Lawn Chair Catechism: Week #3

Forming Intentional Disciples
This week I’m at the Theology of the Body Institute, taking their “Head and Heart Immersion Course” for the second time. (The first time the information didn’t make the whole trip, from head to heart. Just sort of stuck up in my head. This time I’m typing less and thinking more, and it seems to help.)

In between sessions, I’ve been perusing the next chapter of Forming Intentional Disciples along with Matthew Kelly’s book The Dynamic Catholic. In Kelly’s book, he says that approximately the same percentage of people (7%, give or take) contribute 80% of the volunteer hours and financial support of most parishes. What is more, there is an 84% overlap in the group: that is 84% of that 7% of Dynamic Catholics in every parish both give AND volunteer. Kelly identifies four qualities that characterize this 7% of “Dynamic Catholics”:

* They pray regularly (and can articulate their daily prayer routine)
* They are generous (in every area of life)
* They keep learning the faith (reading, taking classes, and Scripture study)
* They share that faith with other people as a natural part of life

The rest of Kelly’s book is dedicated to painting a scenario whereby pastors (and parish staff) can help to “expand” that 7% core, to create an even higher percentage of “Dynamic Catholics.” This week’s “Lawn Chair Catechism” touches upon some of these themes. Here are this week’s questions:

  • Are you comfortable talking with others about your relationship with God?  While in general I’d say I’m comfortable engaging others in conversation about God — in no small part thanks to my evangelical upbringing and Bible school training — I’d also have to say that I’m not as inclined to “push” (or to try to persuade) as I once was. If someone gets argumentative or confrontational, I may direct them to a resource such as a book or article to study it on his or her own. Some forms of “apologetics” do more harm than good: winning the battle (the argument), and losing the war (the relationship). From my own journey, I can point to people who have crossed my path and invited me to “come and see” — whetting my appetite for truth. It’s a model that I’ve tried to emulate, with varying degrees of success.
  • Would you say that you’re a “normal” Catholic using the criteria outlined in this article?  While I think that it’s becoming more common for Catholic men and women (many taking their cues from non-Catholic Christian friends and family) to pursue a deeper intellectual and spiritual connection to Christ, the fact is that the Church is hemorrhaging souls. No question, there is “gold in them there hills,” but many are drawn to the pyrite, not realizing the riches that are available in the sacraments. In many ways, the people in the pews next to us are in every bit as much in need of an “invitation” as those outside our doors. They need to be invited to experience the love of Christ for themselves. And that invitation needs to come from us, meeting them where they are.
  • Or are you a “typical” Catholic, fighting that feeling that interest in the faith is only for a few pious eccentrics? Sadly, there are “pious eccentrics” that are not helping the cause of Christ. In the name of “reverence,” they criticize and nit-pick and judge everything from the priest’s homilies to the music minister’s choice of song to one another’s actions and appearance — and forget to extend themselves to the “hoi poloi” beside them. They don’t see how coldness and austerity is creating an environment that obscures the grace, obscures the mercy available for us all. By the same token, some water down the Faith — in all areas of parish life — until there is little “meat” left to feed upon, and people leave because they feel they are starving. What we need is men and women who, out of love for Jesus, are willing to lay down their lives for the good of the “little ones,” those who are simply going through the motions. We need an infusion of community, and an infusion of unabashed intercessory prayer. That is what is needed if we are to cooperate with the Spirit to bring about a revolution of faith.


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