Intro to Parish Life discussion
“Parish life in our Church communities provides various experiences for Catholics to discern and use their gifts to live out bringing the Gospel message into other people’s lives.”
Saint Paul’s words about ‘one body in Christ’ should guide our heart’s so we come to a deeper and more intimate understanding of community as Christians. We need a mindset that is not focused on social ‘activity’ but a heart and mindset focused on Jesus Christ and our mission together as ‘the body of Christ’. When a parish community is guided by the pursuit of an intimate relationship with Jesus Christ then it begins to reflect the meaning ad purpose of ‘mission’ and Saint Paul’s term ‘koinonia’.
Parish life in our Church communities provides various experiences for Catholics to discern and use their gifts to live out bringing the Gospel message into other people’s lives. This is being ‘the body of Christ’ for one another. These parish life experiences can help us foster disciplines or practices as Catholic disciples that lead us into an ever deeper personal relationship with God. As personal relationships with God grow, conversion continues to form our hearts and the parish community reflects the meaning of ‘koinonia’. The parish community continues to grow as a presence that has “vital and organic links to society” which can lead to various opportunities of evangelization.
Consider this quote from Saint Pope John Paul II about family and how it relates to a parish community as ‘family’:
“And since in God’s plan it has been established as an “intimate community of life and love,” the family has the mission to become more and more what it is, that is to say, a community of life and love, in an effort that will find fulfillment, as will everything created and redeemed, in the Kingdom of God.” -St. Pope John Paul II, Familiaris Consorti, 17
Chances are you can speak about some of your experiences as a Catholic at your parish which reflects the words of St. John Paul II. But we should also reflect on areas in the parish where it may need improvement. This is why St Paul’s words are so important, “be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and pleasing and perfect”. This transformation is an ongoing process in our lives and why it is important to have a parish community at the center to be part of guiding this transformation.
Now we will take some time to reflect on your own Catholic experience in regards to your parish community. How would you describe the ‘essence’ of your parish community to a new parishioner?; How has your parish community over the past year help you to grow in your faith?; and what are some suggestions that you might have which could provide ways for the community to grow stronger as ‘the body of Christ’? These will be the reflection questions we will discuss.
 St. Pope John Paul II, Familiaris Consorti, 42