Now when they heard this, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and to the other apostles, “Brothers, what should we do?” Peter said to them, “Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ so that your sins may be forgiven; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is for you, for your children, and for all who are far away, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to him.” And he testified with many other arguments and exhorted them, saying, “Save yourselves from this corrupt generation.” So those who welcomed his message were baptized, and that day about three thousand persons were added.
They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. (http://bible.oremus.org/?passage=Acts+2:37-42&vnum=yes&version=nrsv)
I looked at this passage this afternoon, applying the way I’ve been taught to read the Bible in RCIA. Incidentally, I’m finding the technique really helpful so remind me to share it with you soon.
The passage tells us that, as a result of Peter’s preaching, about 3,000 thousand people became Christians. They were Baptised in the name of Jesus and received the Holy Spirit. It’s what happened next that really interests me. The new believers are said to have ‘devoted themselves to the apostle’s teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers.’ (Emphasis added.)
I know I’m treading the right path. I was Baptised a few years ago and Confirmed at the Easter Vigil this year. But how do I measure up as a new Catholic when compared to these believers?
- The apostle’s teaching: I think I’m doing quite well with this. I’m spending at least an hour reading and studying and chewing over the Bible. I’m reading Christian/Catholic books and I pay attention at Mass and RCIA classes. I’m not so good at applying what I learn and I know I tend to lean on my own understanding of the Word rather than being led by the Holy Spirit. I think I need to adopt a more prayerful attitude to my work.
- Fellowship: Now this one is not so good. I’m a very shy person and have been turning down invitations for fellowship with the other members of the Parish. I deliberately sit alone at Mass. I’m avoiding interaction as much as I can, while still wanting to be involved in the life of the Church. What can I do to change this? Well, there’s tea and coffee after Mass on Monday and Friday mornings so I shall commit to attending one of these each week. Hopefully this will get easier as time goes by.
- The breaking of bread: I love, love, love that I can now receive the Eucharist. But I feel guilty for not taking all the opportunities I have to do so. I’m really fortunate to be in a Parish where Mass is celebrated every morning but (despite making daily attendance part of my Lenten intention) I don’t make it more than once or twice a week. And I don’t have a good reason for not going – all my ‘reasons’ are excuses and whinges – so that is something I’m going to work hard to change. Going daily will also help me meet more people and give me some exercise, both of which are good.
- The prayer: I find it very interesting that the author says ‘the’ prayer rather than ‘praying’. To me, the implication is that there was a set format of prayer for members of the early Church. Sure, they’d talk to God outside of those formal times but ‘the’ prayer was made by the whole community. The Catholic Church holds this tradition with the Divine Office and I’ve tried to get with the programme by using The Little Office of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Unfortunately, this practice has fallen by the wayside even though I found it to be something I enjoyed and understood. So that’s something else which needs to change.
I have, then, four resolutions:
- Continue in Bible study.
- Go for coffee after Mass.
- Attend Mass daily.
- Practice The Little Office.
The most challenging is really coffee after Mass – isn’t that silly? But I am who I am – an animal person rather than a people person. The other three require commitment and a decision to submit to God’s will rather than indulging my own. I notice that the early believers ‘devoted themselves’ to these practices. And I resolve to doing the same.
How do you measure up?