I wanted to post this article from the September 22, 2006 Zenit daily email. Good stuff!
Pope: Early Christians a Model for Parish Life
Tells of Need for Encounter With Christ
CASTEL GANDOLFO, Italy, SEPT. 22, 2006 ( Zenit.org).- The renewal of a parish does not depend on beautiful pastoral plans, but on its members' encounter with Christ, especially in the Eucharist, says Benedict XVI.
The Pope presented to modern-day parishes the model of the early Christian communities, when he received participants of the plenary assembly of the Pontifical Council for the Laity. He met them today at the papal summer residence of Castel Gandolfo.
Cardinals, bishops, priests and numerous lay people attended the council's plenary assembly. It was presided over by the council's president, Archbishop Stanislaw Rylko, and it reflected on the theme: "To Rediscover the Parish: Paths of Renewal."
As the Holy Father explained in his address in Italian, the desired renewal of the parish "cannot come only from suitable pastoral initiatives, regardless of how useful they are, or from blackboard plans."
The book of the Acts of the Apostles, he continued, "describes the first community of Jerusalem persevering in listening to the teaching of the apostles, in fraternal union, in the breaking of bread and in prayer, a welcoming and solidaristic community to the point that everything was held in common."
Inspired by this model, "the parish 'rediscovers itself' in the encounter with Christ, especially in the Eucharist," said Benedict XVI.
"Nourished by the Eucharistic bread, it grows in Catholic communion, walks in full fidelity to the magisterium and is always ready to receive and discern the different charisms that the Lord inspires in the People of God," affirmed the Holy Father.
"From constant union with Christ," he assured, " the parish draws vigor to commit itself ceaselessly in the service of brothers, particularly the poor, for whom it is in fact the first point of reference."