Explanation

Explanation

Communion of Communities


The Church teaches that 'God, however, does not make men holy and save them merely as individuals, without bond or link between one another. Rather it has pleased Him to bring men together as one people, a people which acknowledges Him in truth and serves Him in holiness' (LG 9).

The Church is a communion, i.e. the unity of believers who form one whom form one body in Christ (cf. 1 Cor. 10:17). All men are called to this union with Christ (LG 3). This calls for a way of life that is unique. In these communities faith in the Risen Lord is lived and witnessed. The experience of the Risen Lord transforms the communities which in turn makes them agents of transformation in the Church and society. 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." (RM 51). Hence we dream of a Church which is a communion of small Christian communities.

Unlike in large anonymous groupings we can foster through these Small Christian Communities (SCCs) genuine and deep human bonding and plan ways to involve everyone in witnessing to the love of Jesus. For this reason, 'the Church in Asia will have to be a Communion of Communities, where laity, Religious and clergy recognize and accept one another as sisters and brothers,' (Bandung Statement1990, no 8.1.1.).

This is in keeping with the Biblical images of the early Church Communities as depicted in the Acts of the Apostles (Acts 2, 44-47; 4, 32-35). "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." (RM 51). In this manner the Church will truly reflect the community of the triune God.

This is the mission which Jesus entrusted to his Apostles at the close of his ministry on this earth: As you, Father, are in me and I am in you, may they also be one in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me. The glory that you have given me I have given them, so that they may be one, as we are one, I in them and you in me, that they may become completely one so that the world may know that you have sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me (John 17, 21-23).

It is for this reason that the Church in India has declared that the basic structure of the Church will be Small Christian community In order to make Jesus' vision a reality, we recommend very strongly that the basic structure of the Church in India to be a communion of communities and for this Small Christian Communities must be formed in every parish (Final Statement of the National Assembly, Yesu Krist Jayanti  Bangalore September 2000 no.44).


Built on the Word of God

The Word of God plays a basic role in the life of the individual Christians and in the life of the Christian communities. St. Paul reminds the Christians that he has been toiling to form them and their communities through the ministry of the Word: And now I commend you to God and to the message of grace, a message that is able to build you up and to give you the inheritance among all who are sanctified (Acts 20, 32).

Pope Benedict XVI  his latest Apostolic Exhortation Verbum Domini attests: The Church is built upon the word of God; she is born from and lives by that word. Throughout its history, the People of God has always found strength in the Word of God, and today too the ecclesial community grows by hearing, celebrating and studying the word. (Verbum Domini n. 3)

For this reason the Small Christian Communities which we envisage are built on the Word of God. They aim to help their members to live the Gospel in a spirit of fraternal love and service, and are therefore a solid starting point for building a new society, the expression of a civilization of love (Ecclesia in Asia n.25) The new world which God wants to build by sending His Son has its foundation on this Word. After speaking in many and varied ways through the prophets, "now at last in these days God has spoken to us in His Son" (Heb. 1:1-2). For He sent His Son, the eternal Word, who enlightens all men, so that He might dwell among men and tell them of the innermost being of God (see John 1:1-18).

The Bible tells us, If you make my Word your home, you will be my disciples (Jn. 8:31) When Simon Peter encountered the Lord he said, 'Lord to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life and we believe: we have come to know that you are the Holy One of God. (Jn. 6:68) SCCs gather for regular sharing of the Word of God, for human beings do not live by bread alone but by every Word that proceeds from the mouth of God(Mt.4:4). The faith of the community is born out of and strengthened by listening to and sharing the Word of God which nourishes their faith and deepens the bond of communion, building up the community. (Eph 4:15-16)' (Final statement of the AsIPA 5th General Assembly, Davao 2009)

In Gospel Sharing the communities experience the presence of the Risen Lord in their midst. 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) (RM 51). When the Christian community bears witness to its faith in the risen Lord, the life of its members becomes a compelling invitation to all the people  around it to share itA very serious effort must be made to form and foster Small Christian communities because it is through these that the role of the Church to be a leaven in society can be effectively realized at the local level (Message of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of India, Varanasi, 21  28 March 1998, Nos. 2 and 6. 12). Thus the Word of God will become the light and life of the Church which is operating through these Small Christian communities.


Nourished by the Eucharist:

The Eucharistic community is constitutive of the invisible communion with God in Jesus and the Spirit and the visible communion of all people (Ecclesia de Eucaristia. 35). The one bread and one cup of wine made from many grains of wheat and grapes crushed, is symbolic of the many members of the body of Christ unified in the Eucharist and of the gathering of all the people in the Kingdom.

