Welcome to a new year of the Disciple’s Corner.
This column, which appears in The Witness every other week during the school year, is sponsored by the Archdiocese of Dubuque’s Office of Faith Formation to help catechists, teachers, parents, grandparents, guardians and other adults grow in their appreciation of their role as disciples of Jesus Christ.
As I hope you may have discovered if you have read the Disciple’s Corner in the past, what appears here is not the last word on any topic and not even the definitive word on a given topic. If the comments here provoke your own thoughts, insights, concerns, reflections and discussion, the Disciple’s Corner will have achieved its purpose, and I invite you to share those thoughts, insights and reflections with other readers on our Facebook page: www.facebook.com/faithleaderscorner.
During the coming year we will be exploring Father James Martin’s book “My Life with the Saints,” the book chosen for study and reflection during the coming year by faith formation leaders throughout the Archdiocese of Dubuque.
Father Martin is a well-known American Jesuit, a prolific writer, speaker and blogger, who is associate editor of the Jesuits’ Catholic journal “America” and a frequent commentator on Catholic issues in popular media.
In a certain sense, I think there is a kind of weariness or wariness about heroes and saints among people today — modern heroes because they so often turn out to disappoint us, and saints because they seem so … well, old and remote, and either quaint or irrelevant. The sad result is that we despair of any role models, or ally ourselves with extreme and virulent people who live outside the conventional boundaries of responsible and respectful behavior.
Nonetheless, the popularity of Father Martin’s book suggests that many of us still hunger for examples of individuals who inspire and encourage us — people who made difficult choices, endured hard times, lived faithful lives, and were in their own unique ways heroic, if not perfect, examples of Christian life.
Our goal, it seems to me, is not so much to act like the saints but to believe like the saints, to trust like the saints, to hope like the saints. How we act then, what we actually do, may be quite different because we live in different times and different circumstances than any particular saint.
I think this is what St. Pope John XXIII meant when he wrote: “From the saints I must take the substance, not the accidents of their virtues … [N]or must I seek holiness in [their] particular way, but according to the requirements of my own nature, my own character, and the different conditions of my life … God desires us to follow the examples of the saints by absorbing the vital sap of their virtues and turning it to our own individual capacities and particular circumstances.”
What do you think?
Pray and Reflect
Use one or more of the following questions for personal reflection, group discussion or private journaling:
- On a scale of 1 (low) to 5 (high) rate how important the saints are in your life. How would you have rated this five years ago?
- What did you learn about saints as a child? What have you learned about saints as an adult? Do you have a favorite saint(s)? How or why are saints important in your spiritual life? How or why might they be important in the lives of our children, grandchildren or students?
- I think the saints are important because …
Join the Conversation
Add your comments to this week’s discussion at facebook.com/FaithLeaders
Dave Cushing is director of adult faith formation for the Catholic parishes in Waterloo.