In Unleash the Gospel Archbishop Vigneron says that a relationship with Jesus is marked by, among other things, “receiving the sacraments regularly; engaging in personal prayer every day; reading Scripture daily; constantly learning more about the faith and seeking to live by it.” This roadmap our shepherd gives us outlines the practical steps we can take to walk with the Lord. Living a sacramental life infused with daily prayer and sacred Scripture and growing in our understanding of the faith are concrete ways to develop as joyful missionary disciples. Let’s take a look at how we can implement each of these practices into our lives.
Living a Sacramental Life: Living a sacramental life is important if we want to stay close to Jesus.
“Through the Eucharist we become stamped with the pattern of Christ’s own self-giving love so that we can reproduce that pattern in our own lives. Thus the goal of the liturgy is never just to receive the sacrament and go home; it is to become a living tabernacle through which Christ is made present to others” (UTG, Marker 3.4).
The sacraments are visible signs of invisible realities that give grace. Simply put, the sacraments are encounters with God that give us his power and life. But it can be a challenge to allow God’s grace to permeate all areas of our lives. Here are some ways to live from the graces of the sacraments:
Baptism is the foundation of living a sacramental life. Baptism is significant, but how can we fully enter into the reality of our baptism?
- Remember and celebrate your baptism: do you know the date of your baptism? Do something special to remember this day of grace each year.
- Recall your baptism: in moments of temptation, remember God’s grace in your soul.
- Pray with Jesus’ baptism: open your Bible to Matthew 3:13-16 and reflect on the Lord’s example of dependence on the Father’s love.
Through confirmation, God gives us special strength through the Holy Spirit to be a true witness of Christ. In the Nicene Creed, we call the Holy Spirit, “the Lord, the giver of life.” The life that the Holy Spirit gives is a life of wisdom, understanding, and fortitude. How can we dive deeper into the reality of our confirmation?
- Research your confirmation saint and learn more about how he or she lived the Christian life.
- Grow in docility to the Holy Spirit.
- Invite the Holy Spirit into your life by praying, “Come, Holy Spirit.”
The Church teaches the Eucharist is the body, blood, soul, and divinity of Jesus. On the altar, Jesus becomes physically present to us through the simple elements of bread and wine. Jesus is really in our midst in the Eucharist. Especially when Jesus feels distant, the Eucharist is a place to encounter our Lord and allow him to pour his life into your soul. How can we enter into a relationship with the Eucharist?
- Look up the date of your first Communion and celebrate it each year.
- Prepare your heart to receive Jesus in the Eucharist by regularly making a good confession.
- Bring a wound or burden to Jesus in the Eucharist and ask him to take it
Daily Personal Prayer: Why pray? Prayer is important. Prayer is communication with God. Prayer is a dialogue with the One who loves us.
“Prayer is the way we access the unlimited divine power of the Holy Spirit, the Advocate” (Unleash the Gospel, Guidepost 10). How are some ways we can grow in our lives of prayer?
- Learn why prayer is necessary for our lives as disciples. It is the “one thing” that Jesus refers to in the Gospel (Luke 10: 38-42).
- Explore weaving prayer into your daily life.
- Learn your prayer style: What type of prayer style is right for you?
- Let Mary lead you in prayer: Mary as a model in prayer.
- Follow St. Joseph’s model for prayer: reliant and trusting prayer.
- Explore the Liturgy of the Hours: pray with the Church.
- Make everything a prayer: St. Josemaria Escriva has some ideas.
Reading sacred Scripture: Sacred Scripture is the living Word of God. But why should we read the Bible? Let’s talk about it.
“Listening and responding to God’s word in the Sacred Scriptures must be at the heart of our efforts to unleash the Gospel. One who is in love desires to know more and more about the beloved. Since all Scripture speaks of Christ, immersing ourselves in the word is a way to deepen our initial encounter and grow in our relationship with him” (Unleash the Gospel, Marker 3.2).
“Ignorance of scripture is ignorance of Christ,” says St. Jerome, “Scripture enlightens our minds, unveils God’s glorious plan of salvation, teaches us his ways, and shows us how to live as his people. In order to meet with confidence and wisdom the many challenges of our time, Catholics need to be renewed in their zeal to study the Bible and to teach it” (WHY video). Discover how you can personally draw closer to Jesus through the Bible.
Here’s a place to start.
- Discover how to approach the Bible and learn how to have a healthy disposition of the heart.
- Get a taste of how your peers incorporate sacred Scripture into your life
- Watch Patty’s testimony of how her life was transformed by Scripture
- Be inspired by St. Jerome’s love for sacred Scripture
- Dive into the basics of Scripture with Fr. Steve Pullis and Beth Spizarny
- Hear from Archbishop Vigneron on the Power of the Word of God.
- Lectio Divina: enter into an ancient practice of prayer with the Bible
Growing in Understanding of the Faith:
“To follow Jesus is to be in a constant process of growth, like the seed that fell on rich soil. We seek to be more like Jesus, to treat others as he did, to pray as he prayed, to love as he loved, and to honor God in every area of our lives, including marriage, family life, finances, work, and leisure activities. Growing as his disciple demands a daily surrender to the one who loved us and gave his life for us: “I live, no longer I, but Christ lives in me” (Gal 2:20). (Unleash the Gospel, Marker 9.2)
As confirmed Catholic adults, we are responsible for our own “continuing education” in the faith. And Unleash the Gospel has numerous resources to help you grow in your understanding of the faith. Perhaps you’re in a place where you are just starting out in your faith journey and need help understanding some of the foundational parts of our faith:
- What are the sacraments and why do we need them?
- Learn about the colors father wears at Mass and what they mean.
- Dive into the mystery of patron saints.
- Discover how to hear God’s voice.
- Explore why going to confession is helpful to growing in freedom.
Or perhaps you need further help in deepening an established life in the faith:
- Dive into the difference between faith and reason.
- Learn to share your faith testimony.
- Find out what your charisms are and how to live them out.
- Spiritual Direction 101: What are spiritual directors? And do you need one?
Keep in mind that God has a path of growth planned for you. He knows what you need and when you need it. Discipleship is a joint task between us and the Holy Spirit. He inspires and prompts us; we must simply respond to the grace he is giving. Let’s pray through these resources and pick one thing to implement in our lives this week. Just as our physical growth is slow and sometimes unnoticeable, our spiritual growth is often steady and unseen. But we can always trust that God is about a great work of transformation in our lives as we walk the path of discipleship. Let’s become joyful missionary disciples, unleashing the Gospel in our families, communities and world.