For years, I gave a series of excuses for not learning it. I don’t have the charism of teaching, I say. Or, I’m not a natural at giving presentations. Or, I’m a preacher, not a teacher—there is a difference. Or, I’m tired and I would rather sleep a fourth hour this evening.
Yet, one day, Tricia and I were sitting across from each other, she with a cup of green tea and I with a latte. Suddenly, she places her porcelain cup on the table and leans in, crossing her arms at the wrists. She said to me plainly, “I want you to come with me to Hong Kong to teach the Called and Gifted Workshop.”
Something like that.
Likely, it didn’t happen that way at all. I just remember putting the dates in my calendar and wondering how I was going to do this.
It took me a couple of weeks to discern if I wanted to teach the workshop at all. I mean, me, teaching Called and Gifted? Might as ask Lady Mary to marry Matthew Crawley, or ask Bates to get a divorce so that he can legally marry Anna or ask Sybil to…. (You’re welcome, Downton Abbey fans.)
However, I discerned that learning the workshop was the best thing for me at this particular time. I had always wanted to do do, the Catherine of Siena Institute values Dominican Friars to learn and teach the workshop, I love thinking about learning about how to empower the lay faithful to be missionaries of the Gospel–it works well for everyone.
On day three of my Hong Kong adventure, the workshop commenced. Twenty-three attended the workshop of all ages and parts of their journey. Some were “part of the choir”—those were affirmed of lay empowerment yet liked to hear it from an outside source. Others were trying to discover how they fit into the Church. There were a few young adults as well as older Christians who were already intentional disciples. Not only that—a few of the twenty-three were from our separated brethren. Good times had by all!
The reasons why I admire the workshop so much is because it feeds a yearning that I have always had: the desire to allow others to take the faith on their own terms. Taking the enormity of the Christian message and bringing it off the pages of sacred text and into the chaos of ordinary living. God entered into reality—taking on flesh and blood—in order to give us a blueprint of how to live and how to die. Giving us a community. Affording us examples. Showing us something to live and die for.
In short, the Called and Gifted Workshop is not merely an instrument like the Meyers-Briggs or Strengthfinders. It’s a concrete way to discover how the Holy Spirit is dynamic and active in our lives, and allowing that fire and light to ignite others with the inferno of the Gospel.
I pray for those twenty-three souls with whom I had been blessed to spend that weekend. I thank them for their attendance, I pray that the Holy Spirit may ignite their hearts with the Fire of His Love.
Holy Father Dominic, pray for us!