Growth Study Participant Guide (English)
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Growth Study Participant Guide (English)

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Growth is the next step in practical Christian growth, looking at such elements as prayer, sacraments, and fellowship. It applies the principles learned in the Source study, demonstrating how the life ...

Growth is the next step in practical Christian growth, looking at such elements as prayer, sacraments, and fellowship. It applies the principles learned in the Source study, demonstrating how the life in the Spirit looks through the life of the Church.

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Growth Study Participant Guide (English) Growth Study Participant Guide (English) Presentation Transcript

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  • Your Feedback Please take a moment to give us your feedback. Please print. How has the study influenced your life? Growth Participant Guide Created and published by Catholic Christian Outreach Canada. Copyright © 2012. All rights reserved. Nihil Obstat: Patrick Fletcher Ph.D. Censor Deputatus Imprimatur: +Terrence Prendergast, S.J. Archbishop of Ottawa June 26, 2011 Solemnity of The Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ Any other comments/feedback? 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 Please return by mail or fax to: Phone: 613-736-1999 Fax: 613-736-1800 hq@cco.ca www.cco.ca CCO Faith Studies 1247 Kilborn Place Ottawa, ON K1H 6K9 Fax: (613) 736-1800 Printed in Canada. 62 3
  • The leaf image on the cover of Growth represents life, health and vitality. It brings to mind these Scripture passages: Record of Completion "I am the vine, you are the branches. Those who abide in me and I in them bear much fruit, because apart from me you can do nothing." John 15:5 Return this form to your study leader or to the address on the back. Please print. Blessed are those who trust in the Lord, whose trust is the Lord. They shall be like a tree planted by water, sending out its roots by the stream. It shall not fear when heat comes, and its leaves shall stay green; in the year of drought it is not anxious, and it does not cease to bear fruit. Jeremiah 17:7-8 Name: The imagery in these verses reminds us of the indispensable presence of the Holy Spirit, through whom growth and fruit appear (as discussed in Source). This study reminds us of the growth that is possible when we are rooted in Christ, confident in our relationship with him and uniting our efforts to grow in holiness with the Spirit. Image © Iakov Kalinin 2010 Cover Design © Chris Pecora 2011 Today's Date: Primary Contact Information: Address: City/Prov./State: Postal/Zip Code: Phone: Email : Secondary or Permanent Address: Address: City/Prov./State: Postal/Zip Code: Phone: Please contact me about more CCO studies, events or newsletters. I do not wish to be contacted about more CCO studies, events or newsletters. Faith study just completed or completing: Discovery Growth Source Obedience Commission Study Leader's Name: Campus/Parish: 4 61
  • Quotations from The Catechism of the Catholic Church, Verbum Domini, Dominicae Cenae, Redemptoris Missio and Documents of the II Vatican Council are used with permission from Libreria Editrice Vaticana. Scripture quotations are from 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. Fr. Bob Bedard, CC (founder), quoted with permission by the Companions of the Cross. All rights reserved. Excerpts from Catholic and Christian: An Explanation of Commonly Misunderstood Catholic Beliefs by Alan Schreck are copyright © 1984, 2004 by Alan Schreck and used with permission of Servant Books, Cincinnati, Ohio. Catholic and Christian by Alan Schreck can be purchased at bookstores, Amazon.com, or by contacting St. Anthony Messenger Press at 1-800-488-0488. 60 5
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  • b) Commitment to Personal Growth c) Commitment to Intercession d) Learning the Ropes To St. Paul whose letters instruct and inspire us to grow to maturity in Christ. 3. Leaving a Spiritual Legacy Challenge Be accountable to your Growth leader about your progress in starting a Discovery study group 58 7
  • Growth Follow-Up Worksheet Objective: To call each Growth participant to start his or her own Discovery study. 1. Every Member a Missionary Catholic Christian Outreach (CCO) is a university student movement dedicated to evangelization. We challenge students to live in the fullness of the Catholic faith, with a strong emphasis on becoming leaders in the renewal of the world. 2. Starting a Discovery Study a) Develop an Impact List NAME 8 PHONE/EMAIL DAY/TIME THAT DOESN'T WORK 57
  • Table of Contents Lesson 1 – Growth Essentials 11 An overview of why and how we are called to grow in our relationship with God. Lesson 2 – Prayer 17 Growing in our confidence in prayer and our intimacy with God through prayer. Lesson 3 – Scripture 24 Scripture is living and active, and should be so in our daily lives. Lesson 4 – Sacramental Life 31 The graces we receive in the sacraments help us to grow in faith. Lesson 5 – Fellowship 37 Paul, Barnabas and Timothy are models of the relationships we have within the body of Christ. Lesson 6 – Service and Witness 45 We are called to serve others and share the love of God with them in word and deed. Appendix Growth Follow-Up 57 Living it Out Cards 56 53 59 9
