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Obedience Study Participant Guide (English)


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Obedience takes the call of being a faithful Catholic seriously. Challenging topics such as speech and chastity are covered, as well as obedience within the Church.

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Obedience Study Participant Guide (English)

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  3. 3. Your Feedback Please take a moment to give us your feedback. Please print. How has the study influenced your life? Obedience Participant Guide Created and published by Catholic Christian Outreach Canada. Copyright © 2011. All rights reserved. Nihil Obstat: Patrick Fletcher, Ph.D. Censor Deputatus Imprimatur: +Terrence Prendergast, S.J. Archbishop of Ottawa June 29, 2011 Solemnity of Saints Peter and Paul 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 Phone: 613-736-1999 Fax: 613-736-1800 Please return by mail or fax to: CCO Faith Studies 1247 Kilborn Place Ottawa, ON K1H 6K9 Fax: (613) 736-1800 66 Printed in Canada. 3
  4. 4. The cover image for Obedience is a rock. It represents the truth that our God is a steadfast and sure foundation, and that obedience to his word in our lives is the safest, most fulfilling road we can take. 'I will show you what someone is like who comes to me, hears my words, and acts on them. That one is like a man building a house, who dug deeply and laid the foundation on rock; when a flood arose, the river burst against that house but could not shake it, because it had been well built. But the one who hears and does not act is like a man who built a house on the ground without a foundation. When the river burst against it, immediately it fell, and great was the ruin of that house.’ Luke 6:47-49 Image © Igor Tkachov 2007 Cover Design © Chris Pecora 2011 Record of Completion Return this form to your study leader or to the address on the back. Please print. Name: 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 65
  5. 5. Excerpts from The Catechism of the Catholic Church, Familiaris Consortio, Gaudium et Spes, Evangelium Vitae, Message of the Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI for the 48th World Day of Prayer for Vocations and Redemptoris Missio 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. 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. 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. Reference 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. Epistle to the Magnesians, St. Ignatius of Antioch. (Roberts-Donaldson translation). Public Domain. 64 5
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  7. 7. To St. Thérèse of Lisieux, who taught and modelled that obedience is a response of surrender and trust in the goodness of our Father. 62 7
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  9. 9. b) What speaks to you in this excerpt from I Believe in Love, by Fr. D'Elbée (a book based on the spirituality of St. Thérèse of Lisieux)? Jesus always has His victory when He has your abandonment. He needs nothing more than that to bring about the divine wonders that His Heart has prepared for you from all eternity. What spoils everything, what paralyzes him in His providential action on us, are not material difficulties. What makes things difficult for him is lack of faith and abandonment on the part of those who call themselves His friends and who ought to be His faithful instruments. We thwart his plans by imposing our own views, our little plans to which we hold so tightly. And, quite often, why do we do it? Through fear of a cross, fear of humiliation, thirst for enjoyment, earthly ambition, and, above all, lack of confidence. I Believe in Love, pp. 89-90 Table of Contents Lesson 1 – Obedience 11 Obedience is important to God and a blessing for us. Lesson 2 – Obedience and the Fear of What Others Might Think 16 The Holy Spirit empowers us with courage when we are afraid of others' opinions of our obedience to God. Lesson 3 – Obedience and the Fear of Difficult Circumstances 22 We can follow God, even in the midst of difficulties, because he is trustworthy. Lesson 4 – Obedience and Speech 27 The way we speak affects our relationship with God and others. Lesson 5 – Obedience and Chastity 31 God calls us to purity of mind and body, especially in today's society. c) Why is surrendering so difficult? What aspect of it do you find most challenging? Lesson 6 – Obedience and the Church Lesson 7 – Obedience and Vocation 4. Practical Application In what area of your life is God asking for greater obedience? What is he calling you to do? 36 Peter and his successors lead and safeguard the Church in order to provide us a sure compass in faith and morals. 43 Priesthood, religious life, marriage and single life each offer unique paths to growth in holiness and mission. Lesson 8 – Obedience and the Mission 51 We are urgently called to participate in the Church's mission of evangelization. Obedience Follow-Up Challenge: Be obedient to the Holy Spirit this week. Concretely specify what he is asking you to surrender and how you can be held accountable for it. 60 59 Living it Out Cards 61 9