The breaking of the bread celebrates, deepens and fosters communion manifested in the spirit of unity, participation and sharing in the SCCs. The Eucharist which is the centre of Christian life plays a crucial role in this. We need to rediscover the power that flows from the Eucharist. It will awaken, strengthen and activate our life as disciples of the Lord and make our life reverberate in the world as messengers of His Good News (CBCI Meeting of Chennai 2000) The Eucharist makes present the total self-giving and sacrificial love of Jesus (Jn.10:17).

In fact, our communion with Jesus in the Eucharist renews our engagement with the realities of life in our world and gives form to Christian life in the world. The power of the Eucharist to build up communities consists in the fact that through it the Christians become Spirit-filled persons and live as Spirit-led person. Caught up by the love of God, they translate it into love of neighbour in their daily lives. They manifest the power of the Eucharist in their day to day contact with one another. For this it is necessary that there be a deep personal involvement on the part of every member of the community in the celebration of the Eucharist.

The Small Christian Communities are an ideal setting for such a participated Eucharist. There the Eucharist becomes an event of deep inter-personal action rather than a mere ritualistic celebration. There the life of the participants is challenged and they leave Eucharist with a committed sense of mission.


Leading to life in abundance

The words of Jesus, I have come that they may have life and have it in its fullness (Jn 10:10) sets the paradigm shift of our lives. Because 'It is an essential demand of life in Christ that whoever enters into communion with the Lord is expected to bear fruit: "He who abides in me, and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit" (Jn 15:5). So true is this that the person who does not remain in communion does not bear fruit: "Just as the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you unless you abide in me (Jn 15:4). "All the faithful of Christ of whatever rank or status are called to the fullness of Christian life and to the perfection of charity"(CL 16).

This will take place only if the Christians live in communion with Christ and with all the members of the community. The Small Christian communities facilitate this communion. They make it possible for all to respond to the spiritual-physical-social-cultural-psychological-intellectual- economic- and environmental needs and growth of each of its members. This holistic formation leads to fullness of life.


In the context of India

India is a land of diverse cultures, religions, languages, ethnicities, as well as great economic and social disparities. It is in this context that each Christian and every Christian community is called to be salt, light (Mt. 5 13-16) and leaven of the Gospel to the nation. When the communities work with the right vision, then they become the symbols of peace and harmony in the locality, where there is no discrimination of class, caste, creed, community, language etc.  Ultimately all the needs of every one (physical, spiritual, intellectual, social, emotional, economic, civic, cultural and political) are taken care of.

These neighbourhood communities will undertake various activities including development initiatives, so as to become self reliant and self ministering, always remaining in communion with the Church in its various expressions: the parish, the diocese and the universal Church. Through their openness to the others and by their readiness to collaborate with all, they can promote Small Human Communities joining hands with people of other faiths and secular persuasions to build up the Kingdom of God in the locality (Final Statement of Yesu Krist Jayanti).

In that process the SCCs will maintain their specificity as communities rooted on the Word of God and strengthened by the sacraments, especially the Eucharist and will keep alive the love of God in their hearts by translating it continually into fraternal love. Thus they will be the salt and leaven in the animation of Small Human Communities. Their focus will always be the Reign of God. (Final Statement of the 3rd meeting of the Diocesan Coordinators of Small Christian Communities; Oct 2009)

In conclusion, we re-affirm what our bishops stated in Varanasi: 'In all our dioceses a very serious effort must be made to form and foster Small Christian Communities because it is through these that the role of the Church to be a leaven in society can be effectively realized at the local level'. (Message of the Conference of Catholic Bishops of India, Varanasi, 21-28th March 1998)