  • Growth Small Group Information: Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Have I deliberately missed Mass on Sundays or Holy Days of obligation? Did I leave Mass early without good reason? Have I received communion at least once a year? Did I receive communion in a state of serious sin? Have I been to confession recently? In any of my previous confessions, did I lie to or deliberately conceal something from the priest? Have I allowed myself to become so dominated by my work and chores that I have not set aside Sunday for spiritual and family activities? Time: Honour your father and your mother. Did I honour and obey my parents? Did I respect my brothers and sisters? Did I respect others with lawful authority, especially teachers and professors? Did I speak rudely to them? Did I speak about them to others in a derogatory way? Did I fail to help my parents (at home, or in their time of need)? Did I spend time with my family, or avoid them? Do I blame my parents for my own shortcomings? Place: Leader: Phone Number: Email: Participants: You shall not kill. Did I give in to feelings of anger or jealousy? Did I keep hatred in my heart? Have I ever struck anyone in anger, intending to injure the person? Did I fight, give a bad example or cause scandal? Have I abused alcohol or drugs? Have I had or in any way permitted or encouraged abortion? Have I nurtured thoughts about suicide? You shall not commit adultery & you shall not covet your neighbour’s wife Did I consent to impure glances or thoughts? Did I give my mind over to lustful thoughts or fantasies? Have I encouraged them by stares, curiosity or impure conversations? Did I neglect to control my imagination or desire of other people? Was I immodest in dress or behaviour? Did I look at pornography, impure books, magazines or videos? Am I guilty of impurity with myself, premarital sex or adultery? Do I live chastely according to my state in life (married, single, consecrated celibate)? You shall not steal Have I stolen? What or how much? Did I return it or make up for what I stole? Have I cheated on tests or homework? Did I waste time at work? Did I do graffiti? Have I been extravagant in my manner of life, to the neglect of the poor at home and abroad? You shall not bear false witness against your neighbour Have I lied, gossiped? Have I talked about other people behind their backs? Do I always tell the truth? Am I sincere? Did I reveal secrets that I should have kept confidential? Am I critical, negative or uncharitable in my talk? Have I injured the reputation of others by speaking about their failures and sins with little desire or intention to help them? Have I condoned prejudice and hatred toward people of other nationalities, races or religions? You shall not covet your neighbour’s goods Is my heart greedy? Am I jealous of what another has? Am I envious of others because I don’t have what they have? Do I habitually compare myself with others? Do I work, study, and keep busy to counter idle thoughts? Am I critical, negative, or uncharitable in my thoughts of others? Is my heart set on earthly possessions or on the treasures of heaven? Do I give to those in need, so as not to cling to my possessions? 10 55
  • Act of Contrition: Lesson 1 Oh my God, I am heartily sorry for having offended you and I detest all of my sins because of your just punishment, but most of all because they have offended you, my God, who are all good and deserving of all my love. I firmly resolve, with the help of your grace, to sin no more and avoid the near occasion of sin. Amen. Growth Essentials A simple prayer from the heart is also acceptable: Lord, I am sorry for my sins. I thank you for your forgiveness, strength and love. Do your Penance: When we go to Confession, we are cleansed and freed from our sins. Although the absolution we receive takes away the sin, it does not, however, remedy all the problems that sin causes. When we sin, we weaken ourselves as well as our relationship with God and our neighbours. We must repair the harm caused by our sin (i.e. return stolen goods or restore the reputation of someone about whom we have gossiped). That is why the priest gives us a penance. In Discovery, we affirmed that Jesus Christ is God’s plan for our salvation. We ended the study emphasizing that we must make a choice to live out the call of our Baptism and follow God. This process of conversion must continue for the rest of our lives. Ongoing conversion implies growth; our relationship with God should always be growing. But how does that happen? Source emphasized the role and importance of the Holy Spirit in our faith life; now, in Growth, we will take a very practical look at what we can do to grow our relationship with God. 1. What is necessary for any kind of a relationship to sustain growth? The penance given usually depends on the gravity of the sin committed. Penances can consist of prayer, an