Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Lawn Chair Catechism: A Personal Relationship With Jesus

Every Wednesday this Summer, Catholics are invited to participate in's first Lawn Chair Catechism. We are reading Forming Intentional Disciples by Sherry A Weddell.

This is my addition to the discussion of the Introduction of the book.

 "How would you describe your lived relationship with God to this point in your life?"

Why is this question so difficult for me? I'm a convert to Catholicism after years and years of exploring different religions. I've been Catholic for 7 1/2 years. I graduated with my MA in Pastoral Studies last December, but my professional vocation seems to change every other week. Right now, I'm more or less on auto-pilot, just trying to get through the days caring for my son, working for my ministries and writing.

When I talk to God, it's usually in the heat of the moment when I have an immediate need. I understand completely that those in ministry are assumed to have a closer relationship. Ministry is a vocation, a calling, not a job. I'm not suffering from burn-out because there isn't much for me to get burned-out on. I think a good part of it is the fact that I'm living so far from all of my family and friends. I think I'm mostly angry at God because of that.

No discussion of my current relationship would be complete without talking about the Lay Dominicans. As someone who is considering becoming one, I pray Morning and Evening prayers and I try to go to Mass daily. In some ways it has been a lifeline for me. It forces me to keep the lines of communication open between God and I. I don't think I'd have a relationship with God at all right now if it wasn't for the Dominicans.

"What does the word “discipleship” mean to you?  Do you perceive a need in the Church today to help lay Catholics become more fervent followers of Jesus Christ?"

Mainly, "discipleship" means to imitate. Like the old bracelets say, "WWJD?" We're supposed to ask ourselves, "what would Jesus do" and act like Him.

In the Church today, we are plagued with "Christmas and Easter Catholics" and "Cafeteria Catholics" and people who go to church on Sundays simply because "that is what you're supposed to do." I admit, even I sometimes guilt myself into going to church because "I'm supposed to be a role model" and "it'll look bad to potential employers if I skip." There is definitely a need in the Church for people to better understand and appreciate Sundays, much less following Jesus the rest of the week!

"How would you describe your parish’s current efforts at discipleship?  A hotbed of discipleship?  A weekly gathering of spiritual sleep-walkers?  Or perhaps something in between?"

I would say my parish is somewhere in between because it really depends on who you're talking about. Some parishioners are on fire. On the other hand, there are some parishioners that we're lucky to see on Sunday. There are lots and lots of people who we see on Sundays but we never see them anywhere else. People in my parish do make a constant effort to get more people involved, and often it falls on deaf ears. But these people brush themselves off and try again and again. You've got to admire them for it and we are always looking for new ideas. My parish is a very old and small one, but we shouldn't (and we typically don't) use that as an excuse!

Read more reflections at


  1. I think your parish experience is really typical (or maybe it's just what I've seen in my own parish). It's a combination of both.

    And that part about being angry with God? YEAH, I sooooo get that!

    1. Thank you. I think being angry with God is a pretty common experience. Sometimes life doesn't go the way we want. The cool thing is, God understands our anger. He'll never turn His back on us even if we aren't exactly happy with Him.

  2. So often we lay people must seek out a group of people such as those in one of the renewal movements to feed our desire for community with other disciples. Lay groups are essential in my spiritual growth and provide fellowship, formation and ways to live out your faith in communion with others.

    1. One of the things that I really like about my experiences with the Lay Dominicans is that it gives me some discipline in my prayer life. I know that part of the Dominican vocation is to say certain prayers at certain times of the day, so I can't slack off. It forces me to keep God in mind and, as I say in the post, keep the lines of communication open.

  3. Nancy - I agree that seeking out other disciples is critical. In addition to those who are part of the lay movements - which are not accessible to most - we can also start support groups of our own. We did (and called it the Nameless Lay Group) and it was one of the most fruitful and fun things we've ever done!

    Sherry Weddell


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