When I was doing youth ministry back in the 70’s, the SEARCH retreat was popular; it was organized around three themes over three days but the last talk was always called “the fourth day.” Its’ theme focused on “living” the graces of the retreat in our ordinary lives.
This is my “fourth day” reflections on the Convocation of Catholic Leaders – the Joy of the Gospel in America.
- Joy is a fragile gift from God. Not because God is a careless giver, or that joy itself is delicate or lacking in substance. No, joy is fragile because we are fragile, are easily distracted, “evil thoughts” (from today’s Gospel) creep into our consciousness. Joy is not enthusiasm, or being pumped up. Rather, it is a deeply personal resting in the inexhaustible love of God.
- Again, from today’s Gospel, Jesus calls the paralytic “my child.” It is a deeply consoling image for me to think of Jesus as a father. I remember with joy holding my sons as they fell asleep. Babies have a way of drinking you in – there can be no pretense with them. I remember the joy of seeing my own son, now a man, hold his children.
- We need to give ourselves time to enjoy the consolations of the Holy Spirit – to just let ourselves marinate in the love of God. The examen helps us become aware of when we feel, or do not feel, God’s closeness. Meditation – lingering with an image of God’s love – waters a thirsty spirit. Contemplation feeds the soul.
- As I step back, I realize I am giving a recipe for personal holiness – Pat Lencioni’s first step in growing our circle of influence. The second step is harder – it is building our team. For us at USCMA that means working to build team within our office, among our members, and with other mission organizations.
- We need to pray for one another. This will require purification. Again, from today’s Gospel, “why do you harbor such evil thoughts” about the other? Lord God, give us the eyes to see the innate goodness and dignity of each person we meet today.
- The Convocation was a feast. It will take time to digest all the graces it has bestowed on our church. Three opportunities present themselves: the Missio Congress (9/5-7/2017); USCMA’s Conference, Walking with the Spirit – Mission and Spirituality (10/27-29/2017); Catholic Volunteer Network’s Conference, Gateways to Healing (11/1-4/2017).
- We need to continue to “see” mission in the United States of America. We are committed to pulling together a directory of all mission related organizations – many of them members. Mission is on the periphery. We need to “see” where mission is in our dioceses and parishes. The USCMA Mission Review is a tool to help us see, appreciate, and develop mission.
The first round of unpacking has begun; sorting through the business cards I picked up and starting to reach out to people. I will unpack the reading materials tomorrow. I find myself turning to prayer – to stay grounded in the love of God – singing the old gospel song – “Spirit of the Living God, fall afresh on me. Spirit of the Living God, fall afresh on me. Melt me. Mold me. Fill me. Use me. Spirit of the Living God, fall afresh on me.”
Together in Mission,
Dr. Donald R. McCrabb