“I invite all Christians, everywhere, at this very moment, to a renewed personal encounter with Jesus Christ, or at least and openness to letting him encounter them…”
We start a relationship with Christ through an initial encounter, and through ongoing encounters we deepen that relationship with and knowledge of him. The word “encounter” is more than just meeting someone. Pope Francis says in the Joy of the Gospel that we, the faithful, are encouraged “to a renewed personal encounter with Jesus Christ, or at least openness to letting him encounter them” (par. 3). He goes on to say, “I ask all of you to do this unfailingly each day.” Encounter is understanding that God is real, that God loves us, and that God wants to journey with us.
Each of us are invited to a first encounter with Jesus Christ and then to an ongoing commitment to continue encountering Christ through prayer, study of Scripture (click here), spiritual reading (click here), conversations with people of faith, and all the other ways Christ meets us.
If you have not had an initial encounter with Jesus Christ, pray for the openness to let Christ encounter you and seek ways and experiences in your parish that may open your heart and mind. Know that not everyone experiences Christ the same way or at the same time. But it’s important be open.
If you have encountered Christ, it is important to remember that encounter, to renew the relationship, and to share your experiences with others. You are asked to help others meet Christ by sharing your faith and who Christ is in your life.
Here are several ways to encounter Christ and/or ways to provide opportunities for an encounter with Christ
Participating in worship and adoration of the Blessed Sacrament wherever there are opportunities in your parish or parishes in your community.
Making time to spend with God every day. One of the best ways to do this is through reflective individual prayer. Click here for prayer resources. Participating in worship and adoration of the Blessed Sacrament wherever there are opportunities in your parish or parishes in your community.
Parish-Based Programs and Resources
There are numerous parish-based programs that are focused on encountering Christ. One of those programs is ALPHA (click here), which hosts a series of sessions exploring the Christian faith, typically run over eleven weeks. Each talk focuses on a different question around faith and is designed to create conversation and meaningful, continuous encounters with Christ.
There are many avenues to encounter Christ through retreat centers and parishes. One of these opportunities includes Christ Renews His Parish (CRHP), a weekend of renewal and learning, and an opportunity for the faithful to recenter around Christ. Additionally, Dynamic Catholic provides a meaningful outlet to find new and innovative ways to reconnect with Christ and the Church. Retreat programs also include local events like Holy Fire, an annual gathering for middle schoolers in the fall that focuses on encounter.
- Encyclical Letter Evangelii Gaudium (December, 2005) paragraph 3. Pope Francis.