The dwindling number of Catholics attending Mass is a source of “grief” for Deborah de Rosia of the Eternal Light Community. She called for joyful disciples moved by the Holy Spirit to “go forth” with the Good News.
Delivering a talk on ‘Go forth as joyful disciples’ last Sunday at the 22nd Catholic Charismatic Renewal Caribbean Conference at the Centre of Excellence, Macoya, she recounted sitting in church and “wanting to weep”. She said, “I have found myself saying over and over ‘my soul is grieving’.”
Looking around the church whose pews were no longer overflowing, “Fifty per cent of the persons who were there are no longer there, I put my head down and I say, ‘God what must be done?’.”
The Chair of the CCR Caribbean Service Team asked attendees if their spirit had been touched to realise the need to go forth as joyful messengers of Christ and to do something about what they saw. The Church stressed a culture of prayer to bring persons closer to God, but it was “absolutely important” that action followed.
The theme for the January 3–5 conference was Let us start! Let us rebuild (Neh 2:18). De Rosia said there was “coordinated action” by Nehemiah the Levite, a layman who organised the community to breach the enemy’s ranks and fortify the walls to keep them out, and Ezra the priest who read the Word of God from morning until noon.
Alluding to the challenges today, de Rosia said the walls have broken down in families, churches, nations and governments. The theme, she said, challenges individuals to act and to stop making excuses like ‘I am too old’ or ‘too young’ or busy with studies.
Many Catholics understand how to multitask and that through baptism an urgent charge was placed on their life so they can respond: “God, we will do whatever You ask of us”.
De Rosia said crowds followed Jesus because they needed something but disciples are not just people in a crowd. A disciple is someone who, “follows because he/she is in love….disciples are lovers; lovers of God who seek deeper intimacy every day…servant lovers because love does exactly that—love serves”.
They are people of industry, alert and conscious. “All hands on deck,” de Rosia said.
She said it was important for the disciple to know his/her purpose for going forth is to bring people to know Jesus Christ. Disciples can share personal testimonies, “subjective gospel” and scripture, “objective gospel”.
De Rosia encouraged attendees to think of and write down their testimonies. She said God will give “divine appointments” to share them.
Catholics are good at “going” out to give assistance but not good at carrying the Good News. “Sometimes we don’t have to go very far. It is right in our homes, right in our neighbourhood, right in our offices,” de Rosia said.
She related a visit to Sea Lots when she sat in a fishing shed and shared the Good News of God’s love to men of the community. Afterwards, the men started telling where they were baptised and church they attended, “They said ‘nobody came to share with us or invite us to come back to our church’.” She invited them to return. When they were going to pray together, the men present invited others in the area to join.
De Rosia said they formed a circle, held hands and prayed for God’s grace and that they received mercy as they repented for sins and opened up to God’s love. She told the audience, “Beloved, there are people there waiting for you and me”. —LPG