Monday, March 17, 2014

Camp Emmaus

The fragrance of voices, like incense, were raised in gratitude. Amen, was our song. In the breaking of the bread, my eyes were opened. 
When he was at the table with them, he took bread, gave thanks, broke it and began to give it to them. Then their eyes were opened and they recognized him.. (Luke 24: 30-31).
The awareness of God's presence began first as a small ember and then grew to a flame. A flame that engulfed my senses, my intellect, my emotions. I had been in the presence of God all week. This knowledge overwhelmed me.
They were talking with each other about everything that had happened. As they talked and discussed these things with each other, Jesus himself came up and walked along with them; but they were kept from recognizing him. He asked them, "What are you discussing together as you walk along? (Luke 24: 13-17)  
We had journeyed together for a week. I was their camp counselor. They were my campers. We shared, we talked, we prayed. But I had failed to recognize Jesus in our midst. In the breaking of the bread, tears began to form, as I choked backed my emotions.
They asked each other, “Were not our hearts burning within us while he talked with us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us?”  (Luke 24:32)
The Scripture and Eucharist was my holy ground, upon which my eyes were opened. I discovered His presence within the Body of Christ - my campers. Tears began to fall as I wept in gratitude for what God had revealed - Jesus' presence found in the community gathered.
They got up and returned at once to Jerusalem. There they found the Eleven and those with them, assembled together and saying, “It is true! The Lord has risen and has appeared to Simon.” Then the two told what had happened on the way, and how Jesus was recognized by them when he broke the bread.  (Luke 24: 33-35)
Like the disciples on the road to Emmaus; I felt called to share my story. I "echoed" my experience to all who would listen. Allowing it to "re-sound" in the lives of others, so that in the breaking of the bread, they may come to know the God of Love.

Br. Phillip Polk, OFM facilitates a small group for a Confirmation Retreat.
 Reflection:

The story of Emmaus, became my doorway, my entry into the field of catechesis. A journey I've been on for over 20 years. This story is the guiding image for all catechists in the ministry of catechesis. An image that emphasizes the relationship between the disciple and Jesus, a relationship characterized by presence, listening, faith sharing, celebration and sending forth to proclaim and build up the Kingdom of God. 

The fundamental task of catechesis is to form disciples of Jesus Christ, who will understand and live His teachings, and carry on His mission of proclaiming and building up the Kingdom of God. In addition, catechesis helps us to understand our experiences and make decisions in light of the Gospel. It helps us to understand how God is present, working and praying within us and the community of believers.

It would be through the ministry of catechesis, that I would break open and deepen my experience of Camp Emmaus. I uncovered the Church's teaching on the presence of Jesus during mass: Jesus' real presence is found in the community gathered, in the Word of God, in the priest or bishop who is presiding, and In the Eucharistic species. This teaching named and confirmed my experience and in the process deepened my experience of Jesus. I am now more attuned to readily see and experience Jesus during mass. 


While discerning a vocation to religious life, I encourage you to reflect on your level of formation within the ordinary Christian life. According to the "Directives on Formation in Religious Institutes" by the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life, candidates to religious life must have a sufficient degree of human and Christian maturity before undertaking religious formation. Now would be a good time to ask: How will have I been formed as a disciple of Jesus Christ? How will do I understand and live out His teachings? How will do I proclaim and build up the Kingdom of God? We need to master the basics, before we move onto religious life.

A good resource to form your Catholic faith and assess your current knowledge is the United States Conference of Catholic Bishop's (USCCB) United States Catholic Catechism for Adults. Each chapter in the United States Catholic Catechism for Adults includes stories, doctrine, reflections, quotations, discussion question and prayers to lead the reader to a deepening faith. It has been an excellent resource for those preparing catechumens in the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults and for the ongoing catechesis of adults.

Unlike the Catechism of the Catholic Church, which contains the summary of the Catholic faith, the United States Catholic Catechism for Adults presents that summary through a catechetical model. It is not designed as a resource document, like the Catechism of the Catholic Church, but an educational tool to deepen ones faith and inspire you with the lives of Catholics who lived their faith throughout the country's history.

Ongoing catechesis of adults is important, especially for those discerning a call to religious life. Through our baptism we all share a common vocation: To Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and to love your neighbor as yourself (Luke 10:27). But, if we don't know who God is, how are we to love him? Catechesis helps answers these basic questions.

Catechesis also addresses how we are to love our neighbor.  The word Christ is a title the early Christians gave to Jesus.  The word Christ means "anointed one."  Jesus' followers came to realize that Jesus was not an ordinary religious leader.  They came to see he was the chosen one of God, or the "anointed one."  Through the sacrament of Baptism and Confirmation we are anointed with Sacred Charism and become "Christians" (The word Christian comes from the Greek word Christos, which means "Anointed One.")  We become another Christ.   As you can see, catechesis can deepen are understanding of how we are called to love.  We are called to love our neighbor, as another Christ.

Again, the fundamental task of catechesis is to form disciples of Jesus Christ, who will understand and live His teachings, and carry on His mission of proclaiming and building up the Kingdom of God.  Discernment is a time to grow in Christian maturity.  A time to strengthen living out our common vocation to love God and one another.  Something we are all called to, not just those discerning a call to religious life.

Peace and all Good,
Bro. Scott Slattum, OFM

The United States Conference of Catholic Bishop's (USCCB)
United States Catholic Catechism for Adults is a great resource to
deepen and grow in ones knowledge of faith.

P.S.  Visit the United States Conference of Catholic Bishop's website to purchase the book United States Catholic Catechism for Adults and the Reader's Journal for the United States Catholic Catechism for Adults.

Personal Reflection:

According to the "Directives on Formation in Religious Institutes" by the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life, candidates to religious life must have a sufficient degree of human and Christian maturity before undertaking religious formation.  How will have you been formed as a disciple of Jesus Christ?  How will do you understand and live out His teachings?  How will do you proclaim and build up the Kingdom of God?  Feel free to share your answers in the comment section below.

Contact Information:

Franciscan Friars
Office of Vocations
2201 Laguna Street
Santa Barbara, CA 93105
Phone:  (408) 903-3422
Email:  vocations@sbofm.org
Facebook:  www.facebooks.com/SBFranciscans.Vocations
Website:  www.sbfranciscans.org

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