Update from Bruce

By on 25/01/2019

STAFF UPDATE
20 January 2019

HOLINESS

THE ORIGIN OF THE UPDATES

This Update began as a way of communicating with the staff of the Ministry regardless of whether I was with them or traveling. The goal of the Updates is the Spiritual and Practical Formation of the staff and people involved in the ministry, as well as a way of communicating on practical matters.

I used to write a more General Update for everyone else about the ministry. People outside of the staff starte asking for the Staff Update instead of the General Update as it is written at a spiritually deeper level, as well as gives insight into the behind the scenes happenings of the ministry.

This is required reading and reflection for the staff and those who hold positions in the ministry. It is not for everyone else, but to all who seek involvement with the ministry. It will help you in your personal formation as a follower of Christ and in understanding of what we are doing.

I am happy to share it with you and pray it is a blessing to you.

To my Staff:

As you know Rosemary and I have been in Washington DC for a week now. Rosemary has come down with a very severe case of influenza. I have never seen her as ill as she is right now. It is very serious with the doctor advising that if she gets any worse that we are to go straight to a hospital.

Today, I went to the local parish and asked the Parish Priest if he would bring her the Eucharist.
He asked me if I would walk from the parish to the hotel with him which was not far from the Church. As we came over, he asked me why we were here and what we did. I told him that we reach people who no longer attend Church, to which he said, “But how do you find them. It is so hard.”

To which I said, “that is what we do. We go beyond the bubble of the Church.”

I want to go deeper into the first Habit I wrote about last week, The Habit of Examination as a member of The Company of Saints.

In the last Update, I wrote that all of us are called to be saints and that sainthood is being all that God has called us as individuals to be. Being a saint is not dependent on the Church giving us that title but on us responding in the very best way we can to God in our lives. Being a saint does not mean perfection or being sinless.

No matter what you do on our Team we all have two things in common as part of this ministry of proclaiming Christ to people who are disconnected from God and the Church;

  1. We are all in each other’s ‘company’ as we do all of the many different things together that make up
    this ministry.
  2. And, as I have written, God calls each of us to be a saint.

We might say that “The Catholic Guy Ministry” is ‘THE COMPANY OF SAINTS.’

For us to be ‘all that we can be’ which is the definition of holiness, we need to address those areas in our lives that rob us or deplete us from this holiness. Another way to say this is, ‘if we are to be all that God made us to be or we might say, God calls us to be,’ then we need to overcome those things which rob us of this occurring.

Did you notice I did not say, better than others or compared to others? I did not because God calls each of us to Him as individuals through the Church. We are not in a comparison game.

The Scripture we looked at in the last Update was Romans 12:2;

I appeal to you therefore, brothers and sisters, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. 2 Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds, so that you may discern what is the will of God—what is good and acceptable and perfect.


Sometimes we fall into the trap of treating our Christian faith as a magic trick. We think, ‘if I am a Christian somehow our problems, poor habits of thinking and behaving will be overcome.’ We never really believe this will happen but we at times act as if it might.

In vs. 2 above it says, ‘but be transformed by the renewing of your minds…’

This is an action we must undertake. It will not magically happen.

Without repeating everything written in the last Update, we are the sum total of our habits, good and bad, deliberate and unconscious, those we set up and those we picked up along the way without thought.

We as a staff and team live close to each other in ways that people who work in other jobs most often do not. We have sacrificed personally greatly for this mission. The hours can be very long where we do not work 5 days a week but any time of the week that work has to be done. We are all always ‘on’ you might say 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. That is the nature of proclamation ministry. By working so closely together, we know each other. We even know as the Scripture describes, ‘each other’s sin.’ We know each other’s poor habits, attitudes
and things we do that sometimes the person is not aware of themselves.

Let’s all think of Scott or John or Justin or Melissa, etc. It is easy to see their weakness, is it not? We know what frustrates and even angers us about them. We know how we cover for them or even make excuses for them.

Then think of yourself. Can you see your weaknesses? Of course, you can.