  10. 10. Obedience Small Group Information: Time: Place: Leader: Obedience Follow-Up Worksheet Objective: to surrender to God specific areas that surfaced in Obedience. 1. Confidence What are truths we should remember about confidently trusting God? The highest and most complete proof of love is to surrender ourselves completely, giving all our confidence to him whom we love. I Believe in Love, p. 51 Phone Number: Email: 2. Revisiting the Relationships Diagram. Participants: How has your understanding of a Christ-centred relationship matured? 3. Surrender, Abandonment, Obedience a) How has the Holy Spirit been speaking to you during this study about obedience and surrender? 10 59
  11. 11. Living It Out Challenge: Look for opportunities this week to share your faith with the people who came to mind in question #8. Prayer Challenge: Pray every day for the two people God put on your heart. Memorize Romans 1:16: For I am not ashamed of the gospel; it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who has faith. Lesson 1 Obedience Obedience is essential to Christian life. As we grow in faith, our desire to obey God’s will should naturally increase. The more we experience God’s love for us, the more willing we should be to follow his ways. 1. Why does the word “obedience” sometimes rub us the wrong way? The Freedom of Obedience 2. Read James 1:25. How can freedom, obedience and law co-exist? 58 11
  12. 12. The Call of Obedience 7. How does the example of St. Isaac Jogues inspire you to share your faith with others? 3. Read John 15:9-17. What are the key points in this passage? 4. What are some ways we can love God and lay down our lives as Christ did? Practical Application 8. Think of two people with whom you sense God calling you to share your faith as an ambassador for Christ. The Blessings of Obedience As we become more obedient to God and live according to his plan, he showers us with blessings. We read in Deuteronomy 5:29 that God desires to bless our obedience: If only they had such a mind as this, to fear me and to keep all my commandments always, so that it might go well with them and with their children for ever! It makes sense. Would a good parent punish his child who loves and obeys the family rules and expectations? No! He will not respond to good behaviour by locking the child in his room, where he will be miserable! Though we know a good parent would never do this, we sometimes think God, our loving Father, will punish us if we surrender our lives to him. In fact, it is just the opposite: when we obey God, we experience tremendous peace and joy. 12 Summary Jesus commissions the Church to proclaim the Good News to all people. As members of the body of Christ, we are personally included in this great mandate. It can be a daunting task. However, when we grasp the great gift we have to offer and how deeply people need to experience God's mercy, we should count it a privilege to be his witnesses. In accepting this mission, we follow the example of the apostles and saints who went before us. 57
  13. 13. suffered cruelty at the hands of this man, Fr. Jogues took it upon himself to nurture his aggressor. As he cared for the man, he spoke of Jesus. The man was eventually converted and Fr. Jogues baptized him before his death. 5. Read Matthew 7:24-27. How do the benefits of obedience support us in difficult times? Fr. Jogues had numerous opportunities to escape from the Iroquois, but he held back because he did not want to abandon the other Christians in captivity. Though he would eventually escape to France, Fr. Jogues delayed his departure to ensure the safety of his comrades. Back home, Fr. Jogues was surrounded by crowds and acclaims of sainthood, which he disliked immensely. After a three-month stay in France, he received permission from his superiors to return to the New World. En route to his former captors, he was seized by a Mohawk war party. He was tomahawked and beheaded near Albany, New York, on October 18, 1644, at the age of 39. 6. How did St. Isaac Jogues respond to: a) leaving his country and culture? Talk is Cheap! Being a Christian is challenging. It is tempting at times to give only the bare minimum — to spare ourselves the effort of loving and obeying God in all we do. In Matthew’s Gospel, Jesus tells us that the greatest commandments are to “love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind...[and to] love your neighbour as yourself” (Matthew 22:37, 39b). It is easy enough to recite these words, but God wants more than just words. He wants us to embrace his commandments and allow them to transform the way we live. 6. Compare 1 Samuel 15:22 and 1 Corinthians 13:1-7. What is the common message in these passages? b) the state of people’s souls? 7. Read James 1:22-27. How does the theme “talk is cheap” stand out to you in this passage? c) personal suffering and death? 56 13
