Siena E-Scribe, Newsletter of the Catherine of Siena Institute, Colorado Springs, Colorado
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January 2007

in this issue

Looky Here!
A new year begins, and with it a new venture from the Institute - the blog, "Intentional Disciples." Check it out!

The New and Improved Making Disciples
You can teach a couple of old dogs new tricks! Sherry and Fr. Mike are completely revamping the four-day Making Disciples, Equipping Apostles. The new version will incorporate some retreat-like elements, as well as new material and practical hands-on experience on recognizing thresholds of faith. Participants will come away with a new appreciation for, and new skills to help foster intentional discipleship.

Building a Foundation When the Second Floor's Finished
We need to focus first and foremost on creating a culture of discipleship in our parishes. Why is this so crucial? Well, pretty much everything depends upon it.

Faith of a Child
Darcy Hall is in her tenth year as an English teacher at Doherty high school in Colorado Springs, CO. She loves to write and treasures the gift of writing and the power of words, and hopes her students master the English language and have fun with words as well. Faith of a Child was recently published in a seasonal anthology of poetry titled "Home for the Holidays."

on the web

The Evangelical Catholic

Do you want to inject some energy in your parish or campus ministry? Take a look at this website for some resources. The EC vision focuses on the renewal of individuals and parishes through an emphasis on interior conversion, devotion to the Scriptures, formation in the habits of discipleship, intense Christian community, and a commitment to evangelization. Sherry Weddell, co-Director of the Institute, will be one of the speakers at their conference in Madison, WI, April 13-15.

Catholic Thrive
Since approximately half of the Catholics in this country are not married, it's about time we highlighted a website that focuses on single Catholics!

Awakening Vocations
Check out a powerful resource to awaken the vocational culture of your parish at Awakening Vocations. This new ministry of Called & Gifted workshop teacher Mary Sharon Moore blends charism awareness with a theology of vocation and vocational discernment for both ministry and mission in the world. For more information call toll-free: 1-877/687-2046, or e-mail Mary Sharon.


This is a new four-day workshop for pastors, parish staff, and other lay leaders who would like to explore how to foster a culture of intentional discipleship and discernment in their parishes. The formation provided will help participants learn how to recognize significant thresholds in the life of faith as well as how to encourage the deepening of the commitment to following Christ. Participants will gain practical experience in a process that will help evangelize parishioners who will then worship, pray, give, study their faith, and discern God's call for them out of a loving relationship with Christ. For information or to make reservations, contact Mike Dillon at the Institute office.

July 29 - August 2, 2007
Colorado Springs, CO

Sunday evening through Thursday noon.
Location: The Franciscan Retreat Center, nestled in the foothills of the Rockies just north of Colorado Springs at 6500 ft elevation. The Retreat Center provides panoramic views of the Rampart Range and the Pikes Peak region.

November 4-8, 2007
Kearneysville, WV
Sunday evening through Thursday noon.
Location: Priestfield Pastoral Center. Enjoy the splendor of autumn color in scenic West Virginia, just outside the Washington, D.C. metro area. Situated on a large wooded property along the Opequon Creek, the overall serenity of Priestfield is complimented with well-maintained walking trails through the woods and along the creek, water gardens, outdoor decks and patios providing many choice places for quiet reflection. Rooms with private baths and hermitages are part of the facilities.

called and gifted workshops

January 12, 13, 2007
Houston, TX
(Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston)

St. Thomas More Catholic Church
CONTACT: Suzie Hamilton, Pastoral Associate, or the parish office at (713) 729-0221.

Nampa, ID
(Diocese of Boise)
St. Paul's Catholic Church

CONTACT: Joan Ann Piper or the parish office at (208) 466-7031.

January 18, 2007
Menlo Park, CA
(Archdiocese of San Francisco)
St. Patrick's Seminary

A special, one-day Called & Gifted Workshop for seminarians. Not open to the public.

January 19-20, 2007
Clackamas, OR
(Archdiocese of Portland, OR)

Called & Gifted Workshop for member couples of the Columbia Worldwide Marriage Encounter - Section 13 Conference. Not open to the public.

