Drawing up Pope Francis’ vision of the outgoing Church from and attentive to the challenges of the SSS mission, I intend to offer a brief reflection based on three (3) axes: 1 - Discipleship; 2 - Human development, and 3 - A new vision of the world in the light of the Eucharist.
1 - Discipleship
The mission of the Universal Church is always the same: to proclaim the good news of God’s salvation to all nations (Mt 28:19-20). Encounter with Jesus Christ, through baptism, involves everyone in the Church. This implies that each baptised person plays his or her part in the prophetic mission. Each historical epoch entails new paradigms in ecclesial undertakings, new visions and concrete actions founded upon the values of the Gospel. The teachings of the recent Popes were very attentive to this missionary ardour. John Paul II proposed that the Church express a "renewed missionary commitment" and Francis emphasises that this missionary zeal be perceived, even more strongly,.
Being a disciple implies becoming captivated by the Master and, in the perspective of the Congregation, by the Eucharistic Jesus, by understanding, deepening, living and transmitting the legacy of the Eucharistic mission, according to the context. Fraternal life is our first mission, starting from the cenacle as a place of communion, harmony and evangelical life. The Paschal Mystery is the centre of SSS life and from this the mission is impelled to spread outside the liturgical environment.
2 - Human development
Father Eymard sought “to respond to the hungers of the human family with the riches of God’s love manifested in the Eucharist” (RL 3). Incorporated in the Church’s universal mission, the Congregation continues living, being nourished by and passing on the same mission inherited from the Founder, in facing new challenges and in the post-conciliar Church with a new world vision that requires pastoral creativity and an inculturation of the faith.
Today’s world is characterised by a technological revolution, social instability and consumer culture. The Church experiences having to face so many challenges as regards Evangelisation. In regard to this the SSS mission is directed towards a huge social commitment that springs from living the Eucharist (cf. RL 37).
The Congregation of the Blessed Sacrament is from the start as a religious order, first of all, has its most beautiful mission, namely: to everything that is miserable, most vicious, to all. They consider that when we call them marginalised, we are unable to go lower. We have to imitate Jesus in his mission of welcoming the poor and marginalised. [Fr Eymard told the Sister Servants] I tell you, despite not yet being sufficiently numerous, here already our mission is discovered. (cf. PS 381,2; XVI,283.)
3 - A new vision of the world in the light of the Eucharist
The whole Eymardian Family existing in distinct geographic contexts seeks to accomplish a unique mission that begins by welcoming, promoting human dignity, effective collaboration with the poorest and most miserable persons, and it embraces all the challenges of each historical epoch. It is fitting to ask ourselves: How is this beautiful evangelising mission expressed outside the environment of the liturgy? Do we really show empathy in relating to the poor? Do we welcome them? How can we increase the necessary resources and the values of sharing and solidarity with the most vulnerable? What social works demonstrate our specific contribution in light of the Eucharist?
This vision demands communal projects based on the Congregation’s spirituality in order to contribute in a particular manner to the particular Churches, starting from the needs of this world called to live the values of the Gospel and the Eucharist. It is a specific mission implying dynamism, creativity and also a change of mentality, a reality evidenced in the questions and challenges raised by this time of the pandemic in the world today.
May the missionary month really be a time of grace (Kairos) to reflect deeply and perceive how to make our Eucharistic mission an art of living!
21 September 2020
Deacon Elibien Joseph, sss