offering, works of mercy, service to neighbour, voluntary self-denial, sacrifices, and above all the patient acceptance of suffering that brings us closer to Christ. The sacrament of Confession is not complete until you do your penance. It should be done immediately in the church, if it is a penance of prayer. Otherwise, it should be done as soon as possible. Examination of Conscience I am the Lord your God, you shall have no other gods besides me. Did I fail to love God, to make him first in my life, to thank, trust and love him as he deserves? Did I fail to pray? Have I doubted or denied my faith? Was I careless in saying my prayers? Do I give God time everyday in prayer? Do I make a god out of my work, possessions, or image in the eyes of others so that these rule my life instead of God? Am I angry toward God because of illness or misfortune? Have I been involved with magic, horoscopes, Ouija boards or fortune telling? You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain Did I curse or swear? Did I use God’s name in vain, lightly, carelessly, by blasphemy? Have I used foul language or jokes? In conversation, have I passively listened to slander and to jokes demeaning the Church or God’s authority? 54 Parable of the Sower Jesus often taught using nature-based parables and images to teach spiritual truths. We will now look at his parable of the sower. Jesus shows us how environment is critical to promote and sustain growth in both the natural and spiritual worlds. 11
  • 2. Read Luke 8:4-8. Jesus touches on environmental factors which are needed for plant growth. What are such factors? Appendix Making a Good Confession Prayer before Confession: 3. What happens to a plant if one or more of these elements is not sufficiently present? Oh most merciful God! Prostrate at your feet, I implore your forgiveness. I sincerely desire to leave all my evil ways and to confess my sins with all sincerity to you and to your priest. I am a sinner; have mercy on me, Oh Lord. Give me a lively faith and firm hope in the Passion of my Redeemer. Give me, for your mercy’s sake, a sorrow for having offended so good a God. Mary, my mother, refuge of sinners, pray for me that I may make a good confession. Amen. How to go to Confession: • You have the option to go to confession anonymously (behind a screen) or face to face. • After the priest greets you in the name of Christ, make the 4. Read Luke 8:11-15. What jeopardizes spiritual growth? 12 sign of the cross. He may choose to recite a reading from Scripture, after which you say: ‘Bless me Father for I have sinned. It has been (state how long) since my last confession. These are my sins.’ • Tell your sins simply and honestly to the priest. You might even want to discuss the circumstances and the root causes of your sins and ask the priest for advice or direction. • Listen to the advice the priest gives you and accept the penance from him. Then say an Act of Contrition for your sins. The priest will then absolve you of your sins and will pray the Prayer of Absolution. This prayer is a beautiful affirmation of God’s mercy. Listen to its powerful words: “God, the Father of mercies, through the death and resurrection of his Son has reconciled the world to himself and sent the Holy Spirit among us for the forgiveness of sins. Through the ministry of the Church may God give you pardon and peace, and I absolve you from your sins in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.” • Afterwards, spend some time thanking and praising God for the gift of his mercy. Fulfill your penance as soon as possible. 53
  • 5. We have talked about the factors needed for plant growth. What practical elements are needed for spiritual growth? 6. What happens if one or more of these elements is not sufficiently present in our life? Christian Growth 7. Read Colossians 2:6-7. How can we concretely “live (our) lives in him”? 52 13
  • 8. How are we “rooted and built up in him and established in the faith”? Try to be as specific as possible elaborating on the elements for spiritual growth from the last section. 9. The beginning of this verse reads, “As you therefore have received Christ Jesus the Lord.” How do we receive Jesus? Tying It All Together 15. How does service and witness help us in the overall goal of growing closer to God? Summary Jesus made it clear that we are to follow his example by laying down our lives to serve others. We are also called to bear witness to our faith by living virtuously and courageously proclaiming the Gospel. If we love him, we will be compelled to love our neighbour through witness of service and proclamation of God's love in Christ Jesus. Living It Out 10. Why is this important to remember? Challenge: Practice Christian service this week by volunteering your time to a specific activity, helping someone in need, starting a faith study, etc. Also, start working on a short testimony of your faith so that you are ready to share “the reason for the hope that is in you.” Memorize Colossians 3:17: And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. 14 51
