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. 

 

“The faithful are fed by Christ's holy body and blood to grow in the communion of the Holy Spirit (koinonia) and to communicate it to the world.” (CCC, 948).

 

The Church in the United States is a community of faith that is composed of members of many different cultures. Respect, understanding, and openness to this diversity is key to assisting all in having a personal encounter with Christ and growing as missionary disciples.

Koinonia: A Deeper Understanding of Community

When we talk about community and fellowship in a context of missionary discipleship, we mean more than simply an assembly of like persons who share a belief system and who mutually affirm each other.   No, the kind of community we are seeking goes much deeper - depicings an interactive relationship between God and believers who are sharing new life through Christ.

 

“The Church will have to initiate everyone—priests, religious and laity—into this ‘art of accompaniment’ which teaches us to remove our sandals before the sacred ground of the other” (cf. Ex 3:5).

 

The Good News of Accompaniment

The parish must provide experienced missionary disciples who can accompany those who are returning to the Church and guide them throughout their journey. In accompanying others, the disciple possesses a love for others and the Church by being welcoming and hospitable. The disciple must be willing to walk with others, share the Good News, and help others grow in their faith and live in solidarity with others.

All Christians are invited to a “renewed personal encounter with Jesus Christ” (Evangelii Gaudium, no. 9).

Christ calls all people to himself in his Body, the Church, through the workings of the Holy Spirit, so that we can enter into a personal relationship with God the Father. “In virtue of their baptism, all the members of the People of God have become missionary disciples” (Evangelii Gaudium, no. 120).

Reflective reading, lectio divina, and the study of Scripture will aid in deepening the encounter with Christ. The Sunday homily breaks open the Word of God by stirring the hearts of people, deepening our knowledge of the faith, renewing our participation in the Church and her sacraments, and strengthening us for the
daily challenges of life. By participating in Mass, learning common prayers, and practicing personal and public devotions, Christians appropriate the teachings of the faith into their own lives and are sent forth to witness Christ.

Discipleship involves helping people enter into a personal encounter with Christ through prayer, Scripture, the sacraments, works of mercy, and faith formation.

What does accompaniment look like in the midst of the current crisis of abuse, cover up & scandal? It must mean first LISTENING.

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We need to practice the art of listening, which is more than simply hearing. Listening, in communication, is an openness of heart which makes possible that closeness without which genuine spiritual encounter cannot occur. Listening helps us to find the right gesture and word which shows that we are more than simply bystanders. Only through such respectful and compassionate listening can we enter on the paths of true growth and awaken a yearning for the Christian ideal: the desire to respond fully to Gods love and to bring to fruition what he has sown in our lives.
 

Person to Person Listening: Openness of Heart

We need to provide a space within our hearts for others to feel their despair, hopelessness, anger, betrayal, fear, denial and heartbreak - and then to simply sit with them in that place.

I am struck by how often we (all the Baptized) fall into the trap of trying to tell other people what to feel and how to think about all these matters. What starts as sharing my own emotions quickly turns into debating, posturing, defending, and becoming solution-focused.

When I jump to responding, I ignore the lived experience of the person in front of me. I focus on myself - my own defensiveness, skepticism, anger, etc - rather than being truly present to the other. When I jump to solutions, I am not truly present to brokenness.

We have a particular responsiblity to listen and be truly present to those who have been hurt, traumatized and destroyed by men acting in the name of the Church. It is especially important that we do not allow them to feel forgotten as the spin, politics, and finger pointing continue to make news.

We must pray for those who are still hurting while we argue - but genuine accompaniment calls us to more than prayer. It calls us to compassion, to empathy - to listening - rather than arguing.

Communal Listening:  Masses of Healing, Reparation, Atonement, & Repentence

What might this kind of listening look like the context of a larger community - a parish or a diocese?