Meaning in daily routine
No doubt we have all experienced the euphoria of achieving some important goal, and then after the celebrations, the need to pick ourselves up and start again. Or perhaps the dull feeling of returning home from the annual holiday to face the laundry and the everyday timetable.
The challenge of celebrations and holidays is to enter fully into the spirit of things while being conscious too of the need eventually to return to everyday life. The Church faces such a challenge at the present.
In the year 2000 we came to the end of an extraordinary journey - a three-year journey with the Holy Trinity towards the Great Jubilee. Like all holidays, this now seems far away, almost part of history. But the Pope writes that we must try to avoid a sense of anti-climax or loss of momentum. The Jubilee is bearing fruit, and what really matters is what is to happen now – “the challenge of normal pastoral activity” (Novo Millennio Ineunte, 29).
“Normal pastoral activity” may sound a little flat compared to holidays and celebrations, but we all know we cannot be on holiday everyday. That would be no holiday! Evangelisation and mission are judged by normal, everyday life – a routine that is sometimes monotonous and often demanding.
“The programme of the Gospel must continue to take root, as it has always done, in the life of the Church everywhere.” The Gospel is not just for special days: it is the everyday life of the Church. So the Pope asks Bishops everywhere “with the help of all sectors of God’s people” to take a look at the everyday lives of their dioceses and to plan the way ahead in the spirit of the Jubilee. In particular, we are to “harmonise the choices of each diocesan community with those of neighbouring Churches and of the universal Church.”
In our Archdiocese’s attempt to follow the Pope’s instructions – Contemplate - Launch Out! - we will take this idea of harmony very seriously. Unity with the vision of the Church in Australia, with the Church throughout our region, and above all, with the Holy See is deeply important to our hopes for the new century.
But we cannot do everything at once, so where to start? Fortunately, the Pope himself has clarified certain priorities which all of us are to acknowledge in these next years.
The Holy Father’s list of pastoral priorities will occupy us much during the coming months. Priorities include some of the central aspects of our faith - holiness and prayer, reconciliation and communion, grace and ecumenism, family and vocation.
I very much hope that for everyone this will be a time to learn more about our faith, perhaps to become re-acquainted with things we may have forgotten. Above all of course, I hope it will be a time in which people whose faith is weak may hear once again the voice of God. The Father is always there, always patient. The decision whether or not to accept his offer to turn back is ours alone.
+ Denis J. Hart,
Archbishop of Melbourne.