  14. 14. 8. Summarize what we have discussed so far about obedience. Courageous Missionary Scripture and Church teachings have inspired and urged us to be courageous witnesses. Now let's turn to another compelling source of inspiration: the life of a saint. The obedience and dedication of the saints to the mission of Christ epitomizes selflessness and heroism. St. Isaac Jogues, one of the eight canonized Canadian Martyrs, is one of those heroes of the faith. During the days of the colonization of the New World, a group of French Jesuits set out to bring the Gospel to North America. The Obedience of Abraham 9. Read Genesis 22:1-18. How would Abraham be feeling in verses 1-10? Their task was not easy. They arrived as strangers in the New World, unfamiliar with their surroundings, but convinced of the importance of their mission. Gradually, they learned the languages and way of life of the Aboriginals with whom they desired to share the Gospel. They persevered in the harsh Canadian climate and primitive conditions, never losing hope that their efforts would bear fruit. Two years after their arrival, they finally baptized their first convert. One of these courageous priests was St. Isaac Jogues. Fr. Jogues was a scholar and athlete born into a wealthy French family. He won the admiration of the Huron with his skill as a runner. Because they respected him, they also listened to his teachings. 10. Why do you think Abraham was prepared to give his only son to God? 11. How did God honour Abraham’s obedience and love (verses 10-18)? Fr. Jogues did not want to limit his outreach to the Huron alone. He also had a burning desire to bring the Gospel to the enemies of both the Huron and the French: the Iroquois. He courageously undertook this mission, enduring tremendous adversity. During his travels, Fr. Jogues and some others from his community were captured by the Mohawk, one of the five nations of the Iroquois. For over a year, they were cruelly tortured. Fr. Jogues suffered greatly. His hair and beard were pulled out; several of his fingers were cut, chewed or burned off; pieces of his flesh were cut off, cooked and eaten; hot coals were thrown on his skin and he was forced to be a pack-horse on hunting trips. Despite this brutal treatment, Fr. Jogues abounded in love and patience. One of the Mohawk was dying of a disease so pungent that no one would care for him. Although he had 14 55
  15. 15. Romans 1:16 12. What lessons from this passage can we apply to our Christian walk? 2 Corinthians 5:14-20 Summary When we consider God’s unconditional and merciful love for us, we should be moved to respond. The proof of our love for God is our obedience to him. We are not sentenced to following an uncaring leader. God loves us deeply and wants to bless us. He gives us his commandments to show us the way to joy and fulfillment. Living It Out Challenge: Think of an area in your life in which you hesitate to obey God. Try to obey him in this area. 5. Which of these passages or discussion points have you found most inspiring? Prayer Challenge of the Week: Pray for 15 minutes every day, talking to God as a friend. Memorize John 14:15: “If you love me, you will keep my commandments.” To prepare for next week’s lesson, read Jonah, chapters 1, 2, and 3. 54 15
  16. 16. Lesson 2 The Missionary Call in Scripture Obedience and the Fear of What Others Might Think 4. The following verses offer encouragement and motivation in the mission to proclaim Christ to all people. Acts 4:12 1. Share any reflections you have had about last week's lesson. God-Pleaser or People-Pleaser? Matthew 9:36-38 2. Do you tend to be a people-pleaser? If so, do you see this as a positive or negative trait? Could it be positive in some cases and negative in others? When and why? John 3:36 3. Does people-pleasing ever conflict with your desire to please God? Share examples. Ezekiel 33:7-9 Matthew 28:18-20 16 53
  17. 17. boasting. For necessity is laid upon me. Woe to me if I do not preach the Gospel!" (1 Cor 9: 16) 4. Read Luke 12:4-9. Why should we be more concerned about pleasing God than about what other people think? In the name of the whole Church, I sense an urgent duty to repeat this cry of St. Paul. From the beginning of my Pontificate I have chosen to travel to the ends of the earth in order to show this missionary concern. My direct contact with peoples who do not know Christ has convinced me even more of the urgency of missionary activity. Redemptoris Missio, 1 2. What stood out for you in this quotation? Old Testament Character Study – Jonah 5. Review Jonah chapters 1, 2 and 3. What was at the root of Jonah’s disobedience? The world needs Christ. Even within our own sphere of influence, there are individuals who need to hear Christ’s message of love. Sometimes, however, we are afraid to speak of Jesus. Our actions should reflect our faith, but acting silently is often not enough. We are called to share the Good News with others by speaking to them of Jesus. 6. What was the result of Jonah’s eventual obedience? 3. Why is it sometimes hard to share what we believe? 7. Despite the overwhelming circumstances, why should Jonah not have been afraid? 52 17
