By Members of Our Lady's Warriors
Copyright 1998 by Our Lady's Warriors. All Rights Reserved.
Note: Watch words and phrases are underlined; commentary is presented following Renew 2000 text.
Focus of the Session
The Holy Spirit has a unique role in the Trinity, for the Spirit is the very expression of love between the Father and Son. It is through the revelation of the Spirit that we come to understand that all of creation is invited to participate in this divine, dynamic and intimate community. Jesus proclaimed that the reign of God is here and now, calling us as a community to be an expression of God's reign on earth. The Spirit embraces us and fashions us into a people capable of living in harmony and right relationship with God, with one another and with all creation.
SHARING OUR EXPERIENCE
Take a few minutes to read the following reflection silently.
As we enter the 21st century, we are becoming more aware of the Spirit's role in creating community and bringing everything into right relationship. As in the past, it is possible for us today because we are all called to participate in the life of the Trinity. In a world torn by division and hatred, the Spirit empowers us to live with tolerance and love. In our families that are often broken apart by painful and hurtful interactions, the Spirit strengthens us to forgive and open our arms to those who most need our love. In our places of work where aggression, fear and distrust can run rampant, the Spirit enables us to respond with humility, confidence and trust. In our personal lives which can often be filled with anxiety and intense activity, the Spirit calms our troubled spirits and gives us peace.
SMALL COMMUNITY SHARING
Take a few moments of silence to reflect on the following questions. Then share your reflections.
In what circumstances do I experience division and anxiety both in my personal life and in the world community? How can I cooperate with the power of the Spirit to nourish harmony and right relationship in these situations?
LISTENING TO THE WORD
Read Matthew 13:24-35.
Pause for a few minutes of quiet reflection on the word of God.
Take a few minutes to read the following reflection silently.
Over and over Jesus talked about the reign of God. He used parables and stories to try to describe it, and he always insisted that the reign of God was not in some far off place but already at hand. How do we understand the reign of God? Very simply expressed, the reign of God is the ongoing, redemptive presence of God in our world, bringing about a new creation which is marked by justice, love and peace. We should do nothing to lose the love God has for us. That is the new relationship that Jesus came to proclaim and that the Spirit enlivens in us. It is a relationship of integrity, wholeness and freedom. It is a relationship of harmony and justice. It is a relationship of such utter love that we cannot ever live it fully. God is truly present within us and in our world.... What an awesome reality!
While acknowledging that God is fully present within us, we recognize that the fullness of the reign of God is not totally experienced in this life. We are "in between times"; we experience the reign of God "already but not yet." When Jesus returns, we will experience its fullness.
When Jesus left this world, he announced that Peter was to lead a church which he hoped would continue to make visible this reign of God. Pope John Paul II reminds us that "the mission of Christ the Redeemer, which is entrusted to the Church, is still very far from completion." He continues: "As the second millennium after Christ's coming draws to an end, an overall view of the human race shows that this mission is still only beginning and that we must commit ourselves wholeheartedly to its service. It is the Spirit who impels us to proclaim the great works of God..." John Paul II, Mission of the Redeemer, #1).
John Paul II continues: "I see the dawning of a new missionary age, which will become a radiant day bearing an abundant harvest, if all Christians, ... respond with generosity and holiness to the calls and challenges of our time" (Mission of the Redeemer, #92). We are reminded over and over again that we are a global church, called to enter this era with new fervor and commitment.
God's relationship of love is so encompassing that it is not only for each of us individually or even for those who are members of the church, but for all of us as one human family. Our differences do not matter; we are loved as people of every color, race, gender and social condition. That is precisely how God invites us to be with one anotherto love each person in the human family unconditionally and to live in justice, peace and harmony.
The deeper our belief in the words of Mark 1:15, "The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God has come near," the more we will let go of division and prejudice. We will fight for justice, recognizing that we are one human community. Joining with Jesus in his mission, we will respond to the poor and the oppressed. We will be determined to bring an end to war, hatred and the devastation of Earth. We will strive to live in right relationships, addressing all social ills such as racism, sexism, materialism, poverty, hunger and violence. We will value each person and live in solidarity with all of creation. Thenand only thencan we truly become one as Jesus prayed. (See Jn 17:21.)
