The call of renewal (part 1)
THE CALL OF RENEWAL
Archbishop’s Office of HCM City
The aim of this collection of Pastoral Letters during the time of Diocesan Synod arrangements is to offer the opportunities available for everyone to consciously respond to the Word of God as Our Loving Father calling human family to renew, and to progress increasingly on the way to new source of life, the one full of love and peace.
In regard to deep dimension, it is to renew our hearts, to try to liberate our minds from the confinement of greed, hatred, and delusion, and intrinsic opposition in order that our interior can freely live “the religion of love”, show our brotherhood and mutual support, and make contributions together to common good, to the life and development of human community.
In regard to broad dimension, it is to renew the current situation of our family and community in the Church and in society; which is to try our best to help one another to avoid stress and instability so as to build a community of love, communion, and unity, facilitating the fulfillment of preaching the Gospel of Life and Love to everyone.
In other words, renewing is trying our best to remove the culture of death, and to join together to create the culture of life and civilization of love for our society and country, and the world today.
Cardinal John the Baptist Pham Minh Man
Archbishop of Hochiminh City Archdiocese
I. Overcoming the obstacles on the way of renewal
II. Renewing the current life situation of God’s people
III. Renewing the current situation of cultural lifestyle of God’s people
IV. Setting up three pillars of pious life
V. Renewing the way of praying
VI. To share the Risen Lord’s gift of “New Life”
VII. To combine efforts to create a true and stable peace
VIII. Orientation to a law system for human life
IX. Orientation to a full humanistic education
I. OVERCOMING THE OBSTACLES ON THE WAY OF RENEWAL
(See Pastoral Letter of October 2011)
1. To identify the obstacles
Pastoral Letter of October 2011 was given with the suggestion that everybody should think and identify the obstacles on the way of renewal, consider their deep causes, and find some means to get out of the vicious circle, and to break some impasse in order to broaden the communion in the Church and society. The purpose is to bring the Gospel values, and humanistic ones to the family, social, economical and political life today. It is the way of taking part in the mission of New Evangelization now, and accompanying Jesus in the service to the human family’s life and development.
2. To consider deep causes
In world history, the renewal of mankind life in any continent often encounters many problems. These with objective and subjective causes result from the interaction between historical events and inner feelings taking place in the depth of human life. The objective cause, which may typically be the social reform with some enforcement causing psychological shocks, brought about confusion and instability in human life. The subjective cause may be that, when facing some psychological shocks causing worry and fear, many people become dissastified and disheartened, and confine themselves to self-defense instinct for existence, which makes their mind stagnant, their standpoint and attitude frozen in the quarrelsome and antagonistic posture.
3. The problems resulting from the interaction between historical events and inside feelings
The past historical events, which caused some disorder and instability in several areas, have now happened in many parts of the world. In Vietnam, after the historical event of 1975, the social reform made the Catholic Church of South VN alone losing more than 2,000 education, health, and charity establishments. With regard to Saigon Archdiocese, in addition to losing about 400 establishments, the archdiocesan family also lost its original social name as well as many members and its stability. With such great loss of property and human resource, so many people felt that they themselves were abandoned, left out, oppressed; and that their interests and freedom became something like handouts given according to some inspiration of the persons in power.
The problems, resulting from the division, have caused different ways of life. Being injured heavily and living in a long worrying state, some people left the country to make a new life in strange places, following the immigration wave all over the world. Some confined themselves in defensive attitude for existence. Others found the way to accompany the people to struggle for existence. This very situation divided the community life into different directions. Different directions of life, different viewpoints, or in general, differences in Church life or national community life may be an advantage when used to supplement and enrich one another through conversation in the truth and cooperation for service to common good, but they may also be at risk to become a tragedy when used to fight and get rid of one another, causing ceaseless conflicts.
The above problems may be the risk of turning themselves into political tools. In reality, on the media, many different political labels appear such as conservative or liberal, leftist or rightist, anti-communist or pro-communist … and these have been used by some groups to describe one another. The groups with different tendencies, though bearing any labels, are always the main concern for the politicians working on political field, on the media or gathering together in coffee shops. This concern enables them to make use of this organization or that group as political tools for opposing and condemning one another when fighting for their own viewpoint and interests.
The problems especially arise when distress is turned into struggle impetus. The long state of intense oppositon and worries brings about the distress in many persons’ minds. As a result, every time an event in social activity happens, or some news is shown on the media, and when one group feels that their interests are damaged, another group thinks that their power can be harmed, then this distress bursts into flame of struggle. Practical experience has shown that when flame of struggle, moderate or violent, bursts into conflict, it seemingly brings no healing nature with it; but it may deepen the old wound in community life.
