The ecclesiological raison d’être of the Teams of Our Lady
When the beloved and venerated John XXIII convened the Second Vatican Council, his intention was to invite the Church to live a process of renewal, of updating, of fidelity to its mission. The invitation was translated by the word “aggiornamento”. The Pope sought to ensure that the mission of Jesus, as it was expressed by the early Christian community, born of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, could now be seen in the context of the contemporary world.
It was January 1959, barely three months into his pontificate, when he made his intention public: “I pronounce to you, indeed trembling a little with emotion, but at the same time with humble resolution of purpose, the name and the proposal of the twofold celebration: a diocesan synod for the city, and an ecumenical council for the Universal Church”. What was the intention of the “good Pope”?
It was the great “Aggiornamento”. This was understood as the updating and renewal of the life and mission of the Church, in order to understand the new contexts of the world in which the Church lives and serves. John XXIII said: “I want to open the windows of the Church so that we can see out and the faithful can see in”. The aim was to establish a dialogue with the contemporary world, taking on its complexity without fear or rejection. And, at the same time, to involve the faithful in the future vision of the church.
In the official documents emanating from the great Assembly, the Council Fathers began the Dogmatic Constitution on the Church with the words: “Christ is the Light of nations. Because this is so, this Sacred Synod gathered together in the Holy Spirit eagerly desires, by proclaiming the Gospel to every creature (cf. Mk 16:15), to bring the light of Christ to all men, a light brightly visible on the countenance of the Church. Since the Church is in Christ like a sacrament or as a sign and instrument both of a very closely knit union with God and of the unity of the whole human race, it desires now to unfold more fully to the faithful of the Church and to the whole world its own inner nature and universal mission. This it intends to do following faithfully the teaching of previous councils. The present-day conditions of the world add greater urgency to this work of the Church so that all men, joined more closely today by various social, technical and cultural ties, might also attain fuller unity in Christ.” (Lumen Gentium 1)
As the Church is a sign and instrument of unity, it allows us to deepen that profound sense of the identity of the broader Christian community, and each of the communities that are part of it.
Sixty years later, Francis, the successor of John XXIII, has endeavoured to make the Second Vatican Council visible and active. He wants the baptised to become more and more aware of what we are and what we are called to be. In a permanent process of discernment, he wants the whole Church to assume its mission of being a sign and an instrument, and to go out to bear witness to God’s love, rather than being inward-looking.
As Teams of Our Lady, members of the Church, we must recognise ourselves, in a special way, in the every-day invitations and calls to be signs and instruments of unity in the midst of a fractured and divided world.
The unity of Christian spouses, born through the sacraments of baptism and marriage, must be the beginning of this path of unification. Each Team, in its role as a small community (ecclesiola), must live the mystery of unity in Christ to become a sign and instrument of intimate union with God and mankind. The Movement as a whole must reflect this same reality.
Hence, our ecclesiological foundation and our reality must be framed within the context of what the whole Church is called to be, to signify and to reflect. May the Holy Spirit, source of unity and holiness, walk with us in this purpose.
Ricardo Londoño Domínguez