The Holy Spirit knows just what to send into my life and when. Today I have been given an opportunity to answer some reflective questions about my faith walk and my parish life, two things you never have to to twist my arm to do! I want to thank Jen Haganey and Sarah Reinhard for welcoming me into the fold. This is a great project and I hope to contribute in any way possible in the future to Lawn Chair Catechism and to Catholic Mom.com.
In your own faith:
- How would you describe your lived relationship with God to this point in your life? The first word that comes out of my heart is "consistent." As I age and change, as I suffer losses and gain blessings that I never could have anticipated as a child or a young woman, I see only one element of my life that stands completely immutable, and that is the relationship between me and God, the Truth, Being Himself. My faith life certainly has gone through some important evolutionary steps! I became Catholic in 2010, and that has been the defining moment thus far in my faith life. But since my earliest memories as a toddler in a home where the Bible and prayer were present to this very day when I read my morning devotional as I hold my son on my hip, the presence of God in my life has never been something I've doubted or lacked. So, the way I LIVE this relationship out has looked different at different times, and my level of obedience has definitely increased. The liberties I take with His Word and His instruction have decreased. The vague fears and concrete disasters in my life have increased, but God has always been a reference point, the beauty that I know I am striving for. The face of Jesus has always been before me. Always, as long as I have memory, I have held the image of Jesus' face in front of me as I received any earthly praise or any earthly scorn. Now, as a Catholic, my relationship with Christ has obviously deepened indescribably as I have been blessed to partake in the Real Presence. But Jesus has not changed; only my level of commitment to Him, my willingness to get on my knees, on my face, on the floor, and tell Him to take over have increased.
- 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? Sometimes I don't think I have the nerve to call myself a disciple. For what men am I fishing? Am I salt and light? There are days I feel more like sand and darkness, all cozied up with my faith to comfort me. Other days someone will tell me I have shown them Jesus in some way, and I know, I know as surely as I can see my hand in front of my face, that I must keep persevering to earn the title of Christian and the job of disciple. This is a rough audience we have to present to, fellow Catholic Christians. In many, many cases, you will be working and mothering and shopping alongside people who have received lifetimes of indoctrination in three areas: secularism, materialism, and Christophobia. If you're lucky, you won't get outright virulent hate, but you'll find cafeteria Catholics, lukewarms, Republicatholics and Democatholics who put party politics before the Magisterium, and fallen-away Catholics who are SURE they know the Church is thoroughly corrupt and you are a fool for buying into it. So what approach do I use? Well, I only have two rules. As I get older, I find I can't remember more than that anyway. Rule number one is never, ever let them see or hear you do anything that is not Christlike ( I didn't say these rules were easy, I said they were few in number!). Rule number two is pray. Truly pray for people. If you can be an example of an adherent Catholic Christian and you can pray fervently for these folks, you are halfway there. You will be unimpeachable and you will be effecting real change by prayer. You never know which prayer of yours is the one, in the great quilt of time, may be the stitch that holds someone's life together when it lined up with God's pattern.
In your parish:
- 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? My parish is currently in a "cluster" relationship with a much more liberal parish. That makes some goal setting and event planning difficult. But I think we are very strong in the person to person stuff, and in the example setting. There are families in my parish who amaze me with their pure devotion to Christ's Church. That inspiration is catching. They are examples to me and to my children. We have business owners in our parish who run their businesses honestly and with charity always in the forefront. When we DO have "formal" evangelization events, speakers, and the like, they are generally well received and fairly well-attended. I think, though, that we are a stronger SERVICE parish than anything else. We do a lot for the poor of the community and the poor in downtown Cleveland. We meet our fundraising goals easily and always exceed them. It is my hope that when the community hears about these programs, that our discipleship is evident. They know we are Christians, after all, by our love.