Monday, May 28
Jesus wants to share His life with you so you can experience the fullness of life. He is inviting each one of us into a relationship with Him, and that makes you someone of untold value to Him, and to us.
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[the laity] are bound by the general obligation and they have the right, whether as individuals or in associations, to strive so that the divine message of salvation may be known and accepted by all people throughout the world (Apostolicam Actuositatem, 6, 13).
Spiritual gifts (“charisms” in Greek) are given through the Holy Spirit to us at baptism. They are all supernatural, meaning that we do something (help someone achieve a goal, listen to and encourage someone, write a story, teach someone something) – and God does something morein the person beyond what we could accomplish alone. Some are miraculous, and so when we read of the apostles, saints, and other Catholics (or validly baptized non-Catholic Christians) expelling demons, curing the sick or even raising the dead – we’re hearing accounts of certain charisms in action.
The Second Vatican Council teaches, “charisms, whether they be the more outstanding or the more simple and widely diffused, are to be received with thanksgiving and consolation for they are perfectly suited to and useful for the needs of the Church.” (Lumen Gentium: Dogmatic Constitution on the Church, 12)
Charisms are not natural talents we inherit them from our parents. They don’t make us holy and are not necessary for salvation. Thus, St. Thomas Aquinas, OP called them “gratuitous graces.” They are given to us for the benefit of others, and in this way Jesus continues his ministry in the world today through us, His Body. Because they have the potential to change people’s lives and open them to God, they are excellent tools for evangelization. They are also the means by which we can discern what God wants us to do with our lives.
So here’s a quick way to identify activities in your life in which God may be working through a charism He’s given you:
1) What do you do that helps others(directly or indirectly) that you enjoy, that energizes you, that may even make you feel closer to God? This is a subjective sign of a charism.
2) What do you do that helps others that also seems to be particularly effective? This is one objective sign of a charism as the Holy Spirit works in those we are helping.
3) What do you do to help others and they seem to give you perhaps unexpectedly positive feedback? We often don’t pay enough attention to this, but it may be a sign that they’ve experienced God at work through what you’ve done.
A CONSCIOUS, INTENTIONAL RESPONSE TO AN INVITATION TO RELATIONSHIP
The Catechism of the Catholic Church (paragraph #546) says that through his parables Jesus invites people to the feast of the kingdom, but he also asks for a radical choice: to gain the kingdom, one must give everything. (Mt. 22:1-14) Words are not enough, deeds are required! (Mt. 21:28-32) Believing is possible only by grace and the help of the Holy Spirit. But this free choice is also an authentically human act. that is not contrary to our freedom or to human reason (Catechism, #154). After all, we choose to trust some people and what they reveal to us about themselves in order to enter a relationship with them.
AN EXPERIENCE OF NEW LIFE
Christ's disciples have "put on the new the new self, created in God’s way in righteousness and holiness of truth." By "putting away falsehood," they are to "put away all malice and all guile and insincerity and envy and all slander." (Ephesians 4:24-25) This new life is made possible by Christ who unites himself to us. He says, "I am the vine, you are the branches. Whoever remains in me and I in him will bear much fruit, because without me you can do nothing." (John 14:5) St. Paul could claim, "I live, no longer I, but Christ lives in me; insofar as I now live in the flesh, I live by faith in the Son of God who has loved me and given himself up for me." (Galatians 2:20) An essential aspect of this new life is prayer. In the Holy Spirit, Christian prayer is a communion of love with the Father, not only through Christ but also in him. (Catechism, #2615)
A LIFE DIRECTED TOWARDS OTHERS
By loving us even to his death on the cross, Jesus manifests the Father's love which he receives. By loving one another, the disciples imitate the love of Jesus which they themselves receive. He gives his disciples a new commandment: "love one another as I have loved you." (John 13:34) Through baptism, the disciple receives graces of the Holy Spirit called charisms which help to build up the Church, the secular order, and meet the needs of the world. (Catechism, #799)
A LIFE OF WITNESS
The experience of a new life leads the disciple to speak to others about the treasure they have discovered in Jesus Christ (Matthew 13:44). This has been commanded by Jesus, who his disciples, "Go, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you." (Matthew 28:19-20) Witnessing to Jesus is necessary for salvation: "everyone who acknowledges me before others the Son of Man will acknowledge before the angels of God. But whoever denies me before others will be denied before the angels of God." (Luke 12:8-9)
A LIFE IN COMMUNION
Jesus formed a community of disciples around himself during his life. He proclaimed a mysterious and real communion between his own body and ours: "He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in him." (John 6:56) This community continues in the Church. In the Mass, the communion of Christ's disciples, born from Jesus' total self-gift for our salvation on the cross (Catechism, #766) is expressed and deepened. Moreover, St. Paul told the Church in Corinth, "you are Christ’s body, and individually parts of it." (1 Corinthians 12:27)
Just as any human relationship takes time to develop, so too our relationship with Jesus. And like our other relationships, there are distinct stages that mark its growth. The descriptions below are from the book Forming Intentional Disciples by Sherry Weddell.
