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Tuesday, 18 June 2013 13:40

A journey of Grace and Faith – changed not ended

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It seems impossible to believe that it is 12 months since we launched the Year of Grace across Australia: an invitation from the Australian Bishops to refocus our lives on Jesus; to contemplate the face of Christ in order that, individually and as a Church, we might start afresh from Christ.

Do you remember what the Bishops said?

  • The aim was knowing Jesus;
  • It was more about prayer than study; more a retreat than a program; more about conversion than education; more like a pilgrimage inviting you to travel lightly and slowly, attentive particularly to God's abiding presence;
  • The key skill was listening: listening to God's word in prayer, in scripture, in liturgy and in life; and
  • Ask of everything: What has this got to do with Jesus?

Then there was more! Benedict XVI invited the Church to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the opening of the Second Vatican Council with a Year of Faith from October 11, 2012 to the Feast of Christ the King 2013 (Nov 24). 

The Year of Grace was itself a great act of faith on the part of the Australian Church. Listening to God and contemplating Christ is a risky business because who knows what God will ask of us; who knows what fresh start we will be asked to make? 

And this was the very point of the Year of Grace - for the Australian Catholic Church to open itself to Christ so that its future direction would emerge as a response through, with, and in, Christ. 

There is still more! True to the nature of Grace, the Year of Grace cannot be contained. When the Bishops set the end date, there was no Year of Faith. 

So after much thought and reflection, Pentecost 2013 has become not an end, but a point of transition when the Year of Grace will be “changed not ended".

All the 'Grace' structures will continue to the end of 2013: the National Project Officer and Team, the website, the diocesan co-ordinators.

There are still various Year of Grace events happening, including a liturgy celebrating holiness at the beginning of November.

So from Pentecost Sunday we will begin to 'harvest' the Year of Grace. We are invited to reflect on questions like:

  • What difference has the Year of Grace made in your life?
  • What are fruits of the Year of Grace in your community?
  • What do you believe the Holy Spirit is calling the Church to be and to do?
  • We are invited to share the insights we have gained from our contemplation:
  • How have you come to know Jesus more?
  • What have you heard as you have listened to the Word of God?
  • What have been your significant moments of grace?
  • How are you different?

To help with this harvesting a national survey will appear on the Year of Grace website. I encourage you to participate in this. It might give you some ideas about how you would like to begin to harvest your community’s experience of the Year of Grace. 

Perhaps this could be the focus of a parish or regional assembly: an assembly focused on faith sharing more than on parish or regional business? Schools, agencies and groups could gather in a similar way.

Dioceses negotiated this transition differently. Some had closing or transitioning rituals, some did not. I suggest that in our diocese we not have such a ritual. I suggest we allow the year to continue and come to a natural close with the Holiness Liturgy and the conclusion of the Year of Faith. This gives time for those of us who say they are just gelling into the stride of the Year of Grace. 

We pray for the Australian Church as we begin to harvest the fruits of our Year of Grace: May our contemplation of Christ lead us into new ways of living the Gospel. We pray to the Lord. Lord hear our prayer.

The Journey of Grace and Faith is changed not ended. Enjoy the harvest time.


Sr Louise Gannon rsj is the Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle Coordinator for the Year of Grace. This article appeared in the June 2013 issue of Sandpiper, the newspaper of the Catholice Diocese of Sandhurst.