Commission Study Leader Guide (English)


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Commission focuses on infusing our missionary identity into how we think and approach our apostolate and personal growth in holiness.

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Commission Study Leader Guide (English)

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  2. 2. Commission Leader Guide Created and published by Catholic Christian Outreach Canada. Copyright © 2013. All rights reserved. Nihil Obstat: Msgr. Gregory N. Smith, JCD Censor Deputatus Imprimatur: +Terrence Prendergast, S.J. Archbishop of Ottawa June 12, 2011 Solemnity of Pentecost No part of this book may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, or otherwise, without the prior written permission of Catholic Christian Outreach Canada. 1247 Kilborn Place Ottawa, ON K1H 6K9 Canada Phone: 613-736-1999 Fax: 613-736-1800 Printed in Canada. 3
  3. 3. The cover image for Commission is wheat, which reminds us of the importance and urgency our Lord placed on the mission to bring the Good News to the whole world. But I tell you, look around you, and see how the fields are ripe for harvesting. John 4:35 He said to them, ‘The harvest is plentiful, but the labourers are few; therefore ask the Lord of the harvest to send out labourers into his harvest.’ Luke 10:2 Image © Iakov Kalinin 2010 Cover Design © Chris Pecora 2011 4
  4. 4. th Quotations from: Pope John Paul II messages to the youth for the 7 th and 17 World Youth Days, Incarnationis Mysterium, Evangelii Nuntiandi, Address of his Holiness John Paul II to the Bishops of the United States of America on their "ad Limina" visit March 20 1993, Deus Caritas Est, Apostolic Letter Ubicumque et Semper, Decree on the Apostolate of Laity, Decree on the Mission Activity of the Church, Verbum Domini, Redemptoris Missio, Lineamenta for 2012 Synod on the New Evangelization and Catechism of the Catholic Church, used with permission from Libreria Editrice Vaticana. Pope Benedict XVI, On Christian Unity in 2009, "When He Wishes and When We Are Prepared, [God] Will Create Unity". Used with permission., Fr. Jean C. J. d’Elbée, I Believe in Love, Sophia Institute Press 2001 (English translation by Marilyn Teichert and Madeleine Stebbins of Croire á L’Amour. All rights reserved. Used with permission. This book can be ordered at or by calling 1-800-888-9344. Referenced from The New Evangelization: Overcoming the Obstacles, edited by Steven Boguslawski, OP and Ralph Martin. Copyright © 2008 by the Sacred Heart Major Seminary of Detroit. Paulist Press, Inc., Mahwah, NJ. Used with permission of Paulist Press, Inc. Excerpt from Evangelization for the Third Millennium, by Avery Cardinal Dulles, SJ. Copyright © 2009 by New York Province of the Society of Jesus. Paulist Press, Inc., Mahwah, NJ. Reprinted with permission of Paulist Press, Inc. Scripture quotations are from the New Revised Standard Version Bible: Catholic Edition, copyright © 1989, 1993 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used with permission. All rights reserved. The excerpt regarding Dr. Peter Kreeft at Boston College is used with permission from Dr. Peter Kreeft, May 2002. Fr. Bob Bedard, CC (founder), quoted with permission from Companions of the Cross. All rights reserved. Merriam Webster Dictionary, 5
  5. 5. Dedication to John Paul II All CCO staff and students would agree that laced throughout our formation on evangelization is the teaching and heart of Pope John Paul II as exemplified in his various addresses to the youth of the world and, in particular, his encyclical Redemptoris Missio. During the early years of CCO, André and Angèle Regnier regularly immersed themselves in John Paul II’s writings as published in the magazine The Pope Speaks. As a result, CCO has endeavoured to put into action what John Paul II taught about the missionary identity of the Church. In 2002, CCO was honoured to receive a personal letter of encouragement from the Holy Father following World Youth Day (see a copy of the text on the next page). Three years later, CCO members, gathered at our national student conference, sent the Pope a pledge signed by nearly 400 young people. Through this pledge, they committed themselves to the Pope’s World Youth Day Toronto vision of “a new generation of builders” and promised to join in the work of evangelization. Canada’s Apostolic Nuncio, Archbishop Luigi Ventura, forwarded the pledge to John Paul II while he was ill in the Gemelli Clinic in Rome. As we now know, the Pope had only a few more months to live. Shortly after the message was sent, Archbishop Ventura wrote to CCO: I am pleased to inform you that your message was presented to the Pope by Archbishop Stanislaw Dziwisz, his private secretary. The Holy Father has responded in turn by signing, in his own hand, a copy of the text and returning it to you, as an expression of recognition to the organizers of the initiative and all those who participated. With great affection and admiration, this faith study is dedicated to the memory and legacy of Blessed Pope John Paul II. We thank God for the privilege of having been formed under his leadership and in his ‘school of evangelization’. 6
  6. 6. The following is the letter written and personally signed by His Holiness, Pope John Paul II, to Catholic Christian Outreach on the occasion of the Rise Up 2002 Christmas Conference in Edmonton, Alberta. From the Vatican, December 28, 2002. It is a great joy for me to greet you on the occasion of your National Christmas Conference. The memory of my meeting with you and so many other young people from around the world in July of this year remains vividly etched in my mind. At the World Youth Day Prayer Vigil held in Downsview Park on Saturday, the evening of July 27, I called for a new generation of builders to respond to the aspiration of humanity for a civilization of love marked by freedom and peace. Indeed I entrusted this hope of mine specifically to you, my dear young people. As members of the Catholic Christian Outreach you are generously responding to that appeal through your courage to be disciples of Jesus, living the life of the Beatitudes on campuses throughout Canada. In this way, as you strive to be the salt of the earth and light of the world for others, you become shining beacons illuminating the way of the Lord, answering the question that stirs in the hearts of all young people: "to whom shall we go?" (Jn 6:68). Yes, Jesus Christ is the sure foundation of your hope and joy. Immersed in him and his paschal mystery your own lives will grow in holiness, which is the authentic path of true witness to the light of his loving presence in our world. And so I confidently renew my appeal to you: listen to the voice of Jesus! Let His light shine in your lives, continue steadfastly on the path of holiness, share with everyone "the good news of a great joy which will come to all the people" (Lk 2:10). Invoking upon all of you the joy and peace that the birth of our Savior brings, I cordially impart to you and your families my Apostolic Blessing. JOANNES PAULUS PP. II 7
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  8. 8. Table of Contents Introduction Faith Study Objectives Leading a Faith Study 10 12 14 Lesson 1 – The Premise 20 Recognizing that evangelization is our deepest identity. Lesson 2 – Holiness and Mission 29 Holiness and mission are interdependent. Lesson 3 – The Message 38 Comprehending the necessity of clearly and simply proclaiming the kerygma. Lesson 4 – The Message and You 49 Recognizing how we have experienced God's saving action in our own lives. Lesson 5 – Heart for the Lost 61 Uniting with God’s heart of compassion and concern for those who are far from him. Lesson 6 – Understanding “Timothy” 77 Taking into consideration the perspective and experience of those we want to evangelize. Lesson 7 – See Opportunities 91 Identifying people and situations in my sphere of influence that could be transformed through the clear proclamation of Jesus. Lesson 8 – Next Generation Mindset 100 Understanding a ministry of spiritual multiplication. Lesson 9 – Struggles and Doubts 110 Examining common areas of discouragement for missionaries. Lesson 10 – Commissioned 119 Recognizing, with great expectations, the work of the Holy Spirit both in the evangelizer and the one being evangelized. Appendix Commission Follow-Up 131 133 Creating a strategic plan to reach out to a "Timothy" or influence a group/ministry to be more evangelistic. 9
  9. 9. Introduction Commission is the fifth in a series of faith studies written by Catholic Christian Outreach. Commission expresses more than twenty years of outreach and leadership formation on Canadian campuses. In our evangelization efforts, we strive to identify with people, and to celebrate the beauty and good in each individual. We also look for appropriate opportunities to introduce these people to Jesus in a non-judgmental, relevant, clear and simple way. The three pillars of CCO are to proclaim, equip and commission. We believe that a clear and simple proclamation of the Good News of Jesus is urgently needed in the world, even among Catholics; this is the mandate of the new evangelization. Having proclaimed the Gospel, we then seek to equip those who have experienced conversion with the necessary skills to evangelize others. We hope that through this Commission study our alumni, supporters and friends will put into action the great task Jesus gave his disciples, “to go and make disciples of all nations” (Matthew 28:18). Our goal is not just to share the message of Jesus, but to spread his mission. This mission is to form apostles — believers who, through the empowerment and inspiration of the Holy Spirit, send others to proclaim the message. This multiplication strategy comes from scriptural models which the study expounds. It helps to have completed CCO’s other faith studies, particularly Discovery, in order to understand some of the concepts and illustrations used here. The relationships diagram used in CCO evangelization is available in the appendix of this booklet. Since the present study can offer only a summary of the Church’s teaching on the new evangelization, we strongly recommend some background reading on this topic, namely, the Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Nuntiandi by Pope Paul VI and the Encyclical Redemptoris Missio by Pope John Paul II. (These documents can be found on the Vatican website: I Believe in Love, by Fr. Jean C. J. d’Elbée, is another text that expounds ideas briefly presented in this study. Many of the dispositions CCO members strive to embody in 10
  10. 10. their missionary work come from the teachings of St. Thérèse of Lisieux. Fr. d’Elbée beautifully articulates St. Thérèse’s spirituality in this book. In fact, all three of these works are required reading for CCO full-time lay missionaries. We hope that as you study this material and take it to prayer, the Father will commission you, through the power of the Holy Spirit, to send others out to boldly proclaim that Jesus is the Way, the Truth and the Life. 11
  11. 11. Faith Study Objectives 1. CCO's Strategy Proclaim / Equip / Commission. To bring people to Christ, build them up as Catholic Christians, and send them out to reach others. 2. The Objectives of CCO Small Group Faith Studies x For students to hear spiritual truths. x For students to hear the truth about Jesus and be introduced to him. x For students to make Christian friends and be drawn into a Christian community. x To provide a means to get students involved with activities in CCO, their parish, their diocese and the universal Church. x For students to grow in their understanding and love of the Catholic Church, especially the sacraments. x For students to encounter the love, forgiveness and salvation offered in Christ Jesus, and to have a deep and lasting “metanoia” (conversion of heart and life). x For students to learn transferable concepts which enable them to transmit the truths they learn to others. x To equip students for future leadership. 3. Goals of Each Thematic Study CCO has formulated five small group thematic faith studies: Discovery, Source, Growth, Obedience and Commission. These are faith studies, not Bible studies in a pure sense (i.e. the study of long passages of Scripture in their context). CCO studies look at particular Scripture passages and other Church documents as they relate to certain topics or themes (e.g. prayer, the love of God, the Holy Spirit). The studies do not attempt to teach comprehensive theology. They are simply meant to (re)introduce students to the basics of the Catholic faith, challenging them to greater holiness by means of group discussion. Leaders should understand the purpose of the studies: what they teach, how they complement each other, and the objectives of each lesson. Small group sessions should be purposeful (for example, we want to avoid spending hours looking up verses that may quickly be forgotten). Adhering to the objectives of each lesson will help us to successfully pass on their content. Discovery – Evangelization. The first four lessons of this study introduce the basic concepts of Christian faith. In the fifth lesson, participants are invited to make a commitment to Christ. The sixth lesson aims to help them better grasp that commitment. 12
