What are we truly passionate about? It was a question recently posed by Archbishop Christophe Pierre, apostolic nuncio, to the U.S. bishops at their annual fall assembly in Baltimore. “What are we as bishops truly passionate about?”
I’d imagine it was a refreshing thought exercise for the members of the episcopate, who too often are hampered by a lack of time or resources, or who simply are overwhelmed with tasks. After posing the question, Archbishop Pierre offered three areas on which bishops should focus their attention and their passion: the youth, the mission of evangelization and the person of Jesus Christ.
Passion for the youth, he said, means “being willing and open to accompanying them personally, as spiritual father, even if this makes demands on our time and energy. A passion, born out of love, also means providing sound catechesis and formation, so that amid the pressures of a secular culture, they can make wise choices that lead to authentic human flourishing.
“Love, rooted in the truth, demands that we contribute something to the culture — something of the true, the good, and the beautiful — that will support them in their journey,” he added.
Archbishop Pierre also spoke realistically on the Church in the U.S. — one that, as we know, is in decline. The Faith can take root again in the United States, he said, if the Church remains in a “permanent state of mission,” which means “going to the peripheries.” It also means that “evangelization is not about us. It is about Christ who lives and works in his disciples and who is passionately in love with his young flock.”
Archbishop Pierre said that instead of being discouraged by the decline in numbers and other demographic challenges, the bishops instead must “take courage” in signs of growth, particularly in the West and South.
Finally, the archbishop said his passion for youth and evangelization only can be sustained through a deep connection with the person of Jesus. “The need for silence, solitude, recollection and contemplation could not be greater as an antidote to excessive busyness and the frenetic pace of life.”
Such an exercise is helpful for not only bishops, but for each one of us. What are we passionate about? How can we support young people in their faith? How can we reach out to the peripheries in our own lives and ministries? Where can we find hope in our Church, especially amid such times of polarization and division? How can we better cultivate a relationship with the person of Jesus Christ? Do we make the time to do so?
As we enter another liturgical year Dec. 3, now is the time to be renewed and refreshed in our mission as Catholics. What are we passionate about? And how can we use that passion to make a difference in the Church?