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. 

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?

September 15 is the Memorial of Our Lady of Sorrows.

May she who followed her Son to Calvary help us to follow him, carrying his cross with serenity and love, to reach the joy of Easter. May the Virgin of Sorrows especially comfort those who are facing the most difficult situations. (Pope Francis, March 24, 2013)

In her role as Our Lady of Sorrows, Mary becomes the mother who cries with us when we are suffering. 

When Simeon prohpesied at the temple that a sword would pierce her heart, did she know what that sword would be?  Did that prophesy fill her with dread?  Did she pray desperately to God to avoid it, even as she taught her young son to seek and obey God's will in his life?    As she listened to Jesus cry out on the cross, "My God, My God, why have you forsaken me," (Mt 27:46) did she feel abandoned by God?   

kisspng quotation mark symbol pull quote sign marks vector 5ad89cafec1189.5207000815241453279669Mary lived in a different time and place. Her experience of daily living was nothing like mine in the details. She didn’t have the convenience of electricity, for one thing. Her vocation was outlined in a very different way.

And yet, I find that the Mother of God and I do share the humanity of suffering. As she stood at the foot of the Cross, she must have felt the full cascade of emotions and the brunt of sorrow. The three days before Jesus rose must have been torture.

It’s easier to lean back into the arms of someone who’s been there. I look to Mary and see the careworn face of a wife, daughter, and mother who has known the burden of everyday life, the small stings and the big burns. I turn to Mary and I feel the comfort of someone who has survived the suffering and offers me the same graces.

Sarah Reinhard, Integrated Catholic

In her role as the Sorrowful Mother, Mary shows us how - in a life filled with suffering - there is also grace.   When we are despondent and feeling hopeless, Our Lady of Sorrows can be a wellspring of hope.  She can cry with us in the midst of pain.  She can pray with us through our heartbreak.  She can wrap us in the comforting warmth of her motherly mantel and just be with us.  

One reason many of us don't pray more often or better is because we have questions and uncertainties about prayer. We worry that we’re doing it wrong or that it’s not really working. One of the best ways to combat the neutralizing effect this doubt can have on your prayer life is to remember that prayer is a gift.

Prayer Comes From God

“[Prayer] is not what we do but what God does in us, how God loves us, addresses us, looks at us, enlightens us, forgives us, heals us, purifies us and eventually transforms us.”

Dominican Nuns Ireland Family Day Address (www.dominicannuns.ie)

God is constantly seeking us. Like the father who daily scanned the horizon for his prodigal son, God waits patiently for us. Prayer is the gift, given to us by God, to respond to His call and to seek him in return.

Every moment of prayer begins, not with us, but with God’s call to us - the desire for union with him that he has placed deep within our hearts. Our prayer is a response to that call. As the Catechism of the Catholic Church says,

“Prayer is both a gift of grace and a determined response on our part. It always presupposes effort” (2725).

Prayer is Relationship

It is time spent with someone you love. To pray is to speak and then to listen; to communicate on a more personal and profound level and to grow in understanding, respect and appreciation of the other.