Year of Faith Retreat – Week 1, Day 5: You’ve Got the Network (Church, Mary, Saints, and Eternity)

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WEEK ONE: The Creed

DAY 5: You’ve Got the Network (Church, Mary, Saints, and Eternity)

I’m sure you recall the Verizon ad with the message “It’s the Network,” showing people on Verizon wireless phones backed up by a huge crowd of Verizon workers who represent their support network. The message is clear: wherever you go, the network is there with you and you are never on your own.

A huge part of our Catholic faith is our belief in a network we call the Church. In the Creed, we proclaim that we believe in “one, holy, catholic, and apostolic Church” and in the Communion of Saints. As we go through our daily lives, we do not go alone. We stand on the shoulders of the apostolic Tradition – the Tradition that has been handed down to us from the time of the apostles. We also have the Communion of Saints with us…truly “the most reliable network!” At the front of that network is Mary, who holds a place of honor in the Church. The goal of the Verizon network is to make sure that you connect and stay connected to your contacts. The goal of our network – the Church and the Communion of Saints – is to make sure that we connect and stay connected with God, both in this life and for all of eternity.  

Remember our reflection on the Trinity a few days ago? We said that since we are created in the image and likeness of God, and since God is Trinitarian – a community of love – we are inherently communal. Catholicism, therefore, is not a “me and God” experience, but an experience of finding God in all people. Our commitment to community is so strong that not even death separates us from one another. Through the Communion of Saints, we remain linked with all of Christ’s followers, living and deceased. As a community, we recognize that God is our Father and that we are all brothers and sisters with the responsibility to care for one another.

God has a mission, and that mission has a Church. As we prepare to celebrate the Year of Faith, let’s pause to reflect on the role that the Church – here on earth and the communion of saints (especially Mary) – plays in our lives as we seek to connect with God in this life and for all eternity.  

Reflection Questions: Choose one of the following questions and share your thoughts with your fellow retreatants by adding your comments in the comments box below this post.

  • As a Catholic, how would you respond to someone who says they don’t need to Church?
  • Of those saints with a small s (i.e. people in your own life, living or deceased) on whose shoulders have you stood?
  • Of those Saints with a capital S (patron saints, favorite saints) on whose shoulders have you stood?
  • How would you explain to someone why Mary is “pre-eminent” in the communion of saints? Why is she at the forefront of this “network?”
  • What does it mean to you that Catholicism is not a “me and God” experience but a “we and God” experience?
  • What does it mean to say that “God has a mission and that mission has a Church” as opposed to saying that the Church has a mission?
  • How does the Church help us to gain eternal life and what exaclty IS eternal life?

Prayer

Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, thank you for inviting me to share in your divine life as a member of your Church. Help me, Loving Father, to learn from the example of Mary and the saints to follow Jesus more closely and to do your will with the help of the Holy Spirit. Lead me into a deeper, closer relationship with you now so that, having seen your face now, I will have nothing to fear at the time of Final Judgment.

Additional Reading

CCC References: 748-1065

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I hope you’re enjoying our online summer retreat, Preparing for a Year of Faith! Take a few minutes each day at your convenience to “gather” here on my blog as we seek to add some flavor to our faith lives by deepening our understanding of the truths of our faith as given to us in the Catechism of the Catholic Church.

Learn more about the Year of Faith. Watch a brief video explaining what this online retreat is all about.

About Joe Paprocki 2134 Articles
Joe Paprocki, DMin, is National Consultant for Faith Formation at Loyola Press. He has more than 30 years of experience in ministry and has taught at many different levels. He is the author of numerous books, including the bestseller The Catechist’s Toolbox and Under the Influence of Jesus.

12 Comments on Year of Faith Retreat – Week 1, Day 5: You’ve Got the Network (Church, Mary, Saints, and Eternity)

  1. The one saint that i pray to is Saint Jude. He is known as the Saint of lost causes. He wrote that we must persevere through all hardships and trials. I have prayed to him to intercede for me in many difficult times in my life. It is encouaging that he was one of the Apostles who walked with Jesus and was put to death for his faith. Many of my prayers have been answered through his intercession. I believe we should pray to the Saints because they are where we want to be after we die. Their lives are an inspiration for us to always stay close to Jesus and live as He wants us to.

