Friday, December 20, 2013

Making Life Decisions: Inviting God On Your Journey

"Discernment of God's will is never a simple and easy task.  Prayer is key and vital."  These were the words of Bishop Vincent Nguyen to over 100 young adults gathered for the launch of Theology on Tap East held on Wednesday, November 20, 2013 at Jack Astor's Bar & Grill in Scarborough.
Bishop Nguyen captivated the audience with his inspiring journey of faith to discuss the theme of the evening - "Making Life Decisions: Inviting God on your Journey."  His love for the Catholic Church was first ignited by the remarkable story of his great great grandfather who was martyred at the young of age of 21.  It was this sacrificial witness that gave him the strength he needed when his mother died in a car accident; Bishop Nguyen was only 12 years old at the time and was simultaneously enduring the hardships of living in communist Vietnam.  "I am grateful for the faith I have, for my great great grandfather who sacrificed his life to hand that faith down to me," said Bishop Nguyen.  It was the faith passed down from generations that later inspired the young Vincent to escape his homeland to freely discern God's will and respond with great love to the priesthood. 

Drawing from his personal journey, Bishop Nguyen listened to the wisdom of his parish community and his superiors during his time of his discernment and motivated all young adults to do likewise.  "I cannot believe without being carried by the faith of others."  Along with the guidance of others, he emphasized the value of prayer by "listening to the quiet voice of God whispering in our heart" in order to follow the call of God and share the truth with others.  "The way we live our lives will encourage others to do the same."

Larissa Zantua

In Today’s World, Why Should I Share My Faith?

On November 11, 2013, 110 young adults gathered at West 50 Pourhouse and Grille in Mississauga for the launch of “Theology on Tap West.”  The evening was hosted by the Office of Catholic Youth, Faith Connections, and young adult volunteers from parishes in the Western Region. 

In his talk, “In Today’s World, Why Should I Share My Faith?,” Bishop John A.Boissonneau posed questions centered around three themes: religious faith, contemporary culture, and evangelization.
The first question: What do I mean when I say I have faith? asks us to think about personal experiences that have moved our hearts and changed who we are in the center of our being. This revelation of God to us is living and personal and invites us to a deeper relationship where we are continuously converted to this way of life. This response to God’s initial action is an attitude of belief that God is who God says God is and will remain true and constant.

The second question: What in this world today challenges my faith? asks us to consider the things that confront us on a societal level. The pervasive attitude of “I’m spiritual but not religious” ultimately seeks some kind of connection to others outside of any religious structure. Thus atheism and secularism seems more appealing, with the help of social communication to facilitate these pseudo-relationships. Within Roman Catholicism itself, there are many who consider themselves to be alienated or distant because of their own negative experiences within the church, such as: being treated poorly, being discouraged, and being abused, leading to frustrations among Roman Catholics.

The third question: How have I encountered the Lord? asks us to reflect upon the mutual sharing of our personal experiences with others. These opportunities to open ourselves to others are ways that we can reinvigorate the Gospel message in our own time. In order to share, however, we must first have the experience where we believe that we have encountered the Living God. Only then are we able to share it, thereby becoming part of the dynamic and emerging story itself. As disciples of Jesus, we must trust in the truth of our experiences and that God will use us as modes of communication to others for the sake of sharing God’s love with them.

Bishop Boissonneau’s talk about sharing faith experiences and its challenges encourages us all to look outside of ourselves for ways that we can encounter God in the midst of our daily lives and especially in all whom we meet. Being personally attuned to the movements of God allows us to recognize with greater clarity the things in our lives that confront our changed hearts and minds and invites us to creatively respond to each other in mutual openheartedness. In this way, the sharing of our lives with each other becomes the living, breathing Gospel of Jesus Christ in our time.

Abigail L. Lofte