Subject: O2: Becoming Simon (Cyrene) | Challenge to Hot Tub Catholics

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Becoming Simon (Cyrene)
Challenge to Hot Tub Catholics:
From Comfort to the Cross


"My prayers are getting powerful. Last night I prayed for greater empathy for our teenagers. I awoke this morning with a zit on my forehead. True story. It left me a bit reluctant to pray for pregnant women."


Before heading out to a wonderful Lenten Day of Reflection I posted the above. I'd spent hours prayerfully considering what God wanted me to communicate to the men. Of course, the most impactful messages come from looking in the mirror. During the hour-long drive the Holy Spirit took me deeper. God was convicting me that real prayer is no joke. It is powerful.

Beyond cliche, God is wanting to conquer. He is calling us out of the Catholic hot tub. He is beckoning us to be more than conquerors.  (Rom. 8:37)

Let's have the courage to ask, is our world in a tragic situation? Do we not experience it in our marriages and families? Among our closest friends and co-workers? Consider His means of response to this world, the place we call "church." Are our pews filling? Are those in our pews evidently alive in the Holy Spirit?

Are we taking territory, or is territory being taken?


We leaders with Mass Impact (IGNITE) are pastors and parishioners seeking the heart of God. We pray fervently and constantly about God's will. Looking in the mirror, He is convicting us. He is moving us to be bold. Constant. Unapologetic. God has given us the capacity to claim the world, His Church. He is speaking to us church people. We are Simon.

Our mission is not comfort, but the Passion of the Christ.

I worked closely with many of the folks behind Passion of the Christ. Big deal. So easy to contribute from a place of comfort. Even easier to spectate. Thus was I struck watching it again this past Saturday. Smacked. I was Simon. Simon was me. Proud to be one of the few. Proud to show up for faith stuff. Proud to be observant. I can do comfort. Keeps me self-satisfied. Keeps me feeling good.

The nagging question: Am I willing to do the cross?
Am I willing to get in there where my Lord is being crucified? Where He is most suffering? Where He is most present? Where He is most powerful?  Where He is most calling me? That would be my marriage and my family. 

It's been said: The good is the enemy of the great. What does that mean?

The good is our encounter with Jesus Christ at that inspiring retreat. Conference. Speaker. Program. It's that experience we often speak of in past tense. Confined to that time. That place. The good is committing to moments. Other times and places.

Here's the big question: Have they resulted in our actively and intentionally seeking to make our homes a culture of encounter? Are they resulting in a transformed life? (Rom. 12:1-2)

Or are we like Simon on the sidelines?

Getting in there. Where is there?

Meaningful, dedicated talk and prayer in homes is not our ingenious idea. It is God's supreme call in our lives. It is the Gift of Himself. It is His means for our continuous, transforming encounter. And there is a hierarchical order: first our own hearts, overflowing to marriage, then family, then parish, then world.  

We speak often about Jesus saving us from sin. True enough. But have we ever considered: What has He saved us for?

It's good that our prison doors have been busted open with our shackles at our feet. We are free. But free to do what? Hang out in the cell and talk about our freedom?

If we've been saved from sin which means separation, then we must recognize that we were saved for intimacy, first and foremost in our marriages and homes.

At our deepest level we yearn for it. It's what we were made for. It is the very basis of Holy Communion. It is genuine only if we have holy community. It can not be faked. It can not be motions. It can not be observances. It can not be a checklist. It is all in. Everything else is a pathetic substitute. But do we understand what this means? Do we recognize marriage and family as the unsurpassed means through which God gives Himself?

Do we recognize that this is the first and greatest thing we do to live our faith? To transform the world around us?

Again, in the last month you spent how many hours in your church activities? How much dedicated time did you spend talking and praying with your family? Receiving the Gift?

This is personal for me. I grew up in a home with a superstar Catholic dad and mom. They took on the culture. They exposed us to good, faith-building activity. They even organized and led them!

