Sept 11, 2016
How many of you remember going back to school and immediately being assigned to write an essay entitled, ‘What I did for my summer vacation?’ As you can see, one of my first assignments is this column.
Although I’m not going to ask you to write an essay, I am going to give you an assignment. The summer was a time to rest and maybe doing some things that you wouldn’t normally do but now we all go back to school. What does that mean for us who are no longer school-aged? Our emphasis here at St. Mary’s has been on discipleship. The word ‘disciple’ comes from the Greek word for pupil or follower. A disciple is someone who has committed his life to learn from a Master.
As a disciple, someone committed to learning, he beginning of this program year is an opportunity to set a goal for your personal discipleship. Where do you need to grow as a disciple of Jesus? Our map for discipleship – Love, Love, Give, Grow and Go – is meant to give you a framework for how to grow as a disciple. Do you need to grow in your love of God by learning how to worship him more fully both in public and in private? Do you need to learn how to love your neighbour as yourself by taking on a more biblical model of community and personal relationships? Are you someone who is attracted to Jesus but hasn’t yet made the decision to live for him rather than for yourself. Your goal, then, is to make the decision to give yourself to Jesus. After giving your life to Jesus you are called to grow: how do you learn to live the way that he did? Finally, since you have been commissioned by your Baptism, how can you better prepare yourself to go into the world as a witness to Jesus and his Church?
I believe that the vitality – the very strength of a parish – is the sum of the discipleship journeys of the members of the parish. As parish leaders we have praying and planning so that the parish can be as effective as possible at supporting all of your discipleship journeys. Next month, we hope to have a parish-wide meeting to update you on where we see the parish going in the next few years.
So, now that you’ve had the summer ‘off’, you have an assignment: what is the goal for your discipleship in the coming year?
June 12, 2016
In my last two bulletin articles I have been writing about three goals that I have for the parish:
1.Disciples who are responsible for their own discipleship
2.Everything in our parish organized around our mission outward
3.Each member of our parish accountable for his/her contribution to that mission
The third goal, as you can see, is about being accountable to each other. Most of us are more zealous about others being accountable to us than we are about being accountable to someone else.
The idea of accountability is something that makes sense on a very natural level. It is necessary in both marriages and families. In a marriage both spouses have to accept responsibility for making their own contribution to the relationship. One person cannot make a marriage work on his/her own. When chores and responsibilities are distributed in a family, it matters whether you fulfill your task or not. If it’s your turn to make supper or cut the grass or take out the garbage, then the rest of the family is depending on you.
Biblical images of the kingdom can also be seen in terms of accountability. Jesus describes the kingdom of God using images likes fishing, shepherding, farming and tending vineyards. We need the shepherds to care for the sheep and leave the fishing and the farming to those who can do it better. If the shepherds don’t shepherd, who can replace them?
The other image is St. Paul’s description of the Church as a body (1 Cor. 12: 12 – 30). Each part has a responsibility. The nose is responsible for smelling. It should leave the hearing to the ear and the seeing to the eye. If the nose doesn’t fulfill its role for the body then the body will be without the sense of smell (like one of those endless winter colds!).
God has given you a unique set of gifts. They have been given to you for the sake of the body. The body – our parish - will be healthy and vital to the degree that each of us is contributing our gifts to the mission of the parish. We have also begun a process with our ministry leaders to see how ministries can be accountable for the particular task that they are to focus on. Each ministry most benefits the parish when it becomes excellent at its particular area of focus. Our ministries are free to do that when they know that the other ministries have all taken up their responsibilities too.