  18. 18. New Testament Character Study – Peter 8. Read Matthew 26:69-75. How would you describe Peter’s attitude in this passage? Lesson 8 Obedience and the Mission 1. Share any reflections you have had about last week's lesson. The Holy Spirit empowers the apostles to go into the world with a very clear mission: 9. Who were the people Peter feared, and why? But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth. Acts 1:8 10. Why do you think he denied Jesus, his close friend of three years and the man he had identified as the Christ? This is an enormous task! The scope of this call would certainly have been intimidating. The apostles could have run away from the mission, as Jonah did. They did not. Instead, they waited on God. They were open, docile and willing to do whatever he would ask of them. Through their obedience to God's call and through the power of the Holy Spirit, their legacy of faith still animates the Church today. This lesson challenges us to follow in their footsteps. An Urgent Mission 11. Skim Acts 2:1-41. What famous event occurs at the beginning of the chapter? 18 We are all invited to the upper room with the apostles, to be filled with the Holy Spirit and sent forth as witnesses of Jesus. This important invitation deserves an immediate response. The mission of Christ the Redeemer, which is entrusted to the Church, is still very far from completion. As the second millennium after Christ's coming draws to an end, an overall view of the human race shows that this mission is still only beginning and that we must commit ourselves wholeheartedly to its service. It is the Spirit who impels us to proclaim the great works of God: "For if I preach the Gospel, that gives me no ground for 51
  19. 19. 12. How does this event affect Peter? What changes do you see in him? Summary God has written your vocation into your heart; your vocation is the way of life for which you were made. Following your vocation is the way for you to be fully alive, to use your talents to the fullest, to reach your goals and aspirations, to make a difference in the world. For this reason, since the day we heard it, we have not ceased praying for you and asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of God’s will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so that you may lead lives worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him, as you bear fruit in every good work and as you grow in the knowledge of God. 13. What was the result of his inspired speech? Colossians 1:9-10 Indeed, may this prayer of St. Paul be fulfilled in your lives! 14. How does this parallel Jonah chapter 3? Living It Out Challenge: Begin informing yourself about vocations using one of the suggested resources. Prayer Challenge of the Week: Every day this week, pray that God would prepare your heart to follow his will. Remember to also join in the Church's prayer for an increase in vocations to Holy Orders and religious life. O God, who have chosen the apostles to make disciples of all nations and who by Baptism and Confirmation have called us to build up Your Holy Church, we earnestly implore You to choose from among us, Your children, many priests, deacons and religious brothers and sisters who will love You with their whole heart and will gladly spend their entire lives to make You known and loved by all. Amen. Memorize Proverbs 3:5-6: Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not rely on your own insight. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths. 50 15. To what can we attribute Peter’s transformation? Personal Application 16. What are some examples of situations in which you become concerned or anxious about what other people think of you? 19
  20. 20. 17. Read John 12:42-43. What was the stumbling block for these people? 18. Adapt this verse to your own life. Whose opinion do you fear regarding your relationship with God? (This may be individuals or groups of people). Fill in the blanks: Nevertheless __________________________ believed in him, (Your Name) But because of ____________________________________, (Person or Group) _____________________________ did not confess it, for fear (Your Name) Vocational Discernment Starters Get to know people who live each of the vocations. Find out about their lifestyle, its blessings and challenges. 2. Spend time visiting or staying with someone in a particular vocation; staying for a weekend, or even a week or longer is very helpful. 3. Pray with a spirit of docility; give God permission to direct you. Take time for meditative prayer in front of the Blessed Sacrament. 4. Frequent the sacraments as often as possible. 5. Consult vocational websites (for example, or 6. Read books on vocations (for example, Personal Vocation, God Calls Everyone by Name by Germain Grisez and Russell Shaw). 7. Attend vocational/faith-related conferences, seminars, retreats. 8. Grow in self-knowledge: your temperament, weaknesses, desires, strengths, gifts. 9. Contact the vocation director in your diocese. 10. Join a local discernment group. 11. Get the help of a spiritual director. 1. 8. Which of these ideas could you see yourself using first? that he/she would be put out of _________________________; (Situation or Group) for ____________________________ loved human glory more (Your Name) than the glory that comes from God. 19. Read Romans 8:31-35a. How can you take courage in this area of your life? 20 49
