Discipleship

confessions of a catholic: reclamation

At Easter Vigil 2015 I will enter full communion with the Catholic Church, which I hope will be a touchstone for greater depths in my spiritual journey toward God. In this series, I attempt to share ‘why’, not as defense or argument, but to point at something better for the mystical body of Christ. It is organized over five themes during Passion Week: merger, reclamation, hunger, visibility and unity.

A lone, strong tree alone in a field is my favorite scene. Passing one by, I will slow down and turn to meditate on it. Trees remind me of the church – strong, alone, ancient and with a great story to tell. Any good tree has a strong trunk and nourishing roots; I see the early church fathers – who are our heritage – as that strong trunk and roots. But, our Christian heritage has been denied us or censored by disunity.

As I listened to the early church, I came to see what we mean when we confess “I believe…in the communion of the saints…” for it is in communion with them that I came to see Christ more clearly. When I listened to the church fathers, I learned there was far more available to me as a believer than I ever knew. It was like a part of my soul had been found again.

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How Do We Truly Fast?

Our church is in a 21-day fast, and a few people have asked me about my fasting practices. Before it began I set about finding a “good fast”, meaning to me, how do I fast in a truly Christian way? I try to consider how I ought to do things, and how it has been done previously, by other faithful witnesses now long gone from this world, but still very much alive in Christ. I found a few elements that characterized Christian fasting: mournful repentance, particular days of fasting, less moral rigidity than I supposed, and a focus on social justice. (more…)

More Thoughts on Movement: Framing

Last week in my series On the Lord’s Prayer, I discussed how following God is involvement in his will, demanding both informed and intuitive but decisive movement. I broke down, briefly, what those parts meant, but wanted to explore some further thoughts on the trope of movement we are using to understand what it means to follow God.

FRAMING REDEMPTIVE MOVEMENT

The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit. ~ Jesus to Nicodemus

Bear with me; I believe this verse can help us frame movement, because it hints at where we came from, where we are going, and life in the middle, but retains the metaphorical quality that opens our mind to deep consideration. One on hand, Jesus is saying to Nicodemus that, to him, those born of the Spirit are a mystery, because he lacks understanding. On the other hand, we could say that the wind knows where it came from, and where it is going — so it ought to be with us. Moving in God’s will requires we realize we are born of God, we are returning to God, and we are made to impact our world.  (more…)

How Did We Get Our Creeds?

Around 308, Rufinius wrote an exposition of our most popular, the Apostles’ Creed,  and popularized a legend that each of the 12 (excluding Judas Iscariot) contributed a line. Fun legend it may be, but poor history; the real story is far cooler. I did some digging for a class on how we got our creeds (specifically the Apostles’ and Nicene), and found our Christian creeds are built upon:

Apostolic testimony

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Learning to Listen

Is the art of listening dying in our modern culture? Most would say “No.”, since we have access to a plethora of books to read, iPods to listen to, 500+ cable stations and a cacophony of voices vying for our attention. We can even tailor the voices to fit our beliefs and desires, or to fit a locale and culture. We filter our Twitter timeline and our Facebook feed. We add to the noise with our own tweets, posts and, like me, blogs.

The world has become quite the noisy place, and with these increased opportunities have come diminishing returns: we have so much to listen to that we do not listen at all.

For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear.  ~ Paul to Timothy

We cope in a few ways, either avoiding, filtering, or drowning it out. None of these will work, and I have tried them all. I want to humbly present to you 4 trouble areas in which we as Christians are terrible listeners, and 4 ways to learn to listen better. (more…)

5 Ways to Discover Your Calling

Calling… other than healing, no other topic causes more hand-wringing and furrowed brows among Christians. I’m privileged to pray for others “at the altar” at my church, and without fail direction, guidance – calling – is prayer request number one. I am a nobody and young in my faith, but I had a conversation with some amazing Christians on Sunday that motivated me to write. Others have great(er) insights you should consider, but I may as well share my 5 suggestions for discovering your calling. (more…)

Meditation: Hearers

A disciple was also known as a hearer. One who hears a person’s life and imitates it. Now the substance of a teacher’s words were their lives – they lived as they taught… their biography was their theology.

We must carve out of life the sacred space to hear our great discipler, Jesus. Prayer is that mode of hearing, and we do it incessantly if we learn to open our ears to his voice.

We hear him in the Word, in our comings and goings, in hope, beauty, even in suffering, all things have a measure of his voice.

Will we not only listen, but respond? Will others hear Jesus in our lives?