Think for a moment of all the pain, hatred and division of the 20th century. As Christians, many of us have not yet fully recognized that God is with us in our call to missionary activity. We have often focused on ourselves and our own growth, and that is good. We have cared for our families, and that is good. We have supported ourselves and perhaps even given to the poor and needy, and that is good. Have we really lived, however, as one human family, loved and created by God? That is the critical challenge of the third millennium!
We now come to a new moment in human history with renewed awareness that relationships have been broken; only through the Spirit can they be brought back into harmony and wholeness. Will we go it alone and try again in our own usual ways to change and transform ourselves and our world, or will we open ourselves to the tremendous power and possibility for a new human world order that only the Spirit can bring? It is our choice to make; the reign of God is already among us.
SMALL COMMUNITY SHARING
Take a few moments of silence to reflect on the following questions. Then share your reflections.
What symbols today best describe the reign of God to me?
As we celebrate the 2000 years since the birth of Christ, who is Christ for me today? How do I experience the real presence of "God with us" (Mt 1:23) in the world today?
In what ways do I desire healing and growth in my attitudes and behaviors regarding racism, sexism and materialism?
LIVING OUR FAITH
No sharing would be complete without a commitment to putting our faith into practice. As you reflected on God's word and shared insights with others in your small community, you may have experienced the grace of God. What is the specific action God is inviting you to take to change your own life or to respond to someone else's need? Listen and choose a specific, concrete action that flows from your sharing. The examples below are given only as ideas to generate a creative response.
Put in writing what you have determined you will do to respond to this session.
If you wish to do so, share your commitment with others in your small community.
Offer spontaneous prayers of petition, praise, thanksgiving and blessing. Allow plenty of time for each person to express whatever is in his or her heart.
Stand in a circle. Each person shares his or her symbol, graphic, picture, dramatization (or other means of expression) to demonstrate what the experience of coming together in this community for the past six weeks has meant to him or her. Offer a blessing for one another.
Excerpts from Renew 2000 text are presented in italics.
Except for one instance, the term "the Spirit" is used rather than "Holy Spirit." CCC #691 "Holy Spirit" is the proper name of the one whom we glorify with the Father and the Son. So why downplay Holy when referring to the Third Person of the Most Blessed Trinity?
... all of creation is invited to participate in this divine, dynamic and intimate community.
Describing God as a changeable entity with multiple separate persons as in a community has been addressed in the commentary on week Season 1 Week 1 (s1w1.htm). God is an unchanging Unity.
Jesus proclaimed that the reign of God is here and now, calling us as a community to be an expression of God's reign on earth.
What is the definition of being called into community? Pope John Paul II's Encyclical Mission of the Redeemer (Redemptoris Missio) gives us insight. Renew 2000 frequently quotes first and second paragraphs of number 51, while ignoring the third which demands fidelity to the teaching authority of the Church. The context is related to the missionary activity of the Catholic Church. That is to say, the purpose of the community is to bring the believer into the Truth Faith of Jesus Christ in the Catholic Church.
"Ecclesial Basic Communities" As a Force for Evangelization
49. It is necessary first and foremost to strive to establish Christian communities everywhere, communities which are "a sign of the presence of God in the world" and which grow until they become churches. ...
51. A rapidly growing phenomenon in the young churchesone sometimes fostered by the bishops and their Conferences as a pastoral priorityis that of "ecclesial basic communities" (also known by other names) which are proving to be good centers for Christian formation and missionary outreach. These are groups of Christians who, at the level of the family or in a similarly restricted setting, come together for prayer, Scripture reading, catechesis, and discussion on human and ecclesial problems with a view to a common commitment. These communities are a sign of vitality within the Church, an instrument of formation and evangelization, and a solid starting point for a new society based on a "civilization of love."
These communities decentralize and organize the parish community, to which they always remain united. They take root in less privileged and rural areas, and become a leaven of Christian life, of care for the poor and neglected, and of commitment to the transformation of society. Within them, the individual Christian experiences community and therefore senses that he or she is playing an active role and is encouraged to share in the common task. Thus, these communities become a means of evangelization and of the initial proclamation of the Gospel, and a source of new ministries. At the same time, by being imbued with Christs love, they also show how divisions, tribalism and racism can be overcome.
