Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for June, 2013

Pray to the Lord of the Harvest:  Lay Disciples are Needed

Harvest is Full

The Harvest is ready, but where are the workers?

When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Then he said to his disciples,

“The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.” (Matt: 9:36-38)

Dear Brothers and Sisters In Christ,

A season of spiritual darkness is beginning to envelop the world – a period where the godless world system is attempting to impose its values (or lack of values) and its humanistic and godless philosophies on the nations and the  communities of Christian believers world-wide.  We can already see the signs of the times as the darkness increases: abortion is proclaimed as a liberating good and giving birth as touted as an evil, where deviant sexual practices are to be lauded, chastity and virginity to be decried, and traditional marriage is accused as being unjust.

Clearly, this is a depraved era, just as the one spoken of by Isaiah, a time of … “Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter.” (Is.5:20). It is a God-denying, God-defying era, opening itself for a manifestation of God’s wrath that will subject all humanity to a fiery testing This, also, is an era where the church itself will be judged and tested to separate the wheat from the chaff and to cleanxe it  from the leaven of the “world”, the secular humanism through which the forces of darkness are operating to obtain control of all humanity,

Our Lord Jesus himself warned His disciples about the “leavens” His church would need to confront and remove in order to maintain and fulfill the Kingdom of the Father in this world, He specifically warned us of the “leaven” of the Pharisees (religious hypocrisy), the “leaven” of the Scribes (adding human tradition to the Word of God), and the “leaven” of Herod (power and ambition). He also spoke metaphorically of the woman (the world system) kneading “leaven” into the pure unleavened flour of the church (Matt. 13:33).

All of these “leavens” are spurious and infectious rebellions against the the Divine Will and His revealed Word to which the church must take immediate action to repel the source of these “leavens”with all the spiritual armaments at its disposal. Leavens, which are basically fast spreading demonic proclivities that will bring down others in the church until it so pervades us that we can no longer function on behalf of the Father and His Kingdom.

Unfortunately for us, it is also a time when the church has, in general,has let its guard down regarding spiritual warfare and even has neglected arming its lay troops at the front line with the discipline and understanding of the Spiritual Authority given by the Father to all Christians through the Spirit of Christ that is in us – given, so that ALL (not just Clergy) of the church may stand firm and use the spiritual weapons the Lord has given it to disarm the enemy and bring forth  fruit for the Kingdom of God to His Glory!

Discipleship is the means through which the army of God is trained and prepared not only to manifest the Kingdom but to defend and defeat the enemy which challenging God’s reign over His creation. And it is through dedicated disciples that he will make other disciples to increase the troops he has at hand as we enter into this warfare.

Discipleship is the process through which we all enter into the spiritual transformation and renewal of our minds (Rom. 12:1-2) that we are all called to, so that we may truly be conformed to the image of Christ (Rom. 8:29), not only in holiness but in the power and authority required to take the battle to the enemy instead of the enemy bringing the battle to us!  We the laity are being called by God to take our place in the front lines of this battle and become true warriors of Christ against the powers of darkness. This can only be accomplished through the spiritual “boot camp” of “Intentional Discipleship” for the laity.

The Lord intends to use the coming darkness as an opportunity to bring in a Harvest of souls. We must not only be ready to respond by making disciples as He has commended us, but also, to “pray to  the Lord of the Harvest” so that He may prepare these lay disciples to man the front lines of the Harvest, our world today!

First, we must learn to be Disciples Ourselves …

“Intentional” discipleship is the key part of the process of our spiritual  transformation that proceeds from conversion and baptism as follows:

[Conversion] =>
[basic training] => [unintentional discipleship] =>
[intentional discipleship] => [Instinctive discipleship]

For most of us “basic training” is our initial education in the Faith and the Word of God” after conversion. After that, for most of us, we begin our walk in what I term, “unintentional discipleship”. That is, with every good intent, we attempt to follow all the teaching we have received out of love of God and neighbor. But we do it out of our own self-will as a means  of gaining favor with God  or doing something for God, rather than submitting ourselves totally to the Father, so that, through the Holy Spirit, He may work His will in us and  through us to accomplish His purposes in this World. It is in this phase of spiritual growth that most  of us get stuck into, mainly because that is what is expected of laity in the current religious culture we live in. In this phase we could also call ourselves “accidental” disciples because even though our motives are not completely pure, the Lord can still work around us to accomplish His purposes.

