Late, But Ready to Party! Lawn Chair Catechism!

CatholicMom.com is full of awesomeness, and I don’t say that to be self-serving. (Frankly, I’m low on that totem pole, and a newcomer to boot!)

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Lisa Hendey and Sarah Reinhard have presented a great opportunity for spirtual growth this Summer called Lawn Chair Catechism. Weekly, we can “meet” online for a discussion. But allow me to let the crew at CatholicMom.com to explain better:

We’ll be using Forming Intentional Disciples: The Path to Knowing and Following Jesus by Sherry Weddell as our basis for this discussion.

Every Wednesday morning this summer, from May 29 to August 28, we’ll post a series of  discussion questions from our team here at CatholicMom.com. We’ll also have a link-sharing at the end, so others can participate.

You’ll be able to participate whether or not you have read or are reading the book. Here’s the complete discussion guide and questions (13 pages). If you just want the discussion questions, here they are (2 pages).

With thanks to Our Sunday Visitor.

From May 8 through June 6, Our Sunday Visitor will be offering the book for $10 with free shipping. From June 7 on, you can order it with free shipping from Our Sunday Visitor. Simply click here to purchase the book from them or pick it up at your nearest Catholic bookstore.

So today, despite not having the book yet (have I mentioned how busy I’ve been over the last month?), I am jumping in, using the study guide until my book arrives. I’ll be ordering my book and reading through ASAP. Join in here or at the CatholicMom.com site, or blog about your own thoughts and link up!

Session 1: Introduction

In her introduction, Sherry reveals that she has spoken to many practicing Catholics who can’t put into words their relationship with God. This asking-around started with one incident with a leader in her own parish that startled her:

Her stories were so vague that I wasn’t hearing any evidence of how God might be using her. . . . So I asked her a question that I had never asked before: Could you briefly describe to me your lived relationship with God to this point in your life?

After thinking carefully for a few moments, she responded briskly, “I don’t have a relationship with God.” Her answer stunned me. My first thoughts were, “That’s not possible. You’re a leader in your parish. You wouldn’t do that without some kind of relationship with God . . ..”

. . . By the end of the interview, I realized she had accurately described her spiritual reality.

Sherry goes on to say that this is a reality for many active Catholics, that we tend towards a passive reception of our faith which holds us back from truly engaging our culture and making a change for the good in the world around us.

For my own blogging, I’d like to stick with the personal discussion questions, which are these:

Questions for Discussion

In your own faith:

  • How would you describe your lived relationship with God to this point in your life?

  • What does the word “discipleship” mean to you?

  • Do you perceive a need in the Church today to help lay Catholics become more fervent followers of Jesus Christ?

These are really thought-provoking! Let me jump in.

It’s a Big World: Find a Map!
Abraham Ortelius [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

My relationship with God at this point in my life is, I think, moving in a better direction than before. For a long time, I was trying to learn, but was a bit adrift – lacking direction for my journey. There are lots of roadmaps through the Catholic faith, for the countryside the Church encompasses is wide and there’s a lot of different kinds of beauty out there. Last year about this time, I was invited to a meeting of Dominican Laity; things clicked so quickly for me, that I jumped into discernment immediately and was received into the Third Order this past January. I think this is an important step for me; it gives me direction and a kind of roadmap through Catholicism that suits me well.

There are times that I feel like I’m a terrible daughter of God, though. I don’t call or write as much as I ought to, and my prayer life is not where I always think it should be. But I think I’ve come to realize that God loves me a lot. More than I can imagine. And knowing this – even without a full grasp of the depths of His love – is spurring me on to a better relationship with Him. I’m learning to be a better child of God.

Discipleship, to me, means that I am doing my best not to just follow Christ – playing by the rules of the Church, receiving Sacraments as often as possible – but that I am learning about my faith. The word disciple comes from the Latin word for student. And so discipleship is more than just following Christ and doing His will, but also being in a constant state of learning more about Him and His Church. It means that I don’t passively sit at Mass and hear the homily without really listening and striving to learn something new from Father this week. It means that if someone asks me why I do something as a Catholic (and often, that’s right here in my own home!), I learn why if I don’t know. It means I have books on the Faith and Lighthouse Media CDs in the car and Dr. Ray DVDs on the shelf.

Does that mean that the only things I watch, read, or listen to are Catholic things? Well, no. Not for me, anyway. I still love watching movies, old Firefly episodes, and listening to rock music in the car. But it does mean that I should make sure I get a healthy dose of Catholic stuff at some point during the day. (And sometimes that means that I pray a Rosary with intent, focusing on each Mystery as much as I can while I pray.)

Do you perceive a need in the Church today to help lay Catholics become more fervent followers of Jesus Christ? Yes! I think many Catholics, even those who learned the Baltimore Catechism by heart, never were taught the deeper meanings behind their beliefs – why the Church teaches those things. And that kind of passivity actually affects how we see our role in the Church. It’s funny that some people get all excited about the role of the laity, but don’t quite know what to do with it. A wonderful role for us as laity is to help educate other Catholics about the Church! (Yup, that’s what really clicks for me about the Dominicans; we’re all about the education!) I’ve seen this personally in my own life. When I was first married, I was not a good Catholic in the least. Yes, I was there most Sundays, and I never wanted to leave the Church, but it wasn’t until people started questioning me that I started to really dig deeper into my faith. The more I dug into it, the more committed I became. The more committed I became, the more my actions lined up with what the Church expects of me. I’m in no way, shape, or form done learning or growing or becoming a better Catholic, but I have more confidence that I’m on the right track. And now, when someone asks why I’m Catholic, I actually can answer that question with more than, “Because I’ve always been Catholic.”

How about you? What would you answer to these questions? Jump in the discussion here and at CatholicMom.com.

5 thoughts on “Late, But Ready to Party! Lawn Chair Catechism!

  1. Love the idea of disciple as student. That speaks to me a lot! 🙂

    Thanks for being so candid in your response, Chris. That idea of knowing God better by having a map…yeah, I like that.

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    • I can only give credit to the formation materials I’ve been studying as a Lay Dominican. The idea that I’m going somewhere and that there are signs along the way came from that, though I did let my imagination go with it.

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  2. I think or maybe I hope that more people would understand what you have learned, “the more you dug into it, the more committed…expects of me.” In my work as a DRE I try to tell people but it’s not the same as them finding out for themselves. Peace.

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  3. Pingback: Am I Some Kind of Jesus Freak? Session 3 of Lawn Chair Catechism | Domestic Vocation

  4. Pingback: Lawn Chair Catechism, Session 5: The Sacraments Aren’t Magic | Domestic Vocation

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