Every community, if it is to be Christian, must be founded on Christ and live in him, as it listens to the word of God, focuses its prayer on the Eucharist, lives in a communion marked by oneness of heart and soul, and shares according to the needs of its members (cf. Acts 2:42 47). As Pope Paul VI recalled, every community must live in union with the particular and the universal Church, in heartfelt communion with the Churchs pastors and the Magisterium, with a commitment to missionary outreach and without yielding to isolationism or ideological exploitation. And the Synod of Bishops stated: "Because the Church is communion, the new basic communities, if they truly live in unity with the Church, are a true expression of communion and a means for the construction of a more profound communion. They are thus cause for great hope for the life of the Church."
Lastly, what is the true "Small Faith Community?" It is the family. CCC #2204-2206 "The Christian family constitutes a specific revelation and realization of ecclesial communion, and for this reason it can and should be called a domestic church. It is a community of faith, hope and charity; it assumes singular importance in the Church, as is evident in the New Testament. The Christian family is a communion of persons, a sign and image of the communion of the Father and the Son in the Holy Spirit. ... The family is a privileged community called to achieve a 'sharing of thought and common deliberation by the spouses as well as their eager cooperation as parents in the children's upbringing.' "
We should do nothing to lose the love God has for us.
God will not (and cannot) stop loving us, no matter what we do, for God is love. CCC #220-221 "God's love is 'everlasting:' 'For the mountains may depart and the hills be removed, but my steadfast love shall not depart from you.' Through Jeremiah, God declares to his people, "I have loved you with an everlasting love; therefore I have continued my faithfulness to you.' But St. John goes even further when he affirms that 'God is love': God's very being is love ..." What is missing is an explanation of how it is possible for us to lose our love for God, and that is through sin, especially mortal (grave) sin. CCC #1855 "Mortal sin destroys charity in the heart of man by a grave violation of God's law; it turns man away from God, who is his ultimate end and his beatitude, by preferring an inferior good to him..." We must also remember that the Sacrament of Penance (Confession) will restore Sanctifying Grace in us. Any explanation of sin and its effects are missing throughout Renew 2000, even when discussing the Sacrament of Baptism in Season 1 Week 1 (s1w1.htm).
That is the new relationship that Jesus came to proclaim ...
The reading for week 6 is Matthew 13:24-35
This statement rings of Gnosticism, an ancient movement which provides much of the form and color for the New Age portrayal of Jesus as the illumined illuminator: one who serves as a cosmic catalyst for others' awakening (see also the True Presence item next). Gnosticism as a philosophy refers to a related body of teachings that stress the acquisition of "gnosis," or inner knowledge. This gnosis is the inner and esoteric mystical knowledge of ultimate reality. It discloses the spark of divinity within, thought to be obscured by ignorance, convention, and mere esoteric religiosity. 
The Holy Father writes the following in his book "Crossing The Threshold of Hope":
"A separate issue is the return of ancient Gnostic ideas under the guise of the so-called New Age. We cannot delude ourselves that this will lead toward a renewal of religion. It is only a new way of practicing gnosticism -- that attitude of the spirit that, in the name of a profound knowledge of God, results in distorting His Word and replacing it with purely human words.
Gnosticism never completely abandoned the realm of Christianity. Instead, it has always existed side by side with Christianity, sometimes taking the shape of a philosophical movement, but more often assuming the characteristics of a religion or para-religion in distinct, if not declared, conflict with all that is essentially Christian." (p. 90).
Gnostics often appeal to Matthew 13 in an attempt to refute the idea that Jesus taught openly with clarity. Jesus taught in parables, they say, so that believers would understand and unbelievers would not. This becomes the basis for their exclusive system: that while the orthodox "many" exult in the esoteric religious trappings which stress dogmatic belief and prescribed behavior, the Gnostic "few" pierce through the surface to the esoteric spiritual knowledge of God .
 from "Gnosticism and the Gnostic Jesus," by Douglas Groothuis, Christian Research Journal, Fall 1990, page 8.
God is truly present within us and in our world.... What an awesome reality!
How do I experience the real presence of "God with us" (Mt 1:23) in the world today?
