Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Lawn Chair Catechism, Session 3

I missed session 2. Read the book but didn't post about it. So shoot me.   On with number 3. Here's the spot at Catholic Mom where this project is being hosted. Go there to join the fun. It's not just for bloggers.
From the Study Guide:
In her extensive research, Sherry Weddell learned that most Catholics consider their relationship with God a forbidden topic – too private to discuss with others.  What we don’t hear about, we don’t know is possible:
One of our most surprising discoveries has been how many Catholics don’t even know that this personal, interior journey exists.  A high-level, cradle-Catholic leader on the West Coast acknowledged to me recently that the very idea of a personal relationship with God was still new to him.  The possibility had only dawned upon him for the first time a few years ago, when his parish started offering evangelizing retreats.
Our idea of “normal” Christian life is skewed.  We consider an interest in the spiritual life to be an exception, and not the norm.   To combat this mistake, the first Catholic discipleship group Sherry belonged to wrote a series of resolutions as part of their mission statement (here are a few excerpts from their longer list):
. . . It is NORMAL for lay Catholics to be excited Christian activists.
. . . It is NORMAL for lay Catholics to be knowledgeable of their faith, the Scriptures, the doctrinal and moral teachings of the Church, and the history of the Church.
. . . It is NORMAL for lay Catholics to have fellowship of other committed lay Catholics available to them, to encourage, nurture, and discern as they attempt to follow Jesus.
. . . It is NORMAL for the local parish to function consciously as a house for formation for lay Catholics . . ..

For discussion:

In your own faith:
  • Are you comfortable talking with others about your relationship with God?My answer: yes and no. It's a cinch to write about it. It's a joy to talk about it with other committed Catholics. And with my husband. But with other people--fellow parishioners, neighbors, and relative strangers--no so much. Unless they bring it up first. But how often does that happen? How exactly does one bring up Jesus, or faith, or the Church with other people who are likely to find it a strange or unwelcome topic? 
  • Would you say that you’re a “normal” Catholic using the criteria outlined above? Yes, I would say so, except for that basic shyness with face-to-face evangelism. Part of my difficulty is that I live in the country and spend most of my day working at home, except for trips to daily mass or to go shopping. And yes, I'm an introvert. It's  bit of a strain for me to start a conversation with a stranger about the weather, let alone about faith. How does one do that?...Hi! Nice weather the Lord is sending us these days, isn't it?" But I'm knowledgeable, excited about the faith, and enjoy fellowship with similar believers. I can't say that our parish functions as a house of formation except that our pastor certainly makes that effort in his sermons. 
  • Do you personally have, within your parish, a group of Catholics you meet with regularly, to discuss the faith, study the faith, and encourage each other to greater virtue? My answer: my homeschooling friends serve that function for me. That is not a parish group, but a group that draws from several local parishes. In our parish we daily mass folks have some informal fellowship in the parking lot!
  • At this time, does your parish have in place a working system for actively mentoring those who want to grow in their relationship with God? Not really. I'm sure our pastor would offer spiritual direction to anyone who asked, but there's no formal program. We have occasional bible studies but the same 8 to 10 people (who probably don't need it) are the ones who always come.