Renew My Church: Christ the King Calls Us
Jesus Christ is our King the “image of the invisible God,” who makes God’s presence visible to us while ruling the Catholic Church. Through our baptism and confirmation, we all share in Christ’s kingship, priesthood, and prophetic witness, but his sacred ministers do so in a special
Christ came to rule his church, which he governs visibly through the bishops, with his priests and deacons. Deacons have a special sharing in Christ’s prophetic role with God-given authority to visibly proclaim and explain God’s word. In addition, priests offer the visible sacrifice of the Holy Mass and apply this sin-offering in the sacrament of Reconciliation. The bishops do all that but also visibly rule and govern that portion of the Church entrusted to them.
Here in Chicago, Archbishop Cupich visibly re-presents to us Christ the King. Just as fathers and mothers share Christ’s kingship by ruling the family, making sure that their children get to Mass and Confession, and get their catechetical instruction, so too Archbishop Cupich governs the Church in Lake and Cook Counties to make sure all the Catholic faithful can receive the sacraments—the Mass, Reconciliation, Baptism, Marriage, the Anointing…—and the religious formation they need to fulfill their vocation to holiness. The bishop does this principally by ordaining priests and deacons, whom he assigns to parishes, schools, and hospitals.
In exercising his duties to care for the spiritual welfare of Chicago Catholics, Archbishop Cupich is leading us on a renewal—titled Renew My Church—to take up “that mission as disciples with fresh vigor and enthusiasm.” In doing so, he is reminding us that Christ reigns as king from the Cross, and that he calls us to share in this work—which is his work, not ours. To join Christ will involve “a dying, a leaving behind old patterns and pathways that have made us comfortable and even complacent.”
As a member of the College of Cardinals, Archbishop Cupich has taking on a greater share of the universal governance of the Roman Catholic Church. He is asking us too to become more “catholic” or universal, to “move beyond a view of Church that is defined only by “my parish,” or “my needs,” to one that includes the good of the entire Church of Chicagoland.” The first step, grouping parishes, is almost finished. Shortly we will come together to evaluate the needs of Catholics in the broader area of our group. The Archdiocese is putting together a team to facilitate this dialogue, giving us the demographic data and other “signs of the times” to aid in making recommendation for meeting the real spiritual needs with the limited resources now at our disposal.
Renew My Church involves some dying—some parishes will combine, as did those in the West Humboldt Park grouping or some may even closed—yet if each one of us, like the Good Thief, die alongside Christ we can hope for the Resurrection: “This day you will be with me in paradise.” Renew My Church has the “potential of having an historic and transformative impact on each of our lives and the entire Church.” Its success will be measured by “how it leaves us more united as a Church – united across racial, political, ethnic and social lines… to make sure that no one feels left behind but all are included.”
Pope Francis reminded us Catholics in the United States:
“One of the great challenges facing the Church in this generation is to foster in the faithful a sense of personal responsibility for the Church’s mission, and to enable them to fulfill that responsibility as missionary disciples, as a leaven of the Gospel in our world. This will require creativity in adapting to changed situations, carrying forward the legacy of the past not primarily by maintaining our structures and institutions, which have served us well, but above all by being open to the possibilities which the Spirit opens up to us and communicating the joy of the Gospel, daily and in every season of our life” (Homily, September 26, 2015).
With immense hope we pray that Christ will inflame Chicago Catholics with a greater love for him, for their Faith, and for the souls of their neighbor. St. Mary of the Angels, pray for us!
Fr. John R. Waiss
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