Joined by the rich arias of soprano Jamie-Rose Guarrine and the stirring motets performed by cellist Karl Knapp, both guest performers, the choir reminded the congregation of the sacredness of the season through its solemnly celebratory songs.
With such pieces as "People Look East" and "An Advent Carol," following readings that respectively told from Genesis of the eating of the apple in Eden and from Isaiah of the prophecy "there shall come forth a shoot from the stump of Jesse," the choir called on Christians to prepare for the coming of Christ.
And in such traditional hymns as "As With Gladness Men of Old" and "What Child is This," joined by the congregation, as well as Guarrine's moving "Rejoice Greatly" from Handel's work Messiah, the choir's call to "come let us adore" in "Gesu Bambino," and a collection of Christmas hymns, they rejoiced over Christ's birth.
Before the blessing and dismissal, Bishop William H. Bullock, bishop emeritus, who hosted the Lessons and Carols, reminded the congregation that at the beginning of the celebration, he had addressed them as people of God - "And that's exactly who we are," he said.
"We are on a journey to the kingdom where there is no more war, or poverty or injustice, or anger or hatred or deprivation, no more shooting sprees at shopping malls, but only peace," he said. "We are God's holy people and called by him to be exactly that."
At the base of the journey is gratitude, Bishop Bullock said. "And that means we are grateful to the Lord for the gift of life - that we are grateful for all he has given us, and that our gratitude is expressed in our willingness to share it with other people."
Implementation assumptions and goalsBy Grant Emmel
Vice-Chancellor, Diocese of Madison
Much has been written about our diocese's recent history as it relates to the restructuring of parishes, and even more has been accomplished in preparation for the Trusting in the Spirit implementation.
This article will remind us of the assumptions that we are all operating under as well as the goals that we should be working toward. As in Guided by the Spirit, there is a natural relationship between these assumptions and our goals and everyone in the diocese needs to refer back to them periodically to ensure that we remain on-track, going in the direction that Bishop Morlino has given us. It is also important to realize that these goals are long-term in nature while being universal in application.
Invited to meet Jesus Christ, strengthen ministry in all areas
The most important goal is stated as, "To insure that all individuals throughout our 11 counties are graciously invited everyday, in one way or another, to meet Jesus Christ, risen from the dead, and be changed by Him."
Related is the goal, "To strengthen the presence of ministry of the Church in urban, rural, and suburban areas."
An assumption that supports these goals is, "The Paschal Mystery is both central to our faith and to this implementation process, where changes in parish and school structures are potential examples of the life-death-resurrection mystery."
Even more simply, the Eucharist gives us the strength we need to love God and to love our neighbor. This cannot be forgotten or overlooked.
Another related assumption is, "Parishes do not exist for themselves, but as a presence of Christ and the Church to the local area." Parishes exist as Christ through each of us giving Christ's invitation to follow Him, by word and by action, to others in our local community - right where we are.
Each parish exists as a support network for us to ensure that this can happen most effectively. Depending upon where we live, be it the city or rural area, we will have needs and concerns that our parish is uniquely positioned to help us with.
Teach truths of Church, encourage vocations to priesthood
The next two goals, "To teach with love, the truths Christ has entrusted to His Church, so that clarification and conviction would replace ambiguity and confusion where such might exist" and "To continue to offer the invitation of Jesus Christ the High Priest to young men so that, in sufficient numbers for the future, they will follow Him."
Both follow from the assumption that "Strong pastoral leadership, ordained as well as lay, now and in the future, is needed for implementation to succeed."
The truths of our Catholic faith sometimes are difficult for others to follow or for some to proclaim; our reply has to be that of Simon Peter, "Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life, and we have come to believe and to know that you are the Christ, the Son of God" (John 6:69).
Encourage collaboration, sharing
Working together is the thrust of the next goal, "To enhance the quality of parish life by encouraging collaboration and the sharing of resources amongst the parishes."
