Q What are the main things I need to do to make sure I’m living a good Christian life?
A The fundamental human vocation is the call to holiness, the call to be a saint. The saints are not just heroic people who live in history books. They are ordinary Christians who have tried to live their faith without holding anything back – to love God with their whole hearts, to love those around them without counting the cost, to work at what is worthwhile with dedication and purpose, to be people of joy and kindness and prayerfulness. All of us are called to be saints – however weak or sinful we feel. This is not so much a command as a promise that God makes: he promises us, by giving us his Holy Spirit, that he will help us to find our true happiness in following him, and that he will give us whatever we need for the journey.
You already have a vocation. This vocation to holiness is already a part of your life, given to you at your baptism, and it is so important to remember that. Whatever situation you are in now, however unsatisfactory it seems, you already have a vocation. You might be working, studying, travelling, unemployed, or caring for someone at home; you might be very content, or utterly miserable; full of hope, or close to despair. Whatever your situation, you can trust that God is with you, and that he calls you to be holy in this very situation. Things may well change – and perhaps they need to. But at this moment you must have the confidence to believe that even now there is a meaning and a purpose to your life; and that you can begin to fulfil that by everyday acts of love and kindness and patience.
Q How do I live well in the present?
A This call to live well in the present is the ‘Little Way’ recommended by St Thérèse of Lisieux – the importance of simply doing your duty, saying your prayers, loving your neighbour, bearing your sufferings; and doing all this with a generous and loving heart. It is not very dramatic, but it is the secret of holiness, and it reminds us that your first and fundamental vocation is not something to be discovered in the future – it is living the Christian life in the here and now. Perhaps this is all God wants of you for the moment. You must avoid the temptation of thinking that your Christian life can only properly begin in the future, when everything is crystal clear. And if you do not discover a more concrete vocation, or if you are to die young, then you should not feel that you have wasted your life, or that your life is unfinished or unfulfilled.
Live your Catholic Faith. Make sure you are living the basics that any Catholic should be living: Going to Mass each Sunday; praying each day; trying to keep the commandments; going to confession regularly; loving your neighbour as best you can. Now and then you may be able to get to Mass during the week as well as Sunday; or visit a Catholic Church and pray in front of the Blessed Sacrament.
Fr Stephen Wang, How to Discover your Vocation, CTS
Q What is Stewardship?
A Stewardship is a way of looking at the world through the eyes of a disciple of Jesus Christ. At its heart is the recognition that all we have and are is gift from God. God is the giver of all that we have and are. Stewardship is a way of living our discipleship in response to all that God has given us. Gratitude for these gifts is expressed in prayer, worship, offering, and the action of sharing these gifts out of love for God and for one another. Stewardship is what we do after we say ‘We believe!’In short, stewardship is both a spirituality and a way of life.
Q How can I get more involved in the Church?
A Most parishes have a newsletter which will give you some idea or flavour of what the parish is offering. They might also have a list of activities and ministries that the parish in involved in. Maybe there is something here that appeals to you. Whether there is or isn’t, maybe have a chat with your parish priest or someone else you know is already active within the community and they can suggest opportunities for you. As with all of our Christian life, there is a process of discernment required: what are my gifts; what are the needs of the parish or wider Church; what time do I have or can I make available without putting too much burden on myself or others; most importantly, what is God calling me to at this time?
Q Do I need to be doing things in the church to be a good Christian?
A Not at all! The Church teaches that the "world" is “the place and the means for the lay faithful to fulfil their Christian vocation, because the world itself is destined to glorify God the Father in Christ.” (Christifideles Laici, 15) Whilst many lay people have a vital role to play in the life of the parish, it is equally important that the laity are in the world, transforming it. The Gospel images of salt, light and leaven are particularly concerned with this role. “They are particularly meaningful images because they speak not only of the deep involvement and the full participation of the lay faithful in the affairs of the earth, the world and the human community, but also and above all, they tell of the radical newness and unique character of an involvement and participation which has as its purpose the spreading of the Gospel that brings salvation.” (Christifideles Laici, 15)
* Grateful acknowledgement to Fr. Stephen Wang, author of “How to Discover your Vocation”, CTS