Archbishop John Dew blogs from the Synod on the New Evangelisation and the transmission of the Christian Faith in Rome.
Greetings again from Rome where the Synod has been another busy day. We spent the morning in the language groups for the first time today, elected a Moderator (Chairman) and a Reporter. We’ve had good discussion in the group and with a very mixed group of people. The first part of the afternoon was listening to more interventions from the bishops and then the last hour of the day was spent listening to Archbishop Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury.
Archbishop Williams began by reflecting on the 50th anniversary of the Opening of the Second Vatican Council. He spoke of the Council as a time of great promise, a time where the Church had the courage to ask the question "Can we share the Gospel with the restless, questioning modern world?" We still ask the question, but it is in a different context and probably more urgent.
The Council gave a fresh and joyful vision of how Christ speaks today and what he saw as an important aspect of the Council was that it gave the Church a renewed Christian anthropology, that of "humanity made in God's image." The Council showed us that to proclaim the Gospel is to show that at last it is possible to be truly human, but that our efforts at humanising will be empty if that humanising is not shaped by the Second Adam (Christ). The Archbishop went on to say that to be fully human is to be recreated in Christ's humanity and that humanity is shaped and formed by the relationship of Jesus with the Father, our humanity then becomes the fruit of God's love for Jesus and for us. The only way that we realise our humanity and know God's love is through being people of contemplation, our contemplation is to be like Jesus' contemplation of His Father - a selfless attention to the other, it is this that brings us life in its fullness. Archbishop Williams went on to speak about the self-forgetting gaze of Christ, and then what spoke to me the most was his saying that it is this silent gazing on God which is the goal of all discipleship. His point was that contemplation is the key to a renewed humanity, to vital community life and it is through contemplation that we become new persons with God through Jesus.
Evangelisation, he said, is always a re-evangelising of ourselves as Christians and a re-discovery of our new humanity which is always the point of our journey as disciples, leading us to maturity in Christ. If we are wanting to make the Gospel impelling for others then we must never forget what makes the gospel impelling for me as an individual. He said that people will read what is in our eyes before anything comes out of our mouths and that is why it is essential that our eyes are always turned towards Christ. Those words reminded me of the words of Blessed John Paul II when he spoke about gazing on the face of Christ.
I hope that anyone reading the words will look lovingly on the face of Christ, know his unbelievable love and share that with others.
I look forward to being part of the Mass tomorrow morning St Peter's Square to celebrate the 50th Anniversary of the Opening of the Second Vatican Council
With all good wishes and every blessing