  12. 12. Source – Holy Spirit. This study looks at the Holy Spirit's vital role in our lives, which is to empower and direct us to be holy, and teach us to overcome our sinfulness. Growth – Daily Christian Growth. This study explores the living out of a commitment to Christ. It explains the essential components of the Christian life (prayer, Scripture, sacraments, fellowship, service and witness). Obedience – Lordship. The focus of this study is obedience to the Lord in various aspects of life (speech habits, sexuality, hardships, Church teachings, etc). Commission – Missionary Identity. This study explores the Church’s deepest identity, which is her missionary character. Truths and principles about evangelization and discipleship that CCO has learned over the years are examined. 4. Commission Goals For participants: • To be convinced of the centrality of evangelization to the life and identity of both the Church and us, as members of the Church. • To have a heart of compassion and concern for those who have not yet encountered God’s love and mercy. • To gain understanding as to why some people are far away from God and the Church: and how to best relate to them. • To restore evangelization as a desired, uniting purpose of all Church activity. • To identify opportunities for evangelization in ministries, parishes, and with their friends and acquaintances. • To multiply their efforts by learning to entrust the message (of salvation) and mission (of multiplication) to other faithful people. • To encounter the Holy Spirit and understand his primacy in the work of evangelization. 13
  13. 13. Leading a Faith Study A. Qualities of a Faith Study Leader Faith study leaders should be: F A C T (Faithful, Available, Contagious and Teachable). They agree to chaste conduct, daily prayer, committed attendance at their parish and dedication to whatever their primary vocation is. (For example, students should be diligent in their academics). They must be: a) Faithful: x To the Lord x To personal holiness (prayer, Mass, discipleship, etc.) x To Church teachings x To a parish – faithfully attending Mass every Sunday x To the call of evangelization b) Available: x Diligently prepare each lesson x Spend time with group members c) Contagious: x Welcoming, affirming x Authentic witness of a vibrant relationship with God x Strive to identify with those to whom they minister x Enjoy and delight in each group member d) Teachable: x In the areas of personal holiness, ministry, character, involvement x Willing to grow in faith (prayer, reading, conferences, retreats) x Able to accept constructive criticism B. How to Lead a Faith Study 1. Phone Contact x As you are dialling, say a brief prayer for each person. x Identify yourself and how you know the person, or received their contact information. x Confirm the time and place of the small group meeting. x Make sure each person knows where to find the meeting room, or... x Plan somewhere obvious to meet so that you can lead your group to the meeting room. x Let them know that every week they should bring a Bible to the group, preferably with an Old Testament. If anyone doesn't have a Bible, ask a CCO staff member if there are extra Bibles available for small groups. 14
  14. 14. 2. Preparation a) Personal Prayer x Leaders should have a consistent personal prayer life (with daily prayer time). x Leaders should be reading Scripture on a regular or daily basis. x Leaders should faithfully attend Mass every Sunday. b) Intercession x Intercede specifically for each participant. x Pray for one student each day. x Ask the Holy Spirit to open the hearts and minds of the participants. x Pray the rosary, offering a decade or a Hail Mary for each member. c) Prepare x Review the faith study as a whole and the lesson to be led. x Have The Catechism of the Catholic Church handy for reference, as per preparation notes. The index in the back of the CCC is the best way to search for information. x Call a CCO staff member or student leader for guidance if necessary. x Note which part(s) of the study are most important and which could be covered more quickly. x The answers provided are intended as a guide and sometimes contain more information than is required. Use as needed. x These studies are tools that you use, not just studies that you lead. Make the content your own. Share your relationship with God and your personal faith journey. 3. Logistics for Your First Meeting x Meet your group members but do not wait too long — 10 minutes after the starting time, go to the study location. x Have everyone introduce themselves, then hand out the studies and go over logistics. x You will need to collect money from each small group member to cover study guide costs. Please forward this money to CCO student executive members (as applies). x Give participants your phone number. x Explain that you are committed to this study time and ask the group to make the same commitment for the semester. This commitment is important because the lessons build on one another. Ask them to let you know if they cannot make it to a meeting. 15
  15. 15. 4. Components of a Faith Study a) Casual sharing x Start the small group meeting in an atmosphere of fun and sharing. x Discuss how the group implemented the study challenges that week. b) Announcements x Make announcements at the beginning of each lesson. If you only make announcements at the end of the lesson, many will be rushing off to class and will not take proper note of the upcoming events. c) Prayer x Open the faith study with prayer. d) Recap last week’s study e) Overview of this week’s study x This helps participants focus on the topic. f) Go through the study material x Summarize each section as you go, so participants understand the direction of the lesson. This avoids a verse-by-verse checklist approach. g) Closing comments x Summarize clearly and concisely the points the group has discovered. x Go over the challenge/homework. h) Closing prayer x Add any special intentions that have come up during the study. x Time permitting, you could close with 10 minutes of small group prayer. Have each person share a need and pray for the person next to him/her. 5. Helpful Tips a) Set the tone x Be on time for the meeting (arrive early when possible). This sets a good example and shows your commitment to the group. x Greet each member by name. Vary comments, but let each know they are welcome. The sooner you remember their names, the sooner they will feel comfortable with the group. b) Facilitate discussion x A circle without barriers is best for group discussion. If anyone comes in late, make sure he/she is brought into the circle. x Your group may be quiet because they may be concerned that the answers are really "deep" ones. They might not want to give the ‘obvious’ answer for fear that it is too simple to be true. For the most part, the answers are very straightforward. Remind the group of this. 16
  16. 16. x Give people time to think after you have asked a question or invited sharing (wait 2-5 seconds before speaking again). Relax. Don't fear silence. x Avoid answering your own questions. Re-word a question if it is unclear. x Sometimes you may want to expand on someone's answer by asking, "What else do you see?" or "What other ways are there?" or "Does anyone else have anything to add?" x Do not struggle to get participants to say exactly what you think is the right answer. Better to let a few questionable responses go by than to discourage people from talking. However, if it is a matter of basic truth or the answer is wide of your aim, say something like, "That's an interesting point of view. Does anyone else have a thought about this?" To avoid confusion sum up briefly, "I appreciate your sharing. I guess my thoughts are... because..." x Acknowledge each person's answer. Let him/her know (verbally and non-verbally) that you are listening and that you appreciate the contribution. If necessary, ask questions like "could you explain more?" Be natural in your response. If someone brings up something new to you, say so ("I hadn't seen that before. Thanks for pointing that out."). x If someone talks too much, try saying, "Let's hear from someone who hasn't had a chance to comment yet." x If someone is barely talking in the study, ask him/her to read aloud certain sections of the faith study or Scriptures so that he/she can participate verbally in the group. x Direct a question at an individual to draw out timid participants. It is a good idea to direct easy questions their way to build their confidence in speaking out. x You can also use this technique (of asking specific people to answer questions) to allow other voices to join in when there are individuals monopolizing the discussion. x Keep the sharing current and personal. Encourage people to share things God has done in their lives that week or during the meeting. x Please be sensitive and welcoming if you have non-Catholics in the group. It would be considerate to prepare them before the study begins, in case they do not want to be in a Catholic program. Assure them that they are most welcome in the group, and that it is in fact an honour to have them join. Be sure they understand that the content will be very Catholic, with quotes from Scripture, popes, saints, and The Catechism of the Catholic Church. Although the material has been written to communicate the Catholic Church's teaching, non-Catholics will probably be pleasantly surprised at how understandable it is. Assure them that you will be sensitive to their situation in the small group discussions. Let them know they can approach you if they have questions. 17
  17. 17. c) Pace the study within the time limit x Know the objective of each lesson and communicate it clearly to ensure that people stay on track and do not go off topic. Do not get bogged down in unimportant details; keep the discussion moving. x Be mindful of how much time is left and of how quickly you are progressing through the material. d) Leader's role x The onus is not on the leader to convert the hearts of the students — that job is for the Holy Spirit. The leader’s role is to present the material in an enthusiastic way and to facilitate discussion. Most of the speaking should come from the students. x The leader intercedes quietly in and beyond the study, staying closely connected to the Holy Spirit. The leader recognizes that: No one can say “Jesus is Lord” except by the Holy Spirit. 1 Corinthians 12:3b Those who are unspiritual do not receive the gifts of God’s Spirit, for they are foolishness to them, and they are unable to understand them because they are spiritually discerned. 1 Corinthians 2:14 We are not to be concerned with being effective. We are to be faithful, faithful simply to what the Lord has called us to be. What he may want to accomplish through us is his business and known only to him. Father Bob Bedard, CC 6. During the Semester x Plan a social or meal as a celebration/reunion of your study group. x Remember: you are encouraged to book a one-on-one appointment with each member of your study after lesson 7. 18
  18. 18. Commission Small Group Information Time: Place: Leader: Phone Number: Email: Participants: 19