The next phase, “Intentional discipleship”, however, is the real entrance into true discipleship, it is where we learn to take up our “cross”.  It is where, through a sincere decision of our will,  we offer ourselves as living sacrifices to the Father (Rom 12.1-2) so that His will and not ours may be done through our lives – thus opening the Door for the Spirit of Christ to truly be Our King, Our Lord, and Our God so He and He alone can work in us to work the true purposes of the Father in our lives. This phase is also a process that takes time because the Holy Spirit is gentle with us in our transformation, but, because we have freely consecrated our very selves to Him, He  will use us to the utmost to achieve His purposes through us. It is in this stage that that we truly are able to act out our obedience to the father “in Jesus’ Name” because it is really Jesus at work in in us to the Glory of the Father!

The Way of  True Discipleship

The Way of True Discipleship

This, then, is the challenge of true discipleship that He lays out for us: “And he said to all, “If any man would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it; and whoever loses his life for my sake, he will save it. “ (Luke 9:23-24)

Once we have accepted our cross of placing God’s Will over ours, Jesus will then truly reign in us, in ALL things in our lives, and then and only then do we enter into what I term “instinctive” discipleship. This is the stage in our spiritual growth where we are so united to the Spirit of Christ in us, that we no longer have an awareness of ourselves in what we think or do or say. It is the stage where we, like the Apostle Paul, can truly say: ” It is no longer I that lives but Christ who lives in me”, where we are in such a spiritual union with Christ that we no longer need to discern between our will and the Father’s will because we know instinctively that the Spirit of Christ reigns in us to such a degree that we “know”  that all that we think or do or say emanates from His presence within us.

~+~+~+~+~+~+~+~+~+~+~+~+~+~+~

In order to inform the Body Of Christ as to the dire dearth of true lay discipleship and our need for  it, I am attaching to this writing with a paper written by a group of lay Catholics in a rural parish in Northern California, discussing the subject of lay discipleship. This paper summarizes the historical dissolution or diminishment of lay discipleship within the church over the centuries. The paper will be presented by me in two separate posts. This being the first.

The first part deals with the first thousand years of church history and the second part will deal with the last thousand years. I will leave its message to your own discernment through prayer and meditation. And I pray that the Holy Spirit will work through what I am presenting to you to guide you in determining your response to the message.

But above all, pray that the Lord of Harvest will send forth workers into His fields!

May the Lord Bless you and Keep you. May the Lord be gracious to you and Shine His Face upon you and Bring you His Peace!

Your Brother in Christ and fellow pilgrim …. Bartimaeus

For Further Information on “Intentional Discipleship” please Click on “Cast your Net on the Other Side”

(© B.R.Timeo and Bartimaeus’ Quiet Place, [2008-2013])
~+~+~+~+~+~+~+~+~+~+~+~+~+~+~

The views presented in the following papers are those of the Issues Group and are not necessarily representative of the people of St. Aloysius Parish nor the Roman Catholic Church.

 (Copyright Pending; Elk Altar Society Inc., Elk, Ca.)

~+~+~+~+~+~+~+~+~+~+~

Catholic Issues Series :  The Church Today

The Role of Clergy and Laity

Part I :  Cleric and Lay in the First One Thousand Years of the Church

Volumes could be written and have been, on either the lay or cleric states in the Church. I have attempted an overview in only a few inadequate pages. What binds these two states together is the discipleship of Christ they equally share. It is in this shared discipleship that we will attempt to understand cleric and lay as we move through two thousand years of history. And all this in less than two thousand words.

Our faith is in a person. Jesus Christ. He is the source of and the model for all we are to be. In faith He has called us to be his followers, his disciples. There is not one discipleship for clerics and another for lay persons. There is only one discipleship. The New Testament is a written record of our call to follow. In our responding together to Christ we become a community, the Christ faithful, the Church. Without Christ there is no church, but without his community of faithful living out their discipleship there is also no church. It is in this sense then that we say in Christ we are the Church.

