A Part of Something Great: Reviewing the Parish Life Cycle
Over the last 5+ weeks, we have journeyed together learning about the Parish Life Cycle. Multiple weeks were devoted to this topic because I truly believe it will be helpful to all who seek joy, fulfillment, and a deeper relationship with God. Most want this and most need direction on how to get there. As this week concludes our introduction to this dynamic cycle, I wanted to spend time recapping what was covered.
Jesus gathered followers around him, taught them, affected their life and then sent them out to share his message and continue His ministry. He said, “go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit (Mt 28:19).” This making of missionary disciples was the Great Commission from our Lord before He ascended to heaven. It is still relevant and important today. The Parish Life Cycle outlines a way to be apart of The Great Commission.
Another explanation is, we know that this is Jesus’ Church. We come to His house to be fed by His word and body. We come to be ministered by His life in the sacraments. As we experience Him, we are drawn close to His heart. The Parish Life Cycle is a map to dispose our hearts to Jesus and to say “here I am, use me, form me, send me.”
The cycle is not a process that starts and finishes. It’s not something that has a time line where if I start now I will finish in a specific time frame, and it’s not a thing to mark off of a to-do list. Rather, the phases mark and outline movements of our heart that we work through in a cyclical nature. Searching will always lead to an encounter. A willing heart that has an encounter with Jesus will always result in a deeper conversion. This conversion inspires us to grow in intimacy with God.
This growth of relationship will call us to leave behind old patterns of destructive behavior and embrace new truths of our identity as sons and daughters of the Father. Immersed deeper in our relationship with God will propel and invigorate us to share that with others.
This cycle respects our life, the chaotic times and the peaceful times. At times we will stumble and fall back to our old life of selfishness. In these disappointments, we search to encounter Jesus that He may pull us back into His heart where conversion happens so growth can take place as we learn from our falls.
The cycle also intentionally moves us forward towards developing the following characteristics within us as missionary disciples:
1. Grounding our life in the sacraments
2. Learning how to discern God’s will for our life
3. Deepen our worship to God
4. Recognizing the importance of community
5. Discerning all of life’s decisions through the desire to be Holy
6. Deepening of our desire for others to know Jesus
Moving forward, all energies of the parish will intentionally seek to serve the Parish Life Cycle and be grounded in the characteristics previously mentioned. As we look forward to celebrations, small faith groups, study days, retreats, mission, and organizations, our ultimate goal is to answer Jesus’ call for His Church: to make disciples.