  19. 19. Lesson 1 Preparation Notes "The Premise" In Brief: Evangelization is our deepest identity. Key Elements: x This lesson begins by looking at texts which support the Church’s teaching that evangelization is our deepest identity. x After reading the texts, we discuss the importance of identity in selfknowledge, and how this concept relates to the Church. The aim of this discussion is to show that if we understand evangelization to be our deepest identity, then we can be united in purpose in the various ministries and organizations within the Church, or within a parish. x There is a large amount of text in these lessons. They should be read aloud as a group. You can do this by having one person read an entire section, or alternating people from paragraph to paragraph. The advantage of the latter is that people have to be engaged and pay attention or they might miss their cue to read. The disadvantage is that it can be distracting to hear multiple people read. It’s your call. Encourage people to underline or circle things as the text is being read so that, during the time for questions and discussion, they can refer to the things that stood out to them. Background Information: Some participants may be unfamiliar with the term "the new evangelization": x It is a term, coined by JPII, which does not mean “the new evangelization” as opposed to “an old evangelization” of some kind, it is more of a re-evangelization: clearly proclaiming the message of salvation in Jesus and the Church to those who are baptized and have received the sacraments, but whose hearts and lifestyles do not reflect the faith. Its purpose is to bring them to a personal encounter with God’s love. x The 2012 synod of Bishops is focused on the promotion of the new evangelization. In the Lineamenta document released in preparation for this synod we read, The new evangelization is not a matter of redoing something which has been inadequately done or has not achieved its purpose, as if the new activity were an implicit judgment on the failure of the first evangelization. Nor is the new evangelization taking up the first evangelization again, or simply repeating the past. Instead, it is the courage to forge new paths in responding to the changing circumstances and 20
  20. 20. conditions facing the Church in her call to proclaim and live the Gospel today.... Pope John Paul II again took up the expression in his Magisterium and proposed it to the universal Church. "Today the Church must face other challenges and push forward to new frontiers, both in the initial mission ad gentes and in the new evangelization of those peoples who have already heard Christ proclaimed.... The Church's renewed efforts to meet the challenges which today's society and cultures, in view of the significant changes taking place, are posing to the Christian faith, its proclamation and its witness. In facing these challenges, the Church does not give up or retreat into herself; instead, she undertakes a project to revitalize herself. She makes the Person of Jesus Christ and a personal encounter with him central to her thinking, knowing that he will give his Spirit and provide the force to announce and proclaim the Gospel in new ways which can speak to today's cultures. Lineamenta for the 2012 Synod on the New Evangelization, 5 x The new evangelization is commonly understood as re-evangelizing those cultures which have a Christian history, whereas, in “the mission ad gentes," evangelization is directed at those who have never heard of salvation in Jesus. x In the past decade, the new evangelization has become regarded as a key pastoral concern in parishes, dioceses, and countries . The time has also come for a new evangelization in the West, where many of those baptized lead totally unChristian lives and more and more persons maintain some links to the faith but have little or a poor knowledge of it. Lineamenta for the 2012 Synod on the New Evangelization, 9 Recommended Reading: (General note: The titles in the “Recommended Reading” section of the Preparation Notes are valuable resources. If you have not yet read them, you should do so before leading the study.) x Evangelii Nuntiandi: ents/hf_p-vi_exh_19751208_evangelii-nuntiandi_en.html x Redemptoris Missio: s/hf_jp-ii_enc_07121990_redemptoris-missio_en.html x Message of the Holy Father for the VII World Youth Day: ments/hf_jp-ii_mes_24111991_vii-world-youth-day_en.html 21
  21. 21. Lesson 1 The Premise In this lesson and the next, we will look at a number of truths upon which Commission is built. Today, in particular, we will focus on the Church’s teaching in regards to our calling and identity as Catholic disciples of Christ. It is a critical premise to establish as we begin our pilgrimage with Commission. 1. What kinds of answers do you think people would give to the question, 'what is the Catholic Church's deepest identity?' The purpose of the question is general sharing rather than to elicit “the right answer.” The wide range of responses will highlight the fact later on, that there is confusion. Deepest Identity The Church in her very nature is missionary, sent by Christ to all nations to make disciples of them. The Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC), 767 Evangelization is in fact the grace and vocation proper to the Church, her deepest identity. She exists in order to evangelize. Evangelii Nuntiandi, 14 The pilgrim Church is missionary by her very nature, since it is from the mission of the Son and the mission of the Holy Spirit that she draws her origin, in accordance with the decree of God the Father. Ad Gentes, 2 22
  22. 22. It is the duty of the Church to proclaim always and everywhere the Gospel of Jesus Christ. He, the first and supreme evangelizer, commanded the Apostles on the day of his Ascension to the Father: “Go therefore 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” (Mt 28:19-20). Faithful to this mandate, the Church—a people chosen by God to declare his wonderful deeds (cf. 1 Peter 2:9)—ever since she received the gift of the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost (cf. Acts 2:14), has never tired of making known to the whole world the beauty of the Gospel as she preaches Jesus Christ, true God and true man, the same “yesterday and today and for ever” (Heb 13:8), who, by his death and Resurrection, brought us salvation and fulfilled the promise made of old. Hence the mission of evangelization, a continuation of the work desired by the Lord Jesus, is necessary for the Church: it cannot be overlooked; it is an expression of her very nature. Ubicumque et Semper Apostolic Letter of Pope Benedict XVI establishing the Pontifical Council for Promoting the New Evangelization These statements are central to Commission. They confirm that the Church has a clear understanding of why she exists. There is, however, confusion among some of her members. In recent years Catholics have become increasingly aware of the importance of evangelization, yet uncertainty remains about the “why,” “how” and “who” of the evangelistic mission. “Who are we?” is a question we must be able to answer with confidence and clarity. When we know our deepest identity — personally and as a community — we are able to live meaningful, abundant and vibrant Christian lives. Unfortunately, many Catholics do not know their deepest calling, and the Church has consequently suffered an identity crisis. We must overcome this crisis in order to accomplish the task God has entrusted to us, which is the mission of evangelization. Leaders: The next two questions deal with life in general, not specifically spiritual life. 23
  23. 23. 2. What happens to someone who has lost his/her identity? Leaders: This question is intended to create open discussion to get the juices flowing. We have a basic human need for identity, self-esteem, belonging and love. If we do not know our identity, we will be unsure of what defines us. We risk feeling lost, confused or sad, and may become psychologically, physically or morally unhealthy. We might misguidedly search for anything to fill our yearning for identity. This could lead to addictions, damaging relationships or self-harm. People who have lost their identity are often not content with their lives (e.g. The Bourne Identity movie). They will always be searching for their past identity or striving to create a new one. 3. What happens in our lives when we know who we are? Peace: we have both roots and direction. We are centered and focused. We see ourselves clearly, knowing our strengths, weaknesses, and purpose. We have the capacity to give and are prepared to reach out to others. We are healthier mentally, physically and morally. 4. How does confusion about our Catholic identity affect the life of the local Church? Lack of clear understanding of our Catholic identity breeds confusion among individuals within the body of Christ. It also affects how the world perceives the Church. It is common for people to define "being Catholic" by their personal involvement in church activities, by what Church teachings they personally believe, or by how they practice their faith. This way of defining Catholic identity lacks consistency — being Catholic seems to mean something different for everyone. This confusion about our identity affects the message we communicate to the world, and as a consequence, influences the world’s perception of the Church. Division occurs between ministries when the overarching identity and purpose of the Church (along with a vision for how all parts of the body fit together) is unclear. Because each group has its own purpose, spirituality and way of serving, there can be misunderstanding and lack of solidarity 24
  24. 24. among groups who approach things differently. In worst-case scenarios, this leads to labelling and judgement. It can also promote a disjointed image of the Church. 5. How would clarity of Catholic identity help the local Church? The following excerpt from Redemptoris Missio provides some context: Faith must always be presented as a gift of God to be lived out in community (families, parishes, associations), and to be extended to others through witness in word and deed. The evangelizing activity of the Christian community, first in its own locality, and then elsewhere as part of the Church's universal mission, is the clearest sign of a mature faith. A radical conversion in thinking is required in order to become missionary, and this holds true both for individuals and entire communities. The Lord is always calling us to come out of ourselves and to share with others the goods we possess, starting with the most precious gift of all - our faith. The effectiveness of the Church's organizations, movements, parishes and apostolic works must be measured in the light of this missionary imperative. Only by becoming missionary will the Christian community be able to overcome its internal divisions and tensions, and rediscover its unity and its strength of faith [emphasis added]. Redemptoris Missio, 5 A common understanding about Catholic missionary identity would enable each group to appreciate the contribution of the others and to support one another in solidarity. This fosters respect for each ministry. We know we are working towards a common goal and can rejoice in the success of other ministries (resulting in authentic unity). We would have a fresh outward focus. We would not be satisfied with what is happening “in house,” but would seek to support other ministries and help others (especially those outside our parish) in any way we can to know and love God. Leaders: You can pull together the answers with the segue below. Have someone read it. Then move on to the next section 25