Explanation of the Vision Statement for SCCs

Communion of Communities

The Church teaches that 'God, however, does not make men holy and save them merely as individuals, without bond or link between one another. Rather it has pleased Him to bring men together as one people, a people which acknowledges Him in truth and serves Him in holiness' (LG 9). The Church is a communion, i.e. the unity of believers who form one whom form one body in Christ (cf. 1 Cor. 10:17). All men are called to this union with Christ (LG 3). This calls for a way of life that is unique. In these communities faith in the Risen Lord is lived and witnessed. The experience of the Risen Lord transforms the communities which in turn makes them agents of transformation in the Church and society. 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." (RM 51). Hence we dream of a Church which is a communion of small Christian communities. Unlike in large anonymous groupings we can foster through these Small Christian Communities (SCCs) genuine and deep human bonding and plan ways to involve everyone in witnessing to the love of Jesus. For this reason, 'the Church in Asia will have to be a Communion of Communities, where laity, Religious and clergy recognize and accept one another as sisters and brothers,' (Bandung Statement1990, no 8.1.1.). This is in keeping with the Biblical images of the early Church Communities as depicted in the Acts of the Apostles (Acts 2, 44-47; 4, 32-35). "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." (RM 51). In this manner the Church will truly reflect the community of the triune God. This is the mission which Jesus entrusted to his Apostles at the close of his ministry on this earth: As you, Father, are in me and I am in you, may they also be one in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me. The glory that you have given me I have given them, so that they may be one, as we are one, I in them and you in me, that they may become completely one so that the world may know that you have sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me (John 17, 21-23). It is for this reason that the Church in India has declared that the basic structure of the Church will be Small Christian community In order to make Jesus' vision a reality, we recommend very strongly that the basic structure of the Church in India to be a communion of communities and for this Small Christian Communities must be formed in every parish (Final Statement of the National Assembly, Yesu Krist Jayanti  Bangalore September 2000 no.44).


Built on the Word of God

The Word of God plays a basic role in the life of the individual Christians and in the life of the Christian communities. St. Paul reminds the Christians that he has been toiling to form them and their communities through the ministry of the Word: And now I commend you to God and to the message of grace, a message that is able to build you up and to give you the inheritance among all who are sanctified (Acts 20, 32).  Pope Benedict XVI  his latest Apostolic Exhortation Verbum Domini attests: The Church is built upon the word of God; she is born from and lives by that word. Throughout its history, the People of God has always found strength in the Word of God, and today too the ecclesial community grows by hearing, celebrating and studying the word. (Verbum Domini n. 3)

For this reason the Small Christian Communities which we envisage are built on the Word of God. They aim to help their members to live the Gospel in a spirit of fraternal love and service, and are therefore a solid starting point for building a new society, the expression of a civilization of love (Ecclesia in Asia n.25) The new world which God wants to build by sending His Son has its foundation on this Word. After speaking in many and varied ways through the prophets, "now at last in these days God has spoken to us in His Son" (Heb. 1:1-2). For He sent His Son, the eternal Word, who enlightens all men, so that He might dwell among men and tell them of the innermost being of God (see John 1:1-18). The Bible tells us, If you make my Word your home, you will be my disciples (Jn. 8:31) When Simon Peter encountered the Lord he said, 'Lord to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life and we believe: we have come to know that you are the Holy One of God. (Jn. 6:68) SCCs gather for regular sharing of the Word of God, for human beings do not live by bread alone but by every Word that proceeds from the mouth of God(Mt.4:4). The faith of the community is born out of and strengthened by listening to and sharing the Word of God which nourishes their faith and deepens the bond of communion, building up the community. (Eph 4:15-16)' (Final statement of the AsIPA 5th General Assembly, Davao 2009)

In Gospel Sharing the communities experience the presence of the Risen Lord in their midst. 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) (RM 51). When the Christian community bears witness to its faith in the risen Lord, the life of its members becomes a compelling invitation to all the people  around it to share itA very serious effort must be made to form and foster Small Christian communities because it is through these that the role of the Church to be a leaven in society can be effectively realized at the local level (Message of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of India, Varanasi, 21  28 March 1998, Nos. 2 and 6. 12). Thus the Word of God will become the light and life of the Church which is operating through these Small Christian communities.


Nourished by the Eucharist:

The Eucharistic community is constitutive of the invisible communion with God in Jesus and the Spirit and the visible communion of all people (Ecclesia de Eucaristia. 35). The one bread and one cup of wine made from many grains of wheat and grapes crushed, is symbolic of the many members of the body of Christ unified in the Eucharist and of the gathering of all the people in the Kingdom. The breaking of the bread celebrates, deepens and fosters communion manifested in the spirit of unity, participation and sharing in the SCCs. The Eucharist which is the centre of Christian life plays a crucial role in this. We need to rediscover the power that flows from the Eucharist. It will awaken, strengthen and activate our life as disciples of the Lord and make our life reverberate in the world as messengers of His Good News (CBCI Meeting of Chennai 2000) The Eucharist makes present the total self-giving and sacrificial love of Jesus (Jn.10:17).  In fact, our communion with Jesus in the Eucharist renews our engagement with the realities of life in our world and gives form to Christian life in the world. The power of the Eucharist to build up communities consists in the fact that through it the Christians become Spirit-filled persons and live as Spirit-led person. Caught up by the love of God, they translate it into love of neighbour in their daily lives. They manifest the power of the Eucharist in their day to day contact with one another. For this it is necessary that there be a deep personal involvement on the part of every member of the community in the celebration of the Eucharist. The Small Christian Communities are an ideal setting for such a participated Eucharist. There the Eucharist becomes an event of deep inter-personal action rather than a mere ritualistic celebration. There the life of the participants is challenged and they leave Eucharist with a committed sense of mission.

