The church, unfortunately has earned itself some less than flattering reputations over the centuries. For instance, it has been suggested that the church is known more for what it is against than what it is for. Obviously such a statement is an over-generalizations to which there are many wonderful exceptions. Some of the church’s activities and/or choices that have contributed towards such assessments have been fostered by well-intentioned commitment to being a prophetic presence in our culture – a light in the darkness, if you will.
The problem is that sometimes we forget that God is already at work even in the darkness. Before we as the church can make any kind of meaningful contributions to our world, we must develop an awareness of and an appreciation for the realities of that world, which in turn means we must be willing to listen to our culture in order to discern what God is already doing. This does not in any wise necessitate a compromising of our loyalty to Scripturally-based convictions. It simply means that sometimes the most effective communication instrument at our disposal is our ears!
This calls for a delicate combination of two ingredients: courage and compassion. We need courage because often our conviction may well be interpreted as arrogance. We need compassion because, well, that is what Jesus both commanded and demonstrated. It seems to me that a flourishing congregation is one that is willing to take inventory of how much it is “for” or “against” things. It must also be willing to develop a positive presence marked by both courage and compassion. The book I refer to under our section “We’re reading” gives some great considerations as to how to do that.
Fr. Jerome Lavigne is Vicar for Catholic Education and Pastor of St. Patrick’s in Calgary, Alberta.
We've all heard the term so many times that one would think we’d all know exactly what it means - and yet, it remains an experience and a ‘Way of Life’ that’s still left to be discovered by the majority of those who call themselves Christians throughout the world: ‘DISCIPLESHIP…’
Nearly 200 years ago, a young man by the name of Frederic, at 19-years of age entered the chaos of university life and pursued studies in law at the Sorbonne in Paris. Frederic believed that HIS FAITH, as a Christian, could help the New World become a JUST WORLD.
Meanwhile, many at the University viewed Christianity as the sole enemy of social progress. (nice to see not much has changed in postsecondary education centers since that time)
One day, after Frederic spoke out about Christianity's role in civilization, one of the club members said: "Let us be frank, Mr. Ozanam; let us also be very particular. What do you do BESIDES TALK to prove the Faith you claim is in you?” Those words pierced him straight through the heart – and soon began gnawing away at his conscience…
As it was that day for Frederic Ozanam – he who went on to found ‘The Society of Saint Vincent de Paul’ back in 1833 – a society that to this day serves as a CHANNEL OF CHARITY born straight out from Heaven’s heart pouring itself in over 140 countries and touching the lives of millions of people – so I invite every set of eyes through which this information is being processed on this blog: allow for such a question to echo DEEP inside your life’s Daily Fabric:
"Let us be frank, AND let us also be very particular. What do you do BESIDES TALK to prove the Faith you claim is in you?”
Here's an example of ‘DISCIPLESHIP’ from another angle: George and Mary-Lou were celebrating 50 years of marriage and during the reception, one of his friends picked up the mic. and said:
"So tell us George - what’s your recipe for a LONG, HAPPY MARRIAGE?"
George got up, took the mic. and went on to explain how on their wedding day, his father-in-law had taken him aside and handed him a small box. Inside the box was a beautifully appointed gold watch, which he still wore to this day. Across the face of the watch, which he saw at least A DOZEN TIMES A DAY, were etched in the words: "SAY SOMETHING NICE TO MARY LOU…"
As it was for George being reminded at least a dozen times a day about how to be in relationship with his wife, so it ought to be for we who call ourselves ‘Disciples of the Christ’. Here we stand claiming before the world that we believe that the Eternal Son of the Almighty suffered the agony of the cross out of love for the whole world and that those who believe in Him, now resurrected from the dead, have the opportunity to live on following this life in the Kingdom of Heaven for all of eternity – PEOPLE OF TRUE FAITH – like Frederic Ozanam: think about, stare at and contemplate HIS TRUE PRESENCE IN THEIR LIVES not just when they pray in the morning or at night, but at least over a dozen times a day, every day!!
For as it stands, every man and woman on earth lives STARING OUT of a Limited Window before death, a time privileged with responsibility and choice. Our age is one that NOW boldly challenges those who dare call themselves ‘Christians’ with a time of decision – like it or not – we ALL STAND IN THE SHADOWLAND between FAITH and UNBELIEF, WITNESS and ACCOMMODATION: Believers and the Antichrists....
‘Disciples of the Christ’ ARISE!!! For we have been CALLED and COMMISSIONED by the Master – and there’s no ‘getting out of it’ – called and commissioned to enter into every dimension of society and TRANSFORM IT FROM WITHIN as ‘Disciples of the Christ’.
To be ‘Light in the Darkness’…
"…let us be frank, AND let us also be very particular. What do you do BESIDES TALK to prove the Faith you claim is in you?”
Threshold of the Future
The year before we entered the third millennium, Michael Riddell wrote a book, The Threshold of the Future. Recognizing that the church in the West was not well, the author states, “The recognition that we are blind and poor and naked is the beginning of hope. The purpose of this books is not to plunge the church into despair. Rather it is to call the community of Christ back to its radical roots and its essential character as a missionary body.” Two decades later, the reader is invited to see how accurate his suggestions have been. A great read still.