  25. 25. The Church's roles and ministries are varied and extensive. They include defending and teaching the faith, working for social justice, the corporal and spiritual works of mercy, loving our neighbour, faithfulness to our vocation (religious or family life), sacraments, prayer, penance and the worship of God. Let us be very clear: none of these things should be seen as lesser than, or separate from, the call to evangelization. The challenge is to look at all these roles and ministries, and everything the Church does, through the lens of her deepest identity: evangelization. In everything, love must be our motivation. “For the love of Christ urges us on, because we are convinced that one has died for all; therefore all have died” (2 Corinthians 5:14), and without love we are nothing (cf.1 Corinthians 13:1-3). Personal Connection Being Christian and "being Church" means being missionary; one is or is not. Loving one's faith implies bearing witness to it, bringing it to others and allowing others to participate in it. The lack of missionary zeal is a lack of zeal for the faith. On the contrary, faith is made stronger by transmitting it. The Pope's words on the new evangelization can be translated into a rather direct and crucial question: "Are we interested in transmitting the faith and bringing non-Christians to the faith?" "Are we truly missionary at heart?" The new evangelization is the name given to the Church's project of undertaking anew her fundamental mission, her identity and reason for existence. Linementa for the 2012 Synod on the New Evangelization, 10 Many Catholics do not feel any personal responsibility for the work of evangelization and mission. They perceive this work to be for those who seem more directly called: priests, sisters and a few radical people who choose to be missionaries. Fortunately, there is today a growing number of Catholic lay people (many of whom are involved in ministries and movements committed to the new evangelization) who recognize their responsibility in this task. 26
  26. 26. A challenge we face in CCO is to keep our alumni alive with the same apostolic zeal they demonstrated as students. Some think that once they have graduated, they move on to a new and different stage of life, even spiritually. Although they often continue to be faithful Catholics and believe in the work of evangelization, they might not participate in the life of the Church with the same apostolic purpose they did when they were students. Their zeal for Jesus was somehow connected, perhaps too exclusively, to that state of life, time of youthfulness or period of involvement in a particular ministry or movement. 6. Why do you think some Catholics are (or become) disconnected from evangelization? Common answers may range from being too busy or fearful, people aren’t held accountable to share their faith, or many people feel that faith is just a private matter. Some people feel like they have tried and failed, or just become complacent. 7. How can we combat this tendency to become disconnected from our deepest identity? A variety of practical answers can be brainstormed here such as: x Community and fellowship with likeminded people who can encourage assist and keep us engaged in evangelization efforts, x Education: books, encyclicals, seminars x Do it! Actively evangelize in any variety of ways. When we see people come to faith, we are inspired to reach out more. We can serve in parish ministries or apostolates. Leaders: If your small group is with students on campus, ask them how this makes them feel about their “life after university/after CCO” when they may have to battle becoming disconnected from zeal for evangelization. 27
  27. 27. Summary If we, as Church, do not know our deepest identity, how can we really be who we are meant to be? The Church exists to evangelize. This truth has the power to transform how we see ourselves as Church and minister to the world around us. We, too, are personally invited to connect with this identity and engage in the life-giving mission of evangelization. Challenge Do at least 30 minutes of reading from: Evangelii Nuntiandi, Redemptoris Missio, or the Message of the Holy Father for the VII World Youth Day. Be prepared to share what you learned about evangelization. Leaders: These documents can be found online (at the addresses listed in the Preparation Notes for this lesson). The first two can also likely be found in a parish library or Catholic bookstore. They are a great investment and worth owning. Closing Prayer Heavenly Father, As difficult as this may be to pray, I know that I must surrender my very identity to you. In you alone can I find my true identity to be who I am meant to be. Help me to see all aspects and activities of my life through the lens of my deepest identity: evangelization. Lord God, I want to embrace your plan for my missionary identity and I also desire this for the whole Church! I pray that you would pour out your grace so that many more would come to embrace who they are as a missionary people. I desire to see the whole of God’s people united in that same call and purpose. May your Kingdom come and your will be done! Amen. 28
  28. 28. Lesson 2 Preparation Notes "Holiness and Mission" In Brief: Holiness and mission are interdependent. Key Elements: x Holiness and mission are complementary and united. One is not more important than the other is. One cannot be separated from the other. They work together for our sanctification and the sanctification of the whole world. This is often not understood. x We then look at how missionary activity revitalizes the Church and the believer. x The lesson ends with an overview of the discipleship model from 2 Timothy 2:2 which will be used throughout the study. x You will need to practice presenting the 2 Timothy 2:2 diagram in order to comfortably share it in an interactive way. x The goal of this lesson is to have participants see the legacy of Paul’s discipleship model (entrusting the message and the mission to faithful people). The topics of the message, multiplication, entrusting the message and the mission will all be discussed in in upcoming lessons. Be patient — this is just an introduction. x This lesson, along with lesson 1, establishes important foundational concepts for the rest of the study. 29
  29. 29. Lesson 2 Holiness and Mission 1. Share with the group what you learned from your reading assignment last week. Did you find any inspirational quotes? Our spiritual life can be understood as being both interior and exterior. The interior life is our personal relationship with God. It is our personal growth in holiness that happens through prayer, study, obedience, repentance, and the pursuit of Christian perfection. Our exterior life can also be called our apostolic life, or our apostolate. It is our call to mission: our actions of service, witness and proclamation which invite others to encounter the love of God through the person of Jesus Christ. Today, we will look at how these two aspects of our spiritual life are complimentary and united. We will then look at the Church's call to mission, and wrap up the lesson with an introduction to 2 Timothy 2:2 — a verse which will inform the rest of Commission. Interdependence of Holiness and Mission Evangelization is not a task to which only certain people are called. We must not exempt ourselves from this mission. Nor should we limit our missionary contribution to a limited time when we felt more qualified or ready than we do now. The Church teaches that evangelization is not just an activity: it should be the natural outpouring of our spiritual life. From Baptism, every Catholic is called to be a disciple of Jesus and to share in the Church’s mission (CCC 1269, 1270). To be 30
  30. 30. true disciples of Jesus and to live fully our relationship with him, we have to embody these two essential elements: holiness and mission. We all agree that for a Christian, the call to holiness is obvious and necessary. We know the importance of living a good moral life. This call to holiness is well supported in countless Catholic homilies, books and formation opportunities that inspire us to live a prayerful, godly life. The second dimension of being a disciple is the call to mission. From our intimate relationship with God should flow a desire to make Jesus known to others. This desire should be a natural expression of what is happening inside our hearts. If we are close to the heart of God through our personal prayer and quest for holiness, then we will share the Father’s loving concern for people. Zeal for evangelization is indicative of a healthy spiritual life. Listen to the words of John Paul II: In the spiritual realm, too, no one lives for himself alone. And salutary concern for the salvation of one's own soul is freed from fear and selfishness only when it becomes concerned for the salvation of others as well. This is the reality of the communion of saints, the mystery of "vicarious life", of prayer as the means of union with Christ and his saints. Incarnationis Mysterium, 10 To be true disciples of Christ, we must live a deep spiritual life woven together with apostolic (missionary) life. One is not more important than the other; they are two sides of the same coin. CCO recognizes and teaches this, inspired by the words of John Paul II: The universal call to holiness is closely linked to the universal call to mission. Every member of the faithful is called to holiness and to mission. Redemptoris Missio, 90 Pope Benedict XVI has also spoken about this in his homilies: 31
  31. 31. In this perspective it is clear that the Church's holiness and missionary character are two sides of the same coin: only because she is holy, that is, filled with divine love, can the Church carry out her mission, and it is precisely in terms of this task that God chose her and sanctified her. Benedict XVI's Homily at Port of Brindisi, June 15, 2008 Holiness and mission are truly interdependent. As one area grows, the other should also be stirred to action. If this communion of life and growth between the internal and external spiritual action of a Christian is not happening, something is out of order. 2. How is the missionary life dependent on our holiness? Without God’s grace, we can do nothing. We need to reach out to others in a state of grace and through the power of the Holy Spirit (e.g. Acts 1 and 2: the disciples waited for the outpouring of the Holy Spirit before they launched out on the mission Jesus gave them at the Ascension). We must pray and intercede for those we want to help (e.g. by making sacrifices and fasting). To be credible and authentic, we must live a transformed and holy life. We cannot give what we have not received. 3. We understand that our spiritual life should activate our apostolic fervour. How might our apostolic life cause us to grow in holiness? When we step out of our comfort zone to love and evangelize others, God moves in our hearts and fills us with joy and zeal. The more you give, the more you receive. x Our hope is increased as we see God acting through us in people’s lives, in conversations, and in "divine appointments" (when God has put us in the right place at the right time to minister to someone in need). x Our love is increased when we identify with our brothers and sisters and are moved to bring Jesus to them. x Our faith is increased as we are impelled to pray and intercede for the needs of others. There are people in our lives now for whom we MUST be strong spiritually! It is not just about our individual relationship with Jesus — we must each see how connected we are to the body of Christ and the mission, and recognize that we must connect to God even more for the sake of those we want to reach. 32
  32. 32. Mission as Vital to the Life of the Church Missionary drive implies action. As Catholics we have to go beyond simply agreeing on the importance of evangelization — we must evangelize! The Church entrusts lay people with a spiritual responsibility for the new evangelization; we are the ones who have direct contact with those who may have walked away from the Church or do not believe. A disciple of Christ is never a passive and indifferent observer of what is taking place. On the contrary, he feels responsible for transforming social, political, economic and cultural reality... You must have the courage to speak about Christ in your families and in places where you study, work or recreate, inspired with the same fervour the Apostles had when they said: "We cannot help speaking of what we have heard and seen" (Acts 4:20). Nor should you be silent! There are places and circumstances where you alone can bring the seed of God's Word. Message by the Holy Father John Paul II 7th World Youth Day, 4 The twentieth century often tried to do without that cornerstone, and attempted to build the city of man without reference to Him. It ended by actually building that city against man... The aspiration that humanity nurtures, amid countless injustices and sufferings, is the hope of a new civilization marked by freedom and peace. But for such an undertaking, a new generation of builders is needed. Moved not by fear or violence but by the urgency of genuine love, they must learn to build, brick by brick, the city of God within the city of man. Allow consign this hope of mine to you: you must be those "builders"! ...God is entrusting to you the task, at once difficult and uplifting, of working with him in the building of the civilization of love. Address by the Holy Father John Paul II 17th World Youth Day Evening Vigil, 2-3 33
