Dear Parish Family,
I am so happy to have joined you as a new member of this parish – and as your pastor – at this important time of growth and discovery!
Since I arrived in town, I have talked to so many people who are thrilled that we are embarking on an exciting experiment: to focus for 6 weeks in a row on the purpose God has given us for living our lives through our “Launch Into Purpose.”
The question “Why on earth am I here?” has a definitive answer, but many of us don’t know what that answer is. Still others are confident that they have the answer and know for sure the purpose of their lives, when actually they’re on the wrong track.
If we’re not clear on the purpose of our lives, we can’t be clear about much else. So this series is crucial for our faith, our decision making, our happiness, our future… pretty much everything! There could be no more important question for a human being to have answered then this. That’s why Pastor Rick Warren’s book The Purpose Driven Life has been read by 50 million people and translated into 85 languages. It was on the New York Times bestseller list for over 90 weeks.
Not many, but a handful of parishioners have expressed to me some reluctance to be a part of the Launch Into Purpose small groups. Because Rick Warren is a pastor of a nondenominational Christian church, some have some worries that it may not be distinctly Catholic enough, or might be pulling our parishioners into confusion or error. These concerns are coming from a place of love and I appreciate that they shared them.
By nature, every new experiment like this carries a bit of risk, but I promise you: if this approach were dangerous, I would steer clear. The truth is that this book has the endorsement of many Church leaders (including New York Cardinal Timothy Dolan), and comes with an optional companion book, A Catholic Perspective on the Purpose Driven Life, by Father Joseph M. Champlin. Since Pastor Warren sometimes writes in a fashion that is a bit foreign to Catholic readers, and because his church sometimes emphasizes certain theological points in different ways than the Catholic Church does, this companion book can be a great way to soothe any discomfort about those issues. And discussing those points of difference will strengthen our own mastery of our Catholic faith and our skills at recognizing and explaining what our Church teaches.
The benefits we can gain from this book and our discussions about it far outweigh the costs. And the growth we will experience has the potential to truly change our lives for the better. Give this a try – you won’t be sorry.
I hope you’ll join me and the rest of our parish in delving into life’s foundational question and launching into the purpose God has in mind for you.