In the Renew 2000 definition, "real" or "true" presence refers to only the spiritual level of God's presence within us, which is a focus on immanence (see Bishops report nccborig.htm). However, the Catholic Church teaches that the "true, real and substantial" presence of our Lord Jesus Christ is in the Eucharist. Renew 2000 never mentions the daily miracle of God becoming really, truly, and substantially present at the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, nor that His true presence is physically in us when we receive Holy Communion. CCC #1374 "The mode of Christ's presence under the Eucharistic species is unique. It raises the Eucharist above all the sacraments as 'the perfection of the spiritual life and the end to which all sacraments tend.' In the most blessed sacrament of the Eucharist 'the body and blood, together with the soul and divinity, of our Lord Jesus Christ and, therefore, the whole Christ is truly, really, and substantially contained.' This presence is called 'real' - by which is not intended to exclude the other types of presence as if they could not be 'real' too, but because it is the presence in the fullest sense: that is to say, it is a substantial presence by which Christ, God and man, makes himself wholly and entirely present." Now that is truly "an awesome reality!"
When Jesus left this world, he announced that Peter was to lead a church which he hoped would continue to make visible this reign of God.
The Catholic Church, THE Church established personally by Jesus Christ, Son of God, is mentioned only as "a church," reduced to the status of any other Protestant denomination (one should note that Protestant denominations, even if they do contain some of the Truth, are inherently schismatic and heretical according to Catholic teaching). There is no indication that St. Peter was the first Pope, that the Pope has been given the charism of infallibility from God (protection from error when speaking authoritatively on Faith and morals), and that the Pope has supreme authority in the Church Hierarchy.
Furthermore, Jesus charged the Catholic Church with a primary responsibility to "make disciples of all nations," not just that He "hoped would continue." CCC #849 "The missionary mandate. Having been divinely sent to the nations that she might be 'the universal sacrament of salvation,' the Church, in obedience to the command of her founder and because it is demanded by her own essential universality, strives to preach the Gospel to all men. (Mt 16:15, Ad Gentes 1) ..."
The position of Renew 2000 matches directly with the dissenting organizations mindset of a democratic "church" whereby everyone votes for their own leaders and ideology, thus resulting in many "churches". The Protestant reformation gives ample proof of this, whereby there are now some greater than 20,000 denominations, all with conflicting "doctrines."
Our differences do not matter; we are loved as people of every color, race, gender and social condition. That is precisely how God invites us to be with one anotherto love each person in the human family unconditionally and to live in justice, peace and harmony
... the Spirit empowers us to live with tolerance ...
How can I cooperate with the power of the Spirit to nourish harmony and right relationship ...
What is true is the God loves each person far more than anyone could ever imagine and that we are to love our neighbors as ourselves. What is the definition of love? Not human affection but rather to desire good for the other person, even if the other person disagrees about the goodness of something or rejects said desire for good by another.
Certainly we are to be tolerant of our neighbor from the perspective of forgiveness of wrong-doing. As in the Our Father prayer of Jesus, "... and forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us ..." However, the generalization that "differences do not matter" is misleading as to how to "be with one another." Truth must be taught, even at the expense of harmony in human relationships, since the relationship with God is first and foremost. In fact, we are obligated to correct one another (which is the whole point of this series of commentary!). CCC #1829 "The fruits of charity are joy, peace, and mercy; charity demands beneficence and fraternal correction; it is benevolence; it fosters reciprocity and remains disinterested and generous; it is a friendship and communion ..."
Jesus clearly tells us in Scripture that Truth can be divisive. Why? Because each of us has free will and can either accept or reject God's Truth as taught through His Catholic Church. Those who reject the Truth follow the father of lies, satan, and therein lies the basis of conflict and divisiveness and lack of harmony. For we are truly in a spiritual war until death.
Luke 12:51-53 - "Think ye, that I am come to give peace on earth? I tell you, no; but separation. For there shall be from henceforth five in one house divided: three against two, and two against three. The father shall be divided against the son, and the son against his father, the mother against the daughter, and the daughter against the mother, the mother in law against her daughter in law, and the daughter in law against her mother in law."