January 26-27, 2007
Colorado Springs, CO
(Diocese of Colorado Springs, CO)
Holy Apostles Catholic Church

CONTACT: Bill Sydow or the parish office at (719) 597-4249.

St. Paul, MN
(Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis, MN)
Nativity of Our Lord Catholic Church

CONTACT: Randy Mueller, Faith Formation Director, or the parish office at (651) 696-5454.

Bothell, WA
(Archdiocese of Seattle)
St. Brendan Catholic Church

CONTACT: Patt Reade, Pastoral Assistant, or the parish office at (425) 483-9400 ext 3.

San Francisco, CA
(Archdiocese of San Francisco)
St. Dominic's Church

CONTACT: Scott Moyer (415) 674-0422.

Spokane WA
(Diocese of Spokane)
St. Patrick Catholic Church

CONTACT: Father Daniel Barnett, Pastor, or the parish office at 509-487-1325.

February 2-3, 2007
Seattle, WA
(Archdiocese of Seattle, WA)
Blessed Sacrament Church

CONTACT: Marilyn Thornton, Director of Religious Education, or the parish office at (206) 547-3020.

February 10, 2007
Dodge City, KS
(Diocese of Dodge City, KS)
Cathedral of Our Lady of Guadalupe

A special, one-day Called & Gifted Workshop for catechists of the Diocese of Dodge City
CONTACT: Becky Hessman, Vocations Coordinator for the Diocese of Dodge City, (620) 227-1530.

February 11, 2007
Marienthal, KS
(Diocese of Dodge City, KS)

St Mary Catholic Church
One-day High School/Teen Called & Gifted Workshop
CONTACT: Jenni Winter, DRE at St. Mary Church or the parish office, (620) 375-4869.

February 18, 2007

Garden City, KS
(Diocese of Dodge City, KS)
St. Mary's Catholic Church

A special, one-day Called & Gifted SPANISH Workshop for catechists of the Diocese of Dodge City.
CONTACT: Becky Hessman, Vocations Coordinator for the Diocese of Dodge City, (620) 227-1530.

February 23, 2007
Mukwonago, WI
(Archdiocese of Milwaukee, WI)
St. James Catholic Church

A special, one-day Called & Gifted Workshop for Catholic school teachers.
CONTACT: the parish office, (262) 363-7615.

February 23-24, 2007
Piedmont, SD
(Diocese of Rapid City, SD)
Our Lady of the Black Hills Catholic Church

CONTACT: Fr. Mark McCormick, Pastor, or the parish office, (605) 787-5168.

March 2-3, 2007
Woodland Hills, CA
(Archdiocese of Los Angeles)
St. Bernardine of Siena Catholic Church

CONTACT: the parish office, (818) 888-8200.

Wauwatosa, WI
(Archdiocese of Milwaukee)
Christ King Catholic Church

CONTACT: Joan Carey, or the parish office, (414) 258-2604.

March 9-10, 2007
Lakewood, CO
(Archdiocese of Denver)
Our Lady of Fatima Catholic Church

CONTACT: Mary Vulcani, or the parish office, (303) 233-6236.

Coeur d'Alene, ID
(Diocese of Boise)
St. Pius X Catholic Church

CONTACT: Cathy Adams or the parish office, (208) 765-5108.

April 20-21, 2007
Greenville, SC
(Diocese of Charleston)
St. Mary's Catholic Church

CONTACT: Kate Tierney (864) 230-7767; or by e-mail.

April 27-28, 2007
Olympia, WA
(Archdiocese of Seattle)
St. Michael Catholic Church

CONTACT: Kathleen Wright, Steward for Time, Talent and Evangelization, or the parish office, (360) 754-4667 x115.


March 6, 2007

Orange, CA
Diocese of Orange, CA

Fr. Mike Fones, O.P. will be offering two workshops; one for clergy and seminarians from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., and one for the laity from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m., titled, All Are Called: Stewarding the Gifts of Vocation.
CONTACT: Debbie Leaverton, Office of Stewardship, (714) 282-3026.