For this to occur we must understand the assumptions that, "The vision of Church must be larger than one's own local community. People must be helped to think locally, regionally, and diocesan-wide when implementing the Bishop's Directives"; that "All parishes will be more effective if they work together to implement plans to conserve human resources and avoid needless duplication of ministerial and financial resources"; and "Parishes will be stronger and more effective because they are implementing the Bishop's Directives together."
That the whole is stronger than the sum of its parts is a key strength of the parish restructuring implementation. This ability to work with one another, similar to what allows parishes to work with diocesan offices and programs, looking outside of our immediate neighborhood to accomplish our parish ministries is the "fuel" of the implementation - what will keep things going even when the going gets difficult.
Continue to be sacramental Church
Giving hope to people despite the significance of our present situation is the next goal, "To help all parishioners understand the reality of our desire to continue to be the sacramental Church we are called to be, while at the same time recognizing the diminishing number of priests currently available to serve parishes."
This will be accomplished because 'There will be more ownership for and less resistance to implementation of the Bishop's directives because people were involved in the planning process and their suggestions were taken seriously."
This is a direct result of how the Guided by the Spirit planning process proceeded in a "bottom-up" fashion from the parish level. Like all big problems, putting concrete solutions into place takes time, thus, the assumption that "Implementation of Bishop Morlino's Directives is an on-going process which will unfold over the next five to 10 years" should help keep people realistic as Trusting in the Spirit moves forward.
Act as good stewards
Realizing that all that we have is a gift from God is important as the next goal reminds us that we need "To act as good stewards of all human, financial, and facility resources; which will be needed for restructuring parishes and adopting new models."
This is supported by the assumption that, "As implementation proceeds, there may be times when the Directives will need to be reviewed and adjusted based on changing realities. The Implementation Commission will oversee that process working with clusters and using a format similar to Guided by the Spirit."
One of the best ways to ensure success is to do something in the way that has succeeded previously. Thus, the familiarity and sound thinking of Guided by the Spirit will be leveraged as needed to keep the Trusting in the Spirit implementation manageable.
Quality Catholic school education
The Holy See and the bishops of our country have repeatedly commented on the irreplaceable role of Catholic schools in the new evangelization. A goal of implementation brings this into our diocese, "To ensure that quality Catholic school education is available, accessible, and affordable throughout the diocese."
While some parishes considered schools as an integral part of their planning process, it became clear that a general directive from the Bishop would be needed to focus everyone on Catholic education both in our schools and in our parishes.
There is a wide range of commitment to our Catholic schools and this is most often reflected by the resources dedicated to the school by surrounding parishes. It is often thought that schools and parishes compete for the same resources, thereby starving one ministry for another.
While it is clear that changes need to be made, first there must be an understanding of the cooperative roles of parish and school; that will be accomplished in a separate diocesan-wide school study as parishes begin to live into their new communities.
Build greater sense of unity
The Madison Diocese is diverse in culture and age, but often there are barriers that make it difficult to understand one another. To address this need, the goal, "To build a greater sense of unity within the rich ethnic, cultural, and age diverse population present within the local Church" was included.
One way that we can support this is to assume that, "Planning resources will be provided in English and Spanish, where needed" and in fact offer whatever support is needed by any parishioners when it is requested, regardless of their language of origin, age, or cultural maturity.
Keep focused on our goals
The interrelationship of the Trusting in the Spirit implementation goals and the assumptions we are now working under is very important. As is true with many aspects of our life, it is important to keep focused on our goals while being well-rooted in those ideas or assumptions that support us as we work toward our goals. To the extent that we keep Christ our Light the ultimate goal and do our best to follow His commandments, we will have better and stronger parishes and diocese.
If you have any questions or comments, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or mail Trusting in the Spirit, 702 S. High Point Road, Madison, WI 53719.
Next Article: Diocesan Criteria & Parish Accountability
Pontifical Mass at the Throne
By Mary C. Uhler
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