October 2023: Editorial

A Mission to Rebuild the Church

In the year 1205 as he knelt in the crumbling church of San Damiano before the cross in deep prayer, a voice came to Francis of Assisi (Feast day, 4 October) saying, ‘Francis, go repair my house which is falling into ruin.’ Not only did Francis take this as a reference to the ruined San Damiano structure, which he then did rebuild with his own hands, but to the larger whole of the Catholic Church. Through his simple piety and deep spirituality, he became a force of renewal that continues to bear fruit today. Ten years ago, when Pope Francis took the name of the saint of Assisi it quickly became clear that he too felt a call to rebuild and repair the wounded 21st century Church. He soon outlined his agenda; ‘We must restore hope to young people, help the old, be open to the future, spread love. Be poor among the poor. We need to include the excluded and preach peace.’ And in his initiation of the Synodal Pathway he seeks to ensure that all of the baptised have an ongoing role to play in the rebuilding and repairing process.

During an outdoor Mass on the Hill of Slane on 6 August celebrated by Archbishop Eamon Martin, he asked; ‘Wouldn’t it be wonderful if people said this of us, believers; ‘You, person of faith, you respect the dignity of all life; you are a responsible steward of all God’s creation; you care for the poor, the homeless, the displaced; you weep for the trafficked child, the abused woman, the struggling family; you are compassionate to those addicted by drugs and alcohol. We notice how you reach out to the victims of war and violence, and you spread peace everywhere you go; you are a forgiving and merciful person; you do penance, you make sacrifices and yet you are happy in yourself; We want what you have!’

     The Mission seems clear, and the building blocks are in our own hands.

Paul Clayton-Lea 

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