February 25-March 1, 2007
Mukwonago, WI
(Archdiocese of Milwaukee, WI)
St. James Catholic Church

CONTACT: parish office, (262) 363-7615.

March 11-15, 2007
Olympia, WA
(Archdiocese of Seattle)
St Michael Catholic Church

CONTACT: parish office/Kathleen Wright, Steward for Time, Talent and Evangelization, (360) 754-4667 x115.

March 18-22, 2007
St. Paul, MN
(Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis)
Nativity of Our Lord Catholic Church

CONTACT: parish office/Randy Mueller, Faith Formation Director, (651) 698-0309.

March 25-29, 2007
Sammamish, WA
(Archdiocese of Seattle)
Mary, Queen of Peace Catholic Church

CONTACT: parish office/Colleen O'Connell, Pastoral Associate, (425) 391-1178 x120.

Interviewer Training

Learn how to help others (as individuals or in small groups) to discern their charisms.
* Basic listening skills and spiritual maturity (best if practicing Christian for 2 years prior)
* Must have attended live Called & Gifted workshop or listened to CDs or audio tapes, took Catholic Spiritual Gifts Inventory, did some personal discernment, had a one-on-one personal Gifts Interview.

March 9-10, 2007
Greenville, SC
(Diocese of Charleston)

St. Mary Catholic Church
CONTACT Mike Dillon at (719) 219-0056 or Kate Tierney in Greenville, (864) 297-8232

March 16-17, 2007
Chatsworth, CA
(Archdiocese of Los Angeles)

St. John Eudes Catholic Church
CONTACT: Katie Dawson, Director of Evangelization at St John Eudes Parish (818) 341-3680; or Bobby Vidal, Religious Education Director, Blessed Kateri Tekakwitha Parish, Santa Clarita CA, (661) 296-3180.

March 30-31, 2007
Cedar Rapids, IA
(Archdiocese of Dubuque)

CONTACT: Linda Manternach, Director of Stewardship for the Archdiocese, by her e-mail.

Day of D

"For Such a Time as This: How to Find and Live God's Purpose for Your Life."
A day devoted to the practical art of discernment with Sherry Weddell, co-Director of the Catherine of Siena Institute.

April 21, 2007
Riverside, CA
(Diocese of San Bernardino)
St. Andrew's Catholic Newman Center

CONTACT: Newman Center office (909) 682-8751; or e-mail.


The Catherine of Siena Institute is a religious non-profit with 501C-3 status. We receive no financial support from any diocese or from the Western Dominican Province, but are entirely self-supporting. Your donations and gifts-in-kind are essential to our ongoing operations. To learn how you can help us, please contact our Development Officer, Mr. George Martelon at (303) 847-7052.


What power, O robber, led you to the light? Who taught you to worship that despised Man, your companion on the Cross? O Light Eternal, which gives light to them that are in darkness! Therefore also he justly heard the words, Be of good cheer; not that your deeds are worthy of good cheer; but that the King is here, dispensing favours. The request reached unto a distant time; but the grace was very speedy. Verily I say unto you, This day shall thou be with Me in Paradise...Adam by the Tree fell away; thou by the Tree art brought into Paradise...This day shall thou depart, but, This day shall thou be with Me. Be of good courage: you shall not be cast out...O mighty and ineffable grace! The faithful Abraham had not yet entered, but the robber enters! Moses and the Prophets had not yet entered, and the robber enters though a breaker of the law...The robber has a will to work righteousness, but death prevents him; [Jesus] waits not exclusively for the work, but faith also he accepts.
Catechetical Lecture of St. Cyril of Alexandria, 350 AD

Thank You...

Thanks to Darcy Hall for the use of Faith of a Child, Liz Anderson for the use of Lazarus, her Ford SUV, and Fr. Paul Wicker, for the use of his guestroom. Thanks, too, to the meticulous editing of Anna Elias-Cesnik and Patrician Mees Armstrong.


