Take ownership

What kind of a Church are we? I’m often asked that question by youth, especially in regards to the difference between being Christian and being Catholic. Being Catholic is being Christian, a follower of Christ who has been entrusted to continue His mission. Yes, we are called to be His disciples. 

 As a Catholic Church there are four marks that define who we are: We are “One” — the faithful united into one communion of believers; We are “Holy” — Jesus, the Source of all holiness calls us all to holiness; We are “Catholic” — Christ is universally present in the Church, we are His Body; we are “Apostolic” — Christ entrusted His church to His Apostles and they have handed it on to us. It is this fourth mark of the Church I want to talk about today. 

What does it mean to us, as a Church, to be apostolic? First of all, it doesn’t mean that only priests and bishops have been entrusted to carry out Christ’s mission. We have all been given that responsibility. Each of us needs to take ownership of the unique gift that God gave us to “go and make disciples of all the nations” (Mt 28:19). This is evangelization. This is spreading and sharing the Word of God. And this is what being Christian and Catholic means.

So how do you do it, you ask? Be bold! Let God do His work through you. “For I am the Lord, your God, Who grasps your right hand; it is I Who says to you, ‘do not fear, I will help you’” (Is 41:13). To be an apostolic Church means every day is an adventure, and God wants you to live it to the fullest. He asks you to be bold and courageous. He is there with you every second. Don’t worry about what might go wrong or what your friends might say. Trust God enough to face problems as they come, instead of making problems to worry about. In other words, take ownership of the faith given to you and trust God completely. In doing this God will help you to make good and wise choices, and most importantly, choices that are holy.  

As I was collecting my thoughts for this article, I read a story in the latest all *you periodical that reinforced my trust in God. Ten years ago Barbara was diagnosed with stage four ovarian cancer. Her doctor didn’t give her any treatment options. He basically told her there was no hope. Barbara told her doctor: “You don’t know my God,” and found herself another doctor. She wanted to live. Barbara kept her faith strong by praying daily. It gave her strength to work through everything. She often said, “Praying might not change the situation, but it can change your perspective.” Barbara went on to mentor newly-diagnosed cancer patients, watch her daughters graduate from college and become a grandmother of three. For 10 years Barbara took ownership of her condition and met the challenge. She did not put her life on hold. Sadly, Barbara passed away recently. But, her undying hope and unshakable faith left her family, and us, an example of how we all need to put our faith and trust in God.

Can God count on you to do His work of life? Or will you put your life, and God, on hold? We busy ourselves with so many things for the sake of enjoyment and accomplishment. But, what exactly are we enjoying and accomplishing? Our world makes an idol out of busyness. “The busier I am, the better I must be” is a lie that comes from the world. It’s time to slow down and take God off hold. Take ownership of what matters most. 

Spend time in His presence and be in communion with all the faithful. Spend time in His peace and be holy. Spend time in His love and shower the world with this gift. This is being apostolic. Hand it on! God bless!

Anchor columnist Ozzie Pacheco is Faith Formation director at Santo Christo Parish, Fall River.

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