  • 14. Look at the following passages and write down what each says about witnessing by word. 1 Peter 3:15-16 11. What can we learn from the rest of the verse, which reads “just as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving”? Acts 18:9 Personal Application 12. What factors in your environment could jeopardize your spiritual growth? Romans 10:13-14 A powerful way to witness by word is to share with others how God has worked in your life. People can argue with what you believe or disagree with the Church's teachings, but no one can argue with your personal experience. Of course, this testimony is most effective when it is accompanied by a life that reflects Christian virtue. 50 13. Which of the elements for spiritual growth is strongest in your life right now? Which is the weakest? What would you like to see improved? 15
  • Summary Witness of Word Prayer, Scripture, the sacraments, fellowship, service and witness are practical ways we can nourish our spiritual lives and grow in holiness. Balanced Christian growth can happen if each of these areas is cultivated. We progress in Christian maturity when our efforts co-operate with the graces we receive from the Holy Spirit. The Catechism of the Catholic Church tells us that through the grace of the Holy Spirit given to us in the sacrament of Confirmation, we are able to "bear witness to the Christian faith in words accompanied by deeds" (CCC 1316). Our Christian witness should be composed of words supported by actions. A clear proclamation of the message of salvation is urgently needed. As Pope Benedict XVI explains, Living It Out Challenge: Pick your weakest area and decide on a way to strengthen it. Make it a concrete and practical resolution. Memorize Colossians 2:6-7: As you therefore have received Christ Jesus the Lord, continue to live your lives in him, rooted and built up in him and established in the faith just as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving. At the dawn of the third millennium not only are there still many peoples who have not come to know the Good News, but also a great many Christians who need to have the word of God once more persuasively proclaimed to them, so that they can concretely experience the power of the Gospel. Many of our brothers and sisters are “baptized, but insufficiently evangelized.” Verbum Domini, 96 12. What does it mean to "bear witness to the Christian faith"? 13. Read 1 Corinthians 9:16 and Romans 1:16. Why should we witness by word? 16 49
  • Witness of Life 10. Read 1 Timothy 4:11-16. Why should we witness by our way of life and our actions? Lesson 2 Prayer 1. How did last week’s challenge go? A great way to start growing in holiness is through prayer. Prayer should be a regular and very personal part of our relationship with God. It is simple enough for a child to do and vast enough to keep the saints in awe. 11. According to the following passages, what are the virtues Christians should practice and what are the vices they should avoid? Ephesians 4:25 - 5:1 Luke 11:1 says, “He [Jesus] was praying in a certain place, and after he had finished, one of his disciples said to him, ‘Lord, teach us to pray, as John taught his disciples.’” Like the disciples, let us begin this lesson by asking Jesus to teach us to pray. Let us be assured that if we ask, he would be delighted to take us under his care and teach us to pray. 2. What are some reasons why people pray? Colossians 3:12-17 Romans 12:9-21 48 In this lesson, we will look at two of the greatest challenges we face in prayer: intimacy and confidence. 17
  • Intimacy 7. What are some simple ways you can practice Christian service? Prayer is much more than just asking for favours or pleading for help from God. It is primarily a means of conversing with him. It is listening to and sharing our heart with a trusted friend. 3. Read the passages below. Circle words or ideas in these verses that describe how we should approach God. How will these ideas help us to develop our prayer and intimacy with God? Hebrews 4:14-16 8. Read Matthew 25:35-40 and 1 John 4:20-21. What attitude should we have when we serve? Ephesians 3:15-21 Confidence Any father anticipates that his child will ask for and need his help. Jesus understood this. He tells us in Luke 11:9-13: 9. Commit yourself to an act of service that you can do this week, this month, or some time this semester. Share your idea with the group if you feel comfortable doing so. ‘Ask, and it will be given to you; search, and you will find; knock, and the door will be opened for you. For everyone who asks receives, and everyone who searches finds, and for everyone who knocks, the door will be opened. Is there anyone among you who, if your child asks for a fish, will give a snake instead of a fish? Or if the child asks for an egg, will give a scorpion? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!’ 18 47