Looky Here!
by Fr. Michael Fones, O.P., co-Director of the Catherine of Siena Institute

My childhood in central Illinois was filled with sandlot football games, neighborhood-wide editions of cowboys and Indians, dirt clod fights in the cornfields that began at the end of our subdivision, and exploratory forays into the deep, dark woods that lined the creek near my friend Tom's house. Whatever game we were playing, however, could be instantly interrupted by the cry, "Looky here!" That meant someone had found something really interesting that should take precedent over anything else in which we were engaged. It might be a line of ants carrying the remains of a cookie to their nest, or a large cricket caught in a spider's web, or a half-buried bone left by some mongrel that would lead to all kinds of speculation as to whether it belonged to the Tyrannosaurus or Allosaurus genus.

So, with that in mind, I invite you to, "Looky here" at what Sherry, the Institute co-Director, has been working on. It's a new tool for the Institute - a web log, or "blog" called Intentional Disciples! We hope Intentional Disciples will be a resource for people all over the country (and beyond) interested in the baptismal call, spirituality, gifts, vocations, ministry, work, history, theology, evangelization, formation, bad jokes, and pastoral support of lay Christians seeking to live their faith in the 21st Century.

Intentional Disciples is a group effort, with entries submitted from Sherry, me, Clara Geoghegan and Fr. Anthony Walsh, OP, our Australian co-Directors, as well as Institute teachers and collaborators from around the U.S. We hope it becomes a forum for insightful, respectful, intelligent and passionate discussions about 99.96% of the Church - lay Catholics!

The New and Improved Making Disciples
by Sherry Weddell and Fr. Michael Fones, O.P., co-Directors of the Catherine of Siena Institute

During the last three years, 200 pastoral leaders from 60 dioceses all over North America and Australia have attended our four-day summer training seminar Making Disciples, Equipping Apostles. It's been an amazing ride and we have learned so much from meeting and sharing with so many creative and passionate Catholics.

When we began asking participants what percentage of Catholics in their parishes were intentional disciples, we had to first wrestle with what intentional discipleship was, and then we'd have a long discussion on the topic. Several issues always came up:

  1. Some participants felt like we were asking them to judge the spiritual lives of parishioners.
  2. Many participants realized that they seldom knew enough about the spiritual lives of parishioners to evaluate what their needs might be.
  3. If they were pressed to guess the percentage of intentional disciples in their parishes, the estimate was usually five percent or less.

It became very clear that even Catholic leaders who are passionate about evangelization and the formation of laity seldom know how to help those who are spiritually seeking to make the journeyjourney to true intentional discipleship. So helping pastoral leaders gain the awareness and skills necessary to facilitate the journey to intentional discipleship is going to be our primary focus in the "new and improved" Making Disciples.

As with any Catherine of Siena Institute offering, there will be a solid overview of pertinent Scripture and Magisterial teaching. We will examine the Church's teaching on grace, the nature of faith and discipleship, and the prerequisites for the fruitful, life-changing reception of the sacraments.

One of the most helpful new segments will cover the significance of pre-discipleship" stages of relationship with God. Each threshold along the way to intentional discipleship is a kind of conversion, a work of God's grace, and takes genuine spiritual energy. We'll examine in detail five spiritual thresholds that individuals usually cross on their way to becoming an intentional disciple: trust, spiritual curiosity, spiritual openness, active seeking and the commitment to intentional discipleship. Different challenges are experienced at each level which require a different response from those who are assisting the seeker.

Also, we will examine how to invite people to talk about their lived relationship with God in a comfortable, non-threatening manner, how to listen respectfully to another's journey, and how to recognize and facilitate the next step on that journey, whatever it might be. Our goal is to pass on a basic set of evangelizing skills that can be used in a wide variety of pastoral situations by a wide variety of ministers. Each day will conclude with prayer experiences that will help participants reflect on their own lives as disciples and their experiences as pastoral leaders.

Some of you may be thinking, "this sounds a) Protestant; b) invasive; c) judgmental; d) not Catholic, e) all of the above." In all honesty, Fr. Mike says he would have probably felt the same way three years ago. But, he says, "the people I have met and the study of Church teaching in which I have been immersed over these last two and a half years with the Institute have changed me. I now look upon this sort of awareness and inquiry as crucial to evangelization and effective ministry. It is an act of humility to examine my own relationship with Christ honestly. It is an act of love to invite others to speak openly of their relationship with Jesus and to desire to journey with them in an ever-deepening mutual relationship with Him that will eventually transcend time."

