The Catechetical Review - Communicating Christ for a New Evangelization

The Spiritual Life: Discipleship into Relationship—Discussing the Thresholds of Union

Authored by Claire Dwyer in Issue #6.3 of Catechetical Review

Life is a Journey

We are on a journey. Our life, we know, is not meant to be static. It is rather an ever-deepening growth in union with the God who created us. He deliberately left an emptiness within us, a chasm, a desire. That longing is an invitation to set out and begin to seek God, to develop a relationship with him, which grows and develops in stages.

If you look at books on the interior life, you will notice that they are riddled, if not titled, with words such as navigating, journey, passages, heights, depths, valleys, nights. This is the language the Church uses for the journey of union with God in her attempt to explain what is mystical in earthly metaphors. The journey is spiritual, but because of sin, it is arduous and a struggle. The Catechism tells us, “Prayer is a battle.”  It is also, of course, in every way worth it.

Begin with the End in Mind

This journey also requires some supplies and preparation: prayer, sacraments, formation, grace; but perhaps the first thing we need is a map, so we know where we are going. The map must be unrolled all the way, past all of the benchmarks of conversion which we have become so familiar with lately in our work of formation: trust, curiosity, openness, seeking, and the big one: discipleship.[1] This benchmark, disciple-making, “drop-your-nets” conversion point (think St. Edith Stein reading St. Teresa of Avila and declaring, “This is the truth!” or St. Peter falling to his knees crying, “depart from me Lord, I am a sinful man”) is the focus of much of our missionary efforts. The movement into a place of intentional discipleship is absolutely essential and fundamental. The problem is when we begin to see discipleship as the end goal.

The end of our spiritual life is not discipleship but union with God. This union finds its fulfillment in the beatific vision of heaven but is meant to begin and deepen in stages here on earth. When we help people reach a place of discipleship, we have to be careful not to leave them on the side of the spiritual mountain without a guidebook, stranded because they haven’t learned to recognize the signposts. What may seem like an insurmountable peak or an impassible precipice or a never-ending night might just be a sign that they are about to reach a milestone in their journey.

The rest of this online article is available for current subscribers.

Start your subscription today!


This article is from The Catechetical Review (Online Edition ISSN 2379-6324) and may be copied for catechetical purposes only. It may not be reprinted in another published work without the permission of The Catechetical Review by contacting editor@catechetics.com

Articles from the Most Recent Issue

Editor's Reflections: Toward a Eucharistic Revival
By Dr. James Pauley
Free The Feast of Corpus Christi last month was a momentous event in the life of the Church in the United States. The celebration of this liturgy begins a Eucharistic revival, a period of historic importance that will culminate in a National Eucharistic Congress in Indianapolis in the summer of 2024. The need for “revival” in relation to the Eucharist... Read more
The Spiritual Life: How the Eucharist Catechizes about the Meaning of Life
By Bishop Andrew Cozzens
Free The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops is currently undertaking a Eucharistic revival. The idea for it began in 2019 when the bishops decided that we needed to respond to the moment of crisis in belief in the Eucharist in which we find ourselves—not only the discouraging results of the 2019 Pew study that reported that less than 30... Read more
The Real Presence of Jesus Christ in the Eucharist
By Brian Pedraza
Free The Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist should be numbered among the most kerygmatic of the Church’s doctrines. Here is where the Son of God, who out of the immensity of his divine love became incarnate, has chosen to dwell amongst his people until the end of time. Here is where divine charity makes itself available to the human heart. Here... Read more

Pages

Watch Tutorial Videos

We've put together several quick and easy tutorial videos to show you how to use this website.

Watch Now