I can't help but love Saint John Paul II and Pope Benedict the XVIs' 1992 joint-writing endeavor, the Catechism of The Catholic Church, as the two authors relate Christ’s teachings to the world in a clear, heart-provoking and beautiful manner.
On June 28th, 2005, while celebrating the release of the Catechism's compendium, Pope Benedict addressed and reaffirmed the meaning of the 1992 publication: it is a work that enlightens us to the 'mysterious gift' of Jesus.
Every time I crack the book open, I see beautiful words that call me to ponder more deeply the special role God has for all of us in His plan for salvation.
And this plan includes the laity. We are part of God's mission to save souls.
In paragraph 900, the popes get right to the heart of our divine mission: ”lay Christians are entrusted by God ..... to work so that the divine message of salvation may be known and accepted by all men throughout the earth. This duty is more pressing when it is only through them that men can hear the Gospel and know Christ. Their activities in ecclesial communities is so necessary that, for the most part, the apostolate of the pastors cannot be fully effective without it.”
If you felt like you lacked purpose, think again. We are part of our parish priest's apostolate. The priest cannot nurture and procure God's plan alone. God wants you for His church's army! Yes!
If you look at the 'Contents' page of Transformation In Christ and read through the chapter titles, you find literature on self-work that allows us to transform and ready ourselves to do God's work.
The book's chapters, such as ’The Readiness to Change,’ ’Contrition,’ ’Self-Knowledge’ and ’True Surrender of Self,’ all point to the necessary ‘first step of transformation’ to push my earthly self to the side, or, maybe, more appropriately, transform my secular self into something more like God's image of love.
It is this 'first step of transformation’, to surrender myself and become God's love, that will allow me to courageously and actively participate in God's plan as the popes have asked us to do in the Catechism.
Sometimes the cynic in me might doubt the need for self-reflection. That the problems of evangelization are, rather, outside of myself and there's no true need for self-renewal.
But, my faith tells me just the opposite: Go to the interior, work on self, spend time doing this work with Christ as the leader, the anchor of the process. Trust that He will do His handiwork on my heart. It is then I will shine, erasing all my own pretense and apprehension associated with evangelization, as my surroundings will see His loving light and not any of my own personal darkness.
Dane Baird has been a witness member of the Home of the Mother for 3 years. He has two daughters, Jean and Susannah. The newest addition to the family is Halo, wonder-dog! His profession is teaching autistic children and he enjoys acting in several parish and diocesan ministries, as well as supporting the Home of the Mother.