Editor’s Note: Over 20 issues, The Michigan Catholic is bringing you, in bite-sized chunks, Archbishop Vigneron’s pastoral letter, Unleash the Gospel. Below is the sixth of 20 excerpts, taken from the letter’s third section, its “Catechetical Exposition.” To read the whole letter — or to catch up on sections you’ve missed — visit www.unleashthegospel.org.
Our good habits are those dispositions of mind and heart that we must take on in order to become a radically mission-oriented Church. They are in fact a participation in the mind and heart of Jesus. “Have among yourselves the same attitude that is also yours in Christ Jesus …” (Phil 2:5). The following good habits are particularly crucial to the cultural change we are seeking to effect in the Archdiocese.
Docility to the Spirit. Throughout Acts it is evident that the Holy Spirit was the initiator, guide, and driving force of the Church’s evangelizing mission. So today the new evangelization can only be carried out through a radical openness to the leading of the Spirit: preceding every initiative with prayer for his guidance, constantly allowing ourselves to be led by him, and obeying his promptings and inspirations.
Apostolic boldness. A quality that stood out among the early Christians was their boldness in proclaiming the Gospel, even in the face of hostility and persecution (cf. Acts 4:29, 31; 28:31). They did not hesitate to proclaim Jesus as the one Savior whom God offers to the whole human race, and to call their listeners to repentance and conversion. Their boldness was not a human personality trait, but a result of their intimate union with Christ (cf. Acts 4:13).
A spirit of innovation. The rapidly changing cultural situation in which we find ourselves requires that we think in new and creative ways. We need to be willing to jettison some old structures that no longer work and to experiment with new ones. As St. Paul tried different missionary strategies in different settings (cf. 1 Cor 9:19-23), so we need to be innovative, flexible, adaptable, unafraid to make mistakes, and willing to learn from the good ideas of others.
A spirit of cooperation. There can be no competition in the body of Christ, because we have one Lord and one united purpose (Eph 4:1-6). The whole Archdiocese has embarked on the new evangelization together, and any victory for one is a victory for all. As Christ’s apostles had to put aside rivalry and learn to work as a team (Lk 9:46-48), so we are called to a spirit of generous cooperation and sharing of resources.
Confidence in God. St. Thérèse teaches us the way of spiritual childhood, which is the way of simplicity and utter confidence in God. We give the Lord the best of our effort, but it is he who will bring the increase. We can trust in him, for the renewal of the Archdiocese of Detroit is not our work but his divine work in which we are cooperating. “Therefore, neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but only God, who causes the growth” (1 Cor 3:7).
An attitude of gratitude. The best antidote to discouragement is to praise God continually for who he is and to thank him for what he has done. “We thank you, God, we give thanks; we call upon your name, declare your wonderful deeds” (Ps 75:2). Gratitude puts us in a right posture before God and opens us to his further work in our lives.
The prophet Ezekiel, who lived in a time of trouble and discouragement not unlike our own, was given a vision of God’s people as a vast plain filled with dry bones.
“[God] asked me: Son of man, can these bones come to life? ‘Lord GOD,’ I answered, ‘you alone know that.’ Then he said to me: Prophesy over these bones, and say to them: Dry bones, hear the word of the LORD! Thus says the Lord GOD to these bones: See! I will bring spirit into you, that you may come to life.” (Ezekiel 37:3-5)
As your shepherd, exercising the prophetic office of Christ, I speak in the name of Christ to you, the Church of Detroit: “Dry bones, hear the word of the Lord! The Lord is breathing his Spirit into you to bring you to life! He is awakening you to what Christ came to give you, the fullness of life that comes from knowing him and receiving the free gift of his salvation. He is renewing his Church in her identity as God’s beloved people, the bride of Christ and temple of the Holy Spirit, sent forth to transform the world in the light of the Gospel.”
To read more of the archbishop’s letter, or to catch up on sections you’ve missed, visit www.unleashthegospel.org.