By Alex Kubik, Mission and Discipleship Coordinator
“You can’t get there from here.” This comical line has been used in more TV shows and comedy sketches than you can count. But the phrase derives some of its humor from the reality that we all feel sometimes, that of being helplessly incapable of getting where we want to be or unable to achieve our goals. Many people give up on their quest for holiness and sainthood because it becomes obvious that we are unable to accomplish it on our own. Yet, some people (like the saints) have made it. The question is, if the saints were successful at this seemingly unattainable goal, what did they have or know?
Back in the day, before cell phones and GPS’s, there was this thing called a map. Nowadays, most people’s experience with maps is when you do a search online for your house, and check the satellite image to see if your car was parked in the driveway when the image was taken. But back then, you used a paper map to plan your own route to your destination. There were many possible ways to go, and you had to use your best judgement to pick the route you thought to be best. The saints all had maps, too; but they had maps for life.
The Fellowship of Catholic University Students (FOCUS) has a very nice framework for this, which is being used on a number of college campuses right here in Alabama. It isn’t a test and no one is keeping score. It’s just a helpful guide for self-reflection. Here’s a summary:
“Am I a disciple yet? Have I heard about the story of my salvation won by Jesus, and have I made a personal decision in some fashion or another to follow Him?” For most baptized and confirmed Catholics the answer is yes. However, it might not be; and that would be understandable. Some Catholics have simply been pushed through a system and have never really taken on a personal decision, often because the question was never asked.
Please do not think of these stages as a report card or grading system. They are not. But every good map for a journey has two very important parts: a starting point and a destination. These stages help us to determine where we are at right now, and where we would like to get to in the future. Then, we use the disciplines of discipleship to map out a way to get from “A” to “B.” These disciplines, mentioned a few weeks ago when we examined discipleship, are Prayer, Sacraments, Study, Fellowship, Stewardship, Service, and Evangelization. These disciplines are like the street names we can use to draw a map.
Here are some guiding questions for reflection:
Which stage of the roadmap do I think I fit in best? Am I between phases? Have I gone forwards or backwards at any point in my life?
Which stage do I want to be in next? What are some elements that I can grow in to put me in the next level of my discipleship.
No one can do it alone. Who do I know who could help me, teach me, hold me accountable, or be a good example to me on my way to help me reach this goal?
What are some concrete steps I can take to ensure my success? What are some reasonable check-up dates that I can use to help keep me on track?
Consider making your own roadmap to discipleship. As the last words of Jesus on Earth, the call to make disciples is important for everyone. And knowing where you are, as well as where you are going, is always a good thing! In our next and final piece, we’ll look at practical ways this plays out in parish life.