Bishop Morneau's Column|
"Reflection on the Readings"
|Bishop Robert Morneau
Four stages in our faith journey
Discipleship, friendship, Egypt and the desert are always with us
June 17, Feast of the Body and Blood of Christ
By Bishop Robert Morneau
Questions for reflection:
1. What place does the Eucharist play in your life?
2. How do you respond to the four stages of the Christian
3. What is the difference between discipleship and friendship?
In early May, Fr. Byron Haaland, SCJ, a Sacred Heart priest working at St. Joseph Retreat House in Bailey's Harbor, gave a day of recollection to the administrative council of the diocese.
As a participant I was refreshed and enlightened by Fr. Haaland's
In one conference he spoke of our faith journey in terms of the four stages: Egypt - our entanglement with sin; the desert - a time and place of struggle and discipline; discipleship - commitment to follow the Lord Jesus; friendship - the invitation to intimacy with Jesus.
On this feast of the Body and Blood of Christ, we do well to
reflect on our Eucharistic life. Every time we celebrate Mass we
once again experience and hopefully deepen our commitment to our
Christian way of life. In the celebration all four stages call
for our attention.
Egypt! The penitential rite is the time in which we face the dark
side of our life. Just as Moses reminded the people that Egypt
was a land of slavery for them, so we are reminded at Mass that
sin enslaves and injures our freedom. We begin every Mass by
asking for God's forgiveness and mercy. We do this both for our
world and ourselves. Throughout our entire life we realize that
we are always undergoing conversion.
The Desert! Again it was Moses who had the task of reminding his
people that their journey through the desert was a time of
struggle and temptation. Some hard questions had to be answered:
were they committed to the Lord or to the fleshpots of Egypt?
Were they willing to keep the Lord's commandments? This desert
experience - waterless, lacking in food and comfort - puts all of
us to the test. We have to make a choice: return to our former
way of life of darkness or plod on toward the hoped for promise
land. The scriptures at Mass emphasize the need to endure
affliction and put our trust in the Lord.
Discipleship! In the offertory of Mass we bring forth the gifts
of bread and wine as well as our financial offering as a symbol
of our self-donation. We join ourselves to Jesus on the altar in
his sacrificial self-giving. Discipleship is not just a matter of
giving things - time, talent, treasure - to God, rather it is
offering of one's mind and heart. The cup of blessing and the
bread given and broken are the body and blood of Christ. And we
are part of the Mystical Body.
Friendship! In celebrating Mass we are called beyond discipleship
into the intimacy and bonding of friendship. Jesus, the living
bread, comes down from heaven, and seeks a relationship of
mutuality and deep communication. In communion we experience the
incredible love of God that is the ground of friendship. It is
because of this blessed communion that we are promised life
Life is seldom lived in a straight line. These Christian journey
stages are always with us . They are still parts of us in Egypt
and in the desert just as there are segments in our life filled
with commitment and friendship. So be it. Life has been such. Our
trust is not in our institutions or ourselves but in the person
of Jesus, given to us in word and sacrament.
(Bp. Morneau is the auxiliary bishop of the Green Bay Diocese.)