Update from Bruce Downes

By on 18/01/2019

13 January 2019

To my Dear Friends

Site Leaders
Board Members
G/300 Donors
Engine Room Prayer Team
Leaders of Ministry Teams
Those who serve on our many Teams
My family

Happy New Year. I pray the Lord is blessing you.

write from Washington DC in the USA. It is snowing outside right now where the temperature is -1C or 30F. Only a couple of days ago I was in Perth, Western Australia, where it was much warmer 36C or 97F as you will see in the picture below.

There are many things that I would like to communicate with you as we commence 2019 but I will concentrate on what I believe is the most important and cover the other subjects in future communications.

My prayer is that as you read this, you will encounter Jesus in a powerful and personal manner. This Update comes out of my prayer over the past year. I want to help you have the best year of your life as we start this new year by what I write about today in this first Update for 2019.

For the staff of the ministry, I ask you to implement this into your life and we will discuss and evaluate your personal progress. It is a priority for you as employees of the ministry.

As you would all know we made the decision to pause our activities in 2018 after trialing our various activities as it became evident that the potential for what we are doing in proclaiming the Gospel to people far exceeded what we initially thought was possible, even though our convictions were large then. There has been so much to learn and numerous significant challenges concerning creating the appropriate infrastructure of reaching people who have ceased or feel disconnected from the Church. I am pleased to say our conviction is deeper today than when we started and as we expand all of our activities in 2019 into even new areas as well as those, we have done in the past I am confident of the Lords blessing.

Simplistic explanations are normally given by good people as to why people are falling away from the Church, but it is more complex than these surface issues that most people are able to point to.

On top of the complex issues as to why people are not attending Church, particularly our young, what is ravaging us right now and is only going to get worse is the growing sexual abuse issue in the Church.

To name just two places deeply affected by this is Australia with senior clerics being convicted and awaiting trial and sentencing. This is going to have a shocking effect upon the Church across the country. Also, in the United States, I recently read 36 of the 197 Dioceses have been investigated to date with numerous revelations of abuse being investigated in the remaining Dioceses. Just the other day, I spoke to a senior priest in one Archdiocese who said what is expected to happen is that accusations will commence soon in Europe and then move to Africa where it is expected to be devastating.

I do not know if this will occur, but what I do know is that if ever there was a need for a ministry like what we are doing it is now. We reach out to those who have left or are questioning and while most people have not personally been affected by the abuse issue it is a huge hurdle to them in participating in Church again. We have to take the Gospel beyond the boundaries of the Church walls to those far away and to those who have been abused. Christ is the answer for all people.

As staff in this ministry, it is a requirement that we, that you, are ‘above reproach’ in your behaviour. Our words will not be listened to any longer because we the Church have lost the moral ground through what has happened.

The only thing that will reach people who are disillusioned by the Church is our lives lived as Christians and the power of the Holy Spirit working through us. It must be our lives that speak.

Holiness of life is what will change the world and nothing less. Our behaviour matters – not just in sexual matters – but in all things. For our lives to be holy, however, we need to change our personal habits that prevent us from being the saints God is calling us to be.

Perfection is not required, and neither is being sinless, but holiness is a must!

For this reason, as members of our staff and the leaders of our Sites, I require you to watch the accompanying video at the end of this Update and adopt it as a practice in your life, as one of your daily Habits.

If you do not, it will disqualify you from working on our staff or leading one of our Sites. On this, I will give no ground as your behaviour will affect all of us but mostly those who are in some way disconnected from the Church.

To all involved in our ministry and to my family I strongly encourage you implement what I will write about in the remainder of this Update and the accompanying video.

A few days ago, as many of you know was my birthday and what was special about it was that I was with Rosemary, our children and their families. We do not get together very often as we live in different places. It was a wonderful time.

As an extra surprise for my birthday, our children contacted people who know me, as well as people from my past and asked if they would send letters of a memory or a reflection or anything the person wanted to say to me. On my birthday they gave me a giant bundle of letters and emails from people who had written. What people wrote of their interactions with me are very confronting to me as to how they have been affected. In some cases, I never knew what influence I have had. I am quite overwhelmed, to be honest. The letters are a testament to what God has done in people’s lives when the Gospel is proclaimed. I would love to publish what people have written but it would probably come across as lacking in all humility.

These letters are also a testimony to me of the promise and power of God. As a young teenage boy, I felt God convict me that I was to proclaim Jesus and that people’s lives would be changed and that God had the power to do so. The book of Acts in the Bible shows us that whenever the ‘good news’ of Jesus is responded to that God bursts forth in people’s lives amazingly.

As I say, I feel overwhelmed by the letters.

It has made me think what would have happened;

• If I had done more through my life?
• If I had been more deliberate?
• If I had been a holier person, that is been more who God has asked and called me to be?

How many more people’s marriages, effectiveness as parents, careers, feeling of self-worth, healing and how much more faith would people have today if I had been even more the person God called me to be?

