Search This Blog

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Session 5: Chapter 4 Grace and the Great Quest

Welcome to Session 5  of Lawn Chair Catechisms' ( of Sherry Weddell's Forming Intentional Disciples (Our Sunday Visitor, 2012). I can't believe we've been doing this for a month now. Special thanks this week to Sarah Reinhard, our facilitator for the gravatar help; and to Will Duquette, LarryD and Nancy Ward for their candor and insight.

I've borrowed from the study guide to provide you with a bit of insight if you haven't had time to follow along every week. This week Weddell took us deeper . . . different kinds of a faith (a real Latin lesson)

  • Virtus fidei - the virtue of faith, the capacity to believe
  • Actus fidei - personal act of faith, the heart of discipleship)
  • Fides informis - "dead faith", faith alone with out charity and good works
Weddell summarizes Church teaching on the question of  mature faith:
. . . the council’s Decree on Justification describe in great detail the sort of  spiritual development that needs to be in place in order for an adult to receive baptism fruitfully. It includes the following:

  • Being moved to faith by hearing the basic proclamation of Jesus Christ and his work of salvation.
  • Moving intentionally toward God.
  • Believing in what God has revealed – especially that God saves sinners through redemption in Jesus Christ.
  • Recognizing that one is a sinner.
  • Trusting in the mercy of God.
  • Beginning to hope in and love God.
  • Repenting of personal sin.
  • Resolving to be baptized, to begin a new life, and to walk in the obedience of faith.

There is one obvious descriptor for someone who has lived all the above: disciple (emphasis added).

Questions for Discussion

In your own faith:

It can be hard to settle our minds on the idea of  “cooperating with grace”. How would you explain the Catholic doctrine on salvation to others?

`Fr. Richard Rohr
As one of my favorite Catholic author's, Franciscan priest Richard Rohr would probably say, it's about contemplation and action. 

To cooperate with the the will of God, one must know his voice and make the time to listen. We need to continually seek his plan for our lives and grow in our faith. This would be easy but for free will. Without contemplation, it would too easy to get our own will confused with God's - the temptation for rationalization is so human.

With knowledge of the direction God wants us to take,we should be compelled to action. We have to DO something. To evangelize, do charity, show mercy; it's about bearing fruit to further the kingdom. Too often our Protestant brothers and sisters confuse this element as our attempt as Catholics to "earn" our ticket to eternity - not the case for disciples on the journey.

We know what grace is and where it comes from. And as our author highlighted for us in this chapter there has to be personal acts of faith or we end up with a fides informis - "dead faith"

In your parish:

How does your parish currently respond when there are serious doubts about the readiness of a candidate for the sacraments? How would a discipleship model of preparation fit into your current approach?

Most of the first parish question comes from Rodney Bennett's RCIA story on page 105. It is so tempting get outraged by this dramatic confession or worse - pass judgement. It is a sad statement on a beautiful process. 

We had two one-on-one interviews with candidates and/or catechumens when I was involved in the process at our parish. The first one at the end or the Inquiry stage and before the formal beginning of the catechumenate and the second before the Rite of Election. As leaders we asked qualifying questions and made certain that they knew we had no preconceived agenda. In three years as co-director, we had two people wait and actually receive the sacraments of initiation a year later later - all the while staying in the process since we went year round.

At our current parish I am not a part of our RCIA team. The discipleship model would include a service component while in the catechumenate. It could be internal or external to our parish community. It's about providing them with opportunities for bearing fruit and paying attention to identify if or when that happens.

Back to Lawn Chair Catechism Session 5


  1. We're already living on a legacy and having severe troubles maintaining it now. Doubling down on that legacy is only going to make matters worse, as tempting as that is.

    What we have to do is something quite different, preach the entire Gospel, including the parts about OBJECTIVE and SUBJECTIVE salvation. And explain how that is related to the Sacramental system correctly, because it is. The is the point of this chapter. The examples are only examples to serve the larger point of the chapter.

    1. Jan -

      Thanks for your candor. I agree with you, we can't just " double down". As we get into this book we will see the RCIA done poorly is not an anser for today's unbaptized. it needs to be done better. But, the process done well works, and it works well.

  2. Love your quote from Richard Rohr as he is one of my favorite teachers. It's so easy to skip the quiet time of prayer and contemplation and just rush out and do our own will. Thanks for the reminder. Our first priority is our relationship with God and from that flows good relationships and good catechesis.

    1. Nancy -

      I was hoping I would hear from you this week. Fr. Rohr has been my quasi "spiritual director" since the first edition of The Wild Man's Journey. He came to Portland a couple of years ago - what a treat!

      I'm a get it done guy - even if I have to redo it again later. If only I had made time to ponder God's will first, I probably could have saved myself some time.