Dear brothers and sisters in the Lord,
I was recently reading several reflections from both Pope Benedict XVI and Francis. These particular reflections had to do with the esteem and regard that Evangelical Churches had for Pope Benedict XVI and his teaching, and the esteem that Pope Francis has for the Evangelicals. These can be found on the internet, and in fact are mirror images I believe of the same reality, of working and ministering together for the common good in the world in which we live: bringing the Gospel to areas in our lives and ministry which we have, and are able, to share in common.
We recently had this same experience (just this past Friday in fact) in our Diocese when the Diocese of Orange, Saddleback Church, and the National Alliance for Mental Health (NAMI) planned for and held a day entitled “The Gathering on Mental Health and the Church.”
One can easily access the reflections and times of prayer that were held at Saddleback Church that day. Evangelical and Catholic speakers (clinicians, social workers, medical doctors) alike were able to teach and share how we as people of Faith can bring the message of the Gospel to those who struggle with mental and emotional difficulties. One of Pastor Rick Warren’s and my hopes were how to make the resources of the Faith community available to those who are often on the “front lines” , when presented with the suffering and at times seemingly hopeless situations of those and their families who come to us in our daily lives and ministries.
There were over 3000 people present that day from many parts of California and beyond. It was a providential and blessed day when Catholics and evangelicals were able to meet, reflect, pray and study together for the benefit of those who struggle with such pain and isolation, day in and day out. It was a time for when the reality of the Paschal Mystery of the Lord’s suffering, death and Resurrection could help to bring light and hope to those who struggle in the darkness. There already has been , for years, much good work and ministry “behind the scenes” in this area, but this event helped to bring a sense of solidarity to all who were gathered together, and to let it be known, as well, the good that was already being done and for that to be shared!
As we reflect on this event in the days ahead, we need to thank all who were involved in the hours of planning for this day: the staff of Saddleback and the Diocese of Orange, and the National Alliance for Mental Health. Thank you to all of the prayer leaders, especially the Norbertines from St. Michael’s Abbey who chanted Evening prayer for us, and led us in singing later on in the evening.
Knowing that as St. Paul said “one plants and another sows”, let us pray for the Warren family in the days ahead, and pray as well that the work and prayer of that day will continue to bring good fruit to all in the days and years ahead.