  • Service 4. How did Jesus serve those around him? The key to confidence lies in the intimate relationship between father and child. The child does not impress the father by his great display of confidence. It is the depth, love and security of the relationship that gives the child the freedom and confidence to ask his father for help. Our heavenly Father can be trusted with all our cares and concerns. Our intimate relationship with God is the essential foundation for confidence in prayer. Sometimes it is easier to believe that God hears and answers prayers for other people; it can be much harder to have confidence that he is actually willing to help me. This kind of thinking is a sign that we need to deepen our faith in the Father's love. 5. Read John 13:12-15. What did Jesus model in this passage? What does it mean for us today? 4. Can you relate to any of these comments on confidence? How? The following Scripture selections can inspire confidence in God and remind us that his faithfulness is not far off or for someone else, but available for each of us. 6. Who are some role models of Christian service? 5. Read the following Scripture selections as though they were written directly to you. How does each passage teach you to approach God the Father in prayer? How can you adopt this posture before God? 1 John 5:14-15 Hebrews 10:19:22 46 19
  • Mark 11:20-24 Lesson 6 Service and Witness Philippians 4:4-7 1. How did last week’s challenge go? Service and witness are essential to a fruitful and fulfilling Christian life. 6. What are some practical ways we can pray with greater confidence? The disciple of Christ must not only keep the faith and live on it, but also profess it, confidently bear witness to it, and spread it: "All however must be prepared to confess Christ before men and to follow him along the way of the Cross, amidst the persecutions which the Church never lacks." Service of and witness to the faith are necessary for salvation: "So every one who acknowledges me before men, I also will acknowledge before my Father who is in heaven; but whoever denies me before men, I also will deny before my Father who is in heaven." CCC 1816 Sometimes it seems as though God does not answer our prayers. There may be reasons for this: • Our request is immature, unnecessary or a fleeting desire. • Our request is not for God's greater glory in our lives or in the 2. Why are serving and witnessing often the most challenging aspects of our Christian growth? lives of others. • We have not prayed with faith. • We have no real intention of changing our ways and giving our love and our life completely to him. We want his blessings, but we do not want to change sinful behaviour. • We have not persevered in prayer. When we come before God, we should examine our motivation and ask him to help us pray with pure and sincere hearts. We must also remember that God’s perspective is more complete than ours is — he sees the bigger picture. It may seem to us that he does not hear or wish to answer our prayers, when in fact he is offering us a greater good. We need to trust that he loves us and wants what is best for us. 20 3. How are prayer, Scripture, sacramental life and fellowship all connected to service and witness? 45
  • Tying It All Together 19. How does fellowship help us in the overall goal of growing closer to God? The Battle of Prayer Prayer presupposes an effort, a fight against ourselves and the wiles of the Tempter. The battle of prayer is inseparable from the necessary "spiritual battle" to act habitually according to the Spirit of Christ: we pray as we live, because we live as we pray. CCC 2752 7. Why is it such a struggle to make time for prayer, especially on a daily basis? Summary Fellowship is the relationship we have with Christian friends who support and encourage us, as well as challenge us to grow in faith. In our fellowship circles, it is important to have “Pauls”, “Barnabas’” and “Timothys” — mentors, companions and people to whom we can reach out. Living It Out Challenge: Find a fellowship group or make an effort to develop a deeper friendship with someone in your existing fellowship group. When I begin my prayer each morning, I find it is difficult to focus, to have the faith that God is near. It is as if I begin my prayer running on empty. Nothing to receive, nothing to give. So the first thing I do is remind myself of the truth. “Father I know you love me, that you hold me in your hands. I know that through Christ’s death and resurrection, I can approach you with confidence — not as a slave but as a child, part of the family.” I imagine myself approaching the throne of grace. I am no longer alone, empty or without focus. Now I can begin my prayer. André Regnier Memorize Hebrews 10:24: And let us consider how to provoke one another to love and good deeds. 44 8. Do you find it difficult to focus when you begin to pray? How could the above approach (and the things we have discussed in this lesson) help you get started each day? 21