We are excited about the potential fruitfulness of this tool for ministry. The five threshold structure gives us a way to think about evangelization and ministry both within the Catholic community and outside of it. It can help us approach people as individuals with unique spiritual needs and questions and on a unique journey of faith. It can change the way we approach

  • RCIA Helping RCIA team members determine where inquirers are in their spiritual journey and direct them to appropriate resources and/or small groups tailored to their needs.
  • Parish registration processes An initial conversation can help ministers determine which parish ministries/resources might be most helpful to them.
  • Sacramental preparation
  • Infant baptism Where are the parents and godparents in the faith journey? What kind of preparation can also facilitate the spiritual development of the adults involved?
  • Confirmation If the sponsors are intentional disciples, there's a better chance the newly confirmed will become intentional disciples as well. We are developing some questions that challenge seekers to become disciples.
  • Marriage the initial interview of the couple could easily include a spiritual inventory. The marriage preparation process can then be tailored to prepare them not only for marriage, but to encourage intentional discipleship, which will be the best way to ensure a more fruitful marriage. Conversations based on the FOCCUS inventory already offer opportunities to ask about the couples' faith life.
  • Pastoral Counseling and Spiritual Direction could be more effective if the minister has a more refined sense of the lived spiritual issues and questions the directee has.
  • Confession Fr. Mike says he has already begun listening to confessions with an ear for clues indicating at what threshold of faith the penitent is.He relies more consciously on God's grace to help him respond in a way that encourages a deeper commitment to discipleship.


We do not "make" disciples, God's grace does. But graced human effort can create an environment in which intentional discipleship, i.e., a well-formed faith, is nurtured, celebrated, and expected as the norm. We are all invited by Jesus to come and follow him. He preached the Good News of God's kingdom and offered Himself on the cross for our redemption. Shouldn't we take our following of Him more seriously, so that His death is not for naught? We have stories of the great ways in which God has changed individual lives and sometimes the world - through His grace at work in the saints. We are all called to be saints. That is God's will for us. Intentional disciples are saints-in-the-making, and thus are the goal and purpose of every ministry and every parish activity. The intent of Making Disciples is to make that ministry more fruitful.

Finally, Sherry and I hope that the skill of identifying the five thresholds and listening to faith stories will be readily transferable. Our hope is that pastoral ministers will share these skills with members of their parishes who are interested and we think many will be. We can't recall meeting a Catholic who didn't have a friend or a member of their family who had "fallen away" from the Catholic Church. Often they were not practicing any faith, sometimes they had joined a Protestant denomination or "non-denominational" church, and in a few cases they had joined a non-Christian faith. Practically every day at Mass a parent prays during the Prayers of the Faithful for their children who no longer practice their faith. Making Disciples may literally be a partial answer to such prayers.

Building a Foundation When the Second Floor's Finished
by Fr. Michael Fones, O.P., co-Director of the Catherine of Siena Institute

In the two and a half years I have worked with Sherry Weddell, I have heard her lament on several occasions at the conclusion of a Called & Gifted workshop, "I built a second floor presuming there was a foundation upon which to build!" The second floor to which she's referring is the Called & Gifted workshop that she developed with Fr. Michael Sweeney around the Catholic Spiritual Gifts Inventory. The foundation that's often missing is intentional discipleship.

"What, exactly, is intentional discipleship?" you may well ask. It's not a phrase commonly used among Catholics, and admittedly, it is difficult to pin adequately down. Intentional disciples have somehow heard Jesus' invitation to, "come, follow me" and have made a conscious choice to obey. Like many cradle Catholics, there have been periods in my life in which my faith was more or less unconscious or accidental; just something I was "born into." I have at times (sometimes lengthy) associated the successful practice of my faith with "following the rules" or "being good," or making sure I not miss Sunday Mass. Now that I'm a priest, the latter is not likely to happen. But intentional discipleship requires more from us. It requires a deliberate decision to follow Jesus as Lord including being Lord of my life within the community He founded, the Church.

