resources through books and publications.
God may prolong our tradition of service to those who are exercising, or being prepared for, ordained ministry in the Church by calling us to support them with our hospitality, to act as guides and confessors, and to offer such training as we may be qualified to give. Equally, we are ready to support and equip lay men and women for their ministries.
God can call us to further the work of healing and reconciliation by reaching out to the sick, offering the sacraments of healing and forgiveness, befriending the alienated and perplexed, serving those in prison and seeking the company of the marginalized.
We are to be prepared for God to call us to be active witnesses for peace and social justice, bearing witness to Christ’s presence on the side of people who are deprived and oppressed. We expect our calling to continue to bring special resources to bear on the needs and claims of children and their families who are impoverished and at risk.
God may call a few of us to special ventures in mission in other places and countries, or to hold office in the Church. In rare cases where a brother would be separated from community life for long periods we would look for clear signs that this was indeed a call coming from God. In our understanding and discernment of ministry we must be careful to recognize how broad is the range of talents that God uses in ministry, and be prepared for ministries which draw on artistic gifts, and engage our concerns for the environment, and the renewal of society.
I am comforted by the balance between the leadership the Brothers offer through their leadership and modelling of prayer, worship and their daily life in community, and the directive that their ministries spring from the baptismal vocation, not from ordination. Recognizing that their tradition, experience and discernment give them a greater role and responsibility, at the same time they allow and encourage us lay persons to do likewise and bear witness to Christ’s presence in our lives. The comfort I feel in that balance fosters developing and manifesting my own faith.