A life-long journey of conversion.
As the disciple grows in the life of prayer, God reveals himself more intimately in this personal relationship. The disciple also sees that the gifts received from God are to be shared and not buried. The disciple remains deeply rooted in humility, recognizing that the gifts one has been given come not from self, but from God. Those gifts are to be shared with others. Here lies the heart of the disciple’s personal response as a disciple – to share what one has received and to share with a generous, grateful and loving heart.
This formation of each individual becomes part of the formation of the parish community. As members of the Body of Christ, we recognize that we have a call from God to give. Inherent within each of us is the need to give; to move from selfishness to selfless- ness. This formation is a life-long journey of con- version. The discipleship parish journeys constantly in this formation of con- version. As one grows more deeply in this formation to a life of discipleship, the more deeply one loves as God loves us. This is true for the individual disciple and for the discipleship parish.
Such formation is a formidable task, involving education of the mind and conversion of the heart. To know the “disciple- ship way of life”, does not make one live a “disciple- ship way of life.” Formation includes quality education, but the knowledge itself is not enough. Ongoing Catholic education, (for children and adults), is important if we are to grow in our lives as disciples. This formation should include a proper knowledge and under- standing of discipleship since it is a primary means to lead the faithful to holiness. Catholic schools, Religious Education, youth ministry programs, adult education offerings and parish discipleship committees are wonderful and essential places where this faith formation be- gins. Yet, they are not the only parish organizations responsible for this faith formation of parishioners to grow.
Every parish organization has a role to play in nurturing the faith formation of the parishioners. It is in this collective parish effort and grace of God at work through our sincere efforts that faith formation thrives. The meaning of faithful discipleship and how to live this way of life is at the core of the disciple’s response to the gift of faith we freely receive from our loving God.
Excerpts are from the document The Pillars of Stewardship, prepared by the Office of Stewardship, Catholic Diocese of Wichita KS, May 2004, and from “Live Jesus: Historical Background of the Introduction to the Devout Life,” Armind Nazareth, MSFS, Studies in Salesian Spirituality, April-June 2005.