Build Your Faith
Stations of Lifelong Conversion
“The Lord of hosts shall make unto all people in this mountain a feast.” ~Isaiah 25:6
Stations of Lifelong Conversion. As a parish faith community we're committed to do some things to help our parishioners continue to grow their spirituality.We are utilizing some essential elements of what the US Bishop's Conference offered as ways to help us continue our "climb up the mountain to the Lord's feast," but one must first want to make that climb! None of this pre-empts anything already in place, nor is it a substitute for the single greatest element of a spiritual life: a personal relationship with Jesus ("Belong to Christ"). In our community we have people in different places and on different paths in their spiritual journeys, based on their temperments and charisms. The six dimensions identified by the US Bishops gives us a way to take into consideration an assortment of faith building paths to continue our lifelong conversion process, with the hope that one or more will help to bring you into a deeper relationship with Christ.
Every Catholic parish is tasked with helping to “build the Kingdom of God” and by using the US Bishops have provided us with one. First and foremost it’s about deepening our relationships with Christ, His Church, and with those around us in our St. John’s parish community.
This pastoral plan is not just intended for those who have a committed faith life; the hope is to expand the scope to appeal to those who have faded away--or are searching for something more that our secular society cannot provide.
Every three months we focus on one of the key areas or stations of faith formation listed below, selecting relevant points that can help to guide our ministry. Akin to the Church's liturgical calendar, we identify some times of the year to pay particular attention to various elements of our spiritual life. The six essential elements or "stations" are defined by the US Bishops as consisting of:
1) Knowledge of the Faith (See the Catechism, nos. 26-1065; General Directory for Catechesis, nos. 84-85, 87.)
- Recognize communion with Jesus Christ as the definitive aim of all catechesis.
- Explore the Scriptures so that adults may be hearers and doers of the word.
- Become familiar with the great teachings of Christianity (its creeds and doctrines) and their place in the hierarchy of truths—for example, "the mystery of God and the Trinity, Christ, the Church, the sacraments, human life and ethical principles, eschatological realities, and other contemporary themes in religion and morality."
- Study the Church's teaching on the dignity of the human person in its social doctrine, including its respect-life teaching.
- Learn the richness of the Church's tradition, explore the theological and cultural heritage in which faith is expressed, and gain perspective on contemporary events and trends through an understanding of church history.
- Develop the philosophical and theological foundations of the faith and appreciate expressions of Christian thought and culture.
- Learn the meaning and practical relevance of current church teachings as presented by the pope, diocesan bishop, Vatican congregations, and the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.
2) Liturgical Life (See the Catechism, nos. 1066-1690; General Directory for Catechesis, nos. 84-85, 87.)
- Understand, live, and bear witness to the paschal mystery, celebrated and communicated through the sacramental life of the Church.
- Learn and embrace in one's life church doctrine on the Eucharist and the other sacraments.
- Acquire the spirituality, skills, and habits of full, conscious, and active participation in the liturgy, especially the eucharistic liturgy.
- Value the dignity of the baptismal priesthood and of the ordained priesthood and their respective roles in liturgical celebration and Christian mission.
- Appreciate and appropriately participate in the Church's daily prayer, the Liturgy of the Hours, and learn to pray the psalms, "an essential and permanent element of the prayer of the Church."69
3) Moral Formation (See the Catechism, nos. 1691-2557; General Directory for Catechesis, nos. 84-85, 87.)
- Understand how the "entire Law of the Gospel is contained in the ‘new commandment' of Jesus, to love one another as he has loved us," and promote each disciple's formation in the life of the risen Christ.
- Study the Ten Commandments, the Beatitudes, and the moral catechesis of the apostolic teachings, and live in accord with them.
- Appreciate the dignity, destiny, freedom, and responsibility of the human person, together with the reality of sin and the power of God's grace to overcome it.
- Learn how to acquire and follow a well-formed conscience in personal and social life, clarifying current religious and moral questions in the light of faith, and cultivating a Christian discernment of the ethical implications of developments in the socio-cultural order.
- Recognize, defend, and live by the truth of objective moral norms as taught by the Church's magisterium in its moral and social teaching.