Luke 2:34 - "And Simeon blessed them, and said to Mary his mother: Behold this child is set for the fall, and for the resurrection of many in Israel, and for a sign which shall be contradicted;"
Ephesians 6:11-12 - "Put you on the armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the deceits of the devil. For our wrestling is not against flesh and blood; but against principalities and powers [different choirs of angels], against the rulers of the world of this darkness, against the spirits of wickedness in the high places."
Origen, Homily in Ezech. 9 - "Where there are sins, there are also divisions, schisms, heresies and disputes. Where there is virtue however, there are also harmony and unity, from which arise the one heart and one soul of all believers." (referenced in CCC #817)
True harmony is achieved via charity. CCC #815 "What are these bonds of unity? Above all, charity 'binds everything together in perfect harmony' (Col 3:14)." Therefore, true harmony does not consist of accepting errors over Truth or being indifferent to error. True charity is to lead another to God's Truth.
We will be determined to bring an end to war, hatred and the devastation of Earth.
We will value each person and live in solidarity with all of creation.
Throughout Renew 2000, you will find the earth described as Earth with a capital 'E'. This is consistent with pagan religions which worship "Mother Earth." Earth is put on the same level as mankind as its own "living being."
"Liv(ing) in solidarity with all of creation" contains elements of pagan belief. Men and women are created in the image and likeness of God, whereby animals and inanimate objects (like the earth - small 'e') are not. How does live in solidarity with a snake or quick-sand, for example? Certainly, Jesus has made it clear that we are stewards of the earth, and we are charged with taking care of what God has provided for us. But, mankind is far from being at the same level as other creatures or creations. CCC #343 "Man is the summit of the Creator's works, as the inspired account expresses by clearly distinguishing the creation of man from that of the other creatures (Genesis 1:26)." True Catholic solidarity is described by CCC #344 "There is a solidarity among all creatures arising from the fact that all have the same Creator and are all ordered to his glory." This ordering makes it clear that mankind is the highest in the order of creation. The CCC #342 tells us clearly "the hierarchy of creatures is expressed by the order of the 'six days,' from the less perfect to the more perfect. God loves all his creatures (Psalm 145:9) and takes care of each one, even the sparrow. Nevertheless, Jesus said: 'Of how much more value is a man than a sheep!' (Mt 12:12, Lk 12:6-7)"
We will strive to live in right relationships, addressing all social ills such as racism, sexism, materialism, poverty, hunger and violence. We will value each person and live in solidarity with all of creation. Thenand only thencan we truly become one as Jesus prayed. (See Jn 17:21.)
The first point to note is that there is no mention of abortion as a social ill. Beyond that, there is no mention that our modern society is plagued with crime, such as theft. Sexism is mentioned but not the rash of sexual sins such as fornication, lust, birth control and homosexual acts. Where is the discussion to strive to eliminate those sins? Of course, dissident groups want abortion; the murder of unborn children. The next observation is that the focus is strictly on human issues; God is left out or put on the back burner. Lastly, the claim is made that by addressing human problems we all "become one." This is totally backwards. The only way to solve the social problems is to first obtain true peace and true unity from God via obtaining His Grace, for one cannot give what one does not have. How?
The primary focus should be first upon God. That is the greatest commandment. CCC #2055 "When someone asks him, 'Which commandment in the Law is the greatest?' (Mt 22:36) Jesus replies: 'You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the greatest and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments hang all the Law and the prophets.' (Mt 22:37-40)"
How do we really achieve unity? CCC #820-822 "Christ bestowed unity on his Church from the beginning. This unity, we believe, subsists in the Catholic Church as something she can never lose, and we hope that it will continue to increase until the end of time. Christ always gives his Church the gift of unity, but the Church must always pray and work to maintain, reinforce, and perfect the unity that Christ wills for her. This is why Jesus himself prayed at the hour of his Passion, and does not cease praying to his Father, for the unity of his disciples: 'That they may all be one. As you, Father are in me and I am in you, may they also be one in us, ... so that the world may know that you have sent me.' ... Certain things are required in order to respond adequately to this call: ... conversion of heart as the faithful 'try to live holier lives according to the Gospel'; for it is the unfaithfulness of the members to Christ's gift which causes divisions; ... Concern for achieving unity 'involves the whole Church, faithful and clergy alike.' ..." Ecumenism in the form of "common ground" or "least common denominator" acceptance of other faiths beliefs is a false ecumenism.
