Continue Challenge

I will discuss with you these two words “Challenge Continue”.

What do we mean with “Challenge?” what do we mean with “Continue?”

I find in challenge a sense of motivation.  Simple invitation to a person makes that person passive, but challenge makes the person take issue with something that is offered in the discussion or a given concrete situation in life.  A person with no challenge cannot be fully human.  It is a strong statement; it goes down to the depth, the very heart of life.  Challenge means to be faced with such problems, to confront such situation in which you test yourself.  You begin to think of yourself first, before you react or you actually confront the problem.

Let me say to you a personal experience:

When I first went to North America, I did not know English.  I was assigned to a small parish.  I had to deliver a sermon to the congregation in English.  I was shaken to the depth of my heart.  I was feeling so terribly humble and poor.

I began like this:

My name is

I am the Antiochian Priest to this Parish

Where is Antioch?

You don’t know?

That challenged me.

How could I explain to the faithful the city, its history, its role in the life of their church?  That became a hunting idea all along.

This is another story of challenge from the book of “Report to Greco’s” to Nikos Kazatitzakis:  His father decided to send him to a Catholic school, away from his homeland of Crete.  The father told him: “you are from Crete, don’t ever forget.  Your mind isn’t your own, it belongs to Crete.  Sharpen it as much as you can, so that one day you can use it to help liberate Crete.  Do you understand what I am talking about?  Say yes! That is for today, tomorrow, and always.  Do not disgrace me”.

Then Kazantzakis adds:

“I felt the who Crete on my shoulders.  If I failed my lessons in maths, Crete would be disgraced.”  When I saw my classmates laugh and play, I admired them.  I would loved to do the same, but Crete was warring and in danger”.  That is what challenge means to me.

Now, I come to “Continue” What do I mean by it?  To continue is to add, not to repeat.  It means to create, not to preserve.  History can be a teacher, but history is the worst thing in the world if it becomes a dictator.  We can be taught by history.  By other words, “to continue” means not to be prisoners of history or to behave as sheer custodians of a heritage, but to do something in our life that may enrich that history.  This is what I mean by continuation.

We are called for a new assessment of the life of our churches, communities and nations.  We are to take a look at our values and moral.  We have given enough worship to rhetoric.  We have often followed the shadows and fled from the light.  We have nurtured ourselves vanity, nominal and formal attachment, and have skilfully excused ourselves from responsible involvement.  We still are doing so today.  We speak proudly of our church and nation but do very little in building them up in our own lives.  We pay lip service, empty tribute to great names who have been witnesses of the truth.  “We say through their lives” but do almost nothing to follow their path.

That is what is bedevilling our life.  We speak about the Church, but what are we really doing to promote it, learn about it and sacrifice for it?

Here, comes the role of the college:

We need to prepare our students to face the problems of our times, giving them the means and methods through which they can spread the teaching of the Lord.  Prepare them, challenge them, trust them and pray for their success.  The challenge is great.  Today we are facing a new reality: are we going to have a church tomorrow or not?  If we do not adjust to the system of education of the time, if we do not prepare our vineyard workers adequately, to work with our children, we will have no church, in 25-50 years.

The Church and the faith are facing a real danger.  Are we to say with prophet Isaiah “Yes Lord! Here I am, send me?”

With this group of educators, fathers and leaders, I have confidence that together we will take very seriously the challenge through our students and faithful.

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