Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Your Personal Apostolate: Chapter Three

A series of blogs presenting you the contents of the book, an award-winning love story for every soul.

Not sure what God has in store for you?
His plans are wondrous, loving and beautiful.

Accept Him, seek Him, love Him,
and return His love to those around you.

Prepare to be amazed, for
God is at work in you!


Once while Jesus was standing beside the lake of Gennesaret, and the crowd was pressing in on him to hear the word of God, he saw two boats there at the shore of the lake; the fishermen had gone out of them and were washing their nets. He got into one of the boats, the one belonging to Simon, and asked him to put out a little way from the shore. Then he sat down and taught the crowds from the boat. When he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, “Put out into the deep water and let down your nets for a catch.” Simon answered, “Master, we have worked all night long but have caught nothing. Yet if you say so, I will let down the nets.” When they had done this, they caught so many fish that their nets were beginning to break. So they signaled their partners in the other boat to come and help them. And they came and filled both boats, so that they began to sink. But when Simon Peter saw it, he fell down at Jesus’ knees, saying, “Go away from me, Lord, for I am a sinful man!” For he and all who were with him were amazed at the catch of fish that they had taken; and so also were James and John, sons of Zebedee, who were partners with Simon. Then Jesus said to Simon, “Do not be afraid; from now on you will be catching people.” When they had brought their boats to shore, they left everything and followed him.”

Luke 5:1-11

To allow one’s self to be called to faith is to take a step toward having a personal relationship with God. Having a personal relationship with God is crucial to our discipleship. We need to know God to discern what He asks of us. We need His strength and guidance. As we continue to allow ourselves to be enticed to faith, we become even closer to Him and grow in sanctity. Let us consider a few of the many ways that we are drawn to faith each day. Have you ever found delight in the smile of a stranger or a friend? Has someone ever helped you in any way? Then you have been enticed to faith!

Have you been in contact with another human being? Or viewed your likeness in a mirror? Has someone been an inspiration to you? You have been allured to faith! Have you laughed lately? Have you spoken to a child? Were you ever concerned about someone’s circumstances? Have you ever cared about anything? You were enticed to faith!

Have you ever seen the rays of the sun coming through the trees on a bright morning? Or listened to music so touching it made you cry? Have you ever looked at a beautiful picture? Or been lost in a daydream? Can you think of a time you witnessed a colorful sunset or saw a harvest moon? Have you ever marveled at the whiteness of snow, jumped in it, tasted it, shoveled it, or slide down it? You were enticed to faith!

Was there a time you were humbled by the awesome power of nature? Have the blazing colors of the trees in fall inspired you to think about their Creator? Were you ever concerned about the environment? Have you ever considered the amazing diversity of flowers, animals, flavors, snowflakes, or people? Have you ever felt a soft breeze? Oh, how you were being enticed to faith!

Have you ever experienced joy? Did you ever say a prayer? Have you ever found holiness in a moment of silence? Have you ever passed a church and felt the desire to visit God in His house? You were being tempted to faith! Have you ever felt grateful for something? Have you ever thanked God for anything? Have you ever heard a giggle? You were being enticed to faith!

Have you ever contemplated what it is like to be loved immensely, infinitely, and unconditionally, just because you are you? Did something ever happen to you that caused you to suffer, but your suffering bore much fruit? Were others inspired by your courage? Guess what?! You became closer to God when you allowed yourself to be enticed to faith. Chances are that God has even worked through you in many ways to entice others to faith!

In the Gospel of Luke we read about Simon and the other fishermen attempting to catch fish, while Jesus drew people to faith through His teaching. Imagine Simon’s reaction when Jesus joined the fishermen and requested that Simon let down the nets. The fishermen had caught nothing all night! Despite making a logical and educated guess that they would still not catch any fish, Simon allowed himself to be called to faith. He did as Jesus requested.

