And I know just who to blame.
First, I blame my colleagues at CatholicMom.com, because I’ve been part of the Lawn Chair Catechism study this summer, and as a result, I’ve been reading Sherry Weddell’s Forming Intentional Disciples (Our Sunday Visitor, 2012) very carefully and writing about it, chapter by chapter.
I’m not exaggerating when I say this is one of the most influential books (aside from the Bible and the Catechism) that I’ve read. It has put words to some concepts I’ve struggled with in my decade as a Catholic and a parish employee. It has given shape to some of the things that have bothered me over the years, coming as I did to Catholicism from a strongly non-Catholic background.
Second, I blame my pastor, because he made me dust off a review book that everyone–EVERYONE, I tell you–is talking about, and then, THEN, he had the nerve to read it in less than a week AND make copies of parts of it to share at our annual staff offsite meeting. As I write this, I’m still whipping my way through it, but it too is a book that is nudging my mind in a big way.
That book, Rebuilt (Ave Maria Press, 2013), is one that I put off reading because of a feeling I can’t really explain well. It’s been popular (did I mention that EVERYONE seems to be reading it?), and maybe I’m put off by that. It debunks many “Catholic life is fine as it is” myths and, best of all, gives tangible ideas and approaches to really, truly make disciples of our world (and not just the people already in our pews).
Both of these books have challenged me in a big way.
I like to live in a cocoon of people who are like me. I want to be surrounded by people who think like me, who live like me, who like me being like me.
But if we look at Jesus’ example, we see that he hung out with the outcasts. The people who initiated his crucifixion were the people in the pews of their day, the religious leaders. The ones who were most changed and transformed were the people you and I would probably not even talk to.
What does all this mean for discipleship? For me, it’s a big neon sign that I need to change quite a few things. The first and hardest thing, I think, is my own approach and thought process.
My goal as a Catholic is to get myself, my husband, and my kids to heaven. I’m here to raise saints. Period.
And my work in the parish? I should be leading people to a relationship with Jesus Christ. We come to Mass to meet a person, not to get anything (though we do, without a doubt, receive!). We are fed, but we are sent forth to change the world.
It’s a mission field all around us, and as I get older, I see it more and more. It’s so tempting to just roll with things, to not make waves, to come on Sunday and get through the rest of my week the best I can.
But that’s not my call. It’s not yours either. We’re called to more.
Will you say yes?
This “Finding Faith in Everyday Life” column originally appeared in The Catholic Times.