I received by email subsription from the Congregation for the Clergy a letter from His Eminence Cardinal Claudio Hummes, Prefect of said Congregation, addressed to all priests. It's undated but was sent from the Congregation yesterday. The letter ends as follows:
We must not be afraid or remain subdued within our home... We will not cast the seed of the Word of God merely from the window of our parochial house, but we will go out into the open fields of our society, beginning with the poor and arriving at all levels and institutions of society. We will go to visit families, every person, above all the baptised and those who are distanced. Our people want to feel the nearness of the Church. We will do so, going out to our contemporary society with joy and enthusiasm, certain of the presence of the Lord with us on the mission, and certain that he will knock on the door of the hearts of those to whom we will announce Him.
Frankly, friends, after reading this in the presence of the Lord in the church this evening, I then sat in the confessional staring at these words. This is quite demanding. It sounds great in a letter, but it seems ever so daunting. Does the good Cardinal know how hard this is in the society he so accurately described in the opening paragraph of his letter?
The Western culture ... is a culture which is marked profoundly by a relativism which refuses any affirmation of an absolute and transcendent truth and thus which ruins the foundations of morality and which closes itself off to religion. In this way the passion for truth is lost, being relegated to the place of a “useless passion” ... Relativism, then, is accompanied by an individualistic subjectvism, which places one’s own ego at the centre of everything. In the end one cannot but arrive at a nihilism according to which there is nothing and nobody in whom there is any point in investing one’s entire life, and consequently life has no real meaning.
Isn't this so true and why we now have calls for assisted suicide to be legalised?
The Cardinal continues:
However, one must recognise that the post-modern culture which is currently dominant brings with it a truly great scientific and technological progress which fascinates the human being, especially the young. The use of this progress, unfortunately, does not always have for its principal aim the good of mankind or of individuals. It lacks an integral humanism which could give it an ultimate meaning.
This is going to need some prayer and, I would suggest, a renewal in the sense of fraternity amongst the presbyterate, the sense of a common mission.
A bit I left out above (the third '...') says:
In contrast Jesus Christ is the Truth, the Universal Logos, the Reason which enlightens and explains all that exists.
This is what we must dwell on.
I would venture to add that the accompaniment in this task of the laity would be a great moral and spiritual support. Many of us priests are on our own, and we have other demands as well as parish life. This visiting of the parish could be done fruitfully in a collaborative task of clergy and laity. I am very grateful that I have a number of parishioners who visit the sick and housebound. But outreach to the lapsed baptised and the non-evangelised is limited.