Are you stuck in behaviors that you wish you could change? If your answer is, ‘no I am good with everything,’ then let’s have a staff meeting and I am sure we can enlighten you about you.

Holiness is the calling of God to ‘wholeness.’ I repeat that is being all that we were made by God to be.

In times past, we thought of the priest, the pastor, the religious nun or brother as holy because they had given their lives to God through their vocation and the sacrifices that they make and the fact that well, they pray a lot.

So often we do not see that we as lay people are called to the same level of holiness and that both the Scriptures and the teaching found in the Church documents exhorts (encourages) us to be just as holy. To be saints where we are.

The problem with the New Year’s resolution approach to personal change or the motivational course drive for change is that they do not address the spirituality of change that we as Christian’s are called to which is that we are called to be holy, or all that we can be before God.

In the accompanying Video Message to the last Update, I spoke about how to make serious change in our lives and break deeply ingrained habits by setting up reminders in our smartphones to help us reflect on areas in our lives we need to change by evaluating how we went over the past few hours and not the past few days.

Personal change to become holy is difficult to come to because it strikes at the deepest parts of us.

Many people think that holiness is going to Church and being pious in the ways they pray and behave but holiness is much, much more. It is a very deep conversion of our inner self to Christ’s will in the totality of us.

At the surface level, people can fall into the trap of thinking that setting some reminders in our phone is just a method to change some bad habits and I want to say to you, IT IS NOT, IT IS NOT, IT IS NOT, IT IS NOT….

It is more than a simple technique that we can learn at a motivational event, a business course or make as a New Year’s resolution. It is a striving for holiness and the rooting out of our lives of both sin and human weakness that prevent us from becoming and being all that God has called us to be.

As staff and as members of this ministry you are called to be holy for three reasons;

REASON 1

So that when you meet God one day you will be able to say,

“I did all I could, with all I had, from when I got serious about being the best version of me, I could be.”

So being a saint, being holy is the first reason we must wrestle with changing patterns of
thinking and behaviors.

 

REASON 2

The second reason for dealing with destructive habits is our witness to the world. We do not have to be perfect. The world at present seeks to bring down everyone who has done wrong in their past but as Scripture says we have all fallen short of the glory of God. There is great hypocrisy taking place in society today, where people point the finger at past wrongs in other people not giving them a second chance or of practicing one of the central tenets of our Christian faith which is forgiveness all the while denying or hoping no one brings their past into the light.

In all of this, your ‘life’ must be your ‘voice.’ In all of this as a ministry, our ‘lives’ must be our ‘voice’ with all of our weaknesses.

As it says in 2 Corinthians 12:9;

“My grace is sufficient for you, for power is made perfect in weakness.”

Our lives must ‘speak Jesus’ to the world because people are saying I don’t believe what the Church says any longer. Show me. Can you blame those who have left the Church or those
who have never been Christian for their skepticism about the Church? I cannot. I am embarrassed by the Church I so deeply love.

Right now, we are called to be a light on a hill and not a microphone declaring rules that the Church today is seen as not keeping itself. Harsh I know, but truthful if you take the time to talk with people who are far from the Church.

You being the best version of you is what will speak to the world, therefore, you need to change deliberately and over time.

This change in you will not happen accidentally or just because you go to Church more often or even say your prayers. All of these are necessary, but you must co-operate with the power of the Holy Spirit through deliberately, intentionally, calculatedly making the decisions and putting into place the practices that will draw you into a life of holiness.

Remember holiness is not piousness but you being all that God calls you to be as a friend, employee, business person, spouse, parent and by being surrendered to God in the depth of your heart. You should along with others be able to see your holiness by your life.

 

REASON 3

The third reason we are called to holiness is so that the power of God can flow ‘through us’ and therefore be ‘evident to all’ about us so that people come to Christ. Reread this first
sentence as it is a big concept to grasp that most people do not think about these days.

The book of the Bible that speaks greatly to me about our ministry at this time is the Acts of the Apostles.

