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Online Retreat: "Discerning a Life of Service in the Church" Week Three

“Lord, make me an instrument of your peace”

Perhaps one of the most popular prayers among Catholics and all Christians is the one called the Peace Prayer of St. Francis. It is a prayer that speaks to the heart, because it describes in some concrete way what we all really want: “Lord, make me an instrument of your peace. Where there is hatred let me sow love, where there is injury... pardon, doubt... faith, despair... hope, etc.”

And the good news is that each of us is a different instrument in God’s almighty orchestra; each of us has a different part to play, and that is the theme of this third week of our retreat. The quotes from this week come from a variety of authors, each articulating in some way the different ways that we can be instruments of God’s peace and love and joy in the world.


“Lord, make me an instrument of your peace”

 

Monday: Thomas P. Rausch, SJ, “The Communion of the Church”

“The church is never just isolated individuals or even a single congregation; it can be described as a global community of memory, passing on, interpreting, and coming to a deeper understanding of the mystery of Jesus from which it lives. To see the church as a communion is to recognize that we have a shared life with God in Christ and therefore with one another. These relations that join us are primarily spiritual, though they often take on institutional expression. They preserve the Catholic Church with its more than a billion members as a communion of diverse churches, united by bonds of love and communion, at the service of the kingdom of God. It is the world’s oldest institution.” (Catholics on Call, p.94)

Question for Reflection: How do you see yourself fitting into the “world’s oldest institution”.

Go to the message board (for CoC alums only).


“Lord, make me an instrument of your peace”

 

Tuesday: Sheila McLaughlin, “Lay Ecclesial Ministry”

“Co-Workers in the Vineyard of the Lord” (2005 USCCB) represents the most recent official statement on lay ecclesial ministry in the United States. Therefore it is important to enumerate its key points. Co-Workers recognizes lay ecclesial ministry as a true calling of the Holy Spirit, rooted in baptism to serve the church and its mission. Lay ecclesial ministers are those whose service is characterized by:
1) Authorization of the hierarchy to serve publicly in the local church.
2) Leadership in a particular area of ministry
3) Close mutual collaboration with the pastoral ministry of bishops, priests and deacons.” (Catholics on Call, p. 104)

Question for Reflection: Is there a particular area of ministry that appeals to you right now?

Go to the message board (for CoC alums only).


“Lord, make me an instrument of your peace”

Wednesday: Sheila McLaughlin, “Lay Ecclesial Ministry”

“This ministry is “lay” because it is carried out by laypersons and has as its sacramental basis the sacraments of initiation. It is “ecclesial” because it is situated within the community of the church, whose communion and mission it serves, and because it is subject to the authority of the church’s hierarchy. It is “ministry” because it entails a participation in the threefold ministry of Christ, who is priest, prophet, and king. It is not intended to be a sharing in the ministry of the ordained, but rather a distinct service performed in communion with ordained ministers. Lay ministry is distinctly different from ordained ministry, yet each is a participation in the priesthood of Christ. Professed competence is required; therefore academic preparation, certification, credentialing, and formation are necessary.

Lay ministry, like all ministry, finds its place within the communion of the church and serves the mission of Christ.” (Catholics on Call, p. 105)

Question for Reflection: What do you think needs to happen for us as a Church to fully experience this type of ministerial communion?

Go to the message board (for CoC alums only).


“Lord, make me an instrument of your peace”

Thursday: Charlene Diorka, SSJ, “Religious Life Today”

“Sometimes there is a defining moment when people come to an awareness that turns their life around and points them to follow Jesus more closely. They might describe their experience as a conversion, a turning toward Jesus. Often there is a recurring sense of wanting to follow Jesus in a life of service, but whenever this thought crosses their mind, they can easily dismiss it thinking ‘not me’ or ‘I’m not good enough.’ Others experience a sense of wanting “more” and desiring to be satisfied on a deeper level than what the culture offers. It appears as if something is missing. Religious life, an alternative way of life, seems attractive and desirable as a more radical and deeply spiritual way of life... Still others observe that they are more energized and vital in their service or volunteer work than in their careers. Using their gifts and talents for the good of all captures their hearts, and sharing from the fruits of their relationship with God proves to be life-giving and life-sustaining. These are just some of the ways that God works in getting people’s attention and inviting men and women to follow as vowed religious. Throughout this process, God always respects our freedom.” (Catholics on Call, p. 123)

Question for Reflection: Which of these “call” scenarios speaks most to your experience?

Go to the message board (for CoC alums only).


“Lord, make me an instrument of your peace”

 

Friday: Stephen Bevans, SVD, “A Ministry for Ministry: The Vocation of the Ministerial Priesthood in the Church”

“While all Christians are called to participate in Jesus’ prophetic, priestly and servant ministry within the church and in the world, those who are ordained to ministerial priesthood are called to lead, coordinate, foster, train and regulate the life of the church. They are called to a ministry for ministry.

The unique ministry that ordained Christians fulfill in the church (is) the ordering of the Christian community. We could then speak about the fact that the task of ordained ministry, ministerial priesthood, is to order the Christian community to work for the holy order of the Christian community, so that the Christian community can more effectively work for God’s holy order in the world, what we also call the reign of God.” (Catholics on Call, pp. 136-137)

Question for Reflection: Can you think of some ordained ministers who are living out this vision of priesthood?

Go to the message board (for CoC alums only).

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