4. To remove the old way of life and to create a new one
Saint Paul was once a man who actively found the way to persecute, and wipe out the Christian, but after the event of falling out of his horse on the road to Damascus, he became a gospel messenger to many peoples. His experience says that renewing the current situation of life confined to the state of tenseness and getting rid of one another means firstly removing the old way of life, finding some escape from the vicious circle of chain conflicts. Creating a new way of life also means to try our best to live with fellow human beings in love and understanding, to cooperate with one another to create a more humanistic order for every present social regime, and to improve the house of world today on the solid foundation with four steady fundamental pillars: truth and love, justice and peace. In other words, removing the old way of life means removing the way of living in dead culture, and creating a new way of life, which is joining together to promote the culture of life, and civilization of love for mankind family today.
Historical figure Paul also gave his valuable experience to descendants: Men can only improve the current situation of human life by their cooperation, and by the grace of Holy Spirit to renew everyone’s mind, leading them in the light of truth and salvation love of Lord Jesus. And men should realize that the purpose of renewal is to perform the intention of loving and saving God, and to liberate mankind family from the confinement of opposition, greed, hatred, and delusion in order that everyone can freely progress together on the way leading to the new source of life that is abundant in love and peace.
5. To follow the Gospel Messenger in the world full of contradictions and conflicts
The task of taking care of God’s sheep and leading them to the abundant source of life demands from the priests the ability to offer the community of God’s people good conditions so that they could avoid the vicious circle of disagreements and conflicts, and freely walk in the light, peace, and joy of God, freely join together to broaden the communion in the Church as well as in society, opening the way for Evangelization, and preaching saving Gospel to everyone.
The task of self-training, therefore, demands from priests the attention to training skill of always accompanying God in every ever-changing situation. To accompany God means being aware of living in the world to love and serve human beings as God loves and serves the lives of His sheep, both inside and outside the herd. It also means being aware that to live in the world does not mean belonging to it. Not belonging to the world means not to live in the greed, hatred, and delusion, not to rule in the worldly way, not to pursue the worldly wisdom with secularism, materialism, sensualism and pragmatism. In other words, priests should be aware of steadily following the wise road of God in every situation. How high is Heaven above Earth, so is Most Holy God's Will to man’s intention. How larger is Heaven than Earth, so is Creator's wisdom more immense than creature's wits. Moreover, an old saying: “Heavenly opportunity, earthly advantage, and human consensus” reminds priests that they should have ability to make decisions agreeable to God’s intention, to social situation, and to people’s minds.
In order to enable priests to fulfill their pastoral mission, the Church regulates that priests should not take part in the mechanism of secular power. priests’ responsibility and posture in the political community is to accompany Lord Jesus, and cooperate with everyone in heartfelt service to common good, to everybody’s life and development, not to some secular power or political side.
6. To accompany Lord Jesus in His Church
Today, the Church leader role requires that, in every pastoral activity as well as in organizing and managing for Church community, the shepherds should above all accompany Lord Jesus and attach to His Church as well, for Lord Jesus is always present and accompany His Church on the way of His saving love. In other words, to accompany Lord Jesus also means whole-heartedly uniting with the Head of universal and that of local Church, and creating the communion in brotherhood and mutual support with colleagues and fellows, and etablish the sympathetic communion with the objects entrusted to them by God.
On the way of creating and broadening the communion and brotherhood in the Church and society, the shepherds should always bear in mind and vision the Savior’s way of love and service with four steps as follows:
(1) to integrate into social and cultural life but not to catch the bad ways of this world; to understand human condition in the world, but not cause division in human community;
(2) to engage in serving Jesus Christ’s Gospel, and people’s life and development as men of God, members of the Church, not as members of any secular power;
(3) to love so much as to devote themselves and their life in order to help everyone remove the old way of life, and then freely go to new source of life in love and peace, and not attach to material life (money, food and clothing) too much.
(4) to cooperate with Holy Spirit in renewing people’s minds and hearts so that they could freely walk in the light of Savior’s Truth and Love to Risen Lord’s new source of life, which is abundant life in light of truth and love, in unity and peace.
7. The key to be people of God, members of the Church, and of the society
To unite with Lord and to fraternally communicate with every member in the Church and society so as to become people of God, members of the Church, and of society, can all be realized only by coming to see Lord Jesus and listening to His words all the time:
- The Word becoming flesh and making His dwelling among us,
- The Word in the Eucharist,
- The Word in the Bible,
- The Words interpreted in the Church life and the Church teachings,
- The Words shown through signs of the time,
- The Words as the seeds sown in the moral tradition and national culture.
Often meeting Lord, and listening to His Words of truth, new life, love and wisdom, shepherds will get more and more conviction that Lord Jesus is Head of the Church as His Mystical Body; they will more and more love Lord and His Church. The more are shepherds attached to God, the better is their communion with Church community and social one, for community of God’s people and that of human kind are the objects of the love and savation of the Lord who wants to serve them aiming to their full and stable development.
Cardinal John the Baptist Pham Minh Man
Archbishop of Hochiminh City Archdiocese