Free Webinar Series: Building a Better Disciple

Christ_Taking_Leave_of_the_ApostlesI’m pleased to announce that this fall I will be offering a free webinar series entitled “Building a Better Disciple.” Over the course of five webinars we will explore what it means to be a Christian through the lens of Acts 2:42: “They devoted themselves to the teaching of the apostles and to the communal life, to the breaking of the bread and to the prayers.”

Full information on the series is being posted at BuildingABetterDisciple.tumblr.com; here’s a quick overview of the sessions (clicking on the links will take you to the registration pages for each webinar):

October 13: Jesus: The Face of Discipleship
https://www2.gotomeeting.com/register/961033874
Before understanding how to become a disciple we must first know what a disciple is. Through the person of Jesus Christ we will come to know what it means to claim the name “Christian.”

October 20: Scripture and Tradition: The Boundaries of Discipleship
https://www2.gotomeeting.com/register/932598546
Sacred Scripture and Sacred Tradition – passed on through the biblical authors, the apostles, and their successors – form the deposit of our faith. As the basis for all of the Church’s teaching they also provide the boundary lines for discipleship by illuminating the path that followers of Christ must follow.

October 27: Christian Community: The Foundation of Discipleship
https://www2.gotomeeting.com/register/222598314
Faith is nurtured and sustained in the context of a community of believers. This session will explore how the Church in various contexts (family, parish, school, etc.) sets the stage for a life of discipleship.

November 3: Liturgy and Prayer: The Engine of Discipleship
https://www2.gotomeeting.com/register/359999938
In this webinar we will examine how the graces received in the sacraments, liturgical celebrations, and personal prayer fuel our capacity for embracing the call to discipleship.

November 10: Vocation and Mission: The Aim of Discipleship
https://www2.gotomeeting.com/register/432332978
Faith that is not put into practice is sterile. Connecting the themes of the previous webinars we will explore how the faithful participate in the Church’s mission in the world through their particular gifts and calling.

All webinars begin at 7:30p (Central Time) and will last 90 minutes. I hope you’ll be able to join me for this exciting series!

“I’m not backing down now.”

This past Thursday I had the opportunity to return to my grad school for some official diocesan business. While I was there I attended a school Mass led by Fr. Dennis Logue, an 84-year old diocesan priest who is still taking continuing education classes at the school.

Fr. Logue is a chaplain at a St. Louis soup kitchen and lives on the city’s north side. During his homily he explained how the north side has declined in recent years. But, even at 84, he declared that is “not backing down now.” Even in the midst of widespread poverty and crime he still sees it as his duty to minister to those around him — especially as he takes his daily walk around a local park. Fr. Logue challenged us to “proclaim the Gospel we believe in” and “live a Eucharistic life every day.”

This was, as they say, the right homily for me at the right time. I’ve got a lot on my plate right now and have been feeling a little overwhelmed. But I’m taking “I’m not backing down now” as my marching orders from God for the next few months. Onward, Christian soldiers!

A Further Thought on “Lessons from the Baptists”

I recently finished teaching a five-week course on the history and documents of the Second Vatican Council. The course ended with a discussion on the ramifications and conflicting interpretations for the council in the 40+ years since its close. As I reflected on the intervening years I recalled the widely-cited convention that it takes at least 40 years for a council to really come into its own. If that’s true, we are just now at the point where we can begin to implement the documents of Vatican II.

This, in turn, prompted further reflections on Dr. Ed Stetzer’s thoughts on the future of denominations in the life of the Church. If, as he states, denominations need to be focused on their mission in the world as opposed to looking internally at their institutional structures, then it may well be right to say that our 40-years of navel-gazing after the council are up and, rather than look at   how the council affected the Church (spiritually, institutionally, theologically, etc.) it is time to re-read the documents in light of what it means to be a Church in the world.

A lot of time and energy has been put into catechizing the People of God about the implications of the council and calling them to greater participation in the life of the Church. But I’m not convinced that, apart from the ecumenical movement, a lot has been done to point out the significance of the council for the work of the Church in the broader human community.

Too often Bl. Pope John XXIII’s call to “open the windows” of the Church has been interpreted as an invitation to let the influences of secularism into the Church. I would argue that the purpose of opening the windows was to let the Church out into the world! Christ called us to be the light of the world; how can we be light to the world while huddled in the safe confines of our churches — physically or psychologically?

The council highlighted many important truths about the nature of the Church and reminded us that we are the People of God. But we are people sent on a mission. It’s time to stop thinking about how we organize that mission and time to start putting it into practice.