instruere...inlustrare...delectare Disputations

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Forming Intentional Disciples, pt. 5

I've got more thoughts on the topic of forming intentional disciples, but for now let me conclude my 5-part review of the book Forming Intentional Disciples by taking as my text this passage from the final chapter, "Expect Conversion":
If we are going to seriously evangelize our own, we had better be prepared for the Holy Spirit to do things in people's lives and in our parishes that are not part of our five-year plans, things that we could never have accomplished even if they were part of our five-year plans. We have to expect and plan for conversion and the fruit of conversion. [p. 238]
Those involved in their parishes' five-year plans are referred to the rest of the chapter. Here I want to take up the idea of expecting conversion, not at the level of an individual parish, but at the level of an individual soul.

The Church teaches that every baptized Christian in a state of grace has been given by God
sanctifying grace, the grace of justification:
- enabling them to believe in God, to hope in him, and to love him through the theological virtues;
- giving them the power to live and act under the prompting of the Holy Spirit through the gifts of the Holy Spirit;
- allowing them to grow in goodness through the moral virtues.
A disciple of Jesus not only has this grace and these powers, he uses them. And when he uses the power God gives him, it works.

Sometimes, yes, in a mysterious and hidden way unknown to the disciple in this life. Seeds spring, and grow up whilst the sower knoweth not.

But sometimes -- sometimes, the power of God works through a disciple in a mysterious and highly visible way. A disquietingly unsubtle way. Maybe even a literally miraculous way.

I'm pretty sure the reason this sort of thing doesn't happen very often isn't because God doesn't want to work in our lives. I think we (in particular, I) lack the faith that God wants to be unsubtly at work in the world through our lives, the hope that He will if we ask Him to, and the love to go ahead and ask Him even if it means disquiet.

Being baptized, we can believe in, hope in, and love God as much as we want. When we first sit down, and reckon the charges that are necessary to build a tower for the Lord, we will find that, by God, we do have wherewithal to finish it. The question is, are we prepared to invest it in the tower, or will we be satisfied just building the foundation (or even merely reviewing the blueprints an hour a week).

The disciple of Jesus who is answering the daily call to conversion is prepared to invest in the tower, but he should also be prepared for God to show up, in unpredictable ways and at unpredictable times, to help out. And the disciple who prepares a place for God in his life will not be disappointed.