  2. I have always spoken to my students and to parents that if we only were to look at each other and see the face of God in each other we would share a better kindness towards our fellow man. We must look upon each other not as strangers but as truly brother and sisters, children of God. What a better world we would live in. Right now we don’t live like this but if we were to raise and teach our children how loving, giving, forgiving, and patient God is then our future would begin to transform itself and our children and our children’s children would live in a much better world.

    People need one another, church is not a building but us working together to live the kingdom of God here on earth. I’ve said this many times to parents and students, people need to grasp this and internalize it in order to live it. I like to say the prayer of St. Francis a lot because this is the greatest example I can share with others about how we need to see one another.

  3. I pray to the Blessed Mother for I feel a special connection to her. I often think how she must have felt when told was told she would be the mother of Jesus – scared/amazed/lost/afraid/joyous. What faith she had in God. I seek a better understanding of my faith and to be more like her.

  4. “How would you explain to someone why Mary is “pre-eminent” in the communion of saints?” Without Mary’s free assent to conceive and bear Jesus, there would be no completion of salvation history, thus no salvation.

  5. I know that St. Monica is the patron saint of mothers and I do send her my prayers, especially when I worry about my 19-year-old. But truthfully, the mother of all mothers is my guide. I pray for a fraction of the humility and gentleness this amazing woman had. I pray to have the faith she had when she said “yes” to such a big request from God. I pray to her to watch over our priests and to protect them from the temptations of this world. I praise her for the life she lived and suffered on our behalf.

    • I too pray to St Monica for my 19 year old son and Mother Mary for myself. While Mother Mary sat and watched everything going on with her child we are taught she recognized what he was about and trusted in her heart. Everything she did and continues to do points us in the direction of her son; however there are times I need someone like St Monica who has a son that didn’t know who he was or what he was about when he was a young man. I use to tell my son when he was little that his stubborn streak will come in handy one day when he finally realizes what God has called him to do just as St Monica’s son did but until that day comes I ask St Monica to pray for him as she did for her own son and Mother Mary to help me follow her son’s example.

  6. Great questions, Joe. In my life, I have a saint who we are trying to make a big “S”, Venerable Solanus Casey. Fr. Solanus, Capuchin, ministered in Detroit for many years. He ended up being the porter, the doorman who greeted people and asked what they needed. The words “Blessed be God in all His designs.” is around his tomb. He had such trust and faith in God. We have been taking our youth to the Solanus Casey Retreat Center – it touches their faith in a powerful way. Fr. Solanus is still touching hearts. He died in the 50’s. He is my go-to guy when in need of intercession.
    I just love this Trinitarian Church – a community of love – like this description.

  7. I love that phrase, “God has a mission and that mission has a Church.” It is so important to remember that it is God’s work that we are commissioned to carry out. When we follow faithfully in this spirit, it’s harder for egos to get in the way. And what a thought – that we are what God’s mission has! Scary, humbling, and exciting.

  8. To explain Catholicism as a “we and God ” experience rather than a “me and God” experience means that we need to embrace our community of followers who have a strong belief in Christ and remember that we do not walk and live in this world alone. We rely upon one another and God intended this based upon His creation of Adam and Eve. Sometimes, I feel the heavy weight of being a mother, wife, cathechist and employee as a stress that I’m not sure how I can be good at spreading myself out to each and every need. However, I am blessed in the realtionships that I have developed with all of my roles and I know that it is Jesus who carries me when I am tired, the Holy Sprit who guides me through another bend in life’s road and it is God who loves me unconditionally and has determined what I am to do. However, without the “we” and others in my life my Catholic being would not be complete. That’s the beauty of Catholicism. To realize it’s not about us alone but rather it is about all of us working towards a common good that God determined.

  9. Bev writes:

    Being Catholic (in fact being Christian) means that my faith is a “we and God” experience because none of us can walk alone, learn alone, or love alone. All of Jesus’ public life was spent teaching, preaching and healing in crowds. He occasionally needed alone time to re-group like we all do, but he always came back to the crowd and his followers. If we try to “do God alone” we don’t get to exchange ideas or feel the love and support that comes from other children of God. Bev

  10. I would say we need the church to stay connected and guide one another. The church family is there for support, guidance, and reassurance for everyday life. We need the church to keep are faith alive and growing.

  11. How does the Church help us to gain eternal life and what exaclty IS eternal life?
    The church helps us to gain eternal life by helping us to deepen and strengthen our faith. Eternal life is where your soul lives on forever.

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