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

Authored by Claire Dwyer in Issue #6.3 of The 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: Kerygmatic Catechesis and the New Directory
By Dr. James Pauley
Free The much-anticipated Directory for Catechesis is finally here! So many of us involved in the work of catechetical renewal have eagerly awaited its publication. This directory is the third of its kind, following 1971 and 1997 directories that each proposed a vision for catechesis intended to prepare Catholics to live in the modern world as well-... Read more
An Invitation to a Faithful, Dynamic Renewal of Catechesis
By Jem Sullivan
Free This article explores c hapters 1-2 of the new Directory for Catechesis. The publication of a Directory for Catechesis by the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of the New Evangelization could not have arrived at a more providential moment as the universal Church seeks a renewal of Christian faith in local churches struggling through the effects... Read more
Becoming Windows for the Light of the Living God
By Brad Bursa
This article explores chapters 3-4 of the Directory for Catechesis. O ne could liken c hapters t hree (The Catechist) and f our (The Formation of Catechists) of the new Directory for Catechesis to a meditation on windows and how they are made. Identity and Vocation of the Catechist In the early Church, those who followed the Way were often called... 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