  21. 21. Psalm 32:8 1 John 5:14, 15 Summary Sometimes we push aside our Christian convictions because we are afraid of what others will think of us. Our security and identity must be grounded in God’s deep, unconditional love for us, not in human approval. As we allow the Holy Spirit to transform us, our desire to please God above all things increases, and we are given the courage to act upon it. Living It Out John 14:27 Challenge: Ask the Holy Spirit to strengthen you as you face difficult situations or individuals. Prayer Challenge of the Week: Pray and talk to God throughout the day. Memorize Romans 8:31: If God is for us, who is against us? Practical Application When it comes to responding to God’s call, we should be docile and trusting, like Mary. Proverbs 3:5-6 says, Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not rely on your own insight. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths. We must be willing to hear what God has to say and have the courage to follow it. We can trust that he will give us resources, direction and supportive people to guide us. Discerning a vocation should not be an oppressive task, but a gradual discovery of ourselves and of who we are in God’s eyes. Here are a few things you can do to assist your discernment (for the most part, these suggestions can be adapted to each vocation): 48 21
  22. 22. Lesson 3 Obedience and the Fear of Difficult Circumstances 1. Share any reflections you have had about last week's lesson. Attitudes and Anxiety People are often anxious about making decisions concerning their future. We worry about which university to attend, which career path to follow and most importantly, how to discern our lifelong vocation. We want to know God's will and purpose for our lives, but then, sometimes not knowing seems easier! 5. What attitudes could hinder someone who is discerning his/her vocation? Self-Reflection 2. Spend a few moments reflecting on times when you found it hard to trust God. How did you respond to these difficult situations? How did God help you? 6. What attitudes could help someone to discern his/her vocation? 3. Consider some current circumstances in your life that cause you to doubt God’s providence or make it difficult for you to obey him. Share. 7. What truths do these Scripture passages teach about vocational discernment? Jeremiah 29:11 22 47
  23. 23. Vocation: A Call to Joy Taking the Plunge! Following a vocation should not be interpreted as embarking upon a life of endless servitude. Every vocation involves sacrifice, but never to the exclusion of joy. God’s call is not meant to stifle us; it should enliven us and fill us with enthusiasm! 4. Read Matthew 14:22-33. Why did Peter start to sink? The truth is that responding to God’s call enables us to live with deep joy and true fulfillment. Whatever vocation we say yes to, it is because we are in love with it! God will not force us into a life that makes us miserable. Entering into God’s will does not crush or destroy a person, but instead leads to the discovery of the deepest truth about ourselves; and finally to be generous and fraternal in relationships with others, since it is only in being open to the love of God that we discover true joy and the fulfilment of our aspirations. 5. How is “stepping out of the boat” an analogy of our Christian experience? Message of the Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI for the 48th World Day of Prayer for Vocations May 15, 2011 4. What are some particular blessings and “perks” of each vocation? Promises of Protection 6. We need not fear life’s difficulties. List the promises in these passages. Isaiah 43:1-2 Romans 8:28 and 35b-39 46 23
  24. 24. Philippians 4:13 and 19 Vocation as Self-Gift Christ's blood reveals to man that his greatness, and therefore his vocation, consists in the sincere gift of self. Evangelium Vitae, 28 Joshua 1:5, 8-9 man, who is the only creature on earth which God willed for itself, cannot fully find himself except through a sincere gift of himself. Gaudium et Spes, 24. 7. Which passage encourages you the most as you consider your present challenges? Why? Each vocation is a call to give of oneself — to love until it hurts. “No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” (John 15:13) Heroic people literally lay down their lives for others. Figuratively, we “lay down our lives” when we let go of our self-interest and serve others in love. The expression, “God first, others second — I am third,” is a helpful reminder of the meaning of self-gift. 3. How does each vocation invite us to give of ourselves? Free Us from All Anxiety 8. We sometimes become anxious about the concerns of day-to-day living and the uncertainty of the future. Read Luke 12:13-34. What does Jesus say to address these fears? 24 45