  33. 33. The vision John Paul II outlined in these words is the transformation of civilization. This task can seem overwhelming. Contemplating the enormous demands of this mission, we can relate to what the apostles might have experienced before Jesus’ ascension into heaven. They were commissioned with an enormous task and a grand vision for the salvation of the entire world (Matthew 28:18-20). John Paul II further reminds us that evangelization has always been necessary for the wellbeing of the Church. For in the Church’s history, missionary drive has always been a sign of vitality, just as its lessening is a sign of a crisis of faith. Redemptoris Missio, 2 When our lives, our parishes and our ministries are missionary, we experience vitality, energy and dynamism. It is exciting to live in a Church engaged in evangelization! When the Church is not alive with missionary zeal, the result is a crisis of faith. Lack of missionary activity corrodes our faith and pursuit of holiness because it is a denial of our true identity. 4. Why does a lack of missionary activity signal a crisis of faith? How do you see this played out in a parish, for example? Leaders: We want participants to see that if people are just silent specators, they can easily fall into complacency. Their faith life can become dull, irrelevant, self-focused and unattractive. Faith can be reduced to simply cultural elements, rather than a living relationship with a God who loves us and invites us, as his disciples, to find life by sharing him with others. Reach the World One Person at a Time Jesus has entrusted the Church with the great task of making disciples of all nations. Though its objective is to reach the whole world, this mission actually happens at the level of the individual human heart. God loves each and every soul and wants to touch each one individually. We believe that an effective model to reach the world one person at a time is found 34
  34. 34. in the Second Letter of St. Paul to Timothy. This passage will be a central paradigm for the rest of our study. And what you have heard from me through many witnesses entrust to faithful people who will be able to teach others as well. 2 Timothy 2:2 5. Clarify the two key elements in this verse: the people and the strategy. x The people: Leaders ask: "Who are the people identified in this verse?" Paul, Timothy, and people identified as: “witnesses” “faithful people” and “others”. x The strategy: Leaders ask: "What strategy do we notice in this verse?" The strategy is to pass on what they have heard from Paul to those who, in turn, will continue to transmit the message to others. 6. Let us take a closer look at how the people and the strategy are connected. Leaders: You will be directing this next set of questions as they are not in the student guides. There is space in the student guides to draw out the 5 types of people in the passage. Here is what the diagram will look like at the end. Say what is in bold type face. x Who is speaking in this passage? Paul [Draw a circle or box with “Paul” written inside] x Look carefully at this verse, how did Paul's message get to Timothy? It is through witnesses that Timothy hears Paul’s message. [Draw next circle: witnesses; draw next circle: Timothy] 35
  35. 35. x But it does not end there. What is Paul asking Timothy to do? ENTRUST the message to the faithful. [Draw next circle: Faithful] x Does it end there? No! Entrust the message to faithful people who will pass it on to others. [Draw next circle: Others] x What do these people have in common? The message Paul is communicating (the Gospel) and the mission to keep spreading it to others. x What is the verb Paul uses to explain how this message and mission is transmitted? Entrust (to give somebody responsibility for something) [Connect the 5 circles by arrows or bars that represent “entrusting”] 7. What would happen if Timothy did not understand Paul’s strategy? Many would not hear, and the spreading of the message would be stopped or slowed down because of Timothy (or the next person after Timothy). The message would end with him. The people would be dependent on Timothy and not know how to move the message or mission forward without his leadership. This was a very brief orientation to 2 Timothy 2:2. We will take time to unpack the strategy and the message of Paul, Timothy and friends in upcoming weeks. 8. To wrap up, what would you say are the important points covered in this lesson? Leaders: See "Summary" for overview or glance back at section headers. 36
  36. 36. Summary Mission goes hand-in-hand with our growth in holiness. Our mission as members of the Church is to bring the message of Jesus to the world, one person at a time. Paul and Timothy set an example for us of how to accomplish this mission. Their method is concrete and carries amazing potential for the spread of the Gospel. We too are called to put this method into action. Challenge Do another 30 minutes of reading from: Evangelii Nuntiandi, Redemptoris Missio, or the Message of the Holy Father for the VII World Youth Day. Be prepared to share what you learned about evangelization. Leaders: These documents can be found online (at the addresses listed in the Preparation Notes for this lesson). The first two can also likely be found in a parish library or Catholic bookstore. They are a great investment and worth owning. Closing Prayer Lord God, I thank you for the opportunity to understand more deeply my baptismal call to be a disciple of Jesus, especially by recognizing the two calls of a disciple: holiness and mission. Holy Spirit, increase my desire to be counted among the new generation of builders, and stir in me the urgency of genuine love and concern for the salvation of others. Give me the courage to speak about Christ so that I may say with the apostles, “I cannot help speaking of what I have heard and seen!” I pray that I may be a “Paul” to “Timothys” out there in the world. I pray for the grace to be faithful to all you entrust to me. Amen. 37
  37. 37. Lesson 3 Preparation Notes "The Message" In Brief: It is necessary to proclaim the kerygma clearly and simply. Key Elements: Important: This week you should bring your Discovery leader guide for reference and some copies of The Ultimate Relationship to hand out. x This lesson explains the message of a missionary: the kerygma. x André Regnier’s story shows the necessity for a clear and simple proclamation of the Gospel. It is a powerful story that speaks of the exodus of Catholics to Protestant churches. x The section on puzzle pieces describes an all-too-common Catholic experience: knowing many truths about God but not understanding how they all fit together. A clear proclamation of the kerygma helps put those pieces together. x Be aware that some participants may be confused when we use the word "Gospel" to mean the message of salvation in Jesus - not a book in the Bible. Here is a helpful explanation: In referring to the Gospel, we must not think of it only as a book or a set of teachings. The Gospel is much more; it is a living and efficacious Word, which accomplishes what it says. It is not so much a system of articles of faith and moral precepts, much less a political programme, but a person: Jesus Christ, the definitive Word of God, who became man.[34] The Gospel is the Gospel of Jesus Christ. However, not only does the Gospel have Jesus Christ as its content; but even more, through the Holy Spirit, Jesus Christ is also the promoter and the centre of its proclamation and transmission. Consequently, the goal of the transmission of the faith is the realization of a personal encounter with Jesus Christ, in the Spirit, thereby leading to an experiencing of his Father and our Father. Lineamenta for 2012 Synod on New Evangelization, 11 x The section on 2 Corinthians 5 unpacks Paul's commitment to spreading the message of God's reconciling love. Be sure to prepare your explanation of this passage ahead of time. Here are some helpful points to assist your preparation: o In this passage, Paul refers to the ministry of reconciliation. He is not referring to the sacrament of Reconciliation per se, although what he describes as the ministry of reconciliation most definitely 38
  38. 38. happens in the sacrament of Reconciliation; Christ forgives us our sins and reconciles us to the Father. o The use of the term in this passage has a broader meaning. We can all (not just priests) participate in the ministry of reconciliation by sharing the Good News of Jesus’ death and resurrection with others, and invite them to make their peace with God (be reconciled with him, receive salvation). Through the ministry of reconciliation, we invite people to become “new creations in Christ,” and to surrender all things to him so that the “old things pass away.” This is the grace specifically given in Baptism (see CCC 1214, 1265). o Since the sacrament of Reconciliation is an essential means in helping people restore their relationship with God. We should encourage and help participants get to the sacrament (letting them know where, when and a refresher on how). x The lesson closes with a challenge to share the Gospel with someone else. Many participants know the message, but lack confidence in their ability to share it. This challenge gives them an opportunity to practice sharing the Gospel clearly and simply. It would be ideal if they could share the message with someone who has not heard it, but it is still valuable for them to practice sharing , even with a believer. x The Ultimate Relationship booklet is a helpful tool for sharing the Gospel. Participants can share the booklet as is, but they should not feel confined to using it. This can be done in whatever way they feel is most appropriate in each circumstance, whether it be telling a story, drawing on a napkin or sharing the booklet. The goal is for each participant to be comfortable communicating the Gospel. Recommended Reading: x The Ultimate Relationship 39
  39. 39. Lesson 3 The Message 1. Share with the group what you learned from your reading assignment last week. Did you find any inspirational quotes? In 2 Timothy 2:2, Paul begins by saying, “what you have heard from me…” It is clear that a message is central to the missionary relationship he has with Timothy and the others described in this verse. This week’s lesson is dedicated to understanding the message of a missionary. The most important message we have to communicate is straightforward: Jesus. This week we will recall the basic Gospel message of the redeeming work of Christ: his death and resurrection. We will study the importance of this message and learn how to communicate it clearly and effectively. A CCO Story Over the years, CCO has sometimes been criticized for the way we articulate our message. Some have said our material seems too basic, lacks theological depth or sounds too “Protestant”. In developing our material, however, we sought to connect with those who are confused and unsure about the person of Jesus. These people need to be introduced to Jesus in a clear and simple way so they can understand and respond to his invitation in their lives. This invitation to a personal relationship with Jesus should not be considered unique to either Catholics or Protestants: it is the Father himself who desires such a relationship. The mystery of the Gospel is in its universal appeal: the most simple of minds can grasp its meaning, while the most learned can spend a lifetime discovering its richness. What fuels us even more to focus on Jesus is the direct call from the Church: 40
