“Remain In Me”
“We have a tremendous opportunity with Catholics today. But first we must respond to Jesus’ invitation”
Moving a Catholic parish culture into a parish focused on evangelization and discipleship begins with personal discipleship. This transformation needs to have at its core a ‘spiritual awakening’ that is a result of an intentional personal relationship with Jesus Christ (discipleship) and openness to the Holy Spirit transforming our hearts (evangelization). Discipleship and evangelization should be the very life of Christ reflected throughout all ministries of the parish and not looked upon as another ‘ministry’ for the parish. In various ways the Catholic Church has been communicating the importance of evangelization at the parish level since Vatican II. Saint Pope Paul VI wrote, “The Church is an evangelizer, but she begins by being evangelized herself” (EN 15). Most recently Pope Francis communicates this by saying, “In all its activities the parish encourages and trains its members to be evangelizers” (EG 28).
Remember when we discussed Our Current Catholic Experience at our first gathering. We reflected on how important it is for us to realign evangelization in our parishes. For too long parishes have focused on moving people through sacraments without evangelization and intentional personal relationships with Jesus Christ. As parish leadership, it is important to be genuine disciples of Christ and to witness for others your own relationship with Him and how the Good News has led to on-going conversion in your life. Our hearts need to become more intentional about encouraging evangelization initiatives at the parish. Daily, Jesus invites us into a relationship to follow him so we may encounter the ‘Good News’, develop the disciplines of being his disciple and to truly experience God’s redemption for our lives. By being evangelized ourselves, our hearts and minds have a greater desire for mission. Through our conversions the parish ‘in all its activities’ is now being led by disciples who is shifting the parish culture more into evangelization. Our hearts are burning with desire to invite people to consider Jesus’ invitation for them each day.
In this gathering we will discuss and discern Jesus’s words “Remain in me, and I will remain in you” (Jn 15:4). How have these words guided your relationship with Jesus? And how important are these words for Catholics to embrace regarding a relationship with Jesus? “Remain in me” are words Jesus said to his disciples right after he told them that he would be leaving them and that, “I am going to prepare a place for you” (Jn 14:2). Knowing the disciple’s anxiety, their desire to remain with Jesus and the mission he will entrust to them, he says to them “Remain in me, and I will remain in you” (Jn 15:4). He said he would send an advocate (v 26) who will continue to remind them of all that Jesus has taught them. ‘Remaining in’ Jesus continues leading us into an ongoing personal conversion and a deeper understanding of our role in His mission in cooperation with the Holy Spirit so we can ‘bear the fruit’ of God’s kingdom here on earth.
To guide our conversation at our next gathering please take some time to reflect on the follow questions.
Reflect for a moment on your faith journey. What are some key spiritual disciplines that you have in your life which lead you into a deeper relationship with Jesus?
Parish Life Reflection: Leading people into a deeper personal relationship with Jesus Christ
Write down your thoughts on how the following parish initiatives can help people grow in a deeper encounter with Jesus Christ and lead them into ongoing conversion?
- Lectio Divina in the Gospels
- Eucharistic Adoration
- Sacrament of Reconciliation
- Small Faith Group Gatherings