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as of 9/15/20

The Road Map

“Come, follow me,” (Matthew 4:19): these three simple words altered the course of human history and the lives of every human person. Just as Jesus called the Apostles, He calls us to be disciples. Pope St. John Paul II said, “Life with Christ is a wonderful adventure.” Like all adventures, following after Jesus is a long journey filled with mountains and valleys, danger and wonder. This unpredictable road can seem daunting, as it leads us through moments of overwhelming joy and moments of fear. But this is what we were created for, and we want to walk together on this journey.

Through baptism, we’ve been given two huge missions: to become saints and to spread the Gospel. This is a daunting task and without help, we can get caught in a few pitfalls along the way. Some may not know where to begin, others may find their spiritual “comfort zone” and hesitate to try new things and continue growing, and still others aren’t sure how they can go deeper in their faith. Having a basic road map will ensure that we stay focused on our mission and that disciples are spiritually fed and challenged.

As Christ King and Saint Bernard parishes continue to reevaluate our fidelity to Christ’s call after a time of prayer and pause during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, we want this to be our mission and our challenge: to provide the space to know and encounter the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

Last summer, Fr. Phillip introduced a process of discipleship called The Roadmap. This map outlines four crucial activities in the life of a disciple: seek, connect, equip, and send. From here on out, we want to embody this mission in everything we do. Our parishes are committed to help you seek Christ, connect with His Church, and equip you for a life of mission and discipleship:

 


 

 

 

 

SEEK

 

Q. The first step in the Road Map is Seek. Can you explain what that means?
A. Many have described the spiritual life as a journey. So, imagine you’re planning a road trip. Before you leave, you need to decide on a budget, transportation, and lodging. But first, you need to decide where you’re going. On our road map, “Seek” is the first step because it points you to your destination by giving you space to explore the Gospel, encounter Christ, and respond to His invitation. 

Q. Are there specific “seek” events and who are these events for?
A. Yes, we do classify some events under seek, and anyone may join! Seek may be the first step in the road map but that doesn’t mean that it is exclusively for new Christians. Alpha/Alpha Youth is an example of a “Seek” event. The unique space, hospitality, atmosphere, and content of Alpha is designed so that anyone can walk in off the street and feel comfortable hearing the Gospel message and talking about faith – whether they are Christian or not. Even devout Catholics sometimes need to take a step back and be reminded of the simplicity of the Gospel message. Last year we had many dedicated parishioners go through Alpha who found it warm and familiar – like putting on your favorite cozy sweatshirt!

Q. What can people do to “Seek” in their daily lives and in the parish?
A. St. Augustine once described God as, “O Beauty ever ancient, ever new.” It’s a reminder that God always has something new for us to discover: there will never come a time when we’ve exhausted Scripture or when we know everything about God. So, we should be seeking out Jesus every day. We can do this by asking our tough questions, praying daily, and reading the Bible regularly. Scripture is a constant reminder that the Gospel message is good, joyful, and inspiring; and it’s a great way to hear the voice of God in my life. Another way we can seek Christ is to grab a friend or family member and sign up for Alpha. We promise that it will strengthen your relationship to one another and will help you see and hear God in new ways!

Q. Can you share an example of how “seeking” has been a part of someone's life?
A. When our youth minister, Sarah D. was in high school her youth minister personally invited her to join a parish leadership team. At the time, she wasn’t particularly devout, but it felt good to be recognized and personally invited, so she agreed. The team she joined quickly became a place where she felt belonging and where she could ask tough questions. That year she learned to read the Bible, to pray, and to listen. After a few months she decided to dive in and give everything to Jesus: she said yes to this crazy life of discipleship even though she had no idea where He would lead her. In the fifteen years since then, she's done a lot of wrestling with God with high highs and low lows, but she thanks God that she's always had the grace and perseverance to continue seeking Jesus.

Q. How can we help others seek Christ?
A. One of the most common questions heard is: how can I get my family to return to the Church? This is a painful question and one some of us have personally lived as well. Let’s say that you have an adult son who has stopped practicing the faith. Most likely, he won’t attend Mass with you and it would be too daunting to ask him to join the men’s group or go on a retreat. But, you could invite him to attend Alpha with you. It could sound something like this: “they have this new thing at Church called Alpha, it’s a group of people who have dinner together, watch a short video, and then talk about their beliefs. Apparently, they invite a diverse crowd of people with a spectrum of beliefs, so you won’t be singled out if you are unsure what you believe or have tough questions. Would you be willing to check it out with me? Maybe we could commit to going to the first two sessions and see if we want to continue after that.”