12 Now many signs and wonders were done among the people through the apostles. And they were all together in Solomon’s Portico. 13 None of the rest dared to join them, but the people held them in high esteem. 14 Yet more than ever believers were added to the Lord, great numbers of both men and women, 15 so that they even carried out the sick into the streets, and laid them on cots and mats, in order that Peter’s shadow might fall on some of them as he came by. 16 A great number of people would also gather from the towns around Jerusalem, bringing the sick and those tormented by unclean spirits, and they were all cured.

Acts 5:12-16 NRSV

Catholics must read the Scriptures in context, which means understanding what has come before in particular and the placement of the passage we are reading in the Chapter and even the book overall.

In Acts 5 and the preceding two chapters we are seeing the Apostles boldly proclaiming Christ to the Jews and before the religious leaders. They point out to them that the Christ, the Saviour, the one who the Jewish people had been waiting for had been among them and that they had not recognized Him, but they had rejected Him and killed Him.

The Apostles with signs and wonders testified to this. They were emboldened by being filled with the Holy Spirit and as we read in the book of Acts, we see after every declaration of Christ
that people were added to their number.

In vs. 12 above it says, many signs and wonders were done among them.’ Their bold proclamation accompanied by signs and wonders caused the people in vs. 13 to be over-awed and yet attracted to them.

Vs 13 None of the rest dared to join them, but the people held them in high esteem.

When we look at the Church today, are regular Church attendees, those who have stopped going or people in the world who have never been Christian, holding us the Church in high esteem right now? No, just as I saw in a popular movie recently, we the Church are the butt of jokes because of how ineffective and hypocritical we are.

As evangelists, of which we are in this ministry, declarers of Christ, we must be different. You must be different.

Earlier in the book of Acts in Chapter in 3, Peter and John enter the Temple and a beggar lame from birth at the Temple Gate asked them for money;

4 Peter looked intently at him, as did John, and said, “Look at us.” 5 And he fixed his attention on them, expecting to receive something from them. 6 But Peter said, “I have no silver or gold, but what I have I give you; in the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, stand up and walk.” 7 And he took him by the right hand and raised him up; and immediately his feet and ankles were made strong. 8 Jumping up, he stood and began to walk, and he entered the temple with them, walking and leaping and praising God. 9 All the people saw him walking and praising God, 10 and they recognized him as the one who used to sit and ask for alms at the Beautiful Gate of the temple; and they were filled with wonder and amazement at what had happened to him.

Acts 3:4-10 NRSV

What is the very first thing Peter does? It says Peter, “looked intently at Him.” In other words, Peter gives this beggar his full attention seeing past his outward need but to his real need. How often are we seeing people who are far from Church or those who turn up week after week at Church or at our Services but whose hearts are not alight and just going through the motions of Church? Do we see them at all, and do we see their real needs?

Remember what I said earlier it is not our words that will speak alone buy our lives.

It says in vs. 5 that the beggar “fixed his attention on them, expecting to receive something from them.”

Peter then said, vs. 6 “I have no silver or gold, but what I have I give you; in the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, stand up and walk.” Peter knows one thing and it is Christ and He declares and shows the beggar Jesus through his confident words backed by his actions.

Peter does something more than speak, it then says in vs. 7, “And he took him by the right hand and raised him up.” Peter acted. Peter reached out. Peter first was bold. The reason was because Peter had first been converted and encountered Jesus for Himself and then reached out and what was the consequence, we read of in vs7b?

“and immediately his feet and ankles were made strong.” Immediately after Peter had spoken and Peter had reached out His hand.

If Peter had not spoken first and reached out first, would the man have been healed? I don’t think so.

Because of this declaration and action of theirs toward this beggar, Peter and John were given the opportunity by the people for them to present Christ to them with their words explaining
who Jesus was. It says in Chapter 4 verse 4 of Acts that;

….many of those who heard the word believed; and they numbered about five thousand.

The story does not end here. The religious leaders of the day get upset, arrest Peter and John and instruct them to not speak of Jesus, but there was a problem for the religious leaders and it this,

When they saw the man who had been cured standing beside them, they had nothing to say in opposition.

Acts 4:14 NRSV


The third reason we are called to holiness is so that the power of God can flow ‘through us’ 
and therefore be ‘evident to all’ about us so that people come to Christ.

