In order to become an intentional disciple we need to know the greatest story ever told.
You were created by God out of love. You were not an accident. You were not an afterthought. From all eternity God had you in mind. He willed you in to existence and He wills you to continue in existence at every moment. Did God need to create us? Absolutely not! God is perfect in Himself and that is an important truth. God needs nothing from you - His only motivation for creating you is Love. “For God is love” (1 Jn 4:8), and love is God’s very being; it is all He knows how to do.
I have sketched a three-point plan over the past three weeks to help us create good Catholic habits - weekly Mass, daily prayer, and monthly confession. These habits prepare our hearts to receive the love of God in a deeper and more personal way. The sacraments are powerful vehicles of grace in our lives, but they are not magic. We have to develop a receptive and responsive heart to the graces God wishes to shower upon us.
Through developing these good Catholic habits our hearts are more aware of and open to God’s call to a deep personal relationship with Him. He wants us to know and experience the personal love He has for each of us. Pope Benedict XVI reminds us that “being Christian is not the result of an ethical choice or a lofty idea, but the encounter with an event, a person, which gives life a new horizon and a decisive direction….”
I desire nothing more than to help you deepen your relationship with Jesus. I want to encourage you to become an “intentional” disciple of Jesus. I will be trying to lay out what that means and how to do it.
The first part of this process is reacquainting ourselves with the kerygma. The kerygma is the Greek term referring to the preaching or proclamation of the basic outline of the life, passion, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. It is the nucleus of the Gospel (the Good News) that awakens initial Christian faith. It leads us to say that “Jesus is Lord.”
All of us who have been baptized will eventually be called to make a personal choice to live as a disciple of Jesus Christ in the midst of his Church. Below are two quotes to pray with this week and some questions to ponder.
St. John Paul II described the kerygma as “the initial proclamation by which a person is one day overwhelmed and brought to the decision to entrust him or herself to Jesus Christ by faith.”
Pope Benedict XVI: “Faith is above all a personal, intimate encounter with Jesus, and to experience his closeness, his friendship, his love; only in this way does one learn to know him ever more, and to love and follow him ever more. May this happen to each one of us.”
Where am I at in my relationship with Jesus? Have I made a commitment to Jesus as Lord of my life? Have I entrusted my life to Jesus?
“In the life of the body a man is sometimes sick, and unless he takes medicine, he will die. Even so in the spiritual life a man is sick on account of sin. For that reason he needs medicine so that he may be restored to health; and this grace is bestowed in the Sacrament of Penance.”--St. Thomas Aquinas
The sacrament of Confession is an extremely important and underutilized sacrament. It is extremely important because we know that we are sinners - that we miss the mark at times. We need a do over, a new start with God and with each other. The sacrament of confession is indeed the medicine we need in this fallen world to continually repair our relationship with God and others. We receive the forgiveness of Original Sin in baptism and all personal sins when we are baptized as an adult, but the effects of Original Sin are still present - concupiscence. Concupiscence means we still struggle with the temptations to sin and weakness in resisting sin. It is the reality we experience when our disorder passions lead us to do acts that our intellect forbids.
I am a Catholic priest writing about Catholic things.