Intentional discipleship, and faith itself, is fundamentally conversion to Jesus Christ. Conversion "re-orients all aspects of the person's life to Christ. This conversion is the acceptance of a personal relationship with Christ, a sincere adherence to him, and a willingness to conform one's life to his." (National Directory for Catechesis, p. 48) Such a conversion can lead the Christian to say truthfully and joyfully with the converted Saul, "It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me." (Gal 2:20)

Discipleship flows from our relationship with Christ. Of course, any relationship has its own unique characteristics. My relationship with my sister, Barbara, is different from my brother, Dave's, relationship with her. She is the same person; it is Dave and I who are different. So, too, intentional discipleship with Jesus; it will necessarily look a bit different for each one of us.Thus, like Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart, who tried to describe the nature of obscenity back in 1964, I am tempted to say of intentional discipleship, "I know it when I see it" Yet even then I must be careful because only God sees into our hearts and knows our motivations and deepest longings.

After our experience of the last few years with the four-day workshop Making Disciples, Equipping Apostles, Sherry and I decided that MDEA was attempting to build a two-story structure when the folks attending the workshop indicated they needed to work on the more foundational aspects of faith with their parishioners. They needed a way to help foster intentional discipleship.

Evidence of a lack of intentional discipleship in our parishes

It used to be that a "practicing Catholic" was one who attended Sunday Mass. But regular attendance at the Sunday Eucharist is more and more uncommon. A 2005 Center for Applied Research on the Apostolate (CARA) survey of Catholics regarding the frequency of Mass attendance found that only one third of those surveyed attend Mass once a week. Intentional disciples, by definition, are interested in sharing their faith with others, but a 2002 Pew Research Center survey indicates that a majority of white Catholics don't even think it's necessary to share their faith with their children! In that survey, only 42% of white Catholics said that one must believe in God in order to be moral, and a 59% majority said that children are just as likely to develop morals without religion.

Finally, a 2005 CARA survey of Catholics who were college graduates attempted to correlate participation in campus ministry and the post-college practice of the faith. Just over two-thirds (68%) of Catholics, who had graduated from college and had participated in some way in campus ministry during their college years, had read a Catholic magazine or newspaper in the last year, compared with 53% of those who had not been involved with campus ministry. Only 36% and 27% of the people in those two groups had read a book about Catholicism in the last year. I would presume these are among the best-read Catholics in our parishes, yet interest in deepening the understanding of the faith does not seem very high.

While there are many ways of interpreting these data and the causes behind the results of these surveys, I don't believe it's wise to rule out the possibility that John Paul II's lament in Catechesis in Our Time may be justified. "Many Catholics are still without any explicit personal attachment to Jesus Christ; they only have the capacity to believe placed within them by Baptism and the presence of the Holy Spirit. (19). Furthermore, if intentional discipleship and conversion lead one to begin to ask, "What does God want of my life" and to recognize a need to discern gifts and vocation, then the lack of intentional discipleship could be one of the reasons we are living in a time of a shortage of vocations of all kinds; including priestly and religious vocations.

Does intentional discipleship matter?

As Sherry and I have been studying Church teaching concerning conversion, grace, justification, and the fruitful reception of the sacraments, we have discovered some startling Church teachings that indicate there are serious consequences following from the lack of intentional discipleship.

At the Council of Trent, in reply to the Reformers cry of, "justification by faith alone," the bishops decreed that only faith that is active in charity and good works (fides formata, i.e., "well-formed faith") possesses any power to justify us (Gal 5:6, 1Cor 13:2). This fides formata is what Sherry and I are calling intentional discipleship. It is distinguished from two other fairly common expressions of faith. One is a faith marked by an intellectual understanding and assent to the truths of the faith, but lacking in charity and good works (which the bishops at Trent called fides informis). The other is a general belief in God and a reliance on one's good works for salvation, rather than the atoning death of Jesus (the heresy of Pelagianism, which basically asserts that we earn salvation). Inasmuch as both of these expressions of faith are lacking in a conversion of heart and true contrition for sin, they are dead in the eyes of God and insufficient for justification (James 2:17).