  • Practical Application 17. How can you seek out “Timothys”? Daily prayer can take many forms. The acronym P.R.A.Y. is a helpful reminder of the various ways we can pray. Praise: What does it mean to praise? Why praise? How do we praise? (3-5 minutes) Building Fellowship Repentance: Why is repentance important? (2-4 minutes) Ask: How can I remember to pray for everybody and everything I should, let alone for myself? (5-10 minutes) The following stories describe how two young people took to heart the importance of building Christian fellowship. A young man returning from a CCO summer mission chose to act on the mission’s closing challenge to spread the faith. Upon his return home, he invited some of his friends and co-workers to participate in a CCO faith study. Of the five people he contacted, four said yes. One of them was baptized into the Catholic Church less than a year later. The other three experienced conversion and continue to practice their faith today. This young man’s initiative made a life-long impact on his friends! Another young man decided that the faith study he had followed was too good to keep to himself. He sent an email to some friends at 5:30PM one afternoon, inviting them to take the study. By 9:00PM that evening, he had received 12 email replies from friends who wanted to participate! Yield: To what are we yielding and why is this important? How do we yield? (5 minutes) 22 18. Have you ever considered developing a personal ministry? Have you ever considered starting a Discovery faith study for your friends? 43
  • 14. What do these passages tell us about the importance of a “Timothy” relationship? Diving In John 17:20-21 Optional: Your small group leader will now direct a time of prayer according to the PRAY model. You will all pray individually, but at the same time. Tying It All Together 2 Timothy 2:2 9. At the end of each lesson we will look at how each theme contributes to the overall goal of growing closer to God. Therefore, how does prayer help us grow closer to God? 15. Are you reaching out to any “Timothys”? How do these people enrich your life? Summary How incredible that we can be on speaking terms with the Creator of the universe! Through prayer we are able to express what is in our hearts and ask for God’s blessings. The more we communicate with him, the more we will get to know him and become like him. 16. Why is it important to both maintain our relationships with non-Christian friends and build Christian fellowship? What is the role of each of these relationships in our lives? Living It Out Challenge: Set a goal to take time daily for personal prayer. For example, you might resolve to begin each day by praying for at least 10 minutes. Memorize Hebrews 4:16: Let us therefore approach the throne of grace with boldness, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need. 42 23
  • Lesson 3 Scripture 11. Is there a “Barnabas” (or two) in your life? How does this person enrich your life? 1. How did last week’s challenge go? The Word of God is found in what the Church calls the "Deposit of Faith”, which has two elements: Sacred Tradition and Sacred Scripture. 12. How might you seek out other “Barnabas’”? Sacred Tradition is composed of the living traditions that have been handed on from Christ to his apostles and their successors, either through the spoken word or in writing. New Testament Scripture is an early recording of Sacred Tradition, written under the direct inspiration of the Holy Spirit. As such, the Church regards both Sacred Scripture and Sacred Tradition with the same reverence. In this lesson, we will focus primarily on Scripture. As in prayer, we can come to know God through reading the Bible and meditating on the teachings of the Church. If praying is speaking to God, then reading the Scripture is listening to him. Timothy Rediscovering Scripture A common perception of Scripture is that it is dry, outdated and complicated. Many people find it hard to imagine how the Bible, written thousands of years ago, could have any relevance to the challenges and aspirations of their daily lives. They may have even tried to read the Bible for guidance and found it offered little more than mildly comforting stories or phrases. Timothy was a young leader in the early Church. Through the influence of both his grandmother and Paul, Timothy became a fruitful follower of Christ. 13. What does it means to have a “Timothy” in your life? Reading Scripture does not have to be dull. When people experience a personal conversion to Christ, submit their lives to his Lordship, and walk in the power of the Holy Spirit, Scripture takes on a completely new dimension. 24 41
  • Barnabas Barnabas was Paul’s travel companion. The book of Acts describes his journeys with Paul to Cyprus, Antioch, Iconium and Lystra. I express my heartfelt hope for the flowering of “a new season of greater love for sacred Scripture on the part of every member of the People of God, so that their prayerful and faith-filled reading of the Bible will, with time, deepen their personal relationship with Jesus.” Benedict XVI, Verbum Domini, 72 9. What does it mean to have a “Barnabas” in your life? 2. Have you experienced Scripture come alive? If possible, share an example of a passage that spoke to you. 10. What do these passages tell us about the importance of a “Barnabas” relationship? Proverbs 27:17 3. Read 1 Corinthians 2:9-16. How does this passage explain the experience we are describing? Ecclesiastes 4:9 -10 Authorship of Scripture Hebrews 10:24-25 40 Scripture recounts for us our ongoing salvation history, which is really a love story — God calling and inviting humanity to his love and friendship. The Bible is a collection of 73 inspired books, from both the Jewish Scriptures (46 in the Old Testament), and the teaching of the apostles (27 in the New Testament). 25
