My life as a staunch Catholic developed in many ways as I went through Catholic school. Being in an academic-religious setup was a real test as both entities required consistent devotion. One had to strike a balance between attending early morning masses and morning preps. By looking at Pope Francis, preach about missionary discipleship has helped me to reflect on my role in society. The missionary discipleship theme helps to reflect on the exciting aspects of religious observance during my time at a Catholic school.
Pope Francis and Bishop Perez
Pope Francis reiterated that Jesus should be the cornerstone of our discipleship missions across the world. Jesus should always be the reference point before we even get to observe the twelve disciples. Pope Francis pointed out that the disciples were "messengers of Jesus" and therefore all of us are supposed to continue representing Jesus (Winters). The Pope stated that baptism should be the focal point of our discipleship and we can see how Jesus valued baptism. The Holy Father described the disciples in a practical way that society can relate to in many ways. The Pope said that it was Jesus "who called them, he who sent them, he who gave them power, he who commanded them" (Winters). Bishop Nelson Perez echoed Pope Francis' message by challenging county parishes to embrace missionary discipleship. The Bishop pointed out that the parishes do not realize the power they have to change the neighborhoods through proclaiming the gospel (Diocese). Through understanding the message from Pope Francis and Bishop Perez, I can now be able to point out the exciting times in a Catholic school.
Exchange programs between schools were one of the most exciting religious practices. Besides enjoying the trips, I was able to learn a lot from the coming together of different Catholic schools. Our patrons played a significant role in ensuring that the events strengthened our knowledge of the Catholic Church through learning from each other. The presentations themselves played a crucial role in showing how diversified evangelism is in the Catholic Church. We were able to exchange notes at the end of the day, and this helped us in improving the levels of religious observance in our schools. The visits were on a rotational basis, and therefore we could visit different Catholic schools on a calendar year. The various themes were fundamental as they challenged us to come up with scriptures and presentations that matched with the theme. I remember one of the themes revolved around what aspects of worship from other churches could we recommend to the Catholic Church. The creativity on this had to be spot on in order to show that Christianity is a unified entity. Many schools presented different songs, which they believed were in harmony with the Catholic faith. It was amazing to see that we could still learn a lot from each other and that some of the practices could be harmonized to fit in all churches. I suggested this idea to one of my friend's from the Protestant churches, and he said the response was equally fascinating.
Through relating this with Pope's message of discipleship, it was clear that this is something we were doing unknowingly in the school. The exchange programs and the congregation of Catholic schools enabled us to reach out to each other and share the word of the Lord. It was not so much in preaching but through songs, dramatized plays and exciting themes that evoked our creativity. The Catholic schools have embraced this culture for many years, which has in one way, or another contributed to the act of discipleship.
The Seven Sacraments
The Catholic Church recognizes seven sacraments namely baptism, Eucharist, confirmation, reconciliation, anointing of the sick, marriage and holy orders. When most of us were joining the Catholic school, we had only gone through the baptism sacrament. The exciting bit was to do all it took to make sure that one is not left behind as the rest of the group received the other sacraments. The Eucharist, confirmation, and reconciliation were my personal goals, and it was up to one's commitment to ensuring that you receive all the sacraments. One had to sacrifice games and entertainment times in order to attend the classes. It was a tough call but seeing others receive the Holy Eucharist motivated me to pursue my goals. The seven sacraments are a symbol of Jesus's presence in one's spiritual life. Attending the classes was not enough; one had to pass the religious tests to receive the sacrament. Reciting the Apostles Creed was the hardest, and we spent sessions trying to cram and understand the prayer. The sacrifices, the commitment and the competitive attitude among students made my experience at the Catholic school very interesting.
My time at a Catholic school was symbolic of Pope Francis' call for us to be missionary disciples. Our teachers who doubled as Fathers, Brothers, Nuns, and Catechists are a testimony that discipleship journey is possible through commitment. I remember my mathematics teacher being the Parish Priest and he played the two roles without contradiction. The countless experiences have made me a better Christian, and I need to pass on the love to the society. Religious observance aspects during my time in a Catholic school have therefore prepared me for a role as one of the mission disciples.
Diocese, News. "Bishop Perez Challenges Lorain County Parishes to Do Their Part As Missionary Disciples." Dioceseofcleveland.Org, 2017, https://www.dioceseofcleveland.org/news/2017/09/21/bishop-perez-challenges-lorain-county-parishes-to-do-their-part-as-missionary-disciples. Accessed 18 Feb 2019.
Winters, Michael. "Pope Francis Reminds Us Of Our Call To Be Missionary Disciples." National Catholic Reporter, 2018, https://www.ncronline.org/news/opinion/distinctly-Catholic/pope-Francis-reminds-us-our-call-be-missionary-disciples. Accessed 18 Feb 2019.
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