Growing To Maturity
This is a summary of the four talks given by Fr. Anselm Prior, OFM, at Santa Sophia, Pretoria, February to May 2011.
The Christian Vocation: Change and Growth
A vocation is a life-long call, and for everyone. It begins with imagination and grows through our personal creativity. A vocation is a leap: of delight, of testing the boundary, and it includes falling down. Our relationships in the family and community provide us with a safe place to jump. Our vocation leads us from childhood into discipleship.
The Disciple is Summoned
As we grow older we become more aware of a sense of responsibility and personal authority within us. This is part of the movement from discipleship – in which we are the learners – to stewardship – when we feel the call to give to others through a sense of leadership. This forward movement can be called “a mid-life maturing”. Stewards do not “possess” their own gifts but remain servants of the Master. Their main strengths are a combination of wisdom and trustworthiness. The stewards’ vocation is also to act in the “absence” of the Master by helping others to detect their vocation through reflection on the Church’s tradition and contemporary experience.
Responsibility and Personal Authority
Maturing Christians become skilled in the art of discernment by which they are able to discover how to make the correct choices in life. This is not so much an intellectual exercise as one of instinct or “gut feeling”, and requires many years of living and reflection within the Christian community. As a community matures in the faith, its members come to trust their intuitions about how to act. This is termed sensus fidelium, or “the sense of the faithful”. This was famously and positively proposed by Blessed John Henry Cardinal Newman, and was taken up by the teaching of the Second Vatican Council (Lumen Gentium, #12).
The Power of the Weak
Jesus carried within himself the power of God which he used for healing and reconciliation. St. Paul, in describing his own physical weakness, discovered that the power of the Risen Christ was enough for him. Our faith and daily experience teach us that this power exists within ourselves through the presence of the Holy Spirit. It enables us to live in a healthy dependence on others and, at the same time, to be recognised by them as dependable. The result is interdependence which is lived out in mutual nurturance, and which is a symbol of a mature Christian community.
||God loves each of us as if there were only one of us. ~St. Augustine