For many Catholics the thought of taking a survey to learn about their charisms (gifts for service and mission) may seem like a bit too much. Those who are hesitant may discover in this brief article some helpful guidance regarding when one may be ready, or not yet ready to engage in taking the Activate Survey and engaging in a discernment process to learn about the results and what to do with charisms they have been given.
Let’s begin with a good definition of two aspects of faith that will help answer this question. The Church makes a distinction between the faith we receive as a gift at our baptism, in Latin the virtus fidei (also called the theological virtue of faith) and our response to this gift the act of faith, in Latin the actus fidei.
The virtue of faith is the freely given grace that gives one the capacity to believe and for that faith to be saving faith. The Catechism of the Catholic Church describes it: “Faith is a gift of God, a supernatural virtue infused by him. ‘Before this faith can be exercised, man must have the grace of God to move and assist him; he must have the interior helps of the Holy Spirit, who moves the heart and converts it to God.” (Catechism, 153)
The act of faith is the explicit free choice of the believer who responds to the grace of the virtue of faith. It is “a personal adherence of man to God” and “a free assent to the whole truth that God has revealed.” (Catechism, 150) The act of faith involves an intentional decision to follow Jesus Christ as his disciple.
In the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph our parishes have been learning about discipleship through a process called The Clear Path for Discipleship. Central to this process is learning about the common stages of developing faith that leads to the decision to make a sincere commitment to follow Jesus in his Church as a disciple. This process identifies several stages before and after this decision point. One who is at a stage prior to the decision to become an intentional disciple may, in fact, not yet be ready to engage in the Activate Survey or the process of discovery of their results. They would be in one of the stages we would call Pre-Trust, Trust, Curiosity, Openness and Seeking.
Those who have encountered Jesus and have responded to an invitation to be an intentional disciple would develop in their discipleship in stages we call Beginning, Growing, and Commissioned Disciple. A Commissioned disciple has a keep awareness of their calling to participate in the mission of the Church and to share the Good News of Jesus Christ in their daily life. These disciples become disciple-makers, people who will make sacrifices to share the Gospel message with others. Individuals in any of these stages of development as intentional disciples will find the Activate Survey helpful in living out their baptismal call by developing their awareness of the various ways they can more fully cooperate with the Holy Spirit in their evangelizing and their apostolic and service efforts.
In summary, if you love Jesus and you feel even a lit bit ready to share his love and message with others, then you are definitely ready to act on the results of this survey. If you would describe yourself as someone who has not yet made the decision to live as an intentional disciple then you are certainly welcome to take the survey, but you may find the results are not as meaningful or helpful for you at this time. It may be better for you to engage in faith discussions with those you look up to at church, attend a retreat, or seek out a course at your parish like Discovery, Alpha, Welcome, or another similar program offered at your local parish.