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In the Vineyard
September 2003

"He led them with a cloud by day, and all the night through with a glow of fire." Psalm 78:14

It may not always be clear to many of us what plan it is we are following, but most in VOTF share a profound understanding - we are navigators in a sea of Someone else's making. We only have each other and a sense of true north but, so far, as the gospels repeat, it is enough.

VOTF workers around the world recognize this gift when they see it, and this month is no exception. It is nothing short of inspirational to find month after month increasing energy for and participation in the goals of Voice of the Faithful.

One might wonder where all this drive and commitment come from, even while the general response to VOTF from Church leadership remains cool (but warming). What members have found, however, is the serendipity of the right voice at the right time - it might come in a letter to the editor, in a new prayer, from a total stranger or from your own inner voice.

One such voice comes to all of us from a recent National Catholic Reporter issue that featured a profile of the late Msgr. Philip J. Murnion who died August 19. Msgr. Murnion was a leading national figure in promoting Church dialogue and vitality in parish ministries and one of those celestial navigators we almost miss. The day before he died, he wrote a letter to all Catholic bishops. His voice joins many thousands of voices around the world asking for communion and healing in our Church. His advice will be familiar to VOTF supporters and we are graced to hear it:

"In the mind of the pope (see Apostolic Letter Novo Millennio Inuente, n. 45), there is no contradiction between legitimate authority and careful consultation Consultation, listening and dialogue only enhance true authority, because they issue from a lived trust and they serve to increase trust. It is imperative that we work together to restore the trust that has been eroded.

"If I were to sum up my final plea to you, it would be: 'dialogue, dialogue, dialogue!' I do not mean this as a facile or pious slogan, for I am only too aware of its cost and conditions. In his letter, the Holy Father advocates and advances a 'theology and spirituality of communion,' for they 'encourage a fruitful dialogue between pastors and faithful.' Does not the living out of such a spirituality of communion require dialogue as its very life-breath: the dialogue of prayer with Jesus Christ, the dialogue of mutual building up on the part of the members of Christ?

"A spirituality of communion and dialogue is as demanding in its asceticism as a spirituality of the desert or the cloister. Like them, it also requires its own appropriate structures. The Catholic tradition knows well that spirituality and structure are not opposed. Here, as elsewhere, it affirms the 'both/and' of charism and institution, invisible grace and visible embodiment. Both are essential, though only one is eternal. We can ill afford to be less Catholic than the pope himself, who insists: 'The spirituality of communion, by prompting a trust and openness wholly in accord with the dignity and responsibility of every member of the people of God, supplies institutional reality with a soul.'"

Voice of the Faithful looks forward to such an institutional reality, inclusive of all of God's children.


Peggie L. Thorp, ed.


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In the Vineyard
September '03
Volume 2, Issue 10

Page One

Survivor Support News

Jim Post visits the Pacific Northwest

Working Group Reports: Structural Change and Voice of Renewal

Parish Voice News

Events, Opportunities & News

Best Practices

Letters to the Editor

Education Corner

A VOTF Gathering Prayer

Request a Copy of Annual Report

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In the Vineyard Archives

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