  25. 25. state of life is specially designed to engage in the mission of being "the salt of the earth (and) light of the world" (Matthew 5:13-14). 9. Why should we not worry? 2. What unique opportunities does each vocation provide us to love God, grow in holiness, and engage in the mission of the Church? 10. Read 1 Timothy 6:7-19. What is Paul’s warning? Why? 11. How does the love of money lead to various kinds of evil (in this passage and in your experience)? 12. What is the “fear of difficult circumstances” in this passage? 13. What does Paul exhort us to do? 44 25
  26. 26. 14. Read Revelation 21:4. What hope does this passage offer us when we are facing difficult circumstances? Lesson 7 Obedience and Vocation 1. Share any reflections you have had about last week's lesson. Summary Life’s circumstances can make it difficult for us to be obedient to God. They may distract and tempt us, or cause us to fear and doubt God's ability to protect us. We should remember, however, that Scripture is full of God’s promises of protection. Our loving Father “will not fail us nor forsake us” (Joshua 1:5). We can continue to obey and live uprightly because we trust in a God who protects and loves us through both our joys and our struggles. Living It Out Challenge: Choose one or more Scripture verses that address your present situation. Write them down on a card and carry them with you as encouragement throughout the week. If you know someone who is going through a difficult situation or who is struggling in his/her faith, offer him/her encouragement and support. Prayer Challenge of the Week: Remember the intercessory power of the saints. Invoke the intercession of specific saints, and remember Mary’s intercession through the Rosary. Memorize Romans 8:28: We know that all things work together for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose. 26 Priesthood, religious life, marriage, and the vocation to the single life are all vocations in the Catholic Church. Everyone has a vocation. In fact, the word vocation means “calling”. A call shared by all Catholics is the call to love. God is love and in Himself He lives a mystery of personal loving communion. Creating the human race in His own image and continually keeping it in being, God inscribed in the humanity of man and woman the vocation, and thus the capacity and responsibility, of love and communion. Love is therefore the fundamental and innate vocation of every human being. Familiaris Consortio, 11 God calls every human being to love him and be loved by him. He also calls us to share his love through proclamation of the Gospel and service to others. Each vocation gives unique expression to this fundamental call and offers opportunities for growth in holiness and mission. In this lesson, we will look briefly at the characteristics of each vocation, and offer some suggestions to assist vocational discernment. Living the Call to Love Priests, religious, spouses and singles grow in holiness by similar yet distinguishable means. Prayer, receiving the Eucharist, and meditating on Scripture are common to all vocations, but each vocation also has characteristic ways to practice piety. Although people of every vocation can collaborate in apostolic work, there are ways in which each 43
  27. 27. Summary Jesus delegated authority to Peter and the apostles, and that authority has been passed on in unbroken succession for over two thousand years. The guidance of the magisterium, exercised by the Holy Father and the bishops in communion with him, is a great gift to the Church. Living It Out Challenge: Look to further inform yourself about the Church. Find resources that address questions you may have about Church teaching. Are there clergy you can encourage and for whom you can pray? Do something about it this week! Prayer Challenge of the Week: Attentively and prayerfully listen to all the readings and prayers at Mass. Memorize Matthew 16:18: “And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not prevail against it.” Lesson 4 Obedience and Speech 1. Share any reflections you have had about last week's lesson. 2. What would you say are strengths and weaknesses in your speech habits? We will begin this lesson by looking at what Scripture teaches us about speech. We will look at various passages, beginning in the New Testament Epistles, then moving back to the Gospels, and concluding with the Old Testament. Speech in the New Testament In the following passage, the author of the Book of James addresses mature Christians about their speech habits and the control the tongue has on one’s life. 3. Read James 3:1-12. What do the analogies in verses 1-8 teach us? Can you see how these analogies might apply in your life? 4. What do the analogies of verses 9-12 teach us? 42 27
