Oscar Romero - A Future Not Our Own - A Thought for the Week

It helps, now and then, to step back
and take the long view.
The kingdom is not only beyond our efforts,
it is beyond our vision.

We accomplish in our lifetime only a tiny fraction of
the magnificent enterprise that is God's work.
Nothing we do is complete,
which is another way of saying
that the kingdom always lies beyond us.

No statement says all that could be said.
No prayer fully expresses our faith.
No confession brings perfection.
No pastoral visit brings wholeness.
No programme accomplishes the church's mission.
No set of goals and objectives includes everything.

This is what we are about:
We plant seeds that one day will grow.
We water seeds already planted, knowing that they hold future promise.
We lay foundations that will need further development.
We provide yeast that produces effects beyond our capabilities.

We cannot do everything
and there is a sense of liberation in realizing that.
This enables us to do something,
and to do it very well.
It may be incomplete, but it is a beginning, a step along the way,
an opportunity for God's grace to enter and do the rest.

We may never see the end results,
but that is the difference between the master builder and the worker.
We are workers, not master builders,
ministers, not messiahs.
We are prophets of a future not our own.

Thoughts from Pope Francis

Whatever way you choose to do it, it is worth reading Pope Francis’s direct words instead of getting what he says second-hand from the media. There are so many treasures, most of which are not filtered down to us through other news sources. One such treasure is the words that Pope Francis has given us on parish life. He has real, applicable advice and it is based on his inspiring vision of a Church that goes out of itself, a Church that is missionary, a Church that is merciful and a Church that evangelises, even in its everyday activities.

  1. DON’T Be Like A Custom’s Office: Pope Francis is pretty clear in this, Jesus “instituted seven sacraments” it is not the place of the parish office to institute an eighth sacrament –  “the sacrament of the pastoral customs office.” In other words, the parish office should not close doors for people. And yet most of us can think of times when we have felt more like we are at the DMV rather than our parish office because of the way we were treated or the business-like approach that was used. Attitudes like this attempt to “control faith rather than facilitating it.” Instead, Pope Francis prays that “all who approach the Church find doors open to encounter Jesus’ love”.
  2. DON’T Be Tarantulas: Pope Francis says that when people go to their parish, they should feel like they are entering their mother’s home. He says, “Being parish secretary means opening the front door of the mother’s home, not closing it! And one can close the door in many ways. In Buenos Aires there was a famous parish secretary: they called her the “tarantula”… I’ll say no more! To know how to open the door in the moment: welcome and tenderness.”
  3. DO Put Those Who Are “Distant” First: I have often heard grumbling about families who only come to their parish for baptisms, weddings and funerals. These people are often treated like a last priority, but Pope Francis urges us to put those distant from the Church first. Why? Because we want these people to become regulars. Pope Francis says, “It is about assuming missionary dynamism in order to reach everyone, putting first those who feel distant and the most vulnerable and forgotten people. It means opening the doors and letting Jesus go forth. Many times we keep Jesus closed inside the parishes with us, and we do not go out and we do not let Him leave! Open the doors so He can go out, at least Him! It is about a Church which “goes forth”: a Church which always goes forth.”
  4. DO Get the Laity Involved: Pope Francis is pretty clear on this, the laity needs to be involved in the parishes. Parishes do not belong to priests or to the parish office, they belong to everyone. This is why parishes need laity on councils, advising and helping in the running of everyday matters. In fact, Pope Francis very sternly has said that “a parish that does not have a Pastoral Council and a Finance Council, is not a good parish: it lacks life.”
  5. DON’T Gossip Or Cause Division: If only our parishes were exempt from ordinary, sinful human behaviour. Alas, they are not. But we can examine our part in making a parish a place of unity and communion or creating division. Pope Francis urges us, “Let each one ask him- or herself today ‘do I increase harmony in my family, in my parish, in my community or am I a gossip. Am I a cause of division or embarrassment?’ . . Gossip does harm! Gossip wounds. Before Christians open their mouths to gossip, they should bite their tongue! To bite one’s tongue: this does us good because the tongue swells and can no longer speak, cannot gossip. ‘Am I humble enough to patiently stitch up, through sacrifice, the open wounds in communion?’


The new icon painting on the sanctuary cross is of ‘The Pantocrator.’ This Greek term, meaning ‘Saviour of all,’ was used consistently by the Evangelists, as well as by St. Paul and other New Testament writers. (Matt. 28: 18) (Col. 1: 15&16), (Hebrews 1: 1-3)

In the majority of Byzantine churches, but also in many Catholic cathedrals and churches, this icon has the highest place of honour, usually the asp or ceiling. The iconography is based on the Old Testament prophets, especially Isaiah (66:1): “The heavens are my throne and the earth my footstool.”

In this interpretation, Christ’s right hand can be seen raised in blessing, but also, and importantly, signifying his role as teacher. In his left hand, he holds the Gospel book that contains his teaching. His gaze is direct; he gazes on eternity while, at the same time, we feel his gaze directed intimately and personally on us.

The IC – XC seen on either side of the halo is the Greek monograms for ‘Jesus’ and ‘Christ’: titles with two distinct faith affirmations: to believe in ‘Jesus’ is to honour the man who walked on this earth, to believe in ‘the Christ’ is to include and honour all of creation, his whole Body (Colossians 1: 15-20). The colours of his clothing in this icon affirm this belief: he wears a red robe, the colour of blood and therefore of humanity, under an outer garment of blue, the colour of heaven.

St Paul says that Jesus is the first of many brothers and sisters, the first in a great triumphal parade and that Christ is the symbolic beginning and end of the universal procession toward God, love and life. Jesus died and Christ rose, becoming the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End, the First and the Last. The letters A - Ω (alpha and omega) can be seen on the left hand side as you face the icon. (Rev.21:6 and 22:13). The Greek letters inscribed in Christ’s halo mean ‘the one existing before all time’ the ‘I am who am’ from the Old Testament. (Exodus 3: 14).