- Youth Ministry Equiping School

Recently, four students and I attended the Youth Ministry Equipping School run by the Canberra Diocese in conjunction with the Australian Catholic University. Archbishop Christopher Prowse urged us to 'leave the past to history, the future to mystery, but to live in the present moment through the grace of God.' He emphasized that 'this is not a resource,' explaining that he had enough resources sitting on his shelf at home. Archbishop Prowse taught that we live our Christianity through encounter, discipleship, and mission. For a long time, the Catholic Church has overlooked the importance of encountering others. We erroneously thought being Catholic was simply about attending Mass on Sundays. This perspective was misguided. Following the example of Mary, who visited her cousin Elizabeth, we too are called to reach out to those on the margins: the poor, the people on the streets, and those in our lives who are excluded. We encounter God by stepping out of our comfort zones. However, if we do not link this to discipleship, our Christianity becomes overly pious. Our goal is not to merely recite prayers and count Mass attendances. As the first disciple, Mary teaches us how to follow Jesus Christ. The Church is feminine; we model the personas of Christ and Mary in our lives. Mary's posture of active listening guides us. We listen to Mary's story in our own lives and to the Holy Spirit and God in ourselves and others. Mary treasured all these things in her heart and pondered them, becoming the first disciple who lived in the present moment. Like Mary, we align ourselves with God's will when we say 'yes' to His invitation.

We live in an era desperate for accompaniment and discipleship, needing spiritual conversations that delve beyond the superficial. We must embrace our humanity, accepting even our flaws and disturbing aspects. Prayer plays a crucial role in this. Acknowledging our thirst for God, we develop a 'felt sense' that transcends mere emotions or fleeting feelings. We are called to listen to the Spirit's stirrings within us, recognizing God's presence in various aspects of our lives, which first emerge through our desires as God works within us, and secondly, through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. Reflecting and pondering on our experiences, discipleship is fostered through conversations, a journey we undertake together despite its messiness, striving to be present to one another in our humanity. The Word speaks to us in our lives and through others.

Yet, without pursuing God's mission, we risk becoming like armchair critics or distant theologians. As Mark 16 instructs, 'Go out to all the world,' God's mission flows like streams of living water from the Holy Spirit. We are called to extend our reach beyond where the Church or God's people have previously ventured. Archbishop Christopher Prowse discussed outreach to schools and the presentation of badges like 'Social Justice Captain.' However, we must question what these symbols truly represent. Are they merely titles, or do they signify a deeper engagement? By integrating 'Encounter,' 'Discipleship,' and 'Mission' not as separate entities but as intertwined expressions of God's spirit and mercy, we deepen our lives and the service we provide to those around us.'

Questions for further reflection and discussion
  1. How can we more effectively integrate the principles of encounter, discipleship, and mission in our daily lives to ensure that our faith becomes a lived experience rather than just a series of rituals or titles?
  2. In what ways can we challenge ourselves to reach out to those on the margins, following Mary's example, to truly encounter God through acts of compassion and solidarity with the vulnerable and excluded in our society?
  3. Reflecting on the Archbishop's message, how can we cultivate a deeper sense of presence and listening in our spiritual lives, both in our personal relationship with God and in our interactions with others, to foster genuine discipleship and meaningful community engagement?
Reflect on these questions while listening to the following song.

Open The Eyes Of My Heart - Matthew & Jessie Harris | Gateway Worship


Final Prayer

Heavenly Father,Help us embrace the present moment with the grace You so generously provide, and lead us to encounter You in everyone we meet, especially those on the margins. Grant us the wisdom to be true disciples, following Mary's example of listening and service, and embolden us to fulfill Your mission with love and dedication. May our actions reflect a deep engagement with Your word and Your world, turning titles into testimonies of Your unending mercy and compassion. In Your name, we pray. Amen.

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Mary - I wonder how Marys relationship with the early Church evolved over time and what insights her continued presence and support brought to the ongoing mission of the Church.
(By A. D. - Marist Laity - from AUSTRALIA. - 2024-3-3)

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04 March 2024

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