"the signs of the times" Building a Process for transforming a parish community affected by natural disaster. What are "The Signs of the Times?" A Pastoral Response to Tragedy and the Perennial Question, “Where is God in All This?” Koinonia: Fellowship of the Holy Spirit Kenosis:
Self- Emptying A Community Responds “Countercultural Goodness” “Goodness shows that evil can be overcome, although sometimes at a very high cost. The generosity, integrity, and solidarity that appear in times of [natural disasters] show that the good is possible... Against all apparent logic, goodness becomes something conflictive and countercultural.” - Jon Sobrino
Through compassion and a strong sense of solidarity a community is able to transcend social conventions. Instead of relating with one another within the cultural framework of competition and self-preservation we are able to relate with each other in a spirit of self-less giving and mutual assistance. Philippians 2: 6-7
Johannes Banawiratma - “Following the self-emptying spirituality, Jesus’ disciples are transformed to become more like Jesus. Such is a spirituality of powerlessness and continuous conversion, of renewal to be more open to others and to God. The self-transformation of Jesus’ disciples makes an impact on their social solidarity and stimulates wider transformation, namely, the transformation of societal life.” 2 Corinthians 13: 13
John Mahoney – “the traditional Christian doctrine of man as made in God’s image puts before all men and women, then, not only a common destiny but also a shared moral programme of a fellowship of persons as the creational and Christian task to be worked for all at all levels of human society." Indignation: Declare one’s anger, allowing ourselves to be moved out of our complacency in order to declare that this situation is simply not fair or just
Hope: The belief that God will not allow our suffering to have the last word. We will grow from this tragic experience and become transformative agents for a better world.
Honesty: taking responsibility in helping our suffering neighbors and to allow God’s hope to work through us. Experience Social Analysis Theological Reflection The Pastoral Circle Pastoral Planning Climate Change: A Catholic Position "If you Want To Cultivate Peace, Protect Creation" http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/benedict_xvi/messages/peace/documents/hf_ben-xvi_mes_20091208_xliii-world-day-peace_en.html "We show our respect for the Creator by our stewardship of creation. Care for the earth is not just an Earth Day slogan; it is a requirement of our faith. We are called to protect people and the planet, living our faith in relationship with all of God’s creation. This environmental challenge has fundamental moral and ethical dimensions that cannot be ignored.”
- USCCB, Care for Creation The Pastoral Circle is a Process that examines the root cause of social issues and empowers a faith community to deliberately respond to these issues. Examining the root cause is very much like looking at an iceberg. We may all see the issue on the surface (the tip of the iceberg) but as we examine the systemic relationships and causalities then we become aware of a much larger reality. "The pastoral circle is all about human experience, and it stresses the need for personal insertion as the adequate starting point for the whole process. Life comes first; theology comes second." – Rodrigo Mejia Process:
Allow the parishioners to share their experience and to raise their concerns.
The Pastoral leaders may want to offer their experience and set the tone.
Note the questions and concerns that surface. Clarify the issues that are being raised. Blog Post: An Experience of Hurricane Sandy
http://passion4progress.wordpress.com/2012/11/05/an-experience-of-hurricane-sandy/ Ask systemic questions to the issues that have been expressed.
What actions do we who are most affected need to take?
How can we respond to the needs of our homes in light of this?
How do evaluate the response from our insurance companies and public services?
How is our natural environment affected by this new reality?
The Pastoral Team may want to offer some local news articles or well developed analysis for the group to read.
Let the pastoral team gather these findings in a written summery which can begin to be used as a basis for our pastoral plan. “Part of learning from this is the recognition that climate change is a reality… extreme weather is a reality. It is a reality that we are vulnerable.” - Governor Andrew Cuomo Blog Post: Natural Disasters and Climate Change: An analysis and reflection
http://passion4progress.wordpress.com/2012/12/06/natural-disasters-and-climate-change-a-catholic-concern/ This stage is concerned with incorporating the lens of our faith as a guide for how our parish and church community ought to respond.
Incorporate Scripture, Church teaching and the Catholic Climate Covenant and video.
Offer a reflection piece to read and discuss. Resources:
One Page Primer on Catholic Teaching on Climate Change http://catholicclimatecovenant.org/wp-content/uploads/2010/01/Primer-on-Catholic-Teaching-on-Climate-Change.pdf
Take the St. Francis Pledge: http://catholicclimatecovenant.org/the-st-francis-pledge/ In this stage of the process the parish group could begin by developing a five year parish plan that can respond to the spiritual needs of the parishioners and the social transformation of the community. Take each finding and discuss how the parish community will respond to each of these.
Begin with immediate unmet needs and assess how PSM can (or continues to) respond to these needs and how the parish group can aid PSM in developing this response.
After addressing the initial needs respond to some of the findings that address root causes of the issue. These may Include:
Take the St. Francis Pledge and be part of the Catholic Climate Covenant.
Organize advocacy and resources to improving public access to services and utilities.
Develop a public voice from the parish community that expresses these concerns from our community through media and social networks
Create relationships with advocacy organizations and elected leaders to add your voice on these issues. All this then leads us to a group action plan that the parish community will take. Parish Transformation The Pastoral Circle is not a onetime process. Whatever action that is taken will bring us a new experience that will then need to also be evaluated as one continues to search for deeper causalities and for an appropriate parish response. http://passion4progress.wordpress.com/2012/11/07/hurricane-and-natural-catastrophes-where-is-god-in-all-this/ Especially as the excitement of hurricane wears off and the immediate spirit of giving and solidarity from other communities begins to taper off our parishes will be left with a community that continues to have unmet needs and that still need to reflect over the difficult questions that are part of this new reality. Parishes will do well to organize a process for their community for the purpose of accompanying them in their struggles and concerns. The Pastoral Circle offers a parish such a process where the goal is to develop transformed attitudes and viewpoints that can guide the parish community with a plan for addressing these needs and social concerns. Partnerships will need to develop throughout the process. One partnership that ought to exist from the beginning of the process is with Parish Social Ministry (PSM) since this ministry would have a valuable experience to share with this group dynamic. Natural Disasters and Climate Change... A New Reality Now, Lets consider a process.
"The Pastoral Circle." My Personal Blog post on this topic: "Where is God In All This?"See the full transcript