Jared Wuerzburger COORDINATOR of Young Adult Ministry
Peace be with you.
As I write this, the Franciscan Young Adult Ministry is on retreat. FRAYAM has the luxury of supportive fathers in Christ, our Pastors, who reserve funds in their budgets to allow the spiritual development and renewal of the next generation of the Holy Roman and Apostolic Church.
This spring, we spiritually voyaged to Our Lady of the Redeemer Farm in Bloomington, IN, over the February 28, 29th, and March 1st weekend.
This young adult community has spent the entirety of this weekend dwelling on the most critical questions: “Who am I?” and “What does God want of me?” Saint Paul, while reflecting on who we are and the nature between ourselves and our creator, spoke the following:
If “we are not our own”, then to whom do we belong?
We belong to our Triune God. Just as we are obligated to treat our biological parents with love and respect, how much more must we obey the will of our eternal father and creator?
This question must come from yet another crucial question: “How can I live where God desires, how God desires, and while serving who God desires?”
In short, how can we discern the will of our God and live in accordance with his divine plan?
We must allow God to overwhelm us. The only path forward is realizing and living the realization that our lives are not about us.
Do I allow God to move me where he desires? Do I allow God to “overwhelm” me spiritually, by adopting his way of being; his moral code? Do I allow myself to be intellectually changed by Christ, his teachings, sacred scripture, and all other mediums known to produce cognitive growth in our Faith? Lastly, am I being spiritually molded through prayer and active elements of life in this Holy Church?
In light of the above, Romans 14: 7-8, God himself desires MORE Theo-Drama and less EGO-Drama.
In the Ego-drama, my life is all about me. I am the author of the screenplay. I have the lead role; I also produce and direct the show. When the storms of life blow up, I am sometimes surprised that they don’t exactly fit with the script I’ve imagined. When framed as an Ego-drama, my life becomes a matter of making “gifts” to appease my never quite satisfied self. I wear myself out seeking to fill myself up. I have to have all the answers. Such Narcissism demands ourselves to expand at the expense of others; it is a “zero-sum” game bent on annihilation.
In the Theo-drama, on the contrary, others take center stage. Rather than succumbing to illusions of total control, I navigate my way into the Theo-drama by humbly saying “Yes” to the role for which I was quite literally born.
It is crucial that when framed in terms of the Theo-drama, my life becomes a matter of making a gift of myself to others. I’m open to mystery, to wonder, and to awe. I find myself fulfilled by pouring myself into the role which the divine Director asks of me each day. We live God’ s-Drama when we draw our energies from something beyond ourselves, from God.
The obvious question from retreatants becomes: How do we live the Theo-Drama? How do we give ourselves as gifts, daily even, to others? What practices can I employ to draw our energies from something beyond ourselves?
The process employs Discernment, works of mercy, and through our liturgy.
Firstly, living this Theo-drama must happen in Discernment. God is ahead of us, alluring us to move forward toward him. If God is luring us, we must hunt for signs. This HUNT is called Discernment. Having taken in the world around them, confident that God is present in all things, intelligent Christians now seek to discern the patterns, to know precisely what God is up to.
Father Bernard Lonergan’s method of Discernment, primarily based on the Ignatian Discernment of spirits, requires one to follow the next process. One must be attentive to the presence of God everywhere and in everything. God will speak to us via person, place, thing, or circumstance. We must also be intelligent. Please do not take this for an insult. God would not require you to have a level of intelligence that is not innate within you. God does not set us up for failure in our spiritual lives. But, instead, we are to use our “know how” to find connections between events, feelings, emotional responses, and experiences. We must also be reasonable. We must be able to use what we already know of God to determine the message that God is attempting to convey. This is a very prayerful process. Unfortunately, no rule of thumb can be stated in terms of the timeline. You are on God’s time. He will decide... while with you in prayer... the exact moment that he desires you to understand his “message”. Lastly, we must be responsible. We speak here of the responsibility to act. One becomes responsible for using the knowledge they have to act in accordance with the intent of our God’s “message” to us. Thus, if we fail to act on God’s “message” after having correctly discerned the course of action he desires us to take, then we are not, in a word, being responsible.
Father Bernard Lonergan method of Discernment:
Everywhere and in Everything
Finding Patterns of Meaning
Deciding what God is saying
accept the full implications of the true judgement we discerned.
Secondly, we achieve more clarity by continuing the ministry of Christ Jesus through love. This is accomplished by enacting the Corporeal and Spiritual Works of Mercy, which are featured in the below infographic.
The last required element that enables us to live the Theo-Drama, or to put God’s plan for us at the forefront of our lives is to engage in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, or our liturgy. Bishop Barron wrote Thomas Merton, celebrating his first mass, asked many non-catholic friends to attend. One of them, a Jew, asked: “What exactly is the Mass?” Expecting a theological response, the man was surprised when Merton responded: “The Mass is a kind of ballet, with similar prescribed movements and gestures”.
The Mass is a representation of things that cannot be adequately expressed in words or human emotions. Merton’s answer sums up the gathering, singing, signing, reading, listening, praying, offering, processing, communicating, sending, and being sent that occurs when we gather on the sabbath.. The body of Christ, the Catholic Church, iconically acts out who it is...To the Glory of God and for the transformation of the world.
I beg of you to consider today if you are living the Theo-drama, not the Ego-Drama. We can live in God and he in us by constant discernment, acts of mercy and charity, and by the reception of the Eucharist during the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. We must give ourselves to God fully all the good, the bad, and the parts of us still broken. He wants it all. He wants to transform it all.
If you live the Theo-drama, you won’t be bored. You will explore the story that God has waiting for you. Christ has outstretched his hand. I ask you to take it.
One final request:
Pray that those who have experienced this retreat will continue the tasks of discernment, works of charity, and share in the eternal and everlasting feast, the Mass.