  • The Bible did not drop down out of the sky one day! The Church determined which books were to be included in the canon of Sacred Scripture based on their content, scholarship, consistency with the faith that had been passed on through Sacred Tradition, and by discerning which books were truly inspired by the Holy Spirit. The official canon was decided upon at the Council of Rome in the year 382. That decision has been reaffirmed at subsequent Church councils. Paul 6. Read 1 Corinthians 4:15-16 and 1 Thessalonians 2:3-8. What do these passages tell us about Paul’s role in the Christian community? 4. What is distinctive and authoritative about Scripture and how it was written? 1 John 1:1-4 2 Peter 1:20-21 7. Is there a “Paul” in your life? How does this person enrich your life? If you do not yet know a person like this, try to imagine what kind of impact a “Paul” might have on your life. 2 Timothy 3:16a 8. If you do not have a “Paul” relationship, how might you seek one out? 26 39
  • 5. Involvement in a Christian or Catholic group does not guarantee fellowship. How do we build community, belonging and friendship in a group? Applying Scripture to Our Lives 5. How should Scripture affect and influence our lives? 2 Timothy 3:14 - 4:4 Hebrews 4:2, 12-13 Paul, Barnabas and Timothy At first glance, fellowship may seem to be one of the easiest elements of spiritual growth to incorporate into our lives. After all, we enjoy spending time with other people, especially our closest friends. But there is much more to fellowship than simply going to a movie with friends. While fellowship does mean spending time with other Christians, it also involves reaching out to draw more people into the community. We can sometimes get so caught up in our own spiritual growth that we forget an essential part of our call: to "go forth and make disciples of all nations." The Catechism of the Catholic Church states, "The disciple of Christ must not only keep the faith and live it, but also profess it, confidently bear witness to it and spread it" (CCC 1816). A vibrant fellowship circle should therefore include various types of relationships. Some members are like Paul, some like Barnabas, and others like Timothy. In fact, it is helpful for each of us to have a “Paul”, a “Barnabas” and a “Timothy” in our lives. What does this mean? To find out, let us look at each of these men and how their relationships intertwined. James 1:22-25 Diving In “Indeed, the word of God is living and active” (Hebrews 4:12a). When we read and reflect upon Scripture, it becomes alive and real in our lives. We should thus approach Scripture with a prayerful attitude. As we read in The Catechism of the Catholic Church, prayer should accompany the reading of Sacred Scripture, so that a dialogue takes place between God and man. For ‘we speak to him when we pray; we listen to him when we read the divine oracles.’ CCC 2653 38 27
  • 6. We will now take an opportunity to dive into a Scripture passage. • Begin with a prayer asking the Holy Spirit to enlighten our Lesson 5 Fellowship minds and speak to our hearts through Scripture. • Read the passage once to get a feel for it. • Read it again, more slowly this time. As you read: ° Mark words, phrases or verses that strike you. ° Circle repeating words or phrases; these often signal 1. How did last week’s challenge go? what is important in the passage. ° Underline commands. ° Put a question mark by anything you find confusing or 2. As a group, discuss the meaning of “fellowship”. that raises questions. ° Look for concepts that compare and contrast. • Look in the margin of your Bible for any reference notes or reference verses that may give you insight into the passage. • If time permits, read the verses and/or chapter(s) preceding and following the passage to help you understand the context of the passage. • The Catechism of the Catholic Church points out that in understanding the context of a Scripture passage, 3. How is fellowship different than friendship? the reader must be attentive to what the human authors truly wanted to affirm and to what God wanted to reveal to us by their words. In order to discover the sacred authors' intention, the reader must take into account the conditions of their time and culture, the literary genres in use at that time, and the modes of feeling, speaking and narrating then current. "For the fact is that truth is differently presented and expressed in the various types of historical writing, in prophetical and poetical texts, and in other forms of literary expression." 4. What are some examples of fellowship groups? CCC 109-110 28 37