  40. 40. There is no true evangelization if the name, the teaching, the life, the promises, the kingdom and the mystery of Jesus of Nazareth, the Son of God are not proclaimed. Evangelii Nuntiandi, 22 André Regnier (co-founder of CCO) speaks of a formative experience which occurred before CCO began: I was invited to a “college and career” event at an Evangelical church while attending university. What I witnessed there influenced the direction of my life. There were over 200 young people at church! I had never seen this before as a Catholic. Although there may have been such gatherings in the Catholic Church, I was not aware of them! Although the crowd was impressive, the conversations I had with these people were what really affected me. It was evident that Jesus was important to them. They spoke of him as if he were relevant and real in their lives. Their enthusiasm and authentic, genuine witness were undeniable. I could see they truly loved God. I was impressed but at the same time deeply saddened because it seemed as though every second Protestant I spoke to was an ex-Catholic. They would share how they now had a personal relationship with Jesus: implying that they had to leave the Catholic Church to experience Jesus in an intimate way. I wanted to drop to my knees and beg them to come back! But then I thought, where could I bring them so they could continue to experience the encouragement and growth in their relationship with Jesus that they were currently experiencing outside of the Church? Nothing came to mind. I left that experience with not only a great concern for the Church, but a desire to do something about the problem. It was at a Campus Crusade for Christ Christmas conference in Edmonton that the solution became clear to me. The keynote speaker quoted St. Paul: “All that matters is that Jesus is proclaimed. That is what brings me joy” (Philippians 1:18). I left that conference with great excitement, anticipating the amazing things God could do within the Church. I felt called to proclaim Jesus as clearly and simply as possible so that everyone could understand and respond. Only a few weeks later, a friend handed me an encyclical that he thought I might enjoy. It was called Evangelii Nuntiandi (Evangelization in the Modern World) by Pope Paul VI. I was 41
  41. 41. astounded at how God was showing me that evangelization and a personal relationship with Jesus are most definitely at the heart of the Church. 2. Do you agree that proclaiming Jesus clearly and simply would help Catholics? Why or why not? Catholics would know and understand clearly the “reason for it all” the “why” to our Catholic faith. In hearing the Gospel message simply and clearly they would also be able to explain it to others simply and clearly. Puzzle Pieces In our experience of ministry with Catholics, we have found that people are often confused about Jesus. They may be unsure whether he is actually God or what his death on the cross means. They often see Jesus’ death as a great sign of love for humanity, but not for themselves personally. It is very difficult to share Jesus with non-believers if Catholics themselves are confused about who he is. They may believe that Jesus is important but not understand exactly why. As one student explains, "I was always very involved in my faith, but I was never clear on who Jesus was in my life. I had great respect for him and I knew somehow that he was important in my life. My understanding of Jesus was like pieces of a puzzle (death, sin, mercy, miracles, sacraments, heaven etc). I was somewhat aware of each piece but was unable to understand and see the complete picture. This limited my ability to know and love Christ. Going through Discovery, I saw how all the pieces of my faith fit together: I saw the relevance of Jesus’ death and resurrection in my life." A CCO staff member shares the following experience: It is rare that I have met a Catholic who is clear, comfortable, and able to articulate who Jesus is and what he has done for them. I have shared the "St. Catherine's bridge illustration" and the “Relationships Diagram” many times. Often people are speechless as the bridge illustration is presented to them. They finally see the pieces of the puzzle being put together. During a particular lesson, a lady in her mid-forties spoke up with an 42
  42. 42. angry voice. She said, “I have been a Catholic all my life, why did I not know that Jesus was God? Why was it not explained to me why he died? It has been hidden from me.” 3. What is your reaction to these stories? Do you think this is a common experience for Catholics? Leaders: Follow up by asking, “Why is there confusion? How do we explain why this is happening?” In our CCO experience, most people who have walked away are either indifferent, critical or frustrated based only on what they have been taught and told. Pointing a finger at them for their lack of faith formation and belief is neither helpful nor just. We should consider the fact that the fault may not be in their failure to understand, but in our failure to communicate the message. We need to take responsibility for what has not been clearly given to them. Leaders: We want to encourage a paradigm shift, moving away from judgment and into understanding. They ("Timothys") don’t know what they don’t know. The Kerygma: Jesus The student who shared her testimony above understood Jesus because she heard the Gospel presented clearly and simply and was able to respond to its message. This is the same message those young Protestants that André met at the College and Career group were experiencing in their lives. But one does not have to leave the Catholic Church in order to discover Christ! Indeed, it is on Jesus that the Church is founded and it is him whom she proclaims. Evangelization will also always contain — as the foundation, center, and at the same time, summit of its dynamism — a clear proclamation that, in Jesus Christ, the Son of God made man, who died and rose from the dead, salvation is offered to all men, as a gift of God's grace and mercy. Evangelii Nuntiandi, 27 43
  43. 43. In the complex reality of mission, initial proclamation has a central and irreplaceable role, since it introduces man "into the mystery of the love of God, who invites him to enter into a personal relationship with himself in Christ" and opens the way to conversion. Faith is born of preaching, and every ecclesial community draws its origin and life from the personal response of each believer to that preaching. Just as the whole economy of salvation has its center in Christ, so too all missionary activity is directed to the proclamation of his mystery. The subject of proclamation is Christ who was crucified, died and is risen: through him is accomplished our full and authentic liberation from evil, sin and death; through him God bestows "new life" that is divine and eternal. This is the "Good News" which changes man and his history, and which all peoples have a right to hear. This proclamation is to be made within the context of the lives of the individuals and peoples who receive it. It is to be made with an attitude of love and esteem toward those who hear it, in language which is practical and adapted to the situation. In this proclamation the Spirit is at work and establishes a communion between the missionary and his hearers, a communion which is possible inasmuch as both enter into communion with God the Father through Christ. Redemptoris Missio, 44 4. What stands out to you in these quotations? The Church often uses the term kerygma synonomously with "Good News" or "gospel message" The word kerygma is related to the Greek verb κηρύσσω (kērússō): to cry or proclaim as a herald. It means proclamation, announcement or preaching. It is this basic Gospel message that the early Church proclaimed. Definition of kerygma: the apostolic proclamation of salvation through Jesus Christ (Merriam Webster Dictionary, 44
  44. 44. One of numerous scriptural examples of this can be found in 1 Corinthians 15:1-4: Now I should remind you, brothers and sisters, of the good news that I proclaimed to you, which you in turn received, in which also you stand, through which also you are being saved, if you hold firmly to the message that I proclaimed to you — unless you have come to believe in vain. For I handed on to you as of first importance what I in turn had received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the scriptures, and that he was buried, and that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the scriptures 5. How does CCO communicate the kerygma in four clear points? Leaders: This is a quick review for those who know it, but there may also be people in your group who are not familiar with how we communicate the kerygma. 1 – God created you for a relationship with him 2 – Our relationship is broken through sin 3 – Jesus restores our relationship 4 – We respond by inviting Christ to be at the centre of our lives Note that the previous quote from Evangelii Nuntiandi says the kerygma succinctly: "in Jesus Christ, the Son of God made man, who died and rose from the dead, salvation is offered to all men, as a gift of God's grace and mercy." Entrusted with the Message 6. Read 2 Corinthians 5:11-21. Paul speaks with tremendous conviction in this passage. What is the object of his passion? Paul is passionate about the Good News of Jesus! He recognizes that people need to hear about Jesus. There is a sense of urgency in this passage: he is being compelled to reach out and pursue others. 45
  45. 45. This passage describes God as being passionate too. He pursues us. The proof of his pursuit: he sent Jesus to take our sins upon himself in order to reconcile us to the Father (vv. 17-19 and 21); he also sends his witnesses (Paul and others) (v. 18). Leaders: Ask, “Where do we see the message/the kerygma identified in these verses?” x “one died for all” (v. 14) x reconciled to God through Christ (v. 18) x Jesus took our sins upon himself so we could be reconciled to God (vv. 19 and 21) 7. What fuels his passion? Leaders: Mention that there are a number of contributing factors; encourage participants to back up their answers with Scripture. x Fear of the Lord (v. 11) – God is commissioning him to this task. You don’t take those marching orders lightly! There is also a sense that this task is of eternal importance — a top priority from God. x Jesus proclaimed the Kingdom of God because his mission was not only about transforming lives and hearts here and now (“behold, the kingdom of God is among you” [Luke 17:20]), but for eternity. He came to bring us salvation and the hope of heaven; the eternal Kingdom of God. This message is a matter of life and death and was central to Jesus’ proclamation. x Love of Christ (v. 14) – implying gratitude for what Jesus did on the cross. x Love for those to whom he is reaching out (his “Timothys”) (v. 13). x Conviction that the message of Jesus is of eternal importance and meant for all to receive (v. 15). x Understanding of the great treasure that is found in Christ, in that through him, we become a new creation and are reconciled with God (vv. 17, 18). x Privilege and responsibility of being entrusted with the message of reconciliation (v. 19) and of being an ambassador for Christ (v. 20). x Memories of his own conversion (v. 16). 46
