This reflection is part of the Spirituality of the Catechist Online Retreat.
Craig, Janice, and their two young daughters could always be counted on to participate in parish family life programs. By all accounts Craig was the super-Catholic dad: a humble man of faith; a role model for other dads.
After a particularly long afternoon of family-ministry activities, I noticed Craig sitting in a far corner of the church lawn. I wandered over, sat beside him, and handed him a cold drink. We sat in comfortable silence for a while.
Staring off into the distance, he quietly asked, “Do you ever get tired of chasing God?”
“What do you mean?”
“Seems we’re often so busy doing ministry activities. Don’t get me wrong—my family and I love serving the Church. But on days like this I feel like I’m on a marathon chase and can never catch up to God.”
I realized then that in our well-intentioned efforts to run a robust family program and reach out to others, we had forgotten that it is God who first reaches out to us. The Holy Trinity initiates the relationship, desires to catch us, and pursues us. Craig’s frustration unveiled God’s invitation to press the pause button on our busyness and listen to God, receive God’s graces, and trust in God’s goodness.
Like Craig, I want to catch up to God. But what does that feel like? When will I know that I’ve caught up to God? (Rather, how do I know that God has caught me?)
The Guide for Catechists (Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, 1993) explains that God catches us whenever we are “drawn into the circle of the Father, who communicates the word; of the Son, the Incarnate Word, who speaks only the words He hears from the Father; and of the Holy Spirit who enlightens the mind to help it understand God’s words and opens the heart to receive them with love and put them into practice.” (7) We can let God catch us in our spiritual lives and in our ministry as well.
God the Father—who communicates the Word—catches us whenever we listen to and contemplate Sacred Scripture. Whenever I schedule a monthly planning meeting, we begin with either lectio divina or a Sunday Gospel reflection provided online by Loyola Press to help us slow down and feel God’s presence among us.
Jesus, the Incarnate Word, reaches out to us; we are caught when we receive him frequently in the Eucharist. As a catechetical community we discover renewed strength when we attend Mass together, not in our role as catechists but as brothers and sisters united in Baptism.
The Holy Spirit reaches out to us, offering enlightenment. We are caught when we trust in the voice of God that resonates within us, informs us, and gives meaning to our ministry. The essential question for us has shifted from “What shall we do next?” to “Where and why is the Holy Spirit leading us toward this particular plan/activity?” This new paradigm reminds us that we are sent forth by Christ to be missionary disciples.
We all should be so lucky to serve in ministry with someone as insightful as Craig. His honest expression of frustration inspired us to stop the chase and be caught instead. This, of course, requires an openness to God, a willingness to trust in God’s love, mercy, and goodness.
This reflection was inspired by our retreat theme this week: An Openness to God. Read Joe Paprocki’s post introducing the theme and reflect with questions and spiritual exercises.