When we were baptized we were incorporated into Church as a child of God. This first sacrament paves the way for us to have many privileges like receiving the other sacraments and also many responsibilities like attending Mass regularly and becoming a faith full disciple. Christ Jesus truly wants his followers to travel down the road of spiritual excellence as we are called to grow in holiness.
It is important for a disciple to grow in holiness as one comes closer to Christ. Holiness is not so much about being separated from the world, but holiness is bringing God into the world. Christ revealed the Father’s love to the people He encountered every day. The disciples were sent out in the villages and towns with the message of the Gospel that God is near to you this day. We are asked to share the same message with the people we encounter every day. It is by our actions that others will either be attracted to or repelled from joining Christ Jesus.
We have been given a mission to bring others to Christ and His Church. This is not done with grand arguments or finely woven presentations. It is usually accomplished by a smile, a kind word, or a simple gesture. When our lives radiate Christ others will be drawn to the beauty that is the Catholic Faith.
Blessings, Father Dooley
QUESTIONS FOR THOUGHT How have I shared my faith in the past? Do my words and actions attract others to the Gospel? What hinders me from sharing my faith at home, work, or at school?
Will you help me? Will you serve your parish? I am looking for parishioners who have been Confirmed to volunteer for important ministries in the parishes. St. Mary’s and St. Patrick’s parish is in need of Lectors and Extra Ordinary Ministers of Holy Communion. Why are these ministries important? Because through these ministries the Word of God is proclaimed and the body of Christ is distributed. Sometimes we can get the notion that for some reason or another we are not worthy or skilled enough for participation in these ministries. However, it is God who is the one calling us to ministry, unworthy as we are, and with training and practice we can become skillful.
To be a Lector means a person is willing to process in with the Book of the Gospels and then read aloud the First and Second Scripture passages plus lead the Prayers of the Faithful at Mass. There are workbooks to help you pronounce any difficult words. I think I am a pretty understanding person towards lectors when there are long scriptures or difficult words.
To be an Extra Ordinary Minister of Holy Communion means a person is willing to assist the priest in distribution of the Eucharist at the time of Holy Communion. You come to the altar after the priest receives communion, you receive communion and then take the Chalice of Precious Blood or the Bowl of Consecrated Hosts to be offered to the faithful at the time of Holy Communion. At St. Mary’s the E.O.M.H.C. on Sunday mornings are also asked to take communion to the four parishioners who are homebound or to the five or six people at Avoca Care Center round 9:30 a.m. So again I ask you. Will you help me? Will you serve your parish? If so, please click here and fill out the form.
Blessings, Father Dooley
As we continue to look at becoming an intentional disciple we can discover that there are five steps or “Thresholds” as Sherry Weddell calls them. First there has to be that initial trust of Jesus Christ, the Church, a believer, in order to move closer to God. This leads to spiritual curiosity where a person wants to know more about Jesus, his life, and his teachings. A person who is curious about something still has not made a commitment. Next comes Spiritual openness where a person acknowledges the possibility of personal and spiritual change. This is not commitment yet. Then a person becomes a spiritual seeker actively seeking to know God and to see if they can trust God enough to make a commitment to Christ and the Church. The final step is to become an intentional disciple. To make that lifelong commitment.
We have to remember that, like the stages of grief, the stages of discipleship are not set in stone or guided by the clock or calendar. We are dealing with a person’s intimate relationship with God. God is calling the individual. We are just there to answer a question, or to share our journey, or to give some encouragement.
We have to always make room for the Holy Spirit of God to operate, first in our own lives and then in lives of those who are seeking something. If we try and force a timetable on them or dump a lot of Church information on them too soon they will become overwhelmed and turn away. Maybe it is time for a study group in the parish to reflect on Sherry’s book to see how we might become parishes of Intentional Disciples.
Blessings … Father Dooley
QUESTIONS FOR THOUGHT : What have been the moments I have had conversions? Do I recognize these stages in others? Would I like to join with others to see what we can do for parishioners? (see Father)
In the book “Forming Intentional Disciples” Sherry Weddell shares a list of what should be considered NORMAL for a Catholic who is an intentional disciple. They would have a living relationship with God. They would be an excited Christian activist, be knowledgeable about faith, scriptures, doctrine, history, and the moral teachings of the Church using their gifts (Charism) in fulfillment of their vocation, understand their vocation and mission in life, would be actively discerning and living this vocation in the world, and have fellowship with other committed Catholics. Finally she writes that the local parish would function as a house of formation for lay Catholics to empower members to achieve all of the above.
All of Sherry’s list is normal in the sense that the Church itself views them as normative part of Catholicism. St. John Paul II wrote in his Apostolic Exhortation on the Lay Faithful, “Christifideles Laici,” that the Good News calls us to conversion and life and to cling to Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior by helping a person to be open to receive Baptism and Eucharist. That allows a person a new life according to the Holy Spirit.
Now I know that this all may seem somewhat strange to many of us. However, if we are to truly follow Christ Jesus into the Kingdom of Heaven we will need to be in a relationship with him now. All of us know how uncomfortable it is to be in a house of someone we do not know every well. Surely we do not want that to be our experience in eternal life.
Blessings, Father Dooley
QUESTIONS FOR THOUGHT
Is my relationship with God, Christ personal or distant? Do I believe that I can have
an intimate relationship with God? Do I live out my vocation in the world?
So what does to mean to be a disciple of Jesus Christ? First of all there has to be a hunger and a desire for a relationship with Him. According to Sherry Weddell it is the Holy Spirit who inspires a thirst for righteousness. That means having a desire to love God with all your heart and to see that love overflows into loving our neighbor as our self.
We are invited to make the basic message of the Gospels ours. Jesus Christ, through his passion, death, and resurrection has given us the promise of eternal life. This changes everything and we recognize that this powerful message is not ours to keep. No, it is a message that we are called to share because we know that Christ’s message is for everyone.
Think of the early Apostolic Church. The apostles were sent out into towns and villages where there were no great Basilicas or Cathedrals. When they arrived in a location they set about sharing the story of Jesus with others, retelling the parables of Jesus and then inviting others to receive baptism. Finally the new converts would join the apostles in the breaking of the bread.
Does the Church today mirror that same personal one on one invitation? Maybe just a little. We have the Gospel and we may know people who are not Catholic, but we rarely think about our responsibility to share our faith with others. We may say, “That’s the priest’s job.” But, if we are all called to intimate discipleship then it becomes the joy of every Catholic to share the faith.
Blessings… Father Dooley
QUESTIONS FOR THOUGHT: Have I had that moment when I accepted my discipleship? Is the Gospel something that moves my entire being? Do I see my role in helping others come to faith as important?
“Forming Intentional Disciples” by Sherry Wendell gives some interesting statistics about attendance at Mass. Those considered the builder generation, born in 1943 or before, attendance at Mass was 45%. The boomer generation, those born between 1944 and 1964, attend Mass 20% of the time. The Generation Xers, folks born between 1965 and 1984 have 13% attendance rate. The Millennials are those born since 1985 attend Mass only 10% of the time.
This information is not meant to scare us into a panic, but it’s meant to help the Church, all of us, to consider other avenues for being a thriving church in the future. We have to recognize that the faith will not be handed down as in the past through the Sacramental hooks, (Marriages and Baptisms), cultural or peer pressure (Italian, Irish or friends hanging out), nor by family’s ties.
The Catholicism in the future will have to be one based in a person choosing to be a disciple, an intentional disciple, rather than one who is a Catholic because of the culture. The future of the Catholic Church is for individual members to have personal relationship to Christ. Most people desire a relationship with someone, not with an institution. This personal relationship is what the Apostles shared and Popes and Saints proclaimed throughout the history of the Church. So let’s discover if it is possible to claim it for ourselves and the future of the Catholic Church.
Blessings… Father Dooley
QUESTIONS FOR THOUGHT: Do the stats above ring true in rural Iowa? What is my percentage of attendance at Mass? Is the culture supportive for me to attend Mass? Do I desire a “personal relationship” with Christ?