The New Normal

Sherry Weddell reminds us that there’s really nothing abnormal about being knowledgeable and excited about our Catholic faith; nothing suppressed and prudish about following her moral teachings; nothing weak or communistic about needing the fellowship of other committed Catholics to strengthen our own walk with the Lord. In Forming Intentional Disciples, she acknowledges that lukewarm, ill-informed,  insipid Christianity may be typical these days, but hopes we’ll get over it!

Today, lazy book groupers all over Catholic-land gather from their beach towels and porch swings to consider a few more questions raised by Sherry’s research findings. Anyone can join up along the way for the ‘lawn chair catechism‘. You can even do it with, or without the actual book!

Are you comfortable talking with others about your relationship with God? Would you say that you’re a “normal” Catholic using the criteria outlined above? Or are you a “typical” Catholic, fighting that feeling that interest in the faith is only for a few pious eccentrics?

This one’s easy for me! Just try shutting me up about my Faith. But, that wasn’t really the question, was it?? I actually am a bit private about discussing my ‘relationship’ with God. It comes out in my poetry, where I feel the intensity of that intimacy is perfectly veiled. Maybe there is something very reasonable at the root of people’s sense that relationship with God occurs in a holy-of-holies, not to be brought out casually into the light of day.

Maybe they rightly sense that some are too forward about the details of what should remain private between God and self. We’d be right in saying marriages would all be much better for a deepened sense of togetherness, richer communications, and freer intimacy, but we wouldn’t ask people point-blank to expound on even the non-physical aspects of their union. How do we lift up the possibility of this beautiful closeness without invading the holy space of each soul’s own unique relationship with God?

Woops, I’m not really supposed to be asking questions here, but answering! It does raise one more thought, though: I know that,when people in less-than-ideal-but-loving marriages are confronted with pictures of ‘perfect marriages’ with all that ‘communication’ that seems to be going on, they can start to feel defensive about their own lumpy, frumpy, but by-God-good-enough marriage with all its failings and unspoken issues and never-to-be-