The New Pastoral Programme of the Polish Bishops Conference for 2017-19
“The Spirit Who strengthens Love"
On the First Sunday of Advent this year (3rd December) a new two-year pastoral programme will be put into effect in the Catholic Church in Poland. Following on from the current four-year programme which concentrated on Baptism, the new programme will concentrate on the next Sacrament of Christian Initiation – Confirmation.
During the first year of the programme, pastors will deepen the theme of discovering the Person and the Gifts of the Holy Spirit. The second year will be concentrated on directing the attention of pastors and the lay faithful to the concept of the mission of the Baptised and the Confirmed, working with the Holy Spirit.
The Concept of the Pastoral Programme
The bishops state that the focus of this initiative should be the efforts made in parishes, both before and after receiving the Sacrament of Confirmation.
They note that Pope Francis in the Apostolic Exhortation "Evangelii Gaudium" writes, “Sometimes it seems that our work is fruitless, but mission is not like a business transaction or investment, or even a humanitarian activity …. it is something much deeper, which escapes all measurement. It may be that the Lord uses our sacrifices to shower blessings in another part of the world which we will never visit. The Holy Spirit works as he wills, when he wills and where he wills; we entrust ourselves without pretending to see striking results.”
This Pastoral Programme, say the Bishops, is a significant opportunity to accompany the faithful in discovering the Gifts of the Holy Spirit which they have received, but which often remain unnoticed or unused. The faithful should be given the opportunity to engage in more Spiritual formation to enable them to discover the action of the Holy Spirit in their lives.
Under the motto, “Discovering the Person and the Gifts of the Holy Spirit,” the primary task during the first year will be to discover the Person of the Holy Spirit and His Gifts. Attention will be focussed on the effects of Confirmation, including the need to build and support an environment of growth in the faith. Also at this stage, attention will be drawn to the renewal of ourselves as children of God, the discovery of our Christian identity, the importance of our personal choice of Christ, closer union with Him, and the discovery of the parish as a centre of development and maturity of faith.
The spiritual gifts received at Confirmation enable one to recognise the tasks and areas of commitment to the church as a Community “filled with the Holy Spirit” (Acts 2, 1-4). Thus in the second year, the programme will focus on reflecting what this means in one’s personal life. It is also very important, say the bishops, to realise the vocation of being a “missionary disciple,” in other words responding to Christ’s call to Christian witness.
The Pastoral Initative has four objectives, evangelisation, initiation, formation and societal.
Here a careful balance will be maintained between various forms of preaching (Preaching , catechesis, and evangelistic or kerygmatic retreats) and the urgent need to accompany the faithful in discovering and developing the gifts of the Holy Spirit. The programme will also address the need for formation at various levels of parish life, and the creation and promotion of growth and maturation of faith in the individual.
The pastoral programme aims to show the union and the unity between Confirmation, Baptism and the Eucharist as well as emphasising the importance of our personal choice of Jesus Christ and belonging to His Church.
The introduction of both the Baptised and those who have received the Sacrament of Confession to the mysteries of faith requires a proper vision of the faith and the accompanying signs which reveal the contact with God, emphasise the bishops. It can be said with some confidence, they add, that the purpose of Initiation is to indicate on the one hand the source of power upon which each confirmand relies, and on the other hand, the fundamental capacity to engage the faithful in the process of building the Church.
Ignorance of the Holy Spirit’s work in the life of the faithful and in the Church was been written about by St John Paul II in his encyclical “Dominum et Vivificantem.”
Concerning the presence of the Church in the modern world, it is necessary to return to the mystery of Pentecost in which the Holy Spirit sanctifies the Church and grants access to the Father for the faithful. For this reason, the essential purpose of formation for the confirmed should be to enter into this mystery, which will enable the confirmed to recognise the Spirit of Life through with the Father animates those spiritually dead as a result of sin, before He resurrects their mortal bodies in Christ. The consequence of this new experience is the witness of Christ in the power of the Holy Spirit.
Discovery of the gifts of the Holy Spirit and the proper use of them always leads to an attitude of service to others (diaconia). The programme will indicate the relationship of the gifts received from the Holy Spirit with concern for the broadly understood common good, which demands from us a more involved presence in parish life as well as in the wider social forum (i.e. in the political, economic, cultural and social spheres of life.)
Church Year 2017/2018
Theme: Discovering the Person and the Gifts of the Holy Spirit.
Motto: “We are filled with the Holy Spirit” (Acts 2:4)
Symbol: The Oil of Chrism - the Anointing and the laying on of hands.
Church Year 2018/2019
Motto: “Mission in the Spirit of God"
Theme: The Tongues of Fire
The above aims and principles have been developed and are presented in five themed booklets.