A Spiritual Relection – Transformation
I am currently working through a book called Forming Intentional Disciples by Sherry Weddell. In the beginning of the book she references numerous studies about the Catholic Church that were done by various organizations most especially CARA or the “Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate.” One of the statics that sounded particularly striking dealt with our young people, specifically the so-called “Generation X” and the “Generation Y or Millennials.” Believing that a person can actually have an individual and personal relationship with a deity as well as receiving encouragement to pursue a personal relationship with God, were the two factors that revealed the highest probability that these young people would attend any worship service on a regular basis and continue to be active members of the church.
The bottom line was that relationships are everything to these young people, even – and especially – a relationship with God. Catholic education, exciting liturgies, youth programs, active participation of the family while the children are at a young age and even the reception and grace of the sacraments have had little impact in these young people’s lives concerning their later active participation in the life of a church.
Life is about the relationship between our legitimate needs, our deepest desires and our unique gifts and talents. In addition, cultural settings of different ages may change dramatically but at everyplace and every time, people continue to search for purpose, meaning and happiness in their lives.
It is through the interplay between these factors that God reveals to each of us, our individual call and our own, unique path of salvation. Correspondingly, the Church is God’s direct, personal and intimate response to the human heart’s unceasing desire for purpose, meaning and happiness, speaking to us through our needs, desires, gifts and talents.
Francis of Assisi had a different path than Teresa of Avila. They both did their best to fulfill God’s mission but they did it in different ways because of – and according to- the unique needs that each possessed. Similarly, each of the Apostles had very different talents and personalities and Jesus chose each precisely for a specific reason to fulfill a specific role.
You and I are called to do the same.
Our individual relationship with God can reveal to us a unique path of salvation. Through individual prayer, reflection on the Scriptures, the grace of the sacraments, the wisdom of church teaching and the guidance of the Holy Spirit, we discover our unique call and the path on which The Lord calls us.
But we are not called to discern this pathway alone. It is through relationships with others, together with our personal relationship with Jesus Christ that the discernment process is fully carried out. Besides this discernment process, it is also necessary for us to receive support from- and provide support to- other human beings in living out our call after it has been discerned. This interaction of relationships helps to unveil the mystery of God for us in our life, after which (and perhaps even during which) our task is to help others who come across our paths and to unveil God’s mystery and call in their lives. This is the way in which God has tied us altogether into “one body.”