Friday, January 7
Optional Memorial of Saint Raymond of Penafort
My sisters and brothers in the Lord,
Welcome to Week One of Disciples Together on the Way. In the Holy Gospels Our Blessed Lord identifies himself as “the way”. And, indeed, the early Christians often referred to their new life as disciples of Jesus Christ as “the Way” (e.g., Acts 9:2).
Last year, many of us spent time together reading through selected books of Sacred Scripture as part of our Year of the Bible. I really enjoyed doing that with all of you. As we read the Bible, we were encountering the Word of God, that is, Jesus Christ himself. He was making us his disciples. He wants us to become even better disciples. So, together, this coming year, we will be presented with weekly challenges. These, I hope, will help each of us live an ever more authentic, deeper and happier Christian life as disciples of Jesus Christ.
If we are on the way, however, where exactly are we going? Well, this life is a journey from God to God. He is our source and our destination. We are each a pilgrim on that narrow path. It’s not an easy journey. We all know that. However, if we co-operate with God’s grace we can make it and, even better, we can make it together. And, so, to the topic of our first weekly challenge: Praise.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church tells us that “Praise is the form of prayer which recognizes most immediately that God is God” adding that it “embraces the other forms of prayer and carries them toward him who is its source and goal” which is Almighty God (#2639).
Praise puts us into right relationship with God and, as a result, we also find ourselves in right relationship with our brothers and sisters. Hence praise is an ideal place to begin our pilgrimage because it’s also where, please God, we’ll end our earthly pilgrimage.
As a beautiful reminder of that, I’d recommend you find time to read or listen to the epic poem, the Dream of Gerontius. It was written by Saint John Henry Newman, and later set to music by the composer, Sir Edward Elgar. The poem follows the main character, Gerontius, as he nears death and then reawakens as a soul, preparing for judgment. As he approaches the throne of God, the heavenly angels can be heard singing in chorus: Praise. Praise. Praise. “Praise to the Holiest in the height; And in the depth be praise: In all His words most wonderful; Most sure in all His ways!” Heaven is a communion of praise of God. If we haven’t done so already, let us begin to join that communion of praise this week.
So, here’s my twofold challenge which starts on the first day of the coming week, Sunday. Ready? Okay:
Second: Praise at least one person each day this coming week. And praise them for something specific. How quick we can be to criticize. How slow we can be to praise. Yet, to praise others is also to praise God for the goodness of his creation.
So, to recap: One: Praise God every day this week. Two, praise one of God’s creatures every day. Disciples of the Lord must seek out and thank God for all that is good. So, let us be good disciples together on the Way.
I’ll be back with another challenge next week. Until then, may God bless you throughout this coming week, in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Amen.
Yours in Christ,
+ Earl Boyea
Bishop of Lansing