Declaration on the Building Up of the Local Church

Introduction

  1. 1.Grateful to the Almighty Father for having guided the Diocese of Lucena for the past twenty-eight years of her existence, this First Synod of the Diocese of Lucena aims to bring the light of the Gospel and the Spirit of the Second Vatican Council into all the strata of our diocesan community with the hope of transforming this community from within, thus making it new.1
  2. 2.The objective of this Diocesan Synod is pastoral in nature and orientation. This Synod is designed to strengthen our Christian life as well as our unity with the Universal Church. In this document, the theology and the unifying principles of the local church, it’s manifestations in community life and the three areas of concern for its up-building shall be briefly described.

 

Chapter I

THEOLOGICAL FOUNDATIONS AND UNIFYING

PRINCIPLES

 

  1. 3.The Local Church is the realization and enfleshment of the Church in a given people, place and time.2 It is a community of people, not in isolation from other local churches but very much united with them in the profession of the “one Lord, one faith and one baptism” (Eph. 4/5). In a special way, it rejoices in its communion and filial oneness with the See of Peter that presides over the Universal Church in love. The Bishop by his ministry of unity and presidency links the local Church, which is the diocese, in space with all other local churches and in time with the Church of the Apostles.3

 

  1. 4.The constitutive elements4 of the local church are the following: (a) the community of believers gathered in the Holy Spirit, (b) the Word of God preached in their midst, (c) the Eucharist which they celebrate, and (d) the Bishop who is the “visible principle and foundation of unity”.5 at the core of these element is the saving encounter of men with the Risen Lord.

 

  1. 5.This saving encounter in turn is realized concretely in the Parish Community which in a genuine sense embodies the mystery of the Church. Although the parish is the smallest unit of the Church, nevertheless it realizes at the same time the entire Church. It is “the determined portion of the people of God constituted in particular church, whose pastoral care, under the authority of the Diocesan Bishop is assigned to a priest, its pastor and its shepherd”.6

 

  1. 6.We believe that the more faithfully the pastoral program of the Diocese adheres to the Gospel of Christ, the more the Person of Christ becomes manifest in the local church. Therefore, in the formulation of our pastoral program, we shall seriously consider the thought-patterns, motivations, aspirations and behaviours of the people of God of Lucena as the proper context of Christ’s incarnation in our local church.

 

Chapter II

MANIFESTATIONS OF THE LOCAL CHURCH IN COMMUNITIES


  1. 7.The Local Church is manifested in various forms of community life. We believe that, after the family which is the domestic sanctuary of the Church, the first manifestations of the local church as community of believers is expressed in small Christian communities where people are most available to one another. It is here that lay people can exercise their leadership as community leaders, prayer, leaders, catechists, social workers, etc.

 

  1. 8.Another ecclesial manifestation is the parish where community life is seen through solidarity with one another headed by the parish priest acting as the representative of the Bishop in that community. Through the use of various charisms on the part of the laity as well as through the exercise of sacerdotal ministry on the part of the priest, the parish becomes a veritable ecclesial community.

 

  1. 9.In the diocesan level community life is manifested through the unity of all the parishes with one another around the Bishop portrays the image of the one “who came to serve rather than to be served” (Mk. 10/45). He exercises his ministry “not as domineering over the flock but being example to the flock” (1 Pt. 5/3), and offering his life for his sheep (Jo. 10/15).

 

  1. 10.  The Bishop and the Clergy form the Presbyteral Community, which , as one body marked by a life-style permeated by simplicity, humility, sincerity and charity, becomes a credible sacrament of unity to the people they are called to serve.

 

Chapter III

 THE THREE AREAS OF CONCERN

 

  1. 11.In order to build up a truly alive local church, we, the participants in this Diocesan Synod, are profoundly convinced that attentive consideration should be given to both the diocesan and parish levels. We envision that emergence of a genuinely Filipino Christian community in our diocese – Filipino in its way of thinking, praying, living and communicating its own Christ-experience to others.
  2. 12.Scrutinizing the conditions and situation of the Diocese, we are confronted with a variety of tasks under these three areas of concern: Christian life celebration (worship), evangelization (formation) and development (service). These three will, henceforth, occupy the main thrust of out pastoral decisions and programs.

