As we continue to wrestle with the current crisis, it is important that we continue to seek God’s guidance, rather than follow our own instincts or desires. Hearing God’s call in the midst of crisis is not easy, but the process of Communal Discernment is an important tool for us to use as we seek to follow God’s lead. William J. Byron, SJ, the former president of the Catholic University of America, has this helpful introduction to group discernment. I think every leader and member of a Pastoral Council, Finance Council, parish staff, or other parish team member should read this article as together we look for clarity in the midst of conflicting and confusing guidance.
The axis of mercy supporting the world turns on these hinges or poles, that through the Mother we have access to the Son and through the Son to the Father, so that being thus led we should have no fear that our reconciliation would be rejected.
“It is impossible to understand what Jesus’ rising from the dead is about if we think of it as the resuscitation of a dead man. He is not described as starting life over again. He did not mythically represent new vegetation after the rains of winter are over, or human life perpetually coming forth from the dark womb of earth. He was, for the Jews who first believed in him, the ‘first-fruits’ of a harvest of all the dead. If you had the faith of the Pharisees, his appearance would have startled you, but it would not have surprised you. You would have been stunned chiefly that he was alone. That he was risen in the body was something that ultimately you could cope with.
It seems strange, at this distance of years, to try to re-create a world we have such sparse information about. We cannot reconstruct ancient Jewish religious thought and make it ours. We can save ourselves a lot of headaches, though, if we realize how much preparedness there was in those times for the notion of being raised from the dead. … After an initial shock no less than ours, pharisaic Jews like Peter and James would think, ‘God’s reign has begun! But where are the others?’
“Even though we are baptized, what we constantly lose and betray is precisely that which we received at baptism. Therefore Easter is our return every year to our own baptism, whereas Lent is our preparation for that return — the slow and sustained effort to perform, at the end, our own ‘passage’ or ‘pascha’ into the new life in Christ…. Each year Lent and Easter are, once again, the rediscovery and the recovery by us of what we were made through our own baptismal death and resurrection.”
“It is in this darkness, when there is nothing left in us that can please or comfort our own minds, when we seem to be useless and worthy of all contempt, when we seem to have failed, when we seem to be destroyed and devoured, it is then that the deep and secret selfishness that is too close to us for us to identify is stripped away fro our souls. It is in this darkness that we find liberty. It is in this abandonment that we are made strong. This is the night which empties us and makes us pure.”