"Love is the only commandment that Jesus left us" by Patriarch Michel Sabbah

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Sunday, September 15, 2019

The good shepherd and the good parish

A parish is composed of two elements, the community and the pastor. They cooperate together. A good parish prays and loves the neighbor. It lives according to the commandment: Love God and love your neighbor.

Prayer is to come in the presence of God; to know that God is our Creator and Father, a loving and merciful father. The prayer of the parish is to put all its worries before God

The good parish prays, worships and asks for forgiveness and mercy.

The prayer of the good parish consists in two most important ways: to meditate the Word of God and celebrate the Eucharist.

The good parish reads the Word of God, meditates on the Holy Gospel in which it finds a guide in all circumstances, especially in difficulties. The Gospel is a companion and a leading voice through the paths of life.
When facing difficulties and before turning to humans for help, turn to God first, read the Word of God and listen to it; you may hear God's voice; you may find the help that you are seeking.

Monday, September 16, 2019

The first prayer for a good parish is the prayer of Mass. It is the holiest prayer. It is also called “Eucharist”, a Greek word, meaning thanksgiving prayer, because we thank God during Mass for the salvation that He has given us by His Eternal Word Jesus Christ who achieved our salvation by accepting death.

Jesus Christ offered Himself on the Cross as a sacrifice of reconciliation between God and humanity, in order also to reconcile human beings with each other.

Mass is Jesus Christ's prayer. If we participate in it, we participate in the same prayer of Jesus Christ. Mass in its external structure is a lot of rituals, readings, hymns, and a sermon. A Christian participates in it once a week, but faith logically requires that it be shared every day. Every day, the Christian presents with the priest the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, to thank God for his love and to ask for forgiveness of ones’ sins. The believers intercede for their homes, families, parishes, for the village or the city and the whole world so that the world can really be saved from all evil, and be dominated by goodness, justice and peace. This is the "salvation" that Jesus Christ has come to bring to humanity.

Tuesday, 17 September 2019

The parish is made of two things, namely prayer and love.

In prayer we consecrate moments in our day to stand before God, our Creator and our lover, to worship, to ask for forgiveness, and put our needs before God. We said that the first and most important prayer is the Eucharist prayer, i.e. the prayer of Mass, and then reading and meditating on the Word of God.

What does love mean? It may be feelings, affectionate relations and friendships between people. But the essence of love consists in willing good for my brother and sister, for all my brothers and sisters in the parish and outside the parish. It is helping when necessary. It is to search for everyone who is in need. It is to transform the parish into one family, in which everyone knows everyone, and everyone cares for everyone, in which all grow together strong and supporting each other. In the good parish, each one knows that one is a member of a large family, accompanied and supported by it in all circumstances. Everyone in the good parish feels and knows that he/she has support, protection and guidance.

Wednesday, September 18, 2019

To make the parish a family that gives a sense of security to all its members so that no one remains in need or alone, weak or stranger, mutual love needs organization and some structures, all based on love. The individual believers feel safe and part of the parish when they live the same life as all, i.e. care for all brothers and sisters, and contributes with all their spiritual and material abilities for the sake of the whole community.

Love of the other is the basic guide and incentive, not to satisfy ones’ selfishness but to achieve a shared life by all. The aim of sharing is not to "take" from the community. Sharing is learning how to give. Love alone knows how to share in order to give. Like God's love, it keeps caring for the other so that each one has an "abundant" full life. With such love and with prayer, the good parish is formed.

Love, sharing and organizing spiritual and material abilities are the basis upon which the parish is formed, and a mature believer is formed, member in a large family, finding there spiritual, material and social support.

And what is the role of the pastor in all that?

Thursday, September 19, 2019

The role of the pastor.

The pastor prays for the whole parish, offers the sacrifice of Mass, teaches and explains the Word of God to the people. He helps organize mutual love and charity works. He helps parishioners discover their abilities. The most important discovery in the parish is the following: If the parish comes together and organizes its efforts together, it is able to provide an equal abundant life and protection for all its members. In addition to prayers, the role of the shepherd is to help educate parishioners about the value and effectiveness of sharing. Each one, with what one has, benefits oneself and others. Everyone should be supported and strengthened by everyone.

After prayer and intercession, the greatest task of the shepherd is to feel the pains and needs of all parishioners, hence to organize the mutual love and various capacities of the members. Capacities are available, so is money, but not equally for everyone. Love organizes and makes individual abilities a resource for the whole community so that everyone lives an equal dignified life.

The life of the parish is sometimes based on institutions and funds from abroad, provided by the "love" of other churches in the world. It is time to become self-supported by our own charity, and even support other churches more in need than we are.

Today and in principle, the diocese and the total parishes are able to carry out the needs of their institutions and duties towards the faithful. If a parish is unable to do so, the sharing in the diocese can face and cover the need of all. But what is important is that we should become people who love and know how to organize our charity in order to face all our needs, and to give to others more in need than we are.

Friday, 20 September 2019

The role of the pastor is to know his sheep by their name and to watch over them. He knows whether life, the spiritual or the general human life, is provided to all parishioners.

The pastor does not have to care about the organization and requirements of society but he has to know people's concerns and respond to every pain, either by prayer or by promoting love through organized charity among all. When charity is well organized in the parish it spares much “asking or begging”.

Our diocese is nowadays in a period of transition from one phase to another, from |”insufficiency and begging” to a phase of “self-sufficiency and giving”, based on sharing and organized charity in all areas. The pastor has a key role to play in this transition.

Love is the way to help in this transition. This is a new phase of prayer and giving, based on the love of God and of neighbor. In this phase, giving goes beyond alms and becomes a structure of sharing and investment that benefits all. Everyone gives and everyone reaps the fruits of one's efforts and sharing. No one asks for alms and no one "gives alms".

Saturday, September 21,2019

The role of the pastor

A parish is good when both pastor and parishioners are good. Goodness requires cooperation, patience, mutual love, sharing, humility in both and mutual acceptance. With this cooperation, love and humility, the parish forms good believers who pray, love, and build the parish and society as a whole.

The parish is a place where the shepherd and the parishioners meet before God. Beyond all aspects of human life, beyond all external relations, the parish is the place where the whole community meets God not only on Sunday but every day because life is formed and grows every day to mold a human being who knows God, man, and brethren.

Love is the only commandment that Jesus left us. It is a power that activates all the good in us, when we know how to love, to give and share without limits.

With love and prayer before God, we build the parish. With love, the city and the village can be built if only everyone knows what love is and how it can be a powerful and supporting source for all, and eradicates all kinds of evil or oppression.

The parish is a joint cooperation between the pastor and the parishioners based on prayer and active love.

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