  46. 46. 8. Paul calls us ambassadors for Christ. How does this perspective of our missionary role affect the way we communicate the kerygma? With this in mind, we approach our ministry with a sense of dignity, responsibility and importance. Recognizing that we are Christ's ambassadors gives us a sense of our dignity. It is an honour to proclaim the Gospel, and we should do so with peaceful confidence. We should not be ashamed of our message. We approach our call to apostolate with the fear of the Lord as Paul says in verse 11. This means we act with deep respect for God, serving him well and obeying his directives because he is GOD. This attitude also implies that we share the kerygma clearly and simply in order to directly and accurately pass on the message entrusted to us. We should do so in a way that is timely, appropriate, loving, compassionate and inviting, avoiding attitudes and actions that are judgmental, impatient, or patronizing. We must treat those we speak to with respect, strive to identify with them, and be patient with them. Furthermore, we should avoid assuming that the people we meet do not need to be reconciled. Someone to whom you are ministering may not have had a chance to be reconciled with God. It would be a shame for them to miss out on this opportunity only because it was not offered. 9. In conclusion, what would you say are the important points of this week's lesson? Leaders: See "Summary" for overview or glance back at section headers. Summary There is much confusion, even among Catholics, about who Jesus is and why he is important. The message of a missionary is the basic Gospel message: the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ for our salvation. Jesus sends us out as his ambassadors to implore people to be reconciled to God. 47
  47. 47. Challenge This week, share the kerygma with someone in a clear and simple way. Be prepared to share your experience with the group next week. Leaders: You can offer The Ultimate Relationship booklets as a helpful reference tool. Closing Prayer Lord Jesus, thank you for the free gift of salvation. I thank you for all the times in my life that I have been able to hear the Gospel and respond. Not everyone has had that opportunity. Lord, I ask that you would write the kerygma on my heart, so that I would know it and be able to communicate it to others in a clear and effective way. You have entrusted to me the message of reconciliation. I accept the call to be your ambassador and pray for the courage to live it out. I also pray for all those who will hear the Gospel: give them the grace to understand and respond so that they may become new creations in you. Amen. 48
  48. 48. Lesson 4 Preparation Notes "The Message and You" In Brief: Recognizing how we have experienced God's saving action in our own lives. Key Elements: x The purpose of this lesson is to help participants identify their moment of conversion. Each person is encouraged to reflect on how they came to understand that Jesus died for their sins. The importance of being able to tell the story of their conversion is also emphasized. o Some people are able to identify a definite moment of conversion. Others experience the full impact of Christ’s mercy later in their faith journey. o In this lesson, examples of both of these situations will be described through stories. One story demonstrates that, although it may be necessary to dig a bit to help people recognize their moment of conversion, the moment can most often be identified. A second story describes how someone recognized Jesus as Saviour later in her faith journey. x It is important to recognize that we were saved from our sins. This helps us to authentically and effectively communicate the Gospel, and to identify with others who are lost. x Leaders: In this lesson your group will be identifying when they made an adult decision to choose to follow Jesus. Some might call this time in our lives as "making an adult decision to respond to their Baptism," being "lost then found," "blind but now they can see" or "their conversion moment". It is truly understanding the great gift of salvation and the divine life that Jesus gave them at their Baptism and choosing to appreciate and embrace it in their lives. x Also you will notice that we are using the term "the lost" and "Timothy" interchangeably. Like we said, Timothy began somewhere: as someone who needed to hear and respond to Jesus first; he was once “lost.” In this study when we talk about reaching out to a "Timothy" it is generally referring to someone who has not had this adult conversion yet (ie. is "lost" and has not responded as an adult to God's gift of salvation). x The question may arise: What if the "Timothy" we are reaching out to isn't exactly "lost" but someone who is practicing their faith? Yes it is possible we have "Timothys" in our lives who are at this place. x A great starting point in working with this "Timothy" is to do exactly what is being done in this lesson — helping this person identify when he/she was lost and came to know Jesus. 49
  49. 49. x Make sure to budget your time during this lesson so as to leave at least ten minutes for the closing activity. It is not necessary for participants to answer all the questions, only those which help them identify how they first experienced Jesus' forgiveness and mercy in their lives. x The discussion in this lesson might create a wide range of emotions and responses. Some participants may get upset, defensive, sorrowful or despairing when they consider the grave mistakes and wrong decisions they or their loved ones have made. It is important to remind them that God can bring good out of any situation. We cannot give in to despair as though situations are too drastic for God to redeem. We need to trust that God is God and that nothing is impossible for him. Remind your group of the testimony of people like Paul (who sought out and killed Christians), or Mary Magdalene (who was possessed by demons). x Prepare your testimony and your own answers to the lesson’s questions in order to model the tone and vulnerability of the sharing. You may want to lead by being the first to share, as people might be shy. This will allow you to model appropriate content and length of sharing. x We want each participant to grasp that he/she is desperately in need of a Saviour. You may find that some are not able to answer convincingly (or answer at all). Perhaps they have not yet experienced their need for a Saviour. Perhaps they have never actually put Jesus at the centre of their lives. Perhaps they have always been good and faithful and it is harder for them to have an emotional connection to Christ’s sacrifice for them. It is GREAT that they have always been faithful — they do not need to go looking for dirt. To help them understand their need you could: o Suggest that if they are not sure whether they have ever really understood their need for a Saviour, they should ask God for the grace to recognize it. They can meditate and reflect on the gift of faithfulness, how Christ has preserved them from serious sin, and what their life could have looked like without his grace. o After the meeting, discreetly offer to meet with these people individually to help them further their reflection and/or help them concretely reach out to Jesus as their Saviour (sharing the relationships diagram and praying with them, bringing them to the sacrament of Reconciliation, etc.). 50
  50. 50. Notes on Conversion: Conversion happens in many ways. Someone might truly understand Jesus as Saviour at their initial conversion, but this understanding can also be gained through prayer, the confessional, Mass, hearing a talk, a faith sharing group or growing up in a faithful family. Somehow, in these situations the individual has a meaningful encounter with the forgiveness, mercy and love of Jesus. Generally, there are three types of faith journeys/testimonies: 1) Definite Adult Conversion Moment. Many people can identify a definitive moment when they acknowledged Jesus as their Redeemer. They have a personal encounter with God and his truth at a very specific time and place (for example, on a retreat, praying to put Jesus at the centre of their life, etc.). There is often a "Paul" connected with their experience who assisted in reconciling them with the Father. 2) Season of Adult Conversion. Some people have a general idea of when things began to change, but they are not sure when they gave God permission to have Lordship in their lives. This may be a fair assessment of how they became a disciple. However, sometimes with more reflection, they can find a decision moment. It is very liberating for them when they do! Is it necessary to dig endlessly for a conversion moment? Of course not. What is important is that the person can say, "I see that during this period of my life I received the love and forgiveness of Christ and chose to follow him as a disciple." 3) Faithful One's Whole Life. Some people have sought to put their trust in God and follow Jesus throughout their entire life. Instead of having a dramatic adult conversion, their story is one of faithfulness to God with many “yesses” over the years. They have lived daily in the graces of Baptism, Reconciliation, Eucharist and Confirmation — as should be the ordinary faith journey for all Catholics. This is a beautiful testimony of God's grace, empowering them to habitually avoid and repent of sin, and reminding them of Jesus' saving action in their lives. However, there is still room for these people to reflect on key moments of decision to follow Christ. For example, Mary the Mother of God or St. Thérèse of Lisieux would have been faithful their whole lives, but there are specific occasions when they made their big yesses — important decisions to follow God and receive his grace. For example, Mary's yes at the Annunciation. In her testimony in the magnificat, (Luke 1:46-55) we read of Mary rejoicing in God her Saviour who has had mercy on her in her lowliness. St. Thérèse talks about her Christmas conversion. She was 14 years old when she overhead her father expressing relief that this would be the last year he would have to hide presents in Thérèse's 'petit soulier' shoe. Her usual response would have been to burst into tears and have an emotional meltdown. Instead, she felt the grace of God acting 51
  51. 51. in her and helping her to choose not to give into selfishness, but to be mature and not cry. Many would see this as a very ordinary story, but St. Thérèse, who is a doctor of the Church, would identify this as a pivotal moment in her spiritual growth. It was here that she chose to put Christ first in her life, no longer herself preoccupied with selfish desires and tendencies. Surely if these women have a story to tell, so do we! In order for all these people to be effective as missionaries, they should ponder this question: "How have I experienced Jesus as the one who saved me from sin, death and separation from God?" 52
  52. 52. Lesson 4 The Message and You 1. Share with the group how your experience of sharing the kerygma went. What did you learn from this experience? “What you have heard from me through many witnesses entrust to faithful people who will have the ability to teach others as well” (2 Timothy 2:2). Through the loving concern of a “Paul” or other witnesses in your life, you encountered the message of Jesus. Thank God for these people! Perhaps last week, you tried to be a “Paul” in someone else’s life by sharing Jesus. This week, we will learn to identify with Timothy. Think about it. There was a time when Timothy must have first heard and responded to Jesus. We should all recall the starting moments of our faith. For most of us, our narrative begins with our parents' faith at our Baptism. In a variety of ways, we chose this faith for ourselves as an adult or at an age of reason. This week, we will look back at our faith journey, remembering when we were a “Timothy,” and how we have come to know the person and presence of Jesus in our lives, especially in the initial conversion of our hearts and minds. The Value of Identifying our Conversion Leaders: Conversion happens in many ways, such that the individual has a meaningful encounter with the forgiveness, mercy and love of Jesus. Remember, there are three types of faith journeys/testimonies: definite conversion moment, season of conversion, faithful one's whole life (see preparation notes). We understand that Jesus is God. We know that he died on the cross to take away our sins — after all, we have crucifixes in our homes and we proclaim at every Mass: “Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world.” But do I, personally, really 53
