Aggiornamento – The need of the hour

May 6, 2013 by  
Filed under newsletter-india

Pope FrancisJammu, May 05, 2013: Of late, I had the privilege of running across a book titled “The Second Coming of Christ” by a renowned Yogi Parmesans Sri Sri Yoganand. The book is in two volumes consisting of 1260 and odd pages each. The book deals with the teachings of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. In the book the Yogi opines that the Holy Spirit after Pentecost (meeting of the disciples in the upper room where beloved Mother Mary was also present) appears having not visited the disciples any more. I too got convinced that such might be the case as the History of Church clearly has it that the Body of Christ got parceled out into small groups due to the indiscipline in the Church. People began to interpret the Scriptures to suit their whims and caprices. Clergy became corrupt and immoral. Lure for power ruled the roost in the Church. Popes fought for power, kept concubines and indulged in the worst type of debauchery. They sided with the tyrants simply to keep themselves in power. They poisoned to death each other in order to seize power.

The History of the Church says that it had taken the Conclave of Cardinals two long years in 1268 AD to elect the new Pope in the person of Gregory X. Again in 1240 AD it had taken the Conclave of Cardinals 181 days to elect a new pope in the person of Benedict XIV. Many other like instances also surfaced my mind, I felt convinced that had the Holy Spirit been guiding the Church Martin Luther’s so called Reformation should not have shaken the very foundations of the Body of Christ in spite of the Lord’s promise: “I shall be with you till the end of the times,” Henry VIII of England should not have called himself as the Head of the Church and ceased relations with the Pope over the Catherine of Aragon divorce issue. A group should not have called the Books of the Holy Bible as not relevant.

But now I feel convinced that all those who have been praying for the solidarity of the Holy Roman Catholic Church, their prayers have been answered and the Holy Spirit has once again appeared to strengthen the Church. The election of Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio of Buenos Aires, Argentine is the proof.

Scripture has it that when our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, the only Son of the  Father, had to leave this world to sit on the right hand of His Father in heaven, without interrupting the communication sent the Holy Spirit. Now the Holy Spirit has manifested Himself clearly when the Conclave of Cardinals chose the new Pope without any fuss being created. The new Holy Father Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio of Buenos Aires, Argentine has never been a likely candidate for the papacy. He was never talked about in the media. His election, therefore, has been the pure choice of the Holy Spirit. He has very rightly taken the name Francis I after Saint Francis of Assisi, the saint who was mandated by the Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ to repair the Church that had fallen into the abyss of disintegration and administrative ennui. Therefore His coming in the 12th Century AD was a clear indication of the priority our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ had of bringing about revival within the Church. He made frantic efforts to help the Church to recapture the apostolic zeal. Saint Francis of Assisi wanted the Church to be poor in spirit, humble and Christ-like in his prophetic service to the weak and defenseless.

Here to recall to our minds the first sermon that Saint Peter delivered under the influence of the Holy Spirit in which he had said lucidly shall not be impertinent: “The Jesus we speak of has been raised by God, as we can all bear witness. Exalted thus with God’s right hand, he received the Holy Spirit from the Father, as was promised, all that you now see and hear follows from him.”We should, therefore, have firm belief that the Holy Spirit not only guides and illumines but gives full strength to the Body of Christ so that there will be the dynamic unity of One Body and One Spirit” as defined by Saint Paul. Hence we shall have to be very much alive to the fact that each of us has to pay attention to the relationship we have with the Holy Spirit. Holy Spirit is our contact with our Almighty Father in Heaven.

I am of the opinion that in the choice of Pope Francis I at a crucial time in the history of the Church there is definitely the hand of God at work. We have, therefore, an open invitation from God for a New Pentecost.Aggiornamento was the task proposed to the Vatican Council II by Pope John XXIII on January 25, 1959. He said: “Open the windows of the Roman Catholic Church so that fresh air comes in.” The document of the Vatican II is with us. Yes, merely a document and nothing more. The need of the hour is to bring it from the archives for implementation in both its letter and spirit.

The Catholic Church comprising 1.2 billion souls has lost its sheen. People are following a beeline towards other denominations like the Pentecostal and the Anglican Church. Many are heading towards Islam and Buddhism as well. Pope Benedict XVI the first pope to abdicate in 600 years hinted towards the deteriorating condition of the Catholic Church in his resignation letter dated February 12, 2013. Shortly before his resignation, Benedict said he would be “withdrawing into prayer” and would live out his remaining days “hidden from the world”. While the presence of a reigning pope and a former one is a new situation, experts say it would only cause difficulties if Benedict tried to influence Pope Francis’ decisions, something he has promised not to do. Still, some Church scholars say that in the event that Pope Francis undoes some of Benedict’s policies while he is still alive, the former pope could become a lightning rod for conservatives and polarise the Church. Benedict almost certainly will be a point of reference for critics of Francis I, especially in conservative circles. You can easily imagine them saying, ‘Benedict wouldn’t have done it this way,'” said John Allen, author of several books on the Church and correspondent for the National Catholic reporter.

“That criticism will circulate on blogs, in journals, and in the pews, no matter where he’s physically located, and Benedict himself won’t be a party to it. If anything, being behind Vatican walls will make it more difficult for the opposition to reach him and claim some sort of blessing,” Allen said.

Vatican officials have said the men, both of whom wear slightly different white vestments, would likely meet occasionally and perhaps confer on Church matters but that Francis is his own man.

Whatever the case, the fact remains that the Roman Catholic Church needs a change, at least in some of these areas:

1. The Clergy which over the years has taken the lay faithful for granted shall have to revisit the Book of Acts to find for themselves that they need be seriously involved in carrying out the challenging mission that has been assigned to them by the Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ—- that of proclamation of the Gospel. The Gospel requires from the clergy as leaders a great deal of commitment, time and energy as well as tremendous ability to solve problems. Their mission is not running of schools and other secular institutions. Their mission is not to rule but to serve. Pope Francis I has well said: “Clergy are not corporate Directors. Church is not a corporate body.”

2. The Commitment to a high ideal is what counts and not the calculated worldly wisdom. The Holy Roman Catholic Church has survived on account of the devotion and sacrifice of its spiritual leaders of the past. There is need to go out of one’s self to think of the less fortunate fellow-beings.

3. In our daily routine we clearly find our Clergy confined to the individual ego cell. There is need to come out of it. They need to regulate their lives in such a manner that the natural spirit of adventure and buoyancy is not destroyed. They should encourage all those who try to glorify the Church than putting them on the back burner to take credit for their work themselves. They clergy should not indulge in politics but do their legitimate work for which they have been ordained

4. “Restoration”, “Renewal”,” New Pentecost” are very often used by our spiritual leaders. What does this mean? I term it as self-discipline. Obviously there can be no rule or mechanism of an individual self-discipline. Each person shall have to discover the means of his own inner self-discipline so that the Holy Catholic Church does not disintegrate.. The question recalls the words of the Prophet Isaiah to King Hazikiel, a stickman whose kingdom lies waste under Assyrian conquest “Set your house in order for you shall die and not recover.”

5. “Give unto Caesar what is Caesar’s and unto God what is God’s’—says the Lord. Give the laity their due, Do not interfere in their secular activities. Running of educational institutions and other Church institutions is not the work of the clergy. This makes them neglect their legitimate duties.

6. It is reported that since September 11, 2001 – over 34,000 American Christians and 23,000 British Christians have converted to Islam. It means the failure of the Clergy and their falling into ill repute due to accusations of child abuse, and other immoral activities. The Clergy has to take note of this.

More in my next dispatch…

– predhuman Joseph K dhar, translator of Kashmiri Bible

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