 


 

 

 

CONNECT

 

Q. What makes “connect” events unique?
A. The connect component of the Road Map highlights opportunities to connect to the Church and one another in friendship and to form habits of discipleship. This means ways to practically live out the Christian vocation, learning from one another, being a faithful Catholic, and deepening personal prayer. The Connect section is unique because it emphasizes community, an important aspect of the Church! Continuing Sarah’s analogy of the Lord of the Rings, if Frodo did not have his Fellowship of people united with him in his mission, he would not have gotten very far... But because he had individuals walking with him, fighting for him, defending him, and picking him up (literally) when he fell, he was able to continue on his journey. In a similar way, St Paul states that we are individual members, but we make up the body of Christ which is the Church. Paul goes on to state that when one member of the body rejoices, all rejoice; when one member suffers, all suffer. Here he is highlighting the mystery of the unity we encounter in the Church. Like Frodo, we have a group of people united with us in a mission - the mission to reach heaven! As we strive to be an authentic Christian community, Connect opportunities help us to walk with each other and learn to be better disciples.
 
Q. Does someone have to first participate in a seek event before a connect event?
A. The Road Map is not an assembly line. You do not graduate from one category and move onto the next category. But rather, as we look at our own hearts, we can see ourselves at various stages of the Road Map in different times of life. For example, maybe you know a lot of knowledge about the faith and find yourself serving by teaching Confirmation catechesis, but you want to grow in the basics of a relationship with God and learn about prayer, so you may join Alpha. The word Disciple translated to the Greek, means “student,” and the Road Map reminds us that we never have learned everything of the Faith. So, you do not have to go through the road map “in order,” but we hope that the road map continues to challenge you!
 
Q. How can I help other people get connected to the Church?
A. First, pray for them! Our prayers are so powerful! Second, I would recommend inviting someone to a small group, and that you join the small group with them. It is easier to try something new if you have a familiar face going through the process with you!
 
Q. You talk a lot about small groups. Why are they important?
A. Especially during this time of increased isolation, you might be seeking greater connection with others to deepen your habits of discipleship. We emphasize the importance of small groups because of the model of the first person to ever lead a discipleship group… Jesus Christ. Jesus’ first small group was the twelve apostles. He taught them and then they went out and taught others, and those others continued to spread the goodness of God to the whole world! Following the apostles, we too have found small groups an effective way of learning the habits of discipleship and importance of community. I highly recommend joining a small group! Check out more information online for our virtual and in-person offerings for the Fall.
 
Q. How do you stay connected to Christ and to your parish?
A. Oh man! Daily prayer is my lifeline! I have definitely slipped and found myself a bit lazy in prayer during the past few months so I am hoping to join a small group this fall that will be journeying through scripture of the Old Testament to the time of Jesus. In particular I need to have some friends who can help encourage me in prayer and hold me accountable to the spiritual goals I set for myself!

 


 

 

 

 

EQUIP

 

Q. Tell me about “Equip”. How is it different than “Seek” and “Connect”?
A. Let’s first do a quick recap. Whether you’re unfamiliar with Christianity or you’re a cradle Catholic, “seek” provides opportunities to hear the Gospel message and respond to it. Then, you're invited to grow as a disciple through parish activities and small groups, which help connect you with Christ and His Church. The "Equip" step invites you to go deeper into the sacramental life of the Church as we prepare for mission.
 
Q. “Prepare for Mission”…what mission are we called to?
A. Catholics receive two missions at their Baptism. First, we are each called to be holy: to love God and live a life united to Him. Second, we are called to love others and preach the Gospel. But, we should prioritize these missions in that order: God first, the world second. Why? Because if you have someone trying to preach the Gospel to you, without a love of God, it comes across as controlling and judgmental. And though anyone can (and should) serve their neighbor, when we serve through the Holy Spirit, we are able to love others in a supernatural way, like Jesus did. That is why we first encourage people to seek Christ and find connection with Him through the Church before we focus on reaching out to the community.
 
Q. How can we be equipped for these two missions?
A. First and foremost, through grace. In John 15:5, Jesus says, “I am the vine, you are the branches. Whoever remains in me and I in him will bear much fruit, because without me you can do nothing.” Jesus tells us that our efforts are only fruitful when we are connected to Him. For example, our youth minister writes dozens of lesson plans and talks each year. Before she writes anything, she knows she first must spend time in prayer so the Holy Spirit can guide the lesson. But, sometimes when she's rushed, she doesn’t take the prayer time she need and it shows. When she doesn’t spend time listening first, what she shares is purely from her and is much less effective. The same is true for all of us. When we allow the Holy Spirit to empower us through prayer, grace, and the sacraments, He can set the world on fire.
 
Q. Are there specific “equip” events and who are these events for?
A. Yes, just like the other three steps of The Road Map, there are numerous opportunities in the “Equip” category; some of these are organized by the parish and some can be done on your own. “Equip” opportunities include topical studies, preparation to receive a sacrament, and prayer. While prayer is for anyone, the studies/sacramental preparation in “Equip” are best suited for those who have already made a commitment to live as a disciple and are now craving more. A great example of this is Simply the Word. This awesome Bible Study meets weekly and offers participants a deep-dive into a book or topic in Scripture. For someone just beginning to explore the faith, this might seem daunting or too focused, but for the person who prays regularly and understands the basics of the faith, this provides an opportunity to know and hear God in new ways.
 