  • Summary Through the sacraments, God shares his life with us. Each of the seven sacraments strengthens the sanctifying grace given to us at Baptism and provides us an opportunity to encounter Christ personally. They are gifts from God to help us become more like Jesus. It is especially important for our spiritual growth to regularly receive the sacraments of Reconciliation and Eucharist. Living It Out Challenge: Commit to attending Mass faithfully every Sunday and try to go at least one other day this week. Also, try to receive the sacrament of Reconciliation this week. 7. Now that you have reflected on it, what is the Lord saying to you in this reading? How can you apply this passage to your life? Practical Application 8. How will you incorporate Scripture into your life on a regular basis? Memorize John 6:54: Those who eat my flesh and drink my blood have eternal life, and I will raise them up on the last day. Tying It All Together 9. How does Scripture help us in the overall goal of growing closer to God? 36 29
  • Summary 12. Read John 10:9 and John 15:5. What metaphors does Jesus use? How do we know they are metaphors? The Word of God comes to us through the Church by means of Sacred Tradition and Sacred Scripture. The Bible is unique among all books, and continues to be the all-time “best seller”. It is God's message of love to us and our guide for living. We should read Scripture often, asking the Holy Spirit to enlighten our minds and our hearts with the truth of God's Word. Living It Out Challenge: Take time daily to reflect on God's word in Scripture. Make a plan for how you will do this. For example, you might decide to read the daily Gospel from Mass (perhaps before or after your time of prayer). Next week, share with the group your plan and how you carried it out. The Eucharist is an incredible encounter with Christ! Only in the Eucharist are we able to come into such direct contact with the fullness of God. This is why the Church reveres it as the "Sacrament of sacraments" (CCC 1169), and recognizes it as “the source and summit of the Christian life” (Lumen Gentium, Dogmatic Constitution on the Church, 11). Memorize Hebrews 4:12: Indeed, the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing until it divides soul from spirit, joints from marrow; it is able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart. 13. What motivates you to participate wholeheartedly in the sacrament of the Eucharist? Tying it All Together 14. How do the sacraments, especially Reconciliation and Eucharist help us in the overall goal of growing closer to God? 30 35
  • 9. Read John 6:52-60. What evidence can you find that the listeners understood Jesus’ words literally, not figuratively? Lesson 4 Sacramental Life 1. How did last week’s challenge go? Sacraments The word Jesus used for "eats" in John 6:54 is the Greek verb “trogon”. This is not the verb normally used for human eating. It more accurately describes how animals munch or gnaw. No wonder those who heard it were disturbed and perplexed! 10. Why would Jesus use such graphic language? The sacraments are a defining part of Christian life, especially for Catholics. They play an essential role in blessing and inaugurating the significant rites of passage in our lives: birth, death, maturity and vocation. The sacraments are intended to be a regular part of our ongoing relationship and intimacy with God — hence the term “sacramental life.” 2. How would you explain what a sacrament is? 11. Read verses 61-69. What is significant about the disciples’ response to Jesus? . 3. The Catholic Church identifies seven sacraments that can be placed into three categories. As a group, discuss where each sacrament fits. Sacraments of Christian Initiation 34 Sacraments of Healing Sacraments of Service 31
  • The Sacrament of Reconciliation The sacrament of Reconciliation deals directly with the problem of sin. It cleanses us from our sins, and provides us with the grace to overcome sinful tendencies and become more like Christ. The sacrament of Reconciliation is also called the sacrament of “Penance” or “Confession”. All three are acceptable titles for this sacrament. “Reconciliation,” “Penance” and “Confession” each emphasize a particular aspect of the sacrament. 7. Discuss what each term emphasizes. 4. Read John 20:21-23. What is happening in this passage? 5. Why should we confess sins to a priest in the sacrament of Reconciliation? Why can we not just ask God to forgive us privately? 6. Should we go to Reconciliation only when we have committed a mortal sin? The Eucharist Jesus, at the Last Supper, instituted the sacrament of the Eucharist. Surrounded by his apostles, he transformed bread and wine into his Body and Blood. This same miracle occurs at every Mass: when the priest speaks the words of consecration, the bread and wine are transformed into the Body and Blood of Christ. Through the sacrament of the Eucharist, Jesus gives himself to us entirely. He unites us to himself by filling us with his own life. The word Eucharist means “thanksgiving”. This is most appropriate, since we gather at Mass to thank God for the salvation Jesus won for us through his death on the cross. Jesus often spoke in stories and parables. He frequently used figurative language to describe spiritual realities, such as the "wedding banquet" in Matthew 22:2. So, when Jesus spoke about the bread being his body, was this meant to be literal or figurative? 8. Read John 6:25-69. Read it a second time, underlining the words that repeat most often. What strikes you about this passage? 32 33