07-LawnChairCatechismSquare

Last week, we learned that the bridge of trust has to come first. This week, it’s all about the next step: curiosity.

And once again, I caught myself (a) longing to whip through the rest of the book (I haven’t so far, though) and (b) nodding. A lot.

Whenever we treat Jesus as a “topic” within the faith instead of as the “whole spiritual good of the Church” (CCC 1324), or as a “belief” among other beliefs instead of as Lord, Head, Bridegroom, Savior, and Elder Brother, we profoundly distort the faith and communicate an impersonal or institutional understanding of what it means to be Catholic.

And that, I think, is what I think we’re missing. My experience of Catholicism is that it’s really intellectual, it’s really

But the thing is, it’s not JUST intellectual, it’s not ONLY factual, it’s not even primarily either of those things. We forget that, so often, because hey! We have facts! We have reality! We have the Real Presence. Neener, neener, neener.

As a friend and parish employee reminds me often, this has to be RELATIONAL. All of it.

It’s okay, even good, to use a business model. But when we are primarily a business, mostly a hierarchy, completely Type A, we lose the “family” part of “parish family.”

Families are messy. (Ask me how I know. But you know too. It’s a great universal truth, I think.) Parishes are also messy. They’re made of humans, after all. Whaddaya expect?

I loved reading about Weddell’s pedagogy of curiosity: first, awareness; then, engagement; and finally, exchange.

One of the best ways to rouse curiosity is to ask questions, not answer them.

She cites Jesus himself as inspiration for this. According to Weddell, Jesus asked 183 questions, gave 3 answers, and answered 307 questions with a question in return. She also reminds us of the ever-important reality:

We are not, at this threshold, about the business of telling people all that the Church teaches. Rather, our goal is to arouse spiritual curiosity by our lives and by raising questions that pose the ultimate questions: “Who do you think that Jesus is?”

It comes down to Jesus. I so often forget that. I get caught up in terms and teachings and times and the thousand other things.

And there are always other things. Always. Funny how that works.

Later on, Weddell makes a statement that really made me step back a moment.

…we slowly came to realize that a significant number of Catholic leaders, even those deeply interested in evangelization, think of faith as essentially passive. By this reckoning, if you show up, and unless you obviously fight or reject the precepts of the Church, you have “faith.”

Guilty! There’s something to be said for showing up, mind you, but it’s not the final story.

The Catholic life is to be a “sign of contradiction” in this world. That doesn’t mean we are to be nay-saying curmudgeons. Rather, it means we are to live lives of such inexplicable joy, love, faith, and peace (even in trial) that all the normal categories by which nonbelievers try to classify us won’t work.

There we go. Lives of inexplicable joy, love, faith, and peace. Talk about a smackdown challenge…forget all that work I do for the parish. I have a lot of work in my own home to do…

It’s about more than being “nice,” says Weddell. And she’s right. But wow, it sure is harder…

Join the discussion over at CatholicMom.com! There’s a summary (you don’t have to read the book to participate!) and some great questions to get you started.