  28. 28. Speech in the Gospels Church Leadership and Us 5. Read Matthew 12:33-37. What does negative speech indicate? 12. According to the following Scripture selections, what should our attitude be toward those in authority? 1 Thessalonians 5:12-13 6. What does Christ warn in this passage (v. 36)? What is your reaction to his warning? Speech in the Old Testament Despite the passing of time, our fallen human nature remains strikingly consistent. The Bible, in particular the Old Testament, contains ageless wisdom that applies to people as much today as when it was written. 7. Read Sirach 5:12 to Sirach 6:1. Take note, as you read, of what this passage teaches about speech. Write down the key points. Hebrews 13:17 13. In light of the following quotation, discuss the concept of “cafeteria Catholicism”. If you have never heard this expression, what do you think it means? Catholics today still believe that the authority of the bishops and the pope is God's authority, given to them by Jesus himself through the apostles and their successors down through the ages. Therefore, a Catholic who obstinately rejects the official teachings or directives of the bishops (or the “chief bishop,” the pope) might be guilty of a form of rebellion against God which would jeopardize the person's salvation.... This understanding of the authority of the bishops to govern the Church presupposes a basic trust that the Holy Spirit truly guides and inspires them in their leadership. Dr. Alan Schreck, Catholic and Christian, p. 31 28 41
  29. 29. God’s Revelation Catholics do not believe that the Bible is the only source of revelation and guidance for Christians. The Bible itself does not clearly teach this. If anything the Bible testifies that God's way of revealing himself and leading his people is to choose certain persons for these tasks, such as the patriarchs, prophets, judges, and kings of the Old Testament, and apostles, prophets, teachers, and bishops of the New Testament. Catholics believe that throughout history God continued to select certain individuals to lead his people and to teach with his authority. Sometimes God also leads and guides his people as a whole through the direct inspiration and work of the Holy Spirit. This is not to deny or minimize the importance of the Bible. Rather, Catholics desire to recognize and value all the ways that God instructs and directs the Church. 8. Read Sirach 23:9-15. What does this passage say about coarse language? 9. Read Sirach 19:5-16. What does this passage teach us about gossip? Dr. Alan Schreck, Catholic and Christian, p. 44 Catholic teaching is based on three pillars: the Sacred Scriptures, Sacred Tradition (composed of truths which have been discerned and handed down through the Church over the centuries) and the teaching authority of the Church called the magisterium. The Council of Jerusalem, described in the Book of Acts, is an example of how God reveals himself to individuals in order to lead his people. This was the first Church council, and the model for future councils through which Church teaching is defined. Personal Application 10. What are some other subtle ways we may be disobeying God in our speech? 11. Read Acts 15:1-35. What is controversial about the issue they are discussing? How was God’s revelation made known to them? 11. What are ways you can be accountable to each other in your speech? 40 29
  30. 30. 12. Ephesians 4:29 instructs us: “Let no evil talk come out of your mouths, but only what is useful for building up, as there is need, so that your words may give grace to those who hear.” What are some practical ways we can edify and bless others? Imperfect Leadership 9. How can Church leaders teach with authority, and properly guide the Church, if they are sinners like us? 10. Share your thoughts on the following quotation: Summary Scripture teaches us that God cares about how we speak. The language we use and the character of our words are not insignificant to him. We need to co-operate with the Holy Spirit by making an effort to control negative speech, and by using our words to edify those around us, witness to our faith, and give glory to God. Living It Out [A]uthority and leadership in the Church is a sovereign gift of God to his people. Men do not receive authority by their merits; neither is God-given authority invalidated by the presence of sin in the lives of Church’s members or leaders. The leaders of the Church should especially exemplify holiness and righteousness in their personal lives, so that they can be examples to the flock of Christ, and not cause scandal among Christians and unbelievers.... [T]heir authority to teach and guide the Church comes from God himself. Dr. Alan Schreck, Catholic and Christian, p. 73 Challenge: Set some goals for improving your negative speech habits. Look for opportunities to encourage and edify people this week. Be prepared to share. Prayer Challenge of the Week: Increase your daily prayer time by five minutes. Memorize Colossians 4:6: Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer everyone. 30 39