Once our focus is truly on God rather than worldly gods of selfishness and greed and our desire is to become holy while acting in charity, only then will the social ills be solved. All good is rooted only in God - mankind cannot do good by themselves. John 15:5 "I am the vine; you the branches: he that abideth in me, and I in him, the same beareth much fruit: for without me you can do nothing." Obviously this is more easily said than done.
... will we open ourselves to the tremendous power and possibility for a new human world order that only the Spirit can bring?
This matches secular humanism beliefs and also United Nations efforts to establish global humanist rules, such as guaranteed "rights" to abortion and purported "children's rights" which are determined by state sponsored "ethics," all of which contradict Catholic Church teachings.
Of course, "the Spirit" is mentioned rather than Holy Spirit. Which spirit is Renew 2000 actually referring to? In the "prayer" of directions in the Leader's Manual (direct4.htm), there are six spirits mentioned: north, south, east, west, above and below.
We will fight for justice...
..we will respond to the poor and the oppressed
We will be determined to bring an end to war...
We will strive to live in right relationships
...addressing all social ills...
...refuse to listen...
...act more justly...
Call or write your legislator...
Involve others in trying to change....
Reach out to someone...
Express your desire...
reach out to new immigrants...
While this week's readings offer some commendable actions, something obvious is missing. What about worship of God, assisting at the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, prayer, Eucharistic adoration? The focus is entirely on the horizontal dimension of humans while ignoring the vertical dimension of our duty to our God; Father, Son and Holy Spirit. As stated previously, we will be able to act charitably to our fellow man only after we obtain the Grace from God through prayer! CCC #2744 "Prayer is a vital necessity. proof from the contrary is no less convincing: If we do not allow the Spirit to lead us, we fall back into the slavery of sin (Gal 5:16-25). How can the Holy Spirit be our life if our heart is far from Him?" St. John Chrysostom, De Anna 4,5:PG 54,666 - "Nothing is equal to prayer; for what is impossible it makes possible, what is difficult, easy ... For it is impossible, utterly impossible, for the man who prays eagerly and invokes God ceaselessly ever to sin." St. Alphonsus Liguori, Del gran mezzo della preghiera - "Those who pray are certainly saved; those who do not pray are certainly damned."
Stand in a circle. Each person shares his or her symbol, graphic, picture, dramatization (or other means of expression) to demonstrate what the experience of coming together in this community for the past six weeks has meant to him or her.
What Catholic devotion has ever been in a circle? In other religions, notably the pagan earth or nature-worshipping types such as Wicca (witchcraft), circles are actually sacred. You will notice this same circle requirement in the pagan prayer in the Renew 2000 Leaders Manual explained in the analysis of the "prayer" of directions (direct4.htm). If we are to "renew" our Faith in Catholicism, instead of paying homage to the "community", how about taking time to worship God? And if you want a suggested alternative to standing in a circle, might we recommend praying on your knees in front of the Tabernacle?
[ Season 1 Intro ]
[ Season 1 Week 1 ]
[ Season 1 Week 2 ]
[ Season 1 Week 3 ]
[ Season 1 Week 4 ]
[ Season 1 Week 5 ]
[ Season 1 Week 6 ]
[ Season 2 Intro ] [ Season 2 Week 1 ] [ Season 2 Week 2 ] [ Season 2 Week 3 ] [ Season 2 Week 4 ] [ Season 2 Week 5 ] [ Season 2 Week 6 ]
[ Season 3 Intro ] [ Season 3 Week 1 ] [ Season 3 Week 2 ] [ Season 3 Week 3 ] [ Season 3 Week 4 ] [ Season 3 Week 5 ] [ Season 3 Week 6 ]
[ Season 4 Intro ] [ Season 4 Week 1 ] [ Season 4 Week 2 ] [ Season 4 Week 3 ] [ Season 4 Week 4 ] [ Season 4 Week 5 ] [ Season 4 Week 6 ]
[ Season 5 Intro ] [ Season 5 Week 1 ] [ Season 5 Week 2 ] [ Season 5 Week 3 ] [ Season 5 Week 4 ] [ Season 5 Week 5 ] [ Season 5 Week 6 ]