|Dear Friend of ACC:
The recent squabble between our Catholic Bishops and the Obama Administration over concerns of conscience and religious liberty regarding health insurance coverage for contraceptives for employees in catholic institutions presents a fascinating opportunity to reflect on the meaning of conscience as we enter the season of Lent next week.
For me, February has always been a time when I can finally begin “anew” after the Holiday “let down” and New Year’s resolutions made in earnest, but not yet started. February is a time to get serious! As February began this month, I tried to think through how I could systematically insert my resolutions into an already full commitment level. I realized that the first half of the month, crowned by Valentine’s Day, is devoted to relational parts of our lives as we look outward honoring those people who help mold us. But with Lent fast upon us, the latter part of February calls us to look within, as we focus upon who we are as Catholic Christians and who we yet need to become. That is precisely why the ACC Catholic Bill of Rights and Responsibilities proclaimed in Detroit last June is so pivotal to the future of the Church Reform movement. In this letter, I am appealing to you to consider using Lent as a unique opportunity to reflect upon the significance of that historic document, to make it central to your Lenten practice, and to invite other to join you in doing so.
When we were children, we often saw Lent as a time to give some things up, and that may still carry a meaningful message of simplicity for us. But as adult Catholics, Lent presents an opportunity to take stock of the clutter (and the fear) that keeps so many of us from acting more responsibly. We know that we need ways to work toward a more fully intentional and more mature look at our spirituality and our faith, and to develop a laser focus on what’s really important and central to our Catholic faith.
The American Catholic Council can help with that! I am excited that we can offer to you an opportunity to use Lent to help us grow together as a virtual community, as small communities, as a consortium of Intentional Eucharistic Communities, as neighbors and close friends, as families, as People of God, i.e as Church. We have come from an infantile practice of faith and it is now time to clean house, to grow up, to develop ourselves as the Spirit intended.
Our work ahead in 2012 challenges that we all become not only praying Catholics, but thinking Catholics as well. You are in ACC because you have in some way moved beyond the rote, unquestioning role of “pray, pay and obey”, to one of becoming a proactive, assertive and deliberate (yet respectful) participant in the Body of Christ. You don’t follow ACC because you simply want to read something inspiring, and then return to living the way you have always lived. We’re in this together and caught in a most exciting moment in time, where change is unfolding everywhere. If ever there was potential for us to truly be Church to and for one another, it is now!
ACC is a community and a community of communities. We are a relational people living in a relational Church that is emerging in our midst, and one that we are challenged to co-create with the movement of the Holy Spirit. We must direct our thinking to who we are as persons, the gifts that we possess, and the challenges faced by our church. It is a time to be courageous as we respond to the call to grow into an adult faith, putting aside our childish ways, and to act as adult believers in an adult church. Whether or not we do that is the KEY to whether or not we “make real” ACC’s Catholic Bill of Rights and Responsibilities.
As we embark upon Lent, I want to challenge you to join with us as we reach-out beyond our comfort zones and become the Church we long for! For the Church to change, we must change! Lent is a special time to act upon that. One way you can especially do that and help advance ACC’s mission is to explore our new Reflection Guide on the Catholic Bill of Rights & Responsibilities. CLICK HERE to Download (pdf). Please consider using it for your personal prayer and reflection, or better yet, as the basis for a Lenten group “Listening Session” with others in your prayer/faith community. If you have questions, feel free to contact our National Administrative Coordinator, Sheila Peiffer. In that download document you will also find instructions on how you can share your experience and comments with others in our online forums on ACC’s Assemblies Community Network.
But there is only one warning! This Lenten challenge is not for the weak at heart, the sheeple, and those who can’t think for themselves. It is rather for those whose conscience yearns to be expressed and hungers for another message. It is for those of us who have said to themselves, “Enough!” The time is coming to greet Easter as Resurrection Catholics and to call forth a new Catholic Spring! Please consider this step into being a Church for thinking adults. Thank you and God’s Blessings upon you.