From the Resurrection to the beginning of the fourth century the Church was far different from what we know today. Not only different because it was new and evolving, but different in the very way its members related to each other as equals, depended on each other in worship and service, and sought together as a community to live out their discipleship in Christ. There was no clear distinction between a cleric and a lay person, between those appointed to service and those who brought other talents and skills to the community. Each was valued for his or her discipleship, not for their roles or functions. Young or old, Jew or Greek, man or woman, it was their living faith that defined them. If a person was chosen for a leadership or service role by the community, it was based on the merits of his or her discipleship. No one chose these roles for themselves, they were chosen by the community, for the community. And it was the community and its well being that was of the utmost concern to the early Christians, how to protect it in a hostile world, how to nurture its faith, how to help it grow. From these concerns evolved the communal liturgies: baptism to accept the newly faithful, the Eucharist to spiritually nourish the faithful, reconciliation to reunite those who had failed to live up to their faith, and the service/leadership liturgy to select and consecrate those thought worthy to administer to the needs of the community. These liturgies, including service and liturgies, existed for the community, not vice versa. For a leader to be imposed was inconceivable. Structure existed from the beginning of the Church, but it was communal and elective not hierarchical. It was from the bottom up, not from the top down.

But in the beginning of the fourth century a dramatic change took place in the Church that would determine its course down to our present time. A much maligned, threatened, and persecuted Church was suddenly accepted and smiled upon by the Constantine emperors and given the chance to flourish. Seizing this opportunity, the Church embraced the empire. It was a powerful marriage. The Church was now Roman and the Roman Empire was now Holy. One church, one empire. The Church became the official church, intolerant of all others. Church leaders soon broke with the past by adopting the order or hierarchical structure of the Roman world. It was henceforth a person’s position, and or function that determined their status in the Church, not discipleship. As the institutional church developed its own power class by emulating the power structure of its new secular counterpart and partner, the church of discipleship, the church of community, the church of the gospels and the early Christians was replaced. The line between cleric and lay was no longer fluid, but sharply drawn. All power was assumed by the new clerical class, and the lay or nonclerical was disempowered.

As the empire was all powerful, so now was the institutional church. As the empire was Roman it was also now Christian. Secular authority as well as clerical authority touched every aspect of a person’s life. The Church gave the empire unity and stability and the empire advanced the Church’s doctrines and moral teachings. Each believed that as long as they were one the world had reached its ideal and salvation. This world was divided into the governed and the governing, the common Christian citizen and the often times overlapping royal and pontifical courts.

By the year 700, it was generally accepted that the positions of king and pope were divinely instituted, and these domains were frequently at odds as each sought power over the other. In this medieval period up to the year 1000, the split between the leadership and the disempowered members of the Church became even more defined. Monasteries were firmly in the hands of the clerics. All aspects of liturgy were taken over by clerics. The lay person was relegated to the role of passive observer. As Latin increased as a common language, liturgy became even more unintelligible to the largely uneducated common person. Unless a lay person was of the noble class, he or she was generally excluded from any meaningful role. The term church gradually came to mean the hierarchical institution and not the community of faithful. Wealth also played a part in the growing disparity between lay and cleric, the taxed and untaxed, the nonprivileged and the privileged. Like society, the Church had become feudal.

To conclude then, once the secular world, through a mandate of imperial power became the Christian world as happened in the fourth century, the Church began to incorporate the secular order and the structure of that world. Historically it made good sense. The Church became strong and universal. The morals and teaching of our faith were promulgated throughout Europe and Asia Minor. But the new ordering inevitably led to the disempowerment of the lay person and a break between the cleric and lay states. This did not happen by design or manipulation, the educated became disconnected from the uneducated, the untaxed from the taxed, the leaders from the led, the powerful form the powerless. We can only understand our historical church and our positions today as lay or clerical members if we understand this history. No other institution transcends these past two thousand years like the Church. Empires, kingdoms, and states have passed. The Church remains. It is the vessel of our heritage and faith. The fact that it survived at all and played the great part it did in history is a tribute to its greatness and glory and the presence of the Spirit. But if we are to define ourselves in terms of discipleship as we have done throughout this paper then by the end of the first one thousand years we would have to say that the lay voice was no longer equal to the cleric as it had been in the beginning. There was an essential wrong at the Church’s core. For in the Church of the gospels all of us are called, not some of us; all of us form the community, not some of us; all of us share in the ministry of Christ, not some of us; all of us share in the service/leadership of the Christ believing, not some of us; all of us are the Church, not some of us.

In this paper we looked at the first one thousand years to see where we came from and how we grew. In the next paper we will complete this process in the second thousand years and bring history to our own doorsteps. From here perhaps we will discern the parts we must play in launching the third one thousand years.

~+~+~+~+~+~+~+~+~+~+~

Advertisements

Read Full Post »