- Promote a thorough catechesis on the Gospel of life so that respect for life from conception until natural death is honored in personal behavior, in public policy, and in the expressed values and attitudes of our society.
- Live a lifestyle reflecting scriptural values of holiness, simplicity, and compassion.
4) Prayer (See the Catechism, nos. 2558-2865; General Directory for Catechesis, nos. 84-85, 87.)
- Become familiar with the diverse forms and expressions of Christian prayer, with special attention to "the Our Father, the prayer which Jesus taught his disciples and which is the model of all Christian prayer."
- Experience and appreciate the richness of the Catholic ascetical-mystical tradition as it has taken form across the centuries in diverse historical and cultural settings.
- Develop a regular pattern of personal prayer and spiritual reflection, recognizing vocal prayer, meditation, and contemplative prayer as basic and fruitful practices in the life of a disciple of Jesus.
- Engage in shared prayer with others, especially family prayer, as well as at parish meetings and in small communities of faith.
- Recognize and encourage practices of popular piety and devotion that help believers express and strengthen their faith in Jesus Christ.
5) Communal Life (See the General Directory for Catechesis, nos. 84, 86-87.)
- Pursue personal and spiritual growth in human and Christian maturity.
- Cultivate the human values and Christian virtues that foster growth in interpersonal relationships and in civic responsibility.
- Nurture marriage and family life to build up the Church of the home.
- Share actively in the life and work of the parish, and foster the potential of small communities to deepen the faith and relationships of members, to strengthen the bonds of communion with the parish, and to serve the Church's mission in society.
- Learn the Church's teaching on the nature and mission of the Church, including an understanding of the Church's authority and structures and of the rights and responsibilities of the Christian faithful.
- Support the ecumenical movement and promote the unity of God's people as a constitutive dimension of fidelity to the Gospel.
6) Missionary Spirit (See the General Directory for Catechesis, nos. 84, 86-87.)
- Cultivate an evangelizing spirit among all the faithful as an integral element of their baptismal calling, of the Church's nature and mission, and of a Catholic way of life.
- Respond to God's call whether as lay, ordained, or religious, and develop a personal apostolate in family, Church, and society.
- Motivate and equip the faithful to speak to others about the Scriptures, the tradition and teachings of the Church, and one's own experience of faith.
- Explore and promote the applications of the Church's moral and social teaching in personal, family, professional, cultural, and social life.
- Understand the importance of serving those in need, promoting the common good, and working for the transformation of society through personal and social action.
- Appreciate the value of interreligious dialogue and contacts, and promote the Church's mission ad gentes in the local and universal Church.
Using the trilogy of “Feed the Body, Feed the Mind & Feed the Spirit,” we know that physical health is generally best maintained using the Food Pyramid for example. This plan has recommendations of what—and how much—to eat. To “feed the mind” as well is not a blind pursuit; we can follow recommendations to improve critical thinking for example, wherein we first identify a question or problem, gather data from multiple sources, then move to analysis that puts us in a better position to make a decision on the matter. The same applies to “Feed the Spirit.” We don’t have to re-invent the wheel when it comes to growing our faith, especially since the Catholic Church has provided SO much to ponder going back across 1985 years (2018 minus 33 years from the first Pentecost and the start of the Catholic Church).
When it comes to the trilogy of “Feed the Body, Feed the Mind & Feed the Spirit,” in most cases the latter is the toughest sell in our secular society. We’ve had success in improving health for most people, and many are taking this seriously committing to a regime of diet and exercise. The same applies for Feed the Mind since most understand that in many ways “Knowledge is Power” so they commit to educating themselves. It’s the third of our trilogy--Feed the Spirit--that many have a difficult time sticking to a commitment. Faith is not meant to be a static but a dynamic feature in our lives; i.e., our spiritual life is about a lifelong conversion. Accordingly, as a Cathedral parish community we’re committed to offering a variety of ways for people to strengthen their faith with a series of what we’re calling “Stations of Lifelong Conversion” based on a part of the pastoral plan as developed by the US Catholic Bishop’s Conference. The same way that at a gym we would work out different muscle groups, we’ll be implementing a spiritual version of faith exercises moving through six stations, each one on a three month basis. The aim is to assist our faith community on their lifelong conversion journey!