Q. What are some ways we can be “equipped for mission” apart from parish programs?
A. First, remember that God will prepare you for what He has planned for your life. He spent time preparing His prophets, Mary, and the Apostles, and He will do the same for you. But, you have to give Him time. Remember that Elijah didn’t hear God in the blazing fire or rushing wind, but in a still, small voice (1 Kings 19:12). Similarly, it’s unlikely that we will hear the promptings of the Holy Spirit or even find connection with God, if we don’t intentionally spend time in silence. Apart from prayer and silence, we can prepare ourselves to serve God and others by learning more about our faith and attuning our minds to recognize the needs of others.

 


 

 

 

 

 

SEND

 

Q. We have already talked about Seek, Connect, and Equip. What is Send?
A. In the Send phase, we go to the mission field to love, serve, and form others both inside and outside of parish life. For example, this might look like a leadership role in the parish, or missionary activity in the wider community. The Send portion of the Road Map helps disciples grow in charity toward our community, neighbors, friends, and family members.
 
Q. Why is it important to be sent out?
A. Mission is at the core of our Catholic Faith. God’s mission in the Gospel of Matthew states that we must be sent out to form other disciples. Even the term “Mass” comes from the Latin, “Missa,” which means to be “sent.” Think of how the final blessing of the Mass encourages us to go out as the priest states, “Go and announce the Gospel of the Lord!” Therefore, our lives must give witness to the truth of God and His message of Salvation. Our Faith grows as it is shared. A mature faith goes out in search of others to invite them to know God’s love, just as Jesus searched for the lost sheep. We are striving to resemble Christ and searching for lost sheep - and witnessing to our faith through our lives allows us to imitate the Good Shepherd! In 1216, St. Dominic formed the Dominicans, also known as the “Order of Preachers.” Before he sent his friars out on mission to teach and preach, he told his friars to think of themselves as a cup, which Christ was constantly filling up. St. Dominic did not want his friars to evangelize and serve by emptying their own cup, but rather, to be so full of Christ that they would overflow Christ to the people they served. In other words, he wanted his order so steeped in prayer, learning, and the love of Christ, that their faith was shared naturally, lovingly, and in a way that was life giving. In our Road Map, Seek, Connect, and Equip are meant to fill your cup, while Send is where you give back from the overflow of being filled.
 
Q. How can I talk to my neighbors about faith without freaking them out?
A. This is a great question. Above all, grow in friendship, and pray for guidance on how to share your faith with your neighbor. Remember that the Lord loves your neighbors (and your family) more than you can (infinitely more - God created them!). God is already working to reveal Himself to them and to allow you to be an instrument of his love. He desires for all people to know of his peace, love, and salvation! Our Director of Adult Formation & Discipleship, Emily Linn shares this story as a great example: "My husband and I have grown in friendship with our neighbors during this time of COVID by seeing each other outside, and because our puppy loves to run and say hello to them when they are on the porch! We found out that we have a lot in common with our neighbors, like we are both expecting our first child in the upcoming months, and we simply love their company. Over time, they have discovered that we are Catholic and attend Church regularly, especially when they invite us to the Sunday morning Farmer’s Market. This realization has opened a gateway for other conversations about religion, baptizing our babies, and has allowed us to genuinely know each other better. It is a joy growing in friendship with our neighbors and diving into deeper questions of life. I think that for our neighbors, an invitation to Alpha would be a great introduction to the faith and a place they would feel comfortable learning more. Above all, in sharing your faith, be patient and pray as you reveal your faith to others!"
 
Q. I want to serve in our parish or community more. Where do I start?
A. Start by considering your strengths and interests. Though serving often requires sacrifice, it doesn’t have to feel like a burden. We want to help you find a place to serve that gives you energy, challenges you, and brings you joy. If you’re not sure what that might be, Emily Linn would love to meet with you and help you figure it out.
 
Here are a few examples:
  • If you love working with young kids, consider volunteering in Children’s Ministry in CGS, or providing childcare during Alpha and other parish events.
  • If you’ve earned the title “hostess with the mostest,” use your hospitality skills to make people feel at home when they come to the parish.
  • Analytical and a strategic thinker? Consider participating in Human Concerns, Faith Formation, or Pastoral Council and help plan for the future.
  • If you have a gift for encouraging people, remembering their stories and names, you may love being a small group leader.
  • Outside of the parish, you can make an impact by serving the poor with St. Vincent de Paul, the Tosa Community Food Pantry, Habitat for Humanity and many other incredible community organizations.