Lawn Chair Catechism, Chapter 6: The Threshold of Curiosity

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Welcome back to Lawn Chair Catechism. We’re up to our seventh session this week, but you can find details on the whole project, links to past posts and the CatholicMom.com landing page, and more at my page dedicated to Lawn Chair Catechism, found here.

I’m feeling a little under the weather this week, so I’m going to refer more to the study guide provided by CatholicMom.com and ask for your comments on the study questions.

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“Curiosity” is when the individual shows an interest in the Catholic faith in a casual way. The individual is not yet
actively seeking Christ – he or she may not even know who Christ is.

It is essential that we help people wrestle with the first, most crucial issue of a personal God. Those who don’t believe in a personal God and the possibility of a relationship with that God will never be able to move beyond the threshold of curiosity.

It is very important that we tread lightly. You can easily quench inquiries by drowning a teaspoon full of curiosity with a gallon of answers.

How to arouse curiosity? A life of faith – prayer, trust in God, works of mercy – is inherently curious. Whether through word or action, one of the most helpful ways to arouse curiosity is to pose a question.

Jesus was a master of asking questions that made you sit up and think again. Jesus didn’t so much run “Q and A” sessions as “Q and Q” sessions. In fact, he almost never gave a straight answer to a straight question.

. . . The point of this approach is to allow the natural curiosity of the human person to draw him or her
to an encounter with the person of Jesus.

Who’s curious? Extensive statistical and field research has uncovered a sobering reality: The bulk of Catholics in the pews today are at these early, passive stages of faith. A 2010 study found that only 65% of Catholics polled recognized Easter as a religious holiday, and only 37% listed the Resurrection as the meaning of that day. Sherry Weddell reports:

. . . as we led these sessions, however, we slowly came to realize that a significant number of Catholic
leaders, even those deeply interested in evangelization, think of the faith as essentially passive.

. . . All the statistical indicators suggest that the majority of our “active” members are in the early and
essentially passive stages of spiritual development, such as trust and curiosity.

An evangelizing parish must actively change to become welcoming to those curious about the faith, in order to
meet the currently un-met spiritual needs of parishioners, lapsed Catholics, and outsiders.

Questions for discussion:

In your own faith:

Can you remember when you became “curious” about the faith – whether as a convert, revert, or cradle Catholic
just waking up to mature discipleship? How would you explain the difference between an active and passive faith?

In your parish:

If a newcomer walked into your parish today, curious about the Catholic faith, would someone actively welcome
him? Introduce him to others? Who would help him answer his questions?

What do you have to say?

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