Welcome to the final session of Lawn Chair Catechism. We’ve spent our Summer reading and discussing Forming Intentional Disciples: The Path to Knowing and Following Jesus, by Sherry Weddell. If you’d like to look over any of my previous posts on the topic, you can go to the dedicated page for this series, or head to CatholicMom.com’s page for linkups with people from all over who have blogged about their thoughts and ideas.
In this final week, we’re talking about Chapter 12: “Expect Conversion.” (Am I going to be in trouble for using Charles Dickens’ title for my post? It seemed fitting!)
After discussing the various thresholds people move through as they journey towards true discipleship and strategies for helping them become disciples, Sherry uses this chapter to focus on what to do with people once they’ve grown closer to Jesus, all while helping new people cross thresholds and develop a personal relationship with God. She begins the chapter relating a story about a priest-friend of hers who was thrown off by the conversion experience of a woman in his parish: she hadn’t been converted through catechesis, and yet she was speaking with great knowledge that seemed to have come from nowhere. Sherry gently reminded him that the Holy Spirit can do these kinds of things, then goes on to remind us to expect it! God works in mysterious ways, and the faith we have is a gift freely given by Him. We shouldn’t be too surprised when our efforts on behalf of His Kingdom produce fruits, even abundantly!
Sherry outlines several key areas every evangelizing parish should work on to encourage those who have become disciples as well as evangelize new people and help them through the thresholds. These include prayer, sharing the Good News, and forming & equipping disciples. Each parish has to look at the strengths and gifts their parishioners have and ask people to use these gifts to further the Kingdom. Without these efforts, even the most intentional of disciples feels alone and discouraged, and can even consider leaving the Church in search of fellowship with other disciples. This is something we should be working to avoid, and having a system of support for people who have crossed the thresholds is vital to helping them stay Catholic.
Let’s discuss, shall we?
In your own faith:
- Have you ever felt isolated in your quest to follow Jesus?
- What are ways you have built a community of spiritual companions?
In your parish:
- You’ve put a lot of energy over the course of this study into learning about the need for evangelization and discipleship, and how to fulfill that need. Do you plan to take action? In what way?
In my own faith: Yes, there have been times I have felt terribly isolated in my quest to follow Jesus. There was a time when, though I wouldn’t dream of leaving the Faith, I felt like I was starving spiritually. We would always go to the IHM Homeschool Conference and get to as many of the talks as possible to feed our spirits. We would read books, listen to CDs … anything to feel as if there were people who were like us, who loved the Church and Her teachings. There was a change of pastorship at our parish, and our new priest was our age, a “revert” to the Faith, and a lover of orthodoxy. He brought back bells, he used incense, he started using Latin chant at the daily Masses. But most of all, he gave meaty homilies that taught us about the Faith and challenged us to live up to Christ’s expectations. Just before his sudden transfer, I was approached by a friend of mine about going to the meeting of Lay Dominicans. This was another place to get my fill of fellowship and spiritual feedings.
I’m deeply grateful to have the Dominicans to have that fellowship that even I, the introvert, crave. I do have friends in town who are also doing their best to live as disciples, but having that scheduled time to drop everything else and talk and learn with them (as well as the people who live near the parish where we meet – which is about 2 hours away from here) is priceless.
I’d love to see more happening in my parish, but I know that it needs to start with me, even if it’s in a small way. My love for Jesus needs to be apparent all the time. When I start teaching middle schoolers on Sunday mornings, that enthusiasm for Christ must bubble over so that the children can see that there is great joy in following the Lord. The team I’ll be teaching with is 3/4 Dominican Laity, too. Talk about using our charism!
But what I also want to do is really think about the children in our care each weekend. I plan on re-reading the section on thresholds and doing my best to tell the story – pass on the kerygma – to them while inviting them all to commit to following Jesus. I pray I’ll be able to pass the Faith on to them, increase their knowledge, and, most of all, increase their love for Jesus.
I hope you’ve enjoyed this series. Do be sure to go to CatholicMom.com and check out the other posts from throughout the Summer. There have been terrific insights from people all Summer long.