Welcome to the 9th session of Lawn Chair Catechism, using Forming Intentional Disciples: The Path to Knowing and Following Jesus, by Sherry Weddell (Our Sunday Visitor, 2012).
A few notes:
- You’ll be able to leave comments and/or leave your link at the end.
- You do not have to read the book to participate. Check out our discussion guide. There’s plenty to get started with if that’s all you use (one page a week).
- There are still a few more days to get the book for $10+free shipping from Our Sunday Visitor.
This week, we’ll be covering Chapter 9: Thresholds of Conversion: Seeking and Discipleship.
The seeker is actively seeking Jesus Christ. He is not yet following Him, but he’s considering it. When he makes the decision to drop his net and follow Jesus, he becomes a disciple.
We have found it useful to think of the two thresholds of seeking and intentional discipleship as a whole, as well as considering them as two separate stages. What both thresholds have in common is that they are active rather than essentially passive . . .
When large numbers of parishioners are actively seeking or are disciples, the spiritual atmosphere in the parish heats up dramatically.
Seekers can be helped by inviting them to practice the works of mercy, and introducing them to a variety of types of prayer. We must also model what it is to be a disciple, and share what is going on in our own relationship with God.
I certainly feel anxious at the thought of exposing some of the reality of my own relationship with God to someone else. But seekers need to see what life is like for an authentic disciple of Jesus whose struggles are real—and whose victories are therefore believable. It is far more important that your relationship with Jesus exist and is real than that it conform to some imaginary template of Catholic perfection.
The seeker can be helped to move towards discipleship by exploring what obstacles still exist, and by helping the seeker see how he fits into the Church and what gifts he has to offer. Intercessory prayer remains essential. A particularly sharp difficulty faces those in pastoral leadership who are not yet disciples:
One practical issue that has come up often of late is that of how to help existing leaders – sometimes highly visible diocesan and parish staff – negotiate their own personal journeys to discipleship.
Pastoral leaders often lack for a spiritual mentor, or feel embarrassed to admit they are only now developing a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.
. . . As leaders, we need to think through, in advance, how to help all in our parish who are not yet disciples.
In your own faith:
- Are you ready, spiritually, to acknowledge that certain leaders in your parish or diocese may not yet be disciples of Jesus?
- Are you prepared to treat those persons graciously? To let go of past hurts? To respect them as they make their journey to discipleship?
In your parish:
- What is the spiritual atmosphere in your parish?
- Have you noticed any change over the past several years?
- If God were to ask you to mentor a small group of seeking and new disciples in your parish, would you be ready to accept that task?
Join the discussion!
We’ll be “talking” in the combox, too, so please leave your thoughts there as well!