Faith that justifies is not simply an assent to revealed truths, nor is it a vague belief in a supreme being, but a loving relationship of trust in our Savior and a desire to know and do His will that shapes our human relationships as well. The recently published Adult Catechism for the U.S. describes faith this way, "God makes himself known to us through Revelation in order both to give us something and to draw a response from us. Both this gift of God and our response to his Revelation are called faith. By faith, we are able to give our minds and hearts to God, to trust in his will, and to follow the direction he gives us. St. Paul describes this response as the 'obedience of faith'" (Rom 16:26) The adult catechism goes on to include the following aspects in the definition of faith.

  1. Faith is a personal and communal relationship. (CCC, 150)? A personal faith says, "I believe in God. . ." It is as though we gather all that we are and gratefully give our hearts and minds to God. We have a personal relationship with the triune God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. . .Our personal faith brings us into a relationship with God's people and the faith of the entire people strengthens us in our relationship with God.
  2. Faith seeks understanding and is a friend of reason.
  3. Faith is necessary for salvation.
  4. Faith is a gift of grace.
  5. Faith is a free human act. Faith is a gift of God that enables us to know and love him. Faith is a way of knowing, just as reason is. But living in faith is not possible unless there is action on our part.
  6. Faith believes with conviction in a message.

Adult Catechism, pp. 37-38.

Clearly, faith involves the whole person: our mind, emotions, will, and actions. It also requires our personal response to the proclamation of the Good News. According to Pope Benedict XVI, "Our knowledge of Jesus needs above all a first-hand experience: someone else's testimony is of course important, for normally the whole of our Christian life begins with the proclamation handed down to us by one or more witnesses. However, we ourselves must then be personally involved in a close and deep relationship with Jesus." General Audience, October 4, 2006

Ramifications of Intentional Discipleship

Why are Sherry and I spending so much energy investigating the nature of intentional discipleship? Here are four primary reasons:

1) It is a matter of salvation! The Church indicates that faith that justifies follows upon a conversion of heart characterized by love for others and contrition for one's sins and a desire for a new way of life which leads the adult to seek baptism or, if already baptized, confession. What does it mean, then, that so few Catholics go to confession on a regular basis? Why are Catholics parked in opposing camps labeled "traditional" and "progressive", hurling invectives at one another with no regard for Christian charity? Is it possible that our churches have significant numbers of nominal Catholics whose faith is insufficient for justification, and yet who are not being challenged by clergy, religious, or lay Catholics to take their relationships with Jesus and His Church more seriously? If we do not expect our lives and the lives of other parishioners to be transformed by the encounter with Christ in the sacraments, the scriptures and the community of faith, are we in danger of presuming our salvation? We must not forget the observation of St. Augustine that "God will not save us without us."

2) It shapes our spiritual life around Christ. In addition to the matter of our eternal life, there's also the question of how we are to live in this world. Jesus promises us that if we follow him, we will receive a peace the world cannot give, that his joy will be ours and our joy will be complete. (Jn 14:27, 16:24) One of the signs of a justifying faith is a trust in the love and presence of Christ, even when everything in our life seems to be headed south. This is not to say that intentional disciples don't experience grief, sadness, or frustration. But intentional disciples can find in life's difficulties reminders to cling all the more closely to Christ, to participate in his passion for the sake of his body, the Church (Col 1:24), and to make an effort to once again trust in his loving will for us. Moreover, the intentional disciple, in the words of the catechism, "desires to know better the One in whom he has put his faith and to understand better what He has revealed; a more penetrating knowledge will in turn call forth a greater faith, increasingly set afire by love." (CCC 158) Shouldn't we desire such a Christ-centered perspective for ourselves and those whom we love?

