“We talked about the statistics regarding Pentecostals with the bishops on Brazil in a meeting yesterday. I’ll tell you something about the Charismatic Movement … at the end of the ’70s and in the ’80s, I wasn’t a big fan. I used to say they confused the holy liturgy with a school of samba. I was converted when I got to know them better and saw the good they do. In this moment of the life of the church, the movements are necessary. They’re a grace of the Spirit, and in general, they do much good for the church. The charismatic renewal movement isn’t just about winning back a few Pentecostals, but it serves the church and its renewal.” – Pope Francis
When we first started discussing the idea of doing a young adult ministry, we found ourselves looking at a variety of different approaches and avenues we could take. All sorts of interesting and appealing ideas came to mind and we struggled to make sense of all that we could do. We knew the Lord wanted something to be done for young adults, but we also knew that our ministry would only succeed if He anointed it. We had lots of good ideas, but what we needed was a God idea.
Let me make something clear; God ideas are always good ideas, but good ideas are not always God ideas. For instance, it’s a good idea to tell people about Jesus but if you haven’t been given a gift for preaching it might not be a God idea for you to stand on a street corner and just start talking. Conversely, it might not seem like the right time to tell your friend that Jesus loves them and is inviting them into a deep and lasting relationship with Him, but if the Holy Spirit truly inspires you to pick up the phone and make the call, then you can be peaceful in knowing that you lived out a God idea.
Very often we discover the difference between our good ideas and God’s ideas when we try something and see the fruits of our labor. Jesus tells us to judge the tree by its fruits and St. Paul recommends testing everything and holding fast to what is good. Sometimes the fruit is clearly rotten or obviously delicious, but other times we have to prayerfully consider it over an extended period of time. For example, we hear the Lord and call our friend, but he quickly changes the subject and rejects our attempt to evangelize. Initially, by all accounts the fruit of our phone call is non-existent or maybe even harmful. However, we may find that our attempt planted a seed that needed time to grow and eventually produced fruit like a converted heart or even a follow-up conversation.
It can be extremely difficult at times to discern what the Lord wants from us, but as we grow in our relationship with Him and operate in the power of the Holy Spirit, the still small voice of God becomes clearer. The Lord wants us to be bold but prudent; excited but controlled; Jesus also tells us to “be wise as serpents, and innocent as doves.” (Matthew 10:16) Jesus wants us to tell Him our aspirations and goals, but the life of a disciple requires that we ultimately submit our will to the One we follow. Unlike following any normal human being who will ultimately fail and let us down; when we submit to the will of Jesus we can be confident that His plan will lead to the peaceful, joyful, and hope-filled life we all desire.
Clearly there will be sufferings and pain even while following Christ’s plan, but this post isn’t long enough to deal with that and the subsequent grace that accompanies those moments. We will definitely spend more time on this blog discussing suffering and discernment since they are vitally important pieces of our walk with Christ. As intentional disciples, we must listen attentively to the will of our Lord because only the things that He ordains will bear significant fruit in our lives and in the lives of others. So, as you go through your day today and you are faced with a decision, stop and think, “Is this a good idea or a God idea?”
The following is an excerpt from Blessed Pope John Paul II’s encyclical, Veritas Splendor.
The new evangelization will show its authenticity and unleash all its missionary force when it is carried out through the gift not only of the word proclaimed but also of the word lived. In particular, the life of holiness which is resplendent in so many members of the people of God, humble and often unseen, constitutes the simplest and most attractive way to perceive at once the beauty of truth, the liberating force of God’s love, and the value of unconditional fidelity to all the demands of the Lord’s law, even in the most difficult situations.
For this reason, the church, as a wise teacher of morality, has always invited believers to seek and to find in the saints, and above all in the virgin mother of God “full of grace” and “all-holy,” the model, the strength and the joy needed to live a life in accordance with God’s commandments and the beatitudes of the gospel.
This past Saturday, i.d.916, together with the Ann Arbor chapter of Legatus, held our first annual conference, Disciples in the Marketplace, at the Inn at St. John’s in Plymouth, MI. It was a rousing success. We praise the Lord for his guidance and His Spirit that gave such tremendous life to the event. The event was attended by approximately 90 young adults from Iowa, Canada and all over Southeastern Michigan–ranging from lawyers, medical professionals, IT specialists, teachers, and those in career transitions. In large part, the success of the event was due to the professionals who came to mentor the young adults. We were blessed to have around 20 successful, seasoned professionals from a wide array of fields impart to us their wisdom about how to be faithful followers of Jesus in whatever marketplace we find ourselves.