Where are you on this journey?
Initial trust: Do you have a positive association with Jesus Christ, the Church, a Christian believer, or something identifiably Christian? Without some kind of bridge of trust in place, we cannot move closer to God.
Spiritual curiosity: Are you intrigued by or desire to know more about Jesus, his life, and his teachings or some aspect of the Christian faith? This curiosity can range from mere awareness of a new possibility to something quite intense.
Spiritual openness: Are you open to the possibility of personal and spiritual change? Is there a pattern of behavior you want to change, or do you have a hope that there's more to life than you are experiencing?
Spiritual seeking: Are you actively seeking to know the God who is calling you? Do you seek the company of Christians? Have you been asking a Catholic friend about Mass, the Bible, or how to pray? Seekers are asking of God, “Are you the one to whom I will give myself?” Are you wondering if you can commit to Christ in his Church.
Intentional discipleship: This is the decision to “drop one’s nets,” like Simon Peter, the fisherman at the Sea of Galilee did. It is to make a conscious commitment to follow Jesus in the midst of his Church as an obedient disciple and to reorder one’s life accordingly. It's not the end of the journey at all - but a definitive new direction of one's life!
Alpha is a series of sessions exploring life and the Christian faith. Each evening includes a simple, free meal, a 25 minute video and great, open-ended conversation. Half-way through the course there is a day retreat in the countryside. If you are interested in helping run Alpha or attending an Alpha course, contact the pastor.
Our first Alpha Course ended just before Holy Week, and it was a great success! Keep an eye on this page for information on our next Alpha Course, which will likely be held during the summer. (see a map of our campus HERE).
In my opinion, Alpha accomplishes an incredible task, in making people interested in faith and in making faith relevant to the modern man.
Fr. Raniero Cantalamessa, OFM Cap.,
Preacher to the Papal Household
We have been created by God for a relationship with Him. Thus everyone, whether they know it or not, is on a spiritual journey, and where you are now is not nearly as important as where God is inviting you to be. That's because you are loved by God, no matter your struggles. You are created in His image and likeness. He has given you gifts, natural talents and experiences because you are precious to Him. We simply invite you to walk with us and intentionally respond to the invitation Jesus is offering you, "Come, follow me." (Mt. 4:19)
"You, eternal Trinity, are a deep sea. The more I enter you, the more I discover, and the more I discover, the more I seek you."
St. Catherine of Siena, lay Dominican, Dialogue, 167.
For information concerning a religious vocation with the Western Dominican friars, click here.
For information concerning a vocation to the diocesan priesthood, contact the Archdiocesan vocation director through LAvocations.org
Links to some Dominican Women's congregations and monasteries
Sisters of Notre Dame - minister at St. Dominic's Parish & Grade School
For help with general discernment of a vocation to priesthood, marriage or religious life, click here.
If he hadn't taken a trip with his bishop, Dominic might have remained within the structure of contemplative life as a canon regular - a priest living with other priests serving at the cathedral of his diocese in Spain in the late 12th century. They were attempting a reform by reviving the apostolic common life as described in the Acts of the Apostles. On a journey through southern France with his bishop, he was confronted with the Albigensian heresy, which held that two opposite principles - one good, one evil - were the source of the spiritual and physical realms, respectively. They denied the goodness of creation, the Incarnation and the sacraments. The "perfect" among them abstained from sex to avoid bringing more children into the world, and took as little food and drink as possible.
Dominic saw that ordinary people admired the extreme asceticism of the heresy's leaders, and saw that the clergy sent to preach to them would be ineffective unless they took seriously Jesus' command to share the good news with "no money bag, no sack, no sandals" (Luke 10:4) He began a mission of itinerant preaching. His initial success was with some women, who, upon their conversion, formed a monastic community to support Dominic's mission with their prayers.
Dominic’s vision was universal; he saw a need in the Church which extended beyond France. Gradually, a number of men began to join him, and the Order of Friars Preachers was founded in 1216. As the Order spread through Europe and through time, the Order came to include active sisters and a host of lay Dominicans. His ideal, and the life of the Order, is a linking of a life with God through study and prayer - especially the liturgy of the hours - with a ministry of salvation to people through the preaching of the Word of God. To this day the Dominican strives to "contemplate and share with others the fruits of contemplation."
This life has aspects that any Christian should imitate: the combination of prayer, study and activity in service of others is, ideally, the life of a Christian accountant, carpenter, mother, engineer or nurse.
"In the long run, is there any other way of handing on the Gospel than by transmitting to another person one's personal experience of faith?"
Pope Paul VI, Evangelization in the Modern World, 46