3) It is necessary if we are to work successfully for God's Kingdom. Because intentional disciples desire to know God's will for their own lives and seek to implement it in the different environments in which they live, fostering a culture of intentional discipleship is essential if our culture is to be transformed. The conversion that intentional disciples undergo changes the way they participate in the life of their parishes and in the liturgy. Relationships with the members of their family change, as do their friendships. Charisms begin to emerge in the lives of disciples and they find themselves drawn and empowered to be a channel of God's love, mercy, and provision for others in very particular ways. We can also anticipate that intentional disciples who begin to discern God's call will also be instrumental in making changes in the institutions and structures of our society. Or, better put, God's transforming grace will work through His willing instruments to bring about elements of His Kingdom in the realm of politics, economics, health care, business, the arts; in short, every area in which Catholic laity work and play.

4) It is essential to the Church's primary mission of evangelization. In his book, The Catholic Church at the End of an Age, Ralph Martin writes, "Among Hispanic Catholics in the United States, who now constitute nearly a third of American Catholics, five million have left the Catholic Church in the last ten years to join evangelical or Pentecostal churches or other religious movements. And this trend is not just true in this country. Bishop Bonaventura Kloppenburg of Brazil has recently noted that Latin American is turning Protestant faster at the present time than Central Europe did in the sixteenth century." (pp. 38, 45) The de-Christianization of Europe, the rapid spread of evangelical Protestantism in Latin America and the millions of non-practicing Catholics in the U.S. all point to the tremendous need for the "New Evangelization" championed by Pope John Paul II.

While many Catholics consider evangelization to be a Protestant activity, or solely the purview of clergy and religious, throughout my lifetime the popes have insisted that evangelization is the duty of all Catholics. In the apostolic exhortation Evangelization in the Modern World, Pope Paul VI wrote beautifully of the importance of the witness of the Christian life to which we are all called. Many Catholics I know will say they are only comfortable with trying to evangelize through their actions. But Paul VI added that silent witness alone "always remains insufficient, because even the finest witness will prove ineffective in the long run if it is not explained, justified - what Peter called always having 'your answer ready for people who ask you the reason for the hope that you all have' (1Pt. 3:15) - and made explicit by a clear and unequivocal proclamation of the Lord Jesus." Evangelii Nuntiandi, 22.

John Paul II wrote, "The new evangelization is not a matter of merely passing on doctrine but rather of a personal and profound meeting with the Savior."Commissioning Families, Neo-Catechumenal Way. 1991. Effective evangelization is centered on the person of Jesus that flows from the intentional disciple's lived relationship with Him.

A friend of mine who experienced a powerful conversion nearly two years ago is adamant that a relationship with Jesus involves "talking to him all day long," and indeed, this fellow prays throughout his workday. He also comfortably and naturally talks about Jesus with others, the way I might talk about a friend whom I treasure. In fact, through my friend I have come to an appreciation and deeper connection with St. Dominic, who was said to be always either speaking to God or about God. What at one time had sounded like a pious exaggeration now makes perfect sense. We naturally talk to others about the people we love.

It is estimated that thirty percent of Evangelical and Pentecostal Protestants are former Catholics. How many of them found the baptismal grace they received as infants awakened by the fervent, outspoken love for Christ and the expectation that faith transforms one's life found among some of our separated brethren? The re-evangelization of the people in our parishes and the invitation to become conscious, intentional disciples of Jesus need to be the focus of our parochial and personal lives as Catholics. This is the heart of the Gospel, and the heart of ministry.

Faith of a Child
by Darcy Hall

For my niece, Kiedra Marie

A sterling cross hangs
around her neck, a Christmas present
unwrapped early, displayed
on bare flesh points to her belly.
She insists it be on first
after her bath and skivvies.
She double-checks for proper
placement after Grandpa held
her hands to play Skin the Cat,
flew her around the cabin,
and wrapped her like a burrito
with blankets for a round
of tickles, and begs Sissy
for a Karaoke machine turn.
I rescue her new puppy
shaking with fear
from the couch where she
placed him, too high
for his little legs to jump.
as she sings, I'm a little teapot
short and sprout, and receives
my ovation. I lift her over my head
to shake the twerp out and say, I missed you so much.
I let her down and
she squeezes her hands
hard on my cheeks,
turns my lips into fishy-face,
leans to me and says, I know that.

The Catherine of Siena Institute is affiliated with the Dominican School of Philosophy and Theology, Berkeley, California