A new year is always an opportunity and invitation to reimagine how we live and renew who we are personally and communally. Some of us make new year’s resolutions that last anywhere between a matter of days to the whole year.
A new year is also a sign of hope. Probably like many of you, I have friends and colleagues who are desperate for 2023 to be better than 2022, because the latter was marked by loss, serious illness, death, financial insecurity, separation …
The opportunity and hope we experience in a new year is something we share with all our brothers and sisters. However, for those of us who are Christian there is always more going on. For us the new year functions something like a sacrament, reminding us that as disciples of Jesus and the church community, the invitation to reimagine, to change and to hope is a critical dimension of our Christian DNA. To be Christian is to embrace change and renewal in Christ.
Our prayer as we waited for the appointment of a new bishop echoed this deep truth. We prayed:
that as we wait with joyful hope for a new Bishop, we will be cleansed and renewed by the Word of God so that we will be ready, our lamps lit, when a new Bishop is announced.
We pray … Lord hear our prayer.
This new year, this new moment in our diocesan journey invites us into this deeper, perpetual renewal and conversion. The year will be studded with a rich variety of opportunities to support us in this. Specifically, there is one special opportunity that looms large.
60th Anniversary of Vatican Council II
One of the blessings of our Catholic faith is that we belong to a big church. Belonging to this universal church is a constant invitation to look out and beyond our own beautiful, though limited, horizons.
Here we find a wonderful opportunity to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the Second Vatican Council which began on 11 October 1962 and ended a little over three years later on 8 December 1965.
The Council promulgated sixteen major documents. The reception of those documents, and all that flows from them, continues to be the work of the Church in every place and through every unfolding year and decade. Today it is our work as the Church of Maitland-Newcastle.
I love several things about our particular Church of Maitland-Newcastle. We are a church who has endeavoured to receive the Council and live its imperatives; to be open to the constant renewal and reform that challenges us to shine with the light of Christ, a light that rises in the darkness for all the world. (cf Readings 5th Sunday Ordinary Time A)
In the late 1980s we boldly stepped out on a synodal path being one of the first dioceses in Australia to prepare for and celebrate a post Vatican II Synod. There were two sessions over 1992 and 1993. We are a church whose checked history has pushed us to look honestly and critically at who we are and how we live. We are a church who engages in the struggle to acknowledge baptism as the foundational sacrament incorporating us all into the community of the faithful by which we share a common dignity, a common call to holiness and a common responsibility for mission; a community strengthened by our diversity of orders, charisms and ministries.
I believe we are a church ready to celebrate the 60th anniversary of Vatican Council II.
Document Club Invitation
There will be a variety of ways we can mark this event. The Diocesan Liturgy Council (DLC) is offering one way. Everyone is invited to form and/or join a ‘document club’ drawing on the great tradition of book clubs! (Yes, there will need to be drinks and nibbles!)
This year the focus is The Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy, (CLS) the first document promulgated by the Council on 4 December 1963. View a copy of the Constitution is available here.
In keeping with our rich Catholic understanding of the ongoing process of reception, you are invited to read this document with attentiveness to the wisdom it reveals to us in our 2023 context: a context that is universal, global, national, diocesan, parish, family, community, personal … We read with an experience and wisdom the Council fathers did not have. The Holy Spirit, who inspired the Council, continues to inspire us in our discernment today.
The CLS famously says that the liturgy is the primary and indispensable source from which we the faithful derive the true Christian spirit and calls us all to become thoroughly imbued with the spirit and power of the liturgy. (a. 14) A 2023 reading of the constitution presents us with an opportunity to enrich the liturgical life of our parishes and diocese and to deepen our capacity to be full, conscious and active participants.
The DLC has prepared a reading plan that anyone can use to guide their ‘document club’. You can download the plan here. If you are interested in forming a ‘document club’ and would like the support of a member of the DLC please contact firstname.lastname@example.org who will help organise this.
View details to form/join a document club in this flyer.
To bring our ‘document clubs’ to a close the DLC is looking forward to hosting an in-person ‘fun’ gathering on Monday evening, 4 December 2023. To ensure you receive an invitation, you may like to send the names and email addresses of your ‘document club’ to Sharon.
Our brother, friend and colleague Richard Lennan published a new book last year. It is called Tilling the Church: Theology of an Unfinished Project. I hope the invitation to form and participate in a ‘document club’ focused on The Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy provides a way by which we can all continue to till the church. I recommend his book. It’s a wonderfully rich, formative and informative read.
Let’s seize this new year, this new moment in our diocesan pilgrimage, and step out and into a ‘document club’.
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