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The words of Jesus, I have come that they may have life and have it in its fullness (Jn 10:10) sets the paradigm shift of our lives. Because 'It is an essential demand of life in Christ that whoever enters into communion with the Lord is expected to bear fruit: "He who abides in me, and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit" (Jn 15:5). So true is this that the person who does not remain in communion does not bear fruit: "Just as the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you unless you abide in me (Jn 15:4). "All the faithful of Christ of whatever rank or status are called to the fullness of Christian life and to the perfection of charity"(CL 16). This will take place only if the Christians live in communion with Christ and with all the members of the community. The Small Christian communities facilitate this communion. They make it possible for all to respond to the spiritual-physical-social-cultural-psychological-intellectual- economic- and environmental needs and growth of each of its members. This holistic formation leads to fullness of life.


In the context of India

India is a land of diverse cultures, religions, languages, ethnicities, as well as great economic and social disparities. It is in this context that each Christian and every Christian community is called to be salt, light (Mt. 5 13-16) and leaven of the Gospel to the nation. When the communities work with the right vision, then they become the symbols of peace and harmony in the locality, where there is no discrimination of class, caste, creed, community, language etc.  Ultimately all the needs of every one (physical, spiritual, intellectual, social, emotional, economic, civic, cultural and political) are taken care of. These neighbourhood communities will undertake various activities including development initiatives, so as to become self reliant and self ministering, always remaining in communion with the Church in its various expressions: the parish, the diocese and the universal Church. Through their openness to the others and by their readiness to collaborate with all, they can promote Small Human Communities joining hands with people of other faiths and secular persuasions to build up the Kingdom of God in the locality (Final Statement of Yesu Krist Jayanti). In that process the SCCs will maintain their specificity as communities rooted on the Word of God and strengthened by the sacraments, especially the Eucharist and will keep alive the love of God in their hearts by translating it continually into fraternal love. Thus they will be the salt and leaven in the animation of Small Human Communities. Their focus will always be the Reign of God. (Final Statement of the 3rd meeting of the Diocesan Coordinators of Small Christian Communities; Oct 2009)

In conclusion, we re-affirm what our bishops stated in Varanasi: 'In all our dioceses a very serious effort must be made to form and foster Small Christian Communities because it is through these that the role of the Church to be a leaven in society can be effectively realized at the local level'. (Message of the Conference of Catholic Bishops of India, Varanasi, 21-28th March 1998)

PRAYER FOR SCC BUILDING

Lord Jesus, in realization of your Vision for God's reign amidst us, you wish to gather all humanity as one community of love. You began this mission by gathering around you the small group of the 12 apostles. Your formed them into a loving and active community. You empowered them with your spirit and sent them to the ends of the earth in order to build communion of communities rooted in your Word and the Eucharist, offering them life in abundance.

Lord Jesus, we firmly believe that the call to build neighbourhood faith communities comes from you and the Spirit. We firmly believe that it is a powerful way of evangelizing ourselves and others to realize your vision of God's reign in our midst. Walk with us and fill us with your grace and strength as we continue working in our neighbourhoods to form faith communities, in the midst of many difficulties and challenges.

Lord, through your passion, death and resurrection, you have manifested your faithfulness to your Father's plan for you and unconditional love for all people. May we realize that through the Sacraments of Baptism, Confirmation and Eucharist, we have committed our whole being to you and to the service of establishing God's reign amidst us. Do not allow us to be indifferent and disinterested in this passionate and life-giving vision you gave us. Fill us with your love and enable us to be committed to serve our brothers and sisters in selfless love. Lord, give us the grace and strength to actively contribute to the building up of our parish into your Body through our involvement in SCCs.

Lord, let your Kingdom of love, peace and justice come and your will be done in us and in our neighbourhoods. We make this prayer to you who live and reign forever and ever. Amen.