9 Session Topics
- The model “Church as a ‘community of disciples’” is one of Dulles’ most compelling presentations. Taking the cue from Jesus himself, this model sets the disciple apart from the rest of the community as a kind of “contrast society”. So, who comprises this “contrast society”?
The Community of Disciples is a variant of the Communion model. The idea of a community of disciples was formed in the New Testament and through the Earthly ministry of Jesus. It’s an alternative society with its own rules and way of life. It appears that Christ’s original plan was to convert all of Israel, bringing it to do penance and to welcome the Kingdom of God. This plan did not succeed because many leaders (scribes, Pharisees, and members of the priestly class) rejected this message. Instead, Christ chose a small band of followers that he could teach and trust to understand his message and carry it on to others, even after his death. This band of followers was a group of 12 disciples who accepted Jesus as a teacher sent from God. These disciples made up the contrast society, which symbolically represented the new and renewed Israel. This society maintained a critical distance from Pagan society.
- Discuss the difference between exterior discipleship and interior discipleship. Consider, too, whether one can exist properly without the other in the life of the Christian.
From my understanding, interior discipleship is embracing the values and priorities upheld by Jesus Christ. Exterior discipleship is taking action to uphold those values and priorities. Sacraments, which were defined as outward signs of an inward reality instituted by Christ to give grace, therefore, become very important to exterior discipleship. All are obliged to accept with patience the poverty, humiliations, and sufferings that might come their way, and to renounce their abundance of goods in order to help the less fortunate. The Cross is the source of strength and consolation in times of privation, sickness, and bereavement.
- Dulles infers that liturgy is necessary in the life of a disciple. Why is it?
Christians are bound to certain activities that pertain to discipleship, like worship. This act is expressed best during the service of the Word in a full liturgy. Jesus speaks to the community when the Scriptures are read and applied, through homilies, to the situation of the congregation today. The community responds to this by contesting its faith and asking God for healing and help, just as the disciples did. The liturgy reaches its highpoint in the performance of the sacraments, which we need to experience as Christians.
- After the resurrection of Christ from the dead, there is a new motivation for the Church to spread its life throughout the rest of the world…even today. What constitutes this ‘new motivation’?
The faithful are motivated because they know that the world has been redeemed and that external life can be enjoyed, through the transforming gift of the Holy Spirit. As the community of disciples, the Church has an obligation to follow the mission set out by Jesus and to spread the Good Word.
- According to Redemptoris Missio (RM), why is the Church ‘missionary’? In other words, what is the reason that all of the faithful are called to be disciples & missionaries in the world in which they live?
The missionary work of the Church is inherent in the Trinitarian formula and is at the very basis of Christian life. John 17:21 states, “that they may all be one…so that the world may believe that you have sent me.” The mission of the Church is to spread the Word of God and expose as many people as possible to the Christian faith in the hope that people covert. All of the faithful are called to help with this process because the mission is still beginning in regard to the view of the human race; there is much work to be done.
- According to RM, why do Catholics have an even greater responsibility for discipleship & evangelization?
Grace was given to us by God, and we have a responsibility to spread his Good News to all of mankind age; all are called to it and destined for it. Many people are searching for it, at times in a confused way, and have a right to know the value of this gift and to approach it freely. The Church and each of its members are required to communicate this to all. The members of the Catholic Church should carry a sense of pride because they have received a privilege. For this reason, they have a greater obligation of bearing witness to the faith and to the Christian life as a service to their brothers and sisters and as a fitting response to God. They need to remember that they owe their distinguished status not to their own merits but to Christ’s special grace; and if they fail to respond to this grace in thought, word and deed, not only will they not be saved; they will be judged more severely.
- According to RM, what is ‘evangelization’ exactly?
The overlying term evangelization is helping others to live and act as sons of God, setting them free from injustices and assisting in their overall development. There are multiple forms of evangelization. The first form is witness. This constitutes the life of the missionary, of the Christian family, and of the ecclesial community. A second form of evangelization is proclamation. It introduces man into the mystery of the love of God, who invites him to enter into a personal relationship with himself in Christ and opens the way to conversion. Faith is born from this preaching, and the personal responses of each believer to this preaching form the community of the faithful. These communities are a tool for evangelization and a sign of life within the Church. They help to create a new, ideal society based on a civilization of love. Lastly, evangelization is proof of the mission of Christ.
- According to RM, developing conscience leads to the progress of peoples. How does John Paul II connect these two distinct elements?
The Church allows people to examine their consciences in order to correct their behavior, and adjust it to what the Gospel states to be right and good. The Church forms consciences by revealing to mankind the equality of all men and women as God’s sons and daughters, the power of man over nature, and the obligation to work for the development of the whole person and of all mankind. Evangelization awakens the consciences, which allows for the creation of more mature ways of thinking and patterns of behavior; this, in turn, allows humans to make progress individually and as a people.
- What is the foundational/fundamental element of evangelization and discipleship?
The foundation of Evangelization lies in the proclamation of salvation. Christ offers salvation to all people, as a gift of God’s grace and mercy. All forms of missionary activity are directed to this proclamation, which reveals and gives access to the mystery of Christ. It introduces man into the mystery of the love of God, who invites him to enter into a personal relationship with himself in Christ and allows for open communication.
Thank you to our friend and supporter, Micheal, who took care of our pest control issue for free before our meetup night. Your gracious support means the word to us, especially with our tight budget. Please visit Micheal’s website if you’re in need of this service.