  53. 53. grasp that Jesus took away my sins, that he died to reconcile me to God's love? Some of us understand this as children, but most of us appreciate it more fully at our adult conversion. Others comprehend their poverty and need for Jesus as Saviour later on in their faith walk. No matter when we “get it,” we must be able to “give it” to others. “Always be ready to make your defense to anyone who demands from you an accounting for the hope that is in you” (1 Peter 3:15). 2. Why is it important that I know Jesus saved me, that I value this gift and am able to communicate it to others? 1) To authentically and effectively communicate the Gospel. If we are not convinced of our NEED for Christ, how will we be able to effectively convey this truth and present this Person to others? To be effective in our evangelization, we should be able to articulate our conversion story: "What happened to me? How and when did I have a conversion? What has changed? How did I come to know God's love and forgiveness in my life?" This allows for the listener to know how, they too, can come to experience God the way you have. Being able to give clear testimony to your faith and to glorify God's saving action in your life is very important for a missionary. However, some people struggle to find their exact conversion moment. Receiving training in how to give a testimony can be very helpful. All of this will be discussed in this lesson. 2) To identify with others. It is also important to be able to identify our personal need for Jesus as Saviour so that we can relate to others with empathy and humility. When we are conscious of the sobering reality that without Christ, we would be much worse off, we are able to be sincerely patient, compassionate and empathetic towards others. It is important to help people identify how they came to understand the Good News in their lives and how Jesus heals them from sin and death. The classic lifeguard analogy, for example, helps people to recognize that they were drowning in their sin and weakness and that they needed Jesus to rescue them. See Discovery Leader's Guide, Lesson 5. 54
  54. 54. Identifying our Conversion It can be challenging to help people develop their testimony. Often the moment or season of conversion is not clearly defined in a person’s mind. He/she sees how life is different before and after conversion, but when this change occurred is not so clear. Our challenge is to help illuminate the conversion process. There are two aspects we can help people to identify: x Their personal decision to open their heart to Jesus or, x If they have remained faithful to God since childhood, how has Jesus' death and resurrection been personally understood or experienced? The following stories illustrate both scenarios: A CCO staff member describes helping a student identify the moment of his adult faith decision. I was working with a student on his testimony. He spent much of his energy trying to convince me that he always believed in Jesus and practiced his faith. That was fine, but pretty vague. I wanted to hear more. He wanted me to understand that he did not have a dramatic conversion. It was more of a gradual awareness and intimacy with Jesus. He tried to explain how there was not a moment he could identify but a whole lot of experiences, one of which was a weekend retreat he went on that had a particular impact on his faith. Seeing an opening, I asked him what it was that specifically affected him on that weekend. Frustrated with my line of questioning, he emphasized that it was not a moment or realization but that it was more simply a process of opening up his heart to Jesus. That sounded good but I wanted to know what moved him to open his heart. His patience with me was running thin. He repeated that it was not a moment, but the whole weekend that had affected him. I recognized that he had lived an authentic life-changing experience on this weekend but, like him, I was confused as to how the conversion came about. After more probing questions, his story began to unfold. He explained how he went to the retreat feeling very distant from God, yet desiring to be closer to him. These words caught my attention, as I noticed that there had been a struggle of faith and that he was crying out. When I asked more about this, he 55
  55. 55. started to see more clearly how things began to change for him. He recalled one of the retreat leaders explaining to him that Jesus would have died even if he were the only person in the world. He said that he had been moved to tears. It was at this point that he realized, probably for the first time in his life, that Jesus knows and is concerned with him personally. It was soon after this talk that the retreat participants were invited to give their hearts to Jesus. He was the first to go forward. None of the digging to find this moment was intended to deny the journey of faith this young man had lived. All of his life's experiences were leading him to faith. However, it was very important for him to identify that he had in fact made an adult decision to make his faith his own. He was so excited that he had concretely encountered Jesus’ love and forgiveness, and chosen to follow him. With great joy and enthusiasm, he left that meeting telling everyone about his conversion moment, because now he recognized it. 3. Why do you think this realization gave so much clarity and life to this young man's faith? Connecting to the Cross Angèle Regnier, co-founder of CCO, tells how she came to the realization that Jesus died on the cross for her personally. I have always wished that I had a dramatic testimony. I would listen in awe and wonder at the stories of people who were criminals or drug addicts before coming to the Lord. I was amazed at how God had intervened in their lives. My story was not dramatic in the least; in fact, I would consider it flat-out boring. I was raised in a Christian family and went to church all my life. I have always believed in God and in Jesus. I never chose to rebel from the faith and way of life modeled for me by my family. I suppose I should really be grateful that God and his commandments were never hidden from me." Because I had never made any seriously wrong choices in my life, I really did not find I could emotionally connect with Jesus’ crucifixion. Every Good Friday, I felt that I should try to muster up sadness and regret for what he had done for me on the 56
  56. 56. cross, but I really could not feel it. After all, I had been a pretty good person my whole life." During Lent of 1996, I prayed that God would show me the depth of my sin so that I could understand what he had done on the cross for me. That Lent and Holy Week came and went, and by Easter Sunday I was eating chocolate bunnies with, sadly, no greater understanding than I had before. However, in the two years that followed, my spiritual journey took me to deep and dark places in my soul. The Spirit of God unveiled incidents and relationships in my past that had caused me pain. The pain of these situations and people had locked me into resentment, fear, anger, lack of forgiveness, hatred and other forms of rebellion in my life. I had never before realized how ugly and invasive the rot was. I saw for the first time that I had very serious sin in my life and that I needed God’s mercy and grace to face it and repent of it. It was a few days before Palm Sunday 1998, and I found myself spiritually exhausted. I had previously thought that I had a substantial “spiritual résumé,” however over those forty days of Lent I was aware of how very weak I was. I had done a miserable job of my Lenten commitments and I felt defeated and useless. I prayed, wept and cried out to God to help me! I had nothing to offer him: no courage, no strength and no spiritual fervour. In prayer, I imagined myself before Jesus on the cross. I saw myself desperately clutching the nailed feet of Jesus, barely having the strength to hang on to him while I screamed for help. I have never before felt like such a complete failure, and I am happy to say that I received such sweet mercy and consolation in knowing that I indeed do need a Saviour, and this Saviour is Jesus Christ. This was a holy time for me. My hero and rescuer, Jesus, had stooped down to save me from all my weaknesses and from all my sins and failures. Then, in his mercy, he reassured me of the love and of the great plans he had in mind for me all along. Knowing that I have been loved, fought for and rescued from the gravity of my sin (that I got myself into) inspires me to love and fight for the message of Jesus to be understood by others. I had followed Jesus as Lord my whole life, but now I also know him as my Saviour. 57
  57. 57. 4. Although this was not the moment of Angèle's initial conversion, how was it significant for her and her evangelistic witness to have had this experience? This experience enabled her to be humble and know her need for a Saviour. This need was not just in her mind, it was deeply felt. Her experience enabled her to have greater compassion on those with more "obvious sins," since she understood that she too was, really, truly, desperate without God's mercy and forgiveness. Knowing what mercy really felt like, she knew how good this Good News is for others. You We can be witnesses only if we know Christ first hand, and not only through others — from our own life, from our personal encounter with Christ. Finding him really in our life of faith, we become witnesses. Pope Benedict XVI, On Christian Unity in 2009, "When He Wishes and When We Are Prepared, [God] Will Create Unity", 5. Having heard these two testimonies, let us spend the next ten minutes in personal reflection. Recall your own journey. When and how did you experience conversion and God's mercy? Here are some further questions to direct your reflection: Leaders: Participants may want to take some time alone to do this exercise. They can also journal their thoughts. We want each participant to grasp that he/she is desperately in need of a Saviour. You may find that some are not able to answer convincingly (or answer at all). You can respond to this in a few ways. Perhaps they have not yet experienced their need for a Saviour. Perhaps they have never actually put Jesus at the centre of their lives. Perhaps they have always been good and faithful and it is harder for them to have an emotional connection to Christ’s sacrifice for them. It is great that they have always been faithful — they do not need to go looking for dirt. To help them figure this out you could: 58
  58. 58. Here you can suggest that if they are not sure whether they have ever really understood their need for a Saviour, they should ask God for the grace to realize it. They can meditate and reflect on the gift of faithfulness, how Christ has preserved them from serious sin, and what their life could have looked like without his grace. After the meeting, you could discreetly offer to meet with these people individually to help them further their reflection and/or help them concretely reach out to Jesus as their Saviour (sharing the “Relationships Diagram” and praying with them, bringing them to the sacrament of Reconciliation, etc.). x Who was the “Paul” in your life? Were there several “Pauls” in your life? We use the name “Paul” intentionally because to him, what was of first importance was that Jesus be proclaimed. What is it about these “Pauls” and what they communicated to you that brought you to a clearer understanding of Jesus? x At what times in your life did you really understand that Jesus died on the cross for you, to save you from your sin and weaknesses? x What were your big "yesses" to God? When did you choose to follow him or invite him to be at the centre of your life? x From what has Jesus rescued you? This could be your past failures, or perhaps the wrong choices you might have made, were it not for God’s grace in your life. For example, on this last point, Angèle would say that if it were not for God’s presence in her life she would be broken and despairing. Because of her woundedness, she would have done anything to receive any semblance of love or acceptance. She could imagine herself making many damaging choices in relationships. By God’s grace in her life, she was protected with a formed Christian conscience. This is sobering and helpful in reminding her of what God has spared her (i.e. what could have been). 6. Based on your reflection, share with the group when and how you experienced Jesus' mercy and forgiveness. Leaders: Be prepared to be the first to share, as people might be shy. This will also allow you to model appropriate content and length of sharing. 59