  31. 31. 8. Discuss the following quotations. How do they explain the connection of Jesus and Peter to our present church leaders? The apostles worked together to guide God’s people under Jesus’ leadership, a leadership that Peter in some way carried on after Jesus had departed. Peter was not looked upon as a replacement for Jesus; he was only a visible representative of Jesus’ ongoing presence and authority in the whole Church, just as each local bishop came to represent the presence and authority of Jesus and the apostles in the local church . The Holy Spirit led the Church to recognize the need for one bishop to exercise a special role of leadership among all the bishops — just as Peter had done among the apostles. Lesson 5 Obedience and Chastity 1. Share any reflections you have had about last week's lesson. 2. Have you seen a change in attitudes toward sexuality in the past five to ten years? Discuss. Dr. Alan Schreck, Catholic and Christian, p. 94 When Christ instituted the Twelve, “he constituted [them] in the form of a college or permanent assembly, at the head of which he placed Peter, chosen from among them.” Just as “by the Lord’s institution, St. Peter and the rest of the apostles constitute a single apostolic college, so in like fashion the Roman Pontiff, Peter’s successor, and the bishops, the successors of the apostles, are related with and united to one another.” 3. How does the Church explain God's plan for our sexuality? The Lord made Simon alone, whom he named Peter, the “rock” of his Church. He gave him the keys of his Church and instituted him shepherd of the whole flock. CCC 880, 881 The Struggle with Sin 4. Read 1 Corinthians 6:9-20. Look at the kinds of people listed in verses 9-10. Why should Christians not be too quick to point fingers at sexual immorality? 38 31
  32. 32. 5. Look at verses 12-20. Why should we avoid giving in to sexual immorality? 4. Read John 21:15-19 once again. Why does Jesus repeat his question and command to Peter three times? 6. Read 1 Thessalonians 4:3-7. According to this passage, what is chastity? 5. Read 1 Peter 5:1-4. What does Peter say to those who have been appointed as leaders in the early Church? 7. Who is called to chastity? 6. Read Acts 20:17-35. In this passage, Paul leaves the church at Miletus, never to see these Christians again. How does he instruct the church leaders? The Struggle with Negative Culture 7. Read Jeremiah 3:15. What kind of shepherds does the Lord desire for his people? 8. What effect do you think modern media has on sexual attitudes in young people? 32 37
  33. 33. Lesson 6 Obedience and the Church 9. Read Romans 12:1-2. How can we stop ourselves from being “conformed to this age?” 1. Share any reflections you have had about last week's lesson. The Catholic Church teaches that Jesus passed on the authority he received from the Father to his apostles, empowering them with the Holy Spirit, so that they could carry on his mission. The apostles received this authority and in turn, appointed other men to carry on the mission. They conferred their authority to them through prayer and “the laying on of hands”. This sacramental conferring of authority has created an unbroken chain of Church leaders, and is called “apostolic succession.” It began with Peter and the other apostles and extends down through history to our present Holy Father and bishops. Shepherds of God’s Flock The Struggle with Our Thoughts 10. Read Matthew 5:27-28. How can our thoughts be an area of sexual sin? 11. Read Romans 12:2 and Philippians 4:8-9. How can we gain mastery over sinful thoughts? 2. Read Matthew 16:13-19. How did Peter know who Jesus was? 12. Intercourse outside of marriage is not the only offense against chastity. What are some others? 3. What authority does Jesus give to Peter? 36 33
  34. 34. The Struggle with Temptation Summary 13. Read 1 Corinthians 10:13. What safeguards are given to us when we face temptation? God wants us to obey him by practicing chastity. Our bodies are the temples of the Holy Spirit. We are not to think as the world does. Instead, we are to live purely, using the gift of sex in its proper context, which is the sacrament of Marriage. God helps us achieve this by giving us the power of the Holy Spirit to resist temptation. Living It Out 14. Read Matthew 4:1-11. How did the Lord defeat the temptations of the devil? Challenge: Redouble your efforts to practice chastity in thought and action. If you are dating someone, take a brief moment every time you get together to pray that your relationship be centered on Christ. Prayer Challenge of the Week: Examine your conscience in this area. Is the Lord calling you to the sacrament of Reconciliation? 15. Read 1 John 2:1. What can we do if we commit sexual sin? How is the sacrament of Reconciliation a gift to us in our struggle? 34 Memorize 1 Corinthians 10:13: No testing has overtaken you that is not common to everyone. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tested beyond your strength, but with the testing he will also provide the way out so that you may be able to endure it. 35