"A lay Catholic perspective"

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The Surrender to Obedience

by Christine Kaskiw

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J ESUS INVITES EACH OF US to proclaim the Gospel boldly. The Decree on the Apostolate of Lay People states "The apostolate of ... [each member of the Church] aims primarily at announcing to the world by word and action the message of Christ and communicating to it the grace of Christ" (6).

I believe my conversion is the result of many rosaries prayed on my behalf by people who loved me, and because a group of lay Catholics boldly shared with me about the love of Jesus. Looking back on my life, I can see God's care, even when I was unable to acknowledge his existence. By the age of seventeen I was in serious trouble with drugs and alcohol. A former teacher suggested the Agape Centre, a treatment centre in North Winnipeg run by a group of lay Catholics. I believe that Jesus intervened in this situation, because I was only seventeen years old at the time, and I was accepted even though their minimum age requirement was eighteen. As far as I know, I was the only exeption ever made in the history of the Centre.

At the Agape Centre I was immersed in love. I noticed that these lay people were happy, dedicated Catholics who loved Jesus and the Church. Each of them talked to me about the message of Christ and the wonderful things Jesus was doing in their lives. Their happiness and sense of peace was something I longed for. I believe this desire was the spark of hope that opened my heart enough to allow the grace of Christ to begin working in me. This group of people have now become very dear sisters and brothers in the Lord, whom I cherish greatly. Because of their individual surrender to Jesus and their willingness to reach out boldly with Christ's love, I embraced Jesus and the Catholic Church with my whole heart.

There came a time when I felt Jesus beginning to invite me to share about him with others. At first, I was nervous whenever I felt the Holy Spirit prompting me to share about my experience of God's love. I found myself questioning whether or not it could possibly be the Holy Spirit prompting me to share. When I finally decided to try it and see, I found that the Lord gave me the words I needed. I have often had great pleasure seeing Jesus bless the person with whom I was sharing.

I am finding that obedience is a real key to my response to these invitations to share my faith. Obedience is the decision of love that enables me to minister with Christ's peace to others. Even to hear the prompting of the Holy Spirit, I need to surrender my life to Jesus, daily, seeking his will in all I do. I find I am just too busy on the inside with various distractions, temptations, fears and floating resentments when I am not surrendering my heart to Jesus and his will for me. Distracted like this, I cannot minister effectively with God's peace through either prayer or service.

At these times, I first need to stop everything I am doing and become quiet inside. Becoming quiet inside is a process of letting go of all of my concerns and opinions and simply returning my focus to Jesus and his great love. When I do this I am gradually returned to peace. The grace that flows from this surrender causes a prayer to spring up within me. This prayer is fantastic and it always brings results. Praying God's way lets me look at whatever person or situation I am concerned about, with God's love. With this focus, my prayers are that the person or people involved experience fully the love of Jesus for them and that his peace and mercy reign. I often enter into God's joy when I am praying for someone, because Jesus shows me his holiness in that person. It is a great privilege to see holiness in someone, and this edifies my heart beyond words.

Sometimes I get so excited seeing these things that as I start to share about them with others two things happen. First, the person I am sharing with is blessed with God's presence; and secondly, the goodness of God is being proclaimed. Obedience to Jesus allows gratitude to take root and be nourished in our hearts. Gratitude becomes like a blanket that covers our thoughts and actions, keeping our focus on the reality of God's kingdom in our midst. It also gives us opportunities to build up those around us by bearing witness to the goodness of Jesus in them.

By embracing the call to proclaim the message of Christ to each other, we create an environment of peace where the Gospel of Christ can be heard and nurtured. As messengers of Jesus we will point the way to Jesus as the true source of hope and joy.