Their subsequent catch was so great that the nets were breaking. Simon had to summon fishermen from another boat to help with the catch; they were astonished that Simon had caught so many fish. Simon then apologized to Jesus for his unbelief. “Go away from me, Lord, for I am a sinful man!” Have you ever found yourself in a situation similar to Simon’s, when you were called to faith? Can you imagine yourself in the story in Simon’s place?

God works with us as He did with Simon, enticing each of us to believe and trust in Him. So many times we respond with disbelief as Simon did, and reject the notion that events could turn out any other way than what we had imagined. Simon logically said, “Master, we have worked all night long but have caught nothing.” What do you think would have happened if Simon refused to be obedient to faith? What happens when we refuse to be drawn to faith?

Simon allowed himself to be enticed to faith in spite of the obvious, accepted an invitation from the Divine “Yet if you say so, I will let down the nets,” and obeyed Jesus’ request. Jesus said to Simon, “Do not be afraid; from now on you will be catching people.” The apostolate of Simon and the other disciples were transformed when they chose to be followers of Christ. They were fishermen and became fishers of men. As a result of their obedience, they played prominent roles in presenting the Catholic Faith to humanity.

For allowing themselves to be enticed to faith, Simon and the apostles became cohorts in God’s plan of salvation. Our obedience is pleasing to God and crucial to our Christian life. Obedience is necessary so God can work through us. What does God have planned for you? To find out, allow yourself to be enticed to faith!

Called To Faith: A Personal Reflection

An exercise my three children and I really enjoy is coming up with every delightful name we can think of for Jesus. Once we filled an entire piece of paper with His titles and hung the list in our kitchen. I suppose the list could go on forever, but some of our favorites are Savior, King of Kings, Son of God, Lamb of God, Son of Mary, Light of the World, Saving Bread, Sacrificial Lamb, Lord of Lords, Bread of Life, Son of Man, Saving Cup, Brother, Father, Friend, Hero… What beautiful ways to identify Jesus! They beckon us into relationship with the One who earned each title by loving us.

While attending college as a young adult I decided to stop attending Sunday Mass so I could work the weekend hours required of my job in retail. I justified my decision intellectually because it made logical and fiscal sense. My plan was to attend Mass regularly again after finishing my degree. However, every Sunday when it was time for Mass and I was not in church, I did not feel right. That "right" feeling is our God-given internal regulator which helps us discern His Will in our lives. I felt God pursuing me, and wanted to be with Him in His house and receive Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament. I missed Him. I needed Him!

One weekday I returned home tired after a busy morning of classes and took a nap. Upon awaking, I heard the words "I am all you need to know." God was talking, and I was ready to listen. He pointed out that my priorities were out of order. Shortly thereafter, I visited the church where I made my First Eucharist as a child. Next to the altar hung a huge banner which read "Come back to me." God was still in pursuit, speaking to me literally and figuratively! I knew for certain that God wanted me to return to Mass.

Our most loving God was courting me. I was being drawn to faith. God left the decision up to me. However, it was crystal clear what He wanted! Love led to the longing that God would have His proper place in my life: first place! I chose to follow God's Will, made the changes necessary to attend Mass again regularly, and never regretted my decision.

Little did I know then that God’s pursuit of me would continue, and that one day I would not only be attending daily Mass, but would also receive the Sacrament of Reconciliation regularly. God does not want our relationship with Him to be superficial. The blessings which have resulted from my choices have been abundant. I delight in reflecting on how God continued to patiently pursue me because of His great love for me. Most compassionate, loving God, I love you back!
Called To Faith: For the Reader

What are your favorite titles for Jesus? Are you willing to be allured to faith, sometimes despite the obvious? In what ways have you been called to faith? What were your responses? How is God calling you to greater intimacy, and what steps are you taking to give Him the proper place in your life?

Dear Lord,

Please help us
the many ways
You attract us to faith,
for the first step
in having
a relationship with you
is recognizing Your Presence.


Chapter Four ~
Accepting God's Love