Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Lawn Chair Catechism


The St. Catherine of Siena Institute has a primary mission of helping parishioners uncover and begin to use their charisms.  The discernment process may yield unsettling results:
After working with tens of thousands of Catholics in the discernment process, we have noticed something important: Not all charisms are welcomed and valued at the parish level.  This is almost never intentional or bad-willed, but it hampers the work of the Kingdom all the same.
. . . Which charisms are we not likely to welcome? The charisms primarily aimed at starting new initiatives, evangelizing and proclaiming Christ, forming disciples and apostles, and freedom for unusual ministry and prophetic change.
An essential ministry is the formation of small faith groups by those with the gift of “pastoring”. The last thing new disciples need is to feel isolated and alone within their parish.

For discussion:

In your own faith:
  • How would you describe what your spiritual gifts are (or might be)?
What are my spiritual gifts. This is a hard question because it's much much easier to list my spiritual flaws.  I know them.  I know my gifts too but it's easier to talk about the warts than the beauty.  Spiritual gifts...humor, easy friendship, enthusiasm, intellect and kindness.   I also pray, so I'm willing and even sometimes, obedient. 

  • In what ways could you evangelize or disciple others using those gifts? 
Leave the house and get involved.  It's a reality.  I have as of late, withdrawn from life outside of our home.  Part of it is logistics.  Raising ten children and maintaining their home takes time, energy, effort.   It means I can do less outside the realm of my house.  Part of it is my children are young, so they also are semi-house bound.  Paul is 4, Anna is 2. Both are not potty trained. There are simply limits.  And I have stopped in the past few years, seeking to go past them.  Writing this, I admit I don't like limits, but I have allowed the dull ordinariness of everyday to wear away at my willingness to push past them.  The domestic life of serving them does lead to a sort of passivity that is perhaps, unhealthy if I would be a disciple.  I am a lesser mother and follower for having allowed this, because I've let myself use sloth as a reasonable excuse to be less.

Being inside the house, being on the computer, it is safe to be Catholic. I can witness all day on my little patch of cyberspace, it does very little, it demands even less.   Witnessing is physical, tangible, touchable.  Witnessing requires that one see and be seen.  Words without actions are empty. Living inside a controlled environment of my own making, it is easy to not deliberately do harm, but it is equally almost impossible to enact good.  

To awaken other souls to beauty, to life, to God, requires I reveal beauty, life, God to others.   God will do the rest, but He wants (not needs), and He knows I need and even in the deeper parts of me, want to do just this, to reveal beauty, life and God to others. Our world needs the fullness of all of our imaginations and hearts infused into everything, which requires we do the dangerous thing of going out our doors.   I have to be willing to be an unsafe soul, secure in the reality that we were always in danger of being devoured by the world, that we are called to be witnesses to the beauty that is beyond the world and cannot be devoured, and that we will be safe and secure and loved, not from or by the world, but for all eternity by the one who is Beauty, is Truth, is Love.

Then I wondered, am I feeling sorry for myself?  (Probably a bit).  Am I being overly harsh on myself?  My 4 year old son Paul had the answer.  He ran out of the house, still in his pj's, no shoes, because the outside beckoned.   Bringing him back inside, I promised, we'll get back out there after we're dressed.   But the message was clear, get out there. You don't have to be so prepared, just go out the door.  Forget your walking stick.   You're going on an adventure. 

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