The past few days have caused me to reflect on my life and take stock of where I am and ask, “how should I live my life going forward from now, because I cannot change the past, but I can change who I am in the future.”

Whilst in Australia and reflecting each morning, I would wander just outside the house sitting among mobs of kangaroos, taking photos on my phone like this one I took and praying and thinking,

“am I being who God called me to be and
how can I be more useable by God?”

These are questions we should all ask. Most of us don’t work in Church ministry but every person has a Christian ministry to be used by God where we are and to be all that God calls us to be.

This kangaroo is being all it can be. Are you being all that God made or calls you to be? As you start this new year are you happy with who you are right now? The difference between people and the kangaroo is we have free choice.

This actually is very close to what the definition of a saint is;

being all that God calls each one of us to be.

All of us are called to be saints. Yes, I know when we think of a saint, we think of some ‘wow’ person that the Church holds up to us because of the life they lived. They should be held up to all of us, but being a saint is more than just for those exemplary people. I repeat, sainthood is being all that God has called us 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. The saints acknowledged by the Church were very ‘human’ when it came to personal faults. So yes, you can be a saint and I am going to help you as we begin 2019.

Whether you serve in some manner across the many tasks in our ministry, donate funds to make it possible, work on our staff, are a member of the Board, are part of the Engine Room Prayer Team that underpins theministry in prayer, are one of the many advisors to the ministry or lead and attend one of our Sites, we all have two things in common as part of this ministry;

  1. We are all in each other’s ‘company’ as we do all of the many different things together that make up the ministry which seeks to proclaim to people who are disconnected from God and the church.
  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.’

So how do we as saints grow in our individual sainthood or another way to say this is, how do we be all that God asks us to be in 2019 as individuals and as members of this ministry that affects so many people’s lives around the world?

Now I know that there are some of you saying right now, “but you don’t know me Bruce. I am caught in ways of acting and thinking that I struggle to change.” If this is your thought, you are well on the way to sainthood, if you will just depend on God. Let me explain.

What makes us “us” is that we as human beings are the sum total of our habits. Those are habits that we are aware of and the many habits that are subconscious or that we do without thought. Some habits are the result of deliberate decisions and others are the result of ways of thinking and acting that we fell into. Some habits are very positive and move us toward the person God called us to be and achieving and being in life what we should be, and other habits move us away from who God calls us to be. We call these ‘bad habits.’

New Year’s Resolutions are our attempt to change our negative or bad habits and/or adopt behaviors that will cause us to be all God has created us be. We all know however that within hours or a few days of making New Year’s Resolutions most people forget they ever tried to change and what the resolution was. This is because change is so difficult, and we allow ourselves to give up. Our subconscious habits can dominate our lives and keep us trapped by actions and thoughts that we do not want to be part of our life.

Interestingly, it is only when we stop, take time and deliberately reflect on our lives that we can see those subconscious habits that stop us from being the person that God wants us to be. How do we change these bad habits? I mean really change them and not just wish they would change? Some examples of ‘bad habits’ that are hard to change;

• Eating when we don’t need to.
• Not being aware of the needs of our spouses.
• Being self-centered which is demanding from others and not giving.
• Negative talk.
• Laziness.
• Watching too much television or time on the internet.
• Being judgmental of others.
• Jealousy.
• Gossip.
• Biting our nails.
• Not studying like we should.
• Overspending and not living inside our budget.
• Procrastinating.
• Saying “um” and ‘ah.’
• Lacking confidence.

The list goes on and on of what we call ‘bad habits.’ These rob us from being the people God has called us to be.

So how do we change these ‘bad habits?’

To help you become the person God is calling you to be and to help us be an internationally effective ministry of proclamation of the Gospel, I want to introduce you to;

The Habits of
The Company of the Saints.

Taking control of our habits will help us achieve more, do more and be more as The Company of Saints who are Christ followers. Changing our habits will improve us as friends, spouses, parents and grandparents and help us to achieve so much more in life. Using theological language, this is at the heart of conversion or encountering the person of Jesus who does not leave us as we are but grants us the ability to change.

The new Habits we require are built upon our desire to be who God calls us to be.

Remember what I said earlier, it is your life that must proclaim Christ. The world is not interested in our words right now but how we live and if we are the ‘real’ Christian we claim to be. Now I know some of you are still saying, ‘but I am not holy,’ and I want to say to you that if you become a better spouse, friend, parent, teacher, business person, trades person, volunteer, priest, etc by changing your habits with prayer, you will be living the definition of holiness and those around you will see. You don’t have to be a spokesperson for the Church you just have to be who God called you to be and the ‘everyday’ habits in your life dictate this.

Holiness is taking charge of yourself.

Rather than write pages more please listen to the first Message I recorded this year on The Habit of Examination. It is a ‘how to’ Message and not a ‘theoretical’ Message. The following Scripture is central to the Message.

The Habit of Examination

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.

Romans 12:1-2

You can view the full message below:

A great deal is happening in the ministry, but I will address all of that next time. For now, I pray that you will be all that God calls you to be in 2019.

God bless


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