Thursday, October 12, 2006

Discipleship

Last night I was blessed to be able to present at Confirmation class on lifelong discipleship. I talked first about the basics of being a Catholic - The precepts of the Church. But, the focus was on what it means to be a true disciple seeking holiness and spiritual maturity. I gave 10 signs of a spiritually mature Catholic and thought I would share them here. The list is not a complete one, nor is it infallible. But, I do think it can be helpful.

10 Signs of a Spiritually Mature Catholic Disciple

(1) Free from Mortal sin
"For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin—because anyone who has died has been freed from sin." -Romans 6:6-7

-To be close to God means to choose to remain in a relationship with Him. When we commit mortal sin, we threaten that relationship.

(2) Has the habit of prayer
“Pray continually; 18give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus.”-1 Thes 5:16-18

-As with any relationship, we must work on it and continue to spend time with the other. Prayer is our connection with God. We must nurture it.

(3) Is joyful, even when suffering and disappointed
“Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” -Phil 4:4-7

Joy is not happiness. It is the virtue that leads to the firm knowledge that God is in control and will always be with us, no matter what.

(4) Lives for Christ’s will regardless of where God leads us.
“I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I that live, but Christ who lives in me.” -Galatians 2:20

-We must let go of our own will in order to let God take control of our lives. Of course this is easier said than done. Yet, when accomplished holiness follows.

(5) Knows Scripture and Church Teachings
“Now an angel of the Lord said to Philip, "Go south to the road—the desert road—that goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza." So he started out, and on his way he met an Ethiopian eunuch, an important official in charge of all the treasury of Candace, queen of the Ethiopians. This man had gone to Jerusalem to worship, and on his way home was sitting in his chariot reading the book of Isaiah the prophet. The Spirit told Philip, "Go to that chariot and stay near it. Then Philip ran up to the chariot and heard the man reading Isaiah the prophet. "Do you understand what you are reading?" Philip asked. "How can I," he said, "unless someone explains it to me?" So he invited Philip to come up and sit with him. “The eunuch asked Philip, "Tell me, please, who is the prophet talking about, himself or someone else?" Then Philip began with that very passage of Scripture and told him the good news about Jesus.”-Acts 8:26-31, 34-35

-We cannot love what we do not know. The more we know about Christ the more we can love.

(6) Obedient to the teachings of Christ
" As Jesus was walking beside the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon called Peter and his brother Andrew. They were casting a net into the lake, for they were fishermen. "Come, follow me," Jesus said, "and I will make you fishers of men." At once they left their nets and followed him." -Matt 4:18-20

-To be a mature disciple, we must be able to hear Christ's voice and follow His commands, no matter how hard or inconvenient they are. Also, to delay obedience is the same as disobeying.

(7) Seeks Virtue
"Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you." -Phil 4: 8-9

-Virtue is the habit of doing what is good and true easily and quickly. But, this doesn't come easily. We must pray for virtue and practice it continually.

(8) Serves others selflessly
“If you do good to those who do good to you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. And if you lend to those from whom you hope to receive back, what credit is that to you? For even sinners lend to sinners to receive as much back. But love your enemies, do good, and lend, hoping for nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High.” -Luke 6:33-35

-Service to others is a true sign of a mature disciple. Christ taught us to wash the feet of others, to be the last, to put others first. His servant leadership is a model for us all.

(9) Shares their faith with others
“For I am not ashamed of the Gospel, it is the power of God for the salvation of all who believe.” -Romans 1:16

-We cannot claim to be mature disciples who love God if we don't seek to share God's love with others. We can talk about our spouses, girlfriends, boyfriends and others easily. We don't stand up for others badmouthing them. Do we do the same for Christ?

(10) Flies to the Sacraments
“They devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.” -Acts 2:42

-The center of our Catholic faith is found in the Sacraments and the grace received through them. We should center our spiritual life around them, especially frequent reception of the Eucharist and frequent reconciliation.