My dear staff, are you holy?

+ It is for this reason that you must wrestle with your habits and behaviors that cause Christ to be less in you.

By establishing the Habit of Examination in our life where we review our life every few hours, that will cause significant and long-lasting change so that God will be able to work more powerfully and effectively through you.

The religious leaders who were against Peter and John were also amazed by them;

Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John and realized that they were uneducated and ordinary men, they were amazed and recognized them as companions of Jesus.

Acts 4:13

The world must be amazed by you as an evangelist, a proclaimer of Christ no matter you’re your role is on our team.

You can be with Jesus through prayer, reading of the Scriptures, spiritual reading of people of faith, mentors both close and distant and through the power of community in which Jesus dwells.

It is here that I wish to give some direction;

Melissa:

I would like you to gather the staff once a week for 90 minutes in an Impact Group where Impact Group rules apply of confidentiality, mutual support and trust.

+ In this group have people talk and share about personal holiness from their perspective.
+ Where appropriate discuss those areas in our lives that people are fighting to change and are changing by establishing the Habit of Examination.

As we all know it is a higher level of spiritual growth to share with people that we are with all of the time and reveal our truest self to. It is much easier with strangers but because of what we are called to together this is critically important for us as a ministry.

No one can enforce or mandate holiness but what I can do as the head of our ministry is to require that you as members of the ministry uphold these practices which like religious orders of old and effective groups have done through their history formed people in spiritual maturity and relationship with God.

Site Leaders:

This is true for you as well even if you are the only one as proclaimer in your location wrestlingw ith this.

Everyone Associated with the Ministry:

Everything written here is true for you as well whether you are part of a group, have others who you can share with or are just by yourself. Holiness comes from usd oing our best and knowing God will do far more than His share in drawing us to Him. The world needs you to be the best version you can be of you – which is holy. I encourage you to change your habits that rob you from being all that God calls us to be.

I told the priest who brought Eucharist to Rosemary today after he said that finding and reaching people who do not go to Church “that is what we do. We go beyond the bubble of Church.”

My staff and those involved in the ministry, it is an important time in the world where evangelists are required to proclaim Christ with all they are and not just their words. Now is the time.

As the Company of Saints make the HABIT OF EXAMINATION a critical and essential part of your daily life and become the person Christ called you to be, which is holy.

May the Lord bless you.

Bruce


7 comments on “Update from Bruce

  1. May the Lord bless you and each of us in doing as you’ve said here, Bruce. Daily examining our hearts and lives so that the love of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ may be seen and understood and received (just as the beggar in the Acts passage) and the world hear anew the Word of Life!
    Praying for Rosemary’s speedy recovery and also the skill of her doctors.

  2. Please pray for my niece, she is have medical problems and the Doctors can not diagnose her problem as of yet. Please pray that the Doctors can figure out what is going on with her. I pray for you and Rosemary so that you guys are healthy and can keep up with this ministry.

  3. Thank you for your update and reflection, Bruce. Praying and fasting for you and the TCG ministry and it’s intentions, especially for Rosemary’s recovery. God bless you all!

  4. Bruce, your update, as always, is inspiring. I am like a toy train that every now and then needs to be picked up and put back on the tracks. You updates and messages do just that for me. I will try harder to stay on track and be all that God has called me to be.

  5. Thank you Bruce for the update and reflection on our call to Holiness. Many years
    ago when we did Marriage Encounter we were introduced to our call to Holiness.
    We really appreciated your words which call for ongoing commitment.
    Praying for you, team and Rosemary’s recovery.
    Blessings and Love,

  6. Thank you Bruce. I will remember to reflect and examine myself on a daily basis. My prayers for all your requests and for Rosemary’s recovery.

  7. Thank you so much Bruce it has taken me two weeks to open this email and I am so pleased I did it has given me the push I needed to keep my direction in life uncomplicated. I will reset my goals for constant personal improvement, in the hope that I can truly live the life God wants me to live. Thanks, your words have shaken me out of my complacency.

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