It all began on the 27th of April, 2013, when folks from different regions came under one roof, to figure out and discern God’s call to be disciples. These folks came together with a deep desire to understand what it really meant to be a ‘Disciple of His Son Jesus Christ’. Initially a little reluctant, but a little excited and with different expectations, brothers and sisters in the Community from different parts of India, joined together to participate in the ‘School of Discipleship’, a nine day resident program at Snehadaan, Bangalore from April 27th to May 5th, 2013.
THE FIRST TWO DAYS
The School began with the first sessions being conducted by Bro Fritz, who revealed to the students, the essence of God’s love and how we can truly experience it by surrendering to His will. More importantly he spoke of how guilt and shame prevents the Holy Spirit from working and that we need to repent and forgive to fully experience God’s love.
The following day he continued to speak about the nature of sin and how it separates us from God the Father. During his talk, Bro Fritz mentioned that the Cross saves us from our rebellious nature and that we can overcome sin by clinging on to Jesus at all times.
THE NEXT TWO DAYS
The following day, Bro Victor continued the sessions, beginning with the basics of Baptism; explaining in depth, the meaning of being baptized, wherein he showing us how we die to the nature of sin through our baptism which unites us to the Christ in His crucifixion.
“For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body ruled by sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin” Romans 6:6
Further, he explained the different ways in which the evil one tempts us, the sins that we commit, and their consequences.
Bro Victor explained to us that during our personal prayers it would be our experience to have the evil one distract us with worldly thoughts, to which we believe that it may be necessary to fight or rebuke such thoughts to continue in prayer; while in reality, the purpose of the evil one in filling us with such thoughts is met if we attempt to fight it as it is imperative that we would be distracted in our conversation with the Lord. Bro Victor explained to us that instead of fighting such thoughts, it may be ideal to focus on a positive thought, such as on the Lord and to continue to pray.
The following day he walked us through different stages of our life that could require healing. He also impressed upon us the manner in which ’bitter root judgments’ and ‘inner vows’ affect our lives. Then he showed us how we can be delivered from these areas including areas of broken relationships.
“Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.” Matthew 7:1-2
It was day five, and we had the next faculty for the school. Bro Alex helped us open up our lives to the Holy Spirit. He mentioned about three voices we deal with, namely the human, the evil one and the voice of the Holy Spirit and that we need grow in our relationship with the Holy Spirit to be able recognize His voice.
“My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me.” John 10:27
He encouraged everyone to aspire for higher gifts while more powerfully aspiring for the fruit of the Spirit. Followed by this, we had the deep and profound experience of being baptized with the Holy Spirit. The experience was a life changing moment for the students, when the Spirit filled the Chapel and the lives of each of the students.
The following day we learnt about what it means to be a ‘Disciple of Jesus’ from Tito Tony Correa. He spoke to us on the reality of being brothers and sisters in the CFCI community.
He also spoke to us about the various areas we tend to fall in our relationship with God. It was made clear during his talk that Christianity without discipleship is always Christianity without Christ. We understood that as disciples our endeavour should be a lifelong training of our bodies and minds in pursuit of holiness. The call to discipleship also includes an inherent obligation to evangelize and be accountable. He then gave a few guidelines on how we can train ourselves to grow with the fruit of the Spirit.
“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!” 2 Corinthians 5:17
As part of his talk on discipleship, Tito Tony also mentioned that Mother Mary, the mediatrix of grace helps us constantly in our endeavour to be disciples, by interceding for us and that the said intercession protects us from the evil one.
Tito AV Jose, our country servant, explained about our role as evangelists. He said God wants to use us and if we have the same passion as St. Paul we will be a people set apart to work for Him at all times and in every way possible. Our love of Jesus fills us with a passion for the mission that God calls each of us. Tito Jose also impressed on us the importance of reading the Word of God aloud. This, he explained to us, leaves no room for evil anywhere in your life, your home and surroundings.
“You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit—fruit that will last—and so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you.” John 15:16
Following Tito Jose, Kim really made us wonder with the opening question as to ‘Why do we believe in Jesus?’ The question really got us to think. She continued the teaching by reinforcing the need for evangelism, to share the Good News of Christ Jesus with everyone. She told us how we need not be afraid to tell the truth about Christ, as the truth will defend itself, if preached with integrity and without distortion. We need to seek from Christ, the eagerness to bring others to Christ.
We were ready for the battle and it was time to know how we need to train ourselves, to recognize and wear our armor, to know the weapons and specially to know who we were fighting against.
We first learnt one of the key tools to help us train i.e., the tool of fasting and praying, shared by Bro Jimmy. He told us why we should fast and pray and the spiritual battles that are fought when we do so. He made it clear to us that fasting is not an option, but is to be construed to have the same or equal importance as praying and charity. Fasting is a tool which may be used
1. For intercession
2. For divine assistance
3. As a sign of repentance when we sin
4. For healing and
5. To humble ourselves
We moved on to learn about our enemy, the Satan and the spiritual warfare we are up against, which was elaborated to us by Bro Gerard. During the talk we realized that we battle the devil, flesh and the world constantly in our desire to build on our relationship with the Lord and that we need to be on constant battle alert.
Bro Gerard spoke of the devil’s attack on our identity and his use of our weaknesses. He impressed on the need to have a strategy to work on our weakness while keeping our hope in God alone. Bro Gerard shared to us on how cunning Satan could be, being the highest ranked angel and music leader in heaven. He mentioned to us that he now uses his talents to capture more of us for his kingdom. He moved on to explain the weapons we could use against the evil one. Some of the key weapons that Bro Gerard spoke of included:
2. Asking Mother Mary to intercede
4. Divine Mercy Chaplet
5. Prayer to St. Michael (The archangel who defeated Satan)
Many misconceptions about intercession were dealt with by Bro Preetam after the above talk on spiritual warfare. He explained how an intercessor cries out for a soul along with Mother Mary and the Saints. He guided us on how to intercede and how it is important to persevere in our effort to win a soul for Christ. He also explained to us the armour of God, which has been given to us, which is mentioned in Ephesians 6:13-17.
CELEBRATION OF THE HOLY EUCHARIST
Every day of the school we had Fr. Justin Sequiera explaining every aspect of the Eucharistic celebration. It was truly an enlightening experience when he explained the different parts and their significance.
Eucharistic celebration is the greatest form of worship. It is a joyful celebration of our Lord’s death and resurrection. Fr. Justin emphasized on our understanding of this joy and attitude towards the celebration. He explained to us that we do not attend a mass, but we join with the priest to celebrate Christ, in remembrance of what he did for us and also to praise and honor Him. With each Eucharistic celebration spread over the nine days of the school, we did not relegate ourselves to being a mere audience during the celebration, but we truly experienced the joy of celebrating with mass with different prayers and responses.
During the last days of the school, we were also introduced to a new type of worship, the ‘Taize Worship’ by Bro Crispin. A worship, wherein we reached out from the depths of our hearts to Jesus in gentle praise and silent contemplation. All of us enjoyed the time of worship as we were able to take the next step in our relationship with Jesus.
Thus, the nine day school concluded with a fire burning in everyone, ready to go out in the world, to testify, witness and proclaim Christ. Everyone had a unique experience of their own and had been touched in different ways. Several had their calling revealed to them transforming them into ‘Soldiers for Christ’, equipped and ready for the battle.
Did you have the privilege of participating in this event? If your answer is yes, please do share your experience? We would be happy to know your outlook and expectation before the school and transformation and renewal after completion of the event. We believe the Lord has accomplished a work of wonder during the nine days. Do share your views in the comment section below.
Do not fail to check out the Photo Album of the event.