Saturday, September 08, 2007

Called & Gifted Workshop

Next Friday & Saturday (14-15 September), together with my college roommate Fr Michael Butler and some of his parishioners for St Innocent Orthodox Church (OCA), I'll be attend the Called & Gifted Workshop at St Rose of Lima Catholic Church in Perrysburg, OH. What is this about you ask?

Well, let me let the folks at the Catherine of Siena Institute (who are actually leading the event) describe it for you:

Every lay man and woman has been called by Christ (in his or her baptism) to a unique mission, and every lay man and woman has been gifted by the Holy Spirit in order to be able to answer that call.
The Church calls these gifts of the Holy Spirit which Christians are given for the sake of others "charisms". Discerning our charisms is an important first step to discerning God's call. These gifts of the Holy Spirit are both clues as to the nature of the mission for which God is preparing us and tools with which to successfully carry out our mission. Those who take the Called & Gifted Workshop have a chance to take the Catholic Spiritual Gifts Inventory, the first gifts inventory designed especially for Catholics. They will also have the chance to begin discerning their charisms. At a Called & Gifted Workshop, you will learn:
* The role of every Catholic and of the local parish in the mission of the Church to the world.

* The critical role of charisms in the life and service of other lay Catholics and in the life of the parish or Christian community.
* The signs and characteristics of 24 common charisms.

* How discerning and using your charisms can change your life and the life of others, your parish, and the world.
I am intrigued by both the content of the workshop AND its potential application for the work of the Orthodox Church.

Having served now for a number of years in the Orthodox Church, I am struck by how many talented people we have and how few people seem to realize what gifts God has given them. Often I find myself looking at the work of authors outside the Orthodox Church, for example Henri Nouwen, to help me "jump start" the spiritual lives of Orthodox Christians.

If the struggle of Evangelical Christianity is what to do with people once they commit themselves to Christ, for Orthodox Christians (and I dare say Roman Catholics as well), the challenge is how do I get people to commit themselves to Christ?

The question of commitment I think is much broader then simply repentance. Repentance is the almost natural fruit of life experience. But to transform "I feel bad about my life and need to change" into, "I know that, though I am a sinner Christ has called me to a unique and personal commitment to Him and to His Body the Church" is the real challenge.

So many of us understand we are sinners--or at least that there is something rather seriously amiss in our lives. Raising that awareness into the experience of God's mercy and bring that awareness to fruition as a commitment to Christ and His Church is where I think this workshop will be of great value for me.

But, for now I ask your prayers for all of us who will be participating in the Called & Gifted Workshop.

In Chris,

+Fr Gregory