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Friday, July 5, 2013

Session 6: Chapter 5 Thresholds of Conversion: Can I Trust You?

Welcome back to this summer's journey through Sherry Weddell's Forming Intentional Disciples. We're getting to where the rubber meets the road now, beginning with the five “thresholds” towards mature faith:
1. Initial Trust 
2. Spiritual Curiosity 
3. Spiritual Openness 
4. Spiritual Seeking 
5. Intentional Discipleship 

There is no one-size-fits-all way of negotiating the journey to discipleship. People will move through at different paces . . . or ping-pong back and forth between different thresholds . . . . The thing to remember is that we are not in control of the process. We are dealing with the mystery of a relationship that God himself is initiating in the human heart. 

In chapter five we explore the first threshold, “Initial Trust”. This is not the same as an active, personal faith. It is a positive association with the Church that makes it possible to move closer to God.

The first task of evangelization is to find out if a bridge of trust already exists. . . . Many don’t trust God or the Church, by they do trust a Christian in their life. Maybe they trust you. You may be the bridge that will one day lead them to a life-changing encounter with Christ.

Questions for Discussion In your own faith:

How was the bridge of trust built for you? Who are the people who helped you to come as far as you have in your personal journey? Have you ever been that link of trust for another person?

In your parish:

What are actions you can take at your parish to make your congregation a place of trust? Are there barriers in the public imagination – such as a concern about scandals or financial misdeeds – that require increased transparency in order to foster genuine trust?

For me as a cradle Catholic, it began with family. I must give my father a lot of credit for instilling in me the initial level of trust. Then as I got older, the Holy Spirit made sure people crossed my path who's faith life was admirable - they were concrete examples of what it meant to have a relationship with Christ and they let me know that faith was an important part of life.

When I fell away from the church in my mid-twenties, there was a Lenten program at what became our parish, St. John Vianney in Walnut Creek, California called Open Doors. A wonderful Franciscan priest was the presenter and after celebrating the Sacrament of Reconciliation I felt I was home again.

As far as being a link of trust for others, I believe so or at least a part of the link. I'm a godfather and I've been a sponsor for catechumens once or twice; but I know that I'm only there to be helper or guide. The Holy Spirit does the real connecting.

In parish life for trust to be felt there must be a sense of welcoming and lack of judgement. We need to be as accepting of newcomers as God is with us. For searchers (those not yet Catholic, or those not yet a part of the parish) they need to know that right from the get go that they can feel secure and that there isn't some test they must pass in order to considered part of the family. 

Certainly the scandals or financial mismanagement will be with any parish for quite some time - whether they occurred there or not. I know that this barrier can be extremely challenging for some to get past. But, we must do what we can to help anyone - searcher or parishioner, get past these issues. Too much life hangs in the balance to get stuck here. Transparency and forgiveness are the keys - Jesus is or example, and our redeemer, because in order to be forgiven - and we all need to be forgiven, we must first be able to forgive,

To get back to Session 6 of Lawn Chair Catechism, just click here.

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