Let’s look at some general criteria for the formation of Christian disciples. The bishops describe their intent here as “Comprehensive, kerygmatic , and ongoing.”
279. The primary mission of formation is to help the members of the Church to always be with Christ, and thus to recognize, welcome, internalize, and develop the experience and values that constitute Christian identity and mission in the world.
This is huge. Yet so many Christians fail to recognize regular interventions in their lives. I was talking about this with a friend the other day–someone of no particular religious practice. He had a sense of “calling,” that each person has a unique offering to make in the universe. In his experience, the Higher Power can be quite insistent when the person is unwilling to engage her or his personal mission.
Translating into the Christian experience, do we recognize God’s call to mission? Do we see our gifts and abilities as a fit into a greater mission? Many lay people seem content to let the “pro” do it. While that may have been a perception of how things have run for Catholics, it isn’t the reality for the baptized life.
Welcome, internalize, and develop: once we recognize God’s call, do believers readily embrace it, or do we play the part of Jonah, resisting and fussing? Do we make God’s call a part of our lives? Do we have a plan in the context of our mentors and our community to develop our part of the mission? These are all important benchmarks for anyone, from bishop to catechumen.
The Aparecida bishops make a case for a wide-ranging vision for individuals and communities:
Hence formation entails a integral process, that is, it encompasses varied dimensions, all harmonized among themselves in vital unity. At the foundation of these dimensions is the power of the kerygmatic proclamation. People feel the contagious power of the Spirit and the Word and are led to listen to Jesus Christ, to believe in Him as their Savior, to recognize him as the one who gives full meaning to their life, and to follow in his footsteps. The proclamation is based on the fact of the presence of the Risen Christ today in the church, and it is an absolutely necessary factor in the process of forming disciples and missionaries. At the same time, formation is ongoing and dynamic, in accordance with people’s development and with the service that they are called to provide in the midst of the demands of history.
That word: contagious–is that something other associate with Christian work in parishes, and from small groups and individuals?
For deeper examination, an English translation of the 2007 document from the Aparecida Conference.