We heard talks and presentations from Bishop Michael Byrnes from the Archdiocese of Detroit, Deacon Larry Oney from New Orleans and a variety of others. In addition, we also had fourteen discussion groups in which we explored the realities of living as a disciple. We closed the day with a casual hour of mingling, networking and face-to-face time. Though the day was jam-packed, it was a very productive, fruitful and encouraging time to band together as Catholics, meet new people and discuss a very important aspect of our lives.
As the day concluded, we had the attendees fill out evaluations. Here is what few of them had to say:
“My experience at this event will dramatically change my work life and my discipleship.”
“Inspiring and challenging – like God is asking more of me.”
“Left wanting more of this!”
“Well worth a beautiful Saturday.”
Thank you to all who helped make this event possible. May the Lord continue to guide and bless us all as we walk in His Spirit.
This is a first in a series of short apologetic clips on the redefinition of marriage. In this video, Joey McCoy examines the union that marriage is founded upon.
Link to “What Is Marriage” by Sherif Girgis, Ryan Anderson and Robert George
“Who stands fast? Only the man whose final standard is not his reason, his principles, his conscience, his freedom, or his virtue, but who is ready to sacrifice all this when he is called to obedient and responsible action in faith and in exclusive allegiance to God — the responsible man, who tries to make his whole life an answer to the question and call of God. Where are these responsible people?” – Dietrich Bonhoeffer, written from prison in 1944
Dietrich Bonhoeffer was born in 1906, coming of age between the two world wars, in a Germany riddled with bullet holes of evil and sick with turmoil. He was born to a very famous, talented, well-respected and powerful family – his father was chief of psychiatry in Germany and his brother helped Albert Einstein split the atom. Bonhoeffer, himself, bucking the trend of his family, chose to become a theologian and quickly achieved the status of a “boy wonder”, the “next big thing” to rock the theological scene of Germany (which, back then, was quite a prestigious field.)
Despite his intellectual prowess, though, the deepest foundations of his heart lay with God’s people and the thought of being holed up in academia without any direct connection with the “common man” led him to give up his formal theological work. Instead, he became a pastor.
It was around this time that the Nazis arrived on the scene – slowly and methodically seizing control and removing those who were obstacles to their thirst for power. As they did, the vast majority of Germans strode along with them, little by little sacrificing the truth and “what is right” for a restoration of Germany to former glory. One of the few who stood against this tide was Bonhoeffer. From the very beginning he sensed the Nazis’ depravity, remained rooted in the truth of God revealed through Jesus Christ in the Scripture and prepared for the coming storm.
This last bit is an important point. As Eric Metaxas (Bonhoeffer’s biographer) has opined, the rest of Germany went along with the Nazis, eventually sacrificing the most basic principles because “they weren’t Christian enough” (i.e. they were culturally and nominally Christian, but, when push came to shove, their faith in Christ was not their guiding light.) They didn’t really know (on a personal level) who the Truth is and, without such an anchor, were left vulnerable to the hideous currents of evil that swelled around them. In contrast, why do we honor and admire Bonhoeffer nowadays? Because he knew Jesus; and, anchoring his life in Him, he was free to step out in radical faith and do heroic deeds.
And heroic he was. When WWII started, because his safety was compromised, he was moved to New York to wait out the war. After only a month, walking into almost certain death, he came back to Germany. From within German intelligence, he led two assassination attempts of Hitler, but was eventually discovered, imprisoned for two years and – two weeks before VE day – was hanged at the personal request of Hitler himself. Though from the very beginning of his life he had enjoyed all the good things that life could offer (he was even engaged to be married before he was imprisoned), he sacrificed it all to follow Jesus. The medical doctor that oversaw his execution said, “In the almost fifty years I worked as a doctor, I have hardly ever seen a man die so entirely submissive to the will of God.” Bonhoeffer himself said, “This is the end… For me, the beginning of life.”
This world will offer you comfort, but you were made for greatness
– Pope Benedict XVI
Bonhoeffer sought not success; he sought not comfort; he, in the end, sought not that his own will be done. Instead, he offered his life as a sacrifice to God. Because he knew the Lord, and let his life be totally revolutionized and transformed by He who is the Giver of Life, he was able to do great things. Because he was anchored in Jesus, he was able to stand fast though the currents of evil around him swept up many ‘nice’ people. He was a true disciple. He followed Jesus – no matter where it led him. Bonhoeffer’s most famous book is entitled The Cost of Discipleship. Surely he didn’t just write about it, but he lived it.
Will it be any different for us? Can we be great any other way? Will we, as the currents of our culture continue to grow in hostility, stand fast any other way then anchoring ourselves in Jesus? Let us surrender all and abandon ourselves to Him, who will never fail us and who will give us all that is good. May we let Him grab hold of our lives and transform us totally, so that we can resist evil and rise to greatness.