 

  1. 13.In the first place, we hold that liturgy or worship takes precedence in important over the other areas of concern. For “it is through the liturgy, especially, that the faithful are enabled to express in their lives and manifest to others the mystery of Christ and the real nature of the true Church”.7 Touching everyone immediately and vitally, Liturgy can become also a dramatic manner of teaching the faithful. The sacrament of baptism is the gateway to the life of worship. The basis and center of such a life is the celebration of the Eucharist, the sacrament par excellence of the Risen Lord, who, by opening to us the charisms of the Holy Spirit, makes all the faithful a truly worshipping community.

 

  1. 14.Secondly, we hold that evangelization is also important in the building up of the Local Church. By evangelization we mean “a strictly religious activity aimed at the preaching of God’s kingdom, of the Gospel as a revelation of the plan of Christ, through the action of the Holy Spirit, that has the ministry of the Church as its instrument, the building up of the Christ as it aim, and God’s glory as its final end. This is traditional doctrine and to it the Council has give.n its authoritative support.”8 this task which must be carried out by the clergy and the religious under the leadership of the Bishop and with the cooperation of the laity helps realize the formation of a self-nourishing and self-governing community.

 

  1. 15.Lastly, we hold that the development of people in the context of total salvation is equally important in the building up of the local church. By developing we mean the advancement of our people in the social, political, economic and cultural spheres of life.9 But the Church aims at Christian development, that is, the total liberation of man from sin and its evil consequences, such as, structural and relational injustices, disease, hunger and poverty. The basis of this claim is the truth that man is not a splintered being, but an integrated person, defined with relationships to the world of things, to his fellowmen, to social structures and, finally, to God. This task involving the participation of the whole community will help realize the building up of a serving community. We believe that its implementation is within the competence of the lay people under the guidance and leadership off the teaching Church.

 

  1. 16.This triple task of worship, evangelization and development shall require on the wholeorganizational structure of manpower, consisting of clergy, religious and lay people, which will coordinate all the activities thereof.

 

  1. 17.On account of the rapid changes in things as well as the geographic movement of the people, we cannot but be in constant contact and consultation with, at least, the neighboring dioceses of same ecclesiastical province. We are aware that we cannot remain sealed and isolated from the rest of the world.

 

  1. 18.We envision the formation of small Christian communities in our Diocese. In such communities the ample participation of lay people in the triple task of worship, formation and service can be achieved with greater and great intensity. It is within these communities more than anywhere else that lay people, geographically, professionally or personally linked together, can intimately express their basic need for social groupings, more securely establish interpersonal relationships and even more ardently feel the sense of communal belonging.10

 

Conclusion

  1. 19.Finally like the Universal Church which is always open to growth and re-direction, the Local Church of the Diocese of Lucena on the occasions of its First Synod opens herself to growth and redirection under the guidance of the befriending Spirit of the Risen Lord. This openness to the grace of growth and strengthening we will continue to maintain time and again if only to meet the demands of the signs of the times and confront with the hope-giving power of Christ the changing and challenging conditions obtaining in the Diocese of Lucena.

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NOTES:

1Cf . Pastoral Letter of Bishop Jose T. Sanchez, D.D. issued on March 6, 1977.

2 Federation of Asian Bishop’s Conference, “Final Statement of the Assembly”, 22-27

April 1974, Taipei, Evangelization in Modern Day Asia, no. 5.

3 Conclusion of Asian Colloquium on New Ministries in the Church, 27 February –

5 March 1977, Hongkong, No. 38, Cardinal Bea Studies VII, (Ateneo de Manila University 1977) p. 31.

4 Ibid.

5 L.G. no. 23.

6 New Code of Canon Law, Book II, c. 349.

7 S.C. no. 2.

8 Message of Pope Paul VI on Mission and Development, L’Osservatore Romano, June 25, 1970 (Eng. ed.) pp. 3-4.

9 P.P. no. 6., no. 14

10 A.A. no. 3.

 
   
Wednesday, November 22, 2017

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