This is a great topic to talk about because it allows us to take snapshot of the stages of our life (starting from childhood through adulthood), Reflect on our lives and actually see, or experience our developmental growth through the transitions of our life with regard to our Ideals & Christian Maturity. This topic is outlined on Page 12 of the REC Green-book.
Please take the time to write down your thoughts and reflections, they will come in handy when we discuss this subject at your tables.
But first, will you pray with me?
Heavenly Father we come to you this weekend asking for your blessing and help as we are gathered together. We pray for the guidance in the matters at hand during this Retreat. Give us the desire to find ways to find reverence and grace in our encouragement for each other. We ask that we would challenge each other to reach higher and farther to be the best we can possibly be. We ask this in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ – Amen….
As we mature through the stages of life our experiences with the situations of contentment, turmoil and challenge, what becomes important to us creates a calling in itself. As a child we are dependent on our families. As we mature through our youth we explore, we push the envelope, and many times become a challenge to our families. As we progress through our teenage years we are frequently putting our families to the test. We teeter on that balance of measured independence with still a certain dependence on our family to shape our opinions, judgments, and ultimately our decisions. My son’s definition was always: “Dad I’m seeking Adventure but with Security?”
1st Corinthians 13:11 says: “When I was a child, I talked like a child; I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me.” I like this verse because serves as a constant reminder to us that our current life is made up of two seasons: -The past and the present: OR “that was then, and “this” is now.
When I was a child I had many heroes in my life. The 1950s were filled with TV characters and athletes such as Superman, Batman, the Lone Ranger, Mickey Mantle, Mohammed Ali, etc…. Today we still have heroes but they either can transmit data faster than the speed of light or possess the athleticism of what we used to dream about in the Marvel comics, (i.e., Derek Jeter, Tom Cruise or Lebron James).
My dad was the person I always identified with Superman. He was a man that stood 6’4” was always at the peak of fitness and possessed a swagger that many fathers didn’t seem to portray.
And this was, all, OK, because I was talking, thinking and, reasoning like a child so it was developmentally or socially acceptable.
Our teenage years brought with them a multiplicity of emotion, body changes, (i.e., hormones, testosterone, muscle development, etc.) and a more complicated equation of figuring out what life was all about.
This was a time that unfortunately we put ourselves first, worried about our popularity, and for the most part, couldn’t see past the upcoming Saturday night? Having this dose of “it’s all about me” wasn’t necessarily a bad thing. It provided us the experience of seeing the good with the bad and offered us the ability to start making our own decisions.
The beauty of this stage of life regarding our Christian Maturity is that whether we knew it or not, Jesus was waiting to welcome us into His world. We may not have heard the knock but there was gentle and persistent knocking going on at the door.
I love the picture where Jesus is in the garden standing on the outside of a door knocking but on the outside of the door there’s no door knob. It only opens from the inside. So we are the ones that have let him in.
I’ve had, both, the pleasure and the privilege to be a Catechist in my parish with 9th, 10th, and 11th graders. And this is certainly a challenging time for each of them – not to mention their parents, and faith formation coordinators. As teenagers we not only have those many emotions but we have the multiplicity of choices of (what to do with our time). Many times this is influenced by one or both parents, our friends, or our fellow residents here at Hale Creek Corrections, and this is where our lives can be taken off track.
This chasm in our spiritual development is perhaps the most dangerous of time in our life. We’re in need of the grounded mentoring of our parents or role models and many times don’t receive it. So many times our development of Christian Ideals of Maturity gets short-changed. Perhaps the various Sacraments were not important to your families? Or we celebrated the Sacraments at the urging of our parents which may have been manifested by the insistence of our grandparents?
But here, again, we were being beckoned by the power of the Holy Spirit that is always available to us if only we recognize it.
I can guarantee you it’s always been there. Perhaps we weren’t taught how to look for it? I know I wasn’t?
Perhaps we didn’t want to accept what was being offered to us. The beauty of this gift is that it never expires, God never stops sending us the invitation, and He never stops loving us.
Taking a closer look at the 2nd part of the 1st Corinthians 13:11 verse we hear:
“When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me.”
At this stage of our Christian Maturity how have our ambitions, attitudes, and goals changed? This is where I have to digress, stop and ask you “what is your personal ideal?” – “how have your goals changed as you’ve matured?”
For me it boils down to these three questions:
1. How has God’s presence in your life changed the way you look at things?
2. What has specifically changed in how we reach the Christian Ideals & Maturity that God has invited us to?
3. How much have we had to sacrifice in order to accept God’s invitation? In other words: What’s it cost us??
For me these questions are not answered with a simple yes or no. They require a discernment of attitude. OR – they require a desire and reflection.
You see if we don’t possess the desire, the hunger, the attitude of wanting to welcome Jesus into our lives we’ll never get past “GO” on the Monopoly board. This REC team is well aware that what goes on inside Hale Creek does not mirror what goes on outside this facility? However, there is one thing that holds constant in both places and that is that no one can alter, manipulate or influence our relationship with God. You see it’s here that we have the ultimate control. If we desire, we truly desire, there is nothing that can separate us from God.
Thank you and God Bless you all…..