Making Disciples Today: Blog

The Making Disciples Today Blog has reflections to help you grow in your journey of missionary discipleship, reviews on recommended Catholic evangelization resources, and practical insight on how to evangelize in your daily life. 

Discernment is the process of finding God’s will in our lives. It is the process of listening for and responding to God’s call. It is the process of discovering one’s vocation. We get ourselves into trouble, however, when we imagine that God’s will is “out there” and apart from us.

We run into problems when we see our vocation as some kind of riddle that we have to decipher or some secret message that we have to decode. Such an approach transforms God’s plan into a set of arbitrary instructions -- directions for life that we cannot seem to find. Under such a view, discernment becomes scary. We don’t know what God wants. And so we search frantically for some sign telling us what to do. Or we just give up.

Discernment is difficult, but it is not difficult because it is a puzzle that we can’t figure out. It is difficult because it involves the coming together of two infinite mysteries: God and me. This realization helps us to see that whenever we learn something true about God, we learn something true about ourselves. And whenever we learn something true about ourselves, we learn something true of God.

"To convert someone take them by the hand and guide them."  St. Thomas Aquinas

I spent 15 years as a youth minister taking teenagers and young adults on retreats, conferences, mission trips, and summer camps.  I'm also the product of those experiences - my earliest memory of encounter with Jesus was as a teenager at a World Youth Day Mass.  My inital conversion happened during adoration as a young adult at a summer conference.   The experience of retreating from routine and entering into a pocket in time that's totally focused on faith and genuine fellowship with other Christians can be powerful and life changing.

It is not good for man to be alone.

However, these experiences cannot and do not stand on their own.  God calls us to community and companionship.  He has created us for relationship and communion.  When these on fire young people return from their camp, retreat, or conference, they need more.  They need you.  They need your ongoing & intentional accompaniment to help fan the flame of their encounter experience (sometimes referred to as a "retreat high") into the lasting transformation of conversion!

They need you if you’re a chaperone, youth minister, catechist, teacher, or Core member.  They need you if you’re a parent, grandparent, godparent, or sibling.  They need you if they’re a part of your parish or school community.

In this episode of the Transforming Parishes, Transforming Lives podcast, we discussing how to help walk with others through the thresholds of pre-discipleship conversion.

The household’s older children erupted into endless shrieks of delight when the phone call came from the hospital announcing the birth of their baby sister and our newest grandchild. Two of the children, overwhelmed by excitement, raced out the door to tell the good news to their neighbors.

New babies are such wonders. Like magnets, they attract neighbors and relatives, family friends and many others, who soon arrive to visit. What everyone wants most is to see the new baby.

I always am amazed at the amount of time people, myself included, can spend simply watching a baby’s every twist and turn. Here, after all, is youth in a pure form. A long, winding journey awaits the child, but this present, newborn moment usually is one of immense hope and happiness.

Allow me now to fast-forward eight or nine decades to the scene of an 85th or 95th birthday party for someone born in 2014. The party may be loads of fun and represent a genuine celebration of a life. But will it erupt with delight at the great promise in this person’s life then and there? Maybe not.

To the extent possible, society seemingly suggests, old age should be delayed in favor of youthfulness. Even when an older person’s experience, insights and love are valued greatly, old age itself may be feared. So a sense may lurk in the background at our birthday celebration that the time of death is drawing disturbingly close.

Don’t most of us find it hard to feel happy about death? Isn’t death a dismal outcome for life?