And my parents would be the first to tell you that often this good of faith activity was at the expense of their own family. Though we make our own decisions, as a result many of us did go astray. Thanks be to God each of us have been brought back, all the more convicted of the primacy of marriage and family.

Be a man!

Fr. Larry Richards and others speak it like it is. We should consider a drill sergeant. In the ultimate interests of forming men for battle, they don't ask what you like. Or how you feel. Or if you're comfortable. As Fr. Larry puts it, "they kill you" in order to resurrect you. Are we not fighting a battle? Do we not need to be prepared for the real battle field? Are there not real stakes? Why play games? 

Men, we need to get out of our Catholic hot tubs. We need to quit our periodic loitering in front of Doors. God is beckoning us to go through, to close the Door behind, to get on the Road of discipleship in Jesus Christ.

For this we were created. For this our lives will be judged. It's time for us to take the battle to the Enemy.

Men, please think of 9/11. Men went into towering inferno without regard for their own lives. For those they did not even know. That's the self-sacrificing, Christ-like stuff we're made of.

Doesn't matter if you're afraid. Or uncomfortable. Or awkward. Or ill-equipped. Or uncertain. Or broken. Or heavy laden. We are made of the stuff of heroes! For most of us, our marriages and families may be the burning building. We need to go in, recklessly relying on the promise of being "clothed with power from on high." (Luke 24:49)

Men, not the president. Not our pastor. We are icons and instruments of the Father's transforming power to our families. Nothing can replace our absence. Nothing. With due note that God's mercy in such absence is surpassing, I have yet to see a man surrender control of the steering wheel in hopes that someone else will grab it!

God put you behind the steering wheel.

Men, the impact of our church activity is measured by what we do in our homes.

What breaches this great chasm between mere conviction and real commitment? Sacrifice. Sacrifice literally means "to make sacred." Sacrifice is our means of sharing in the transforming, kingdom building, world changing power of Jesus Christ.

The power of Jesus Christ awaits if we would sacrifice our addictions to stupid devices. And television. And entertainment. And alcohol. And money. And position. All selfish pursuits.

There are not presents that surpass the gift of our presence.

We have the call right now to step up and put flags in the sand.

We battle by committing dedicated time to meaningful talking and praying in our homes.

This movement is comprised of ordinary (and extraordinary) sinners like you and me. Over the past three years it has resulted in over 20,000 encounters with Jesus Christ. That's good. But you know great? The few who have gone through the Door. Who have proclaimed with Peter, "Where are we to go? You have the words of eternal life." (John 6:68)

These are very busy people just like you. They recognized and received the Gift of God alive in their hearts, marriages and families. They've committed to talking and praying in their homes. We're united in seeing personal, family and parish transformation by committing to the Live IT Gathering

Greatness is proclaimed by:

-The busy dad who overcame his fears and awkwardness, who stepped up and has been leading his family, who now proclaims the huge difference it has made.

- The busy, divorced mom who incorporates "the Daily Questions" to foster meaningful conversation over dinner. She proclaimed: "This is transforming our entire family culture."

- The many, busy small group leaders who have decided to use the Live IT: Small Group Edition in their weekly men's or women's groups. It's leading them to the Road in their homes.

- Two busy high school youth who, on a weekly basis for over four months, have been uniting 10 busy peers in their LIT Group, each of whom proclaim the transforming difference it's making. These are evangelizing their siblings and parents!

- The twelve, busy leaders of Most Blessed Sacrament parish team who are discovering themselves as a missioned, who are preparing to IGNITE their entire parish community. 

And our greatest hope and prayer is for you, reading this right now-- to recognize that God wants to take you through the Door and give you the Road. He wants to give you this greatest Gift-- uniting us in Him alive in your hearts, marriages, families and parishes, spilling over into the world.

Receive it. Become a Kingdom Builder.

And stay tuned and please join us in praying for something very special coming up this Pentecost and moving forward.


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