I stumbled across this great quote from Mother Teresa this morning:
"Jesus will use you to accomplish great things on the condition that you believe much more in his love than in your weakness. Only then, his hand will be free with you."
- Bl. Mother Teresa of Calcutta
If this is true - and I suspect it is - it may be one explanation for the fact that relatively little fruit is manifested in our parishes. If only 60% of Catholics who-still-hold-onto-the-indentity believe in a personal God and only 48% are certain that you can have a relationship with a personal God, that has to be one of the big contributors to our communal tepidness and powerlessness.
As a thought experiment, I have sometimes attempted to imagine what isn't happening in our lives, our families, our parishes, and our world because we only foster (de facto) roughly 1 -2 % of the all vocations God is giving us and only about 2% of all the charism that God is giving us.
Our failure to make disciples has many unintended consequences. The vast majority of the vocations and charisms intended to emerge don't manifest because the living relationship with God from which vocations and charisms flow does not yet exist for the vast majority of Catholics. And the vacuum where a universal culture and practice of discerning God's call should be is one of those consequences.
What suffering, what tragedies could have been avoided, how many families have been destroyed or diminished and the hopes of million crushed, how many millions of saints have not risen up to transform and heal our world, how many people have despaired of God altogether because they longed for but have not seen the goodness of God in the land of the living?
How much of what God passionately desires to do through his people and his Church has not happened, because he insists upon doing it through our assent and cooperation and huge numbers of our people do not even know that personal relationship with God and discipleship exists as a possibility?
The earthly and eternal consequences of our failure to make disciples is almost impossible to exaggerate.
As I wrote in Forming Intentional Disciples:
"The Holy Spirit is planting charisms and vocations of amazing diveristy in the hearts of all his people. Like the graces of the sacraments, they are reall but they are not magic. . . .
In this area, we are not asking for too much; we are settling for too little. God is not asking us to call forth the gifts and vocations of a few people; he is aksing us to call forth the gifts and vocations of millions. Our problem is not that there is a shortage of vocations but that we do not have the support systems and leaderhsip in place to foster the vast majority of the vocations that God has given us.
Most fundamentally, when we fail to call our own to discipleship, we are unwittingly pushing away the vast majority of the vocations God has given us. . .
"The Church fulfills her mission when she guides every member of the faithful to discover and live his or her own vocation in freedom and to being it to fulfillment in charity.
. . . Indeed, God with his call reaches the call of each individual, and the Spirit, who abides deep within each disciple (df. I Jn 3:24) give himself to each Christian with different charisms and special signs. Each one, therefore, must be helped to embrace the gift entrusted to him as a completely unique person and to hear the words which the Spirit of God personally addresses to him"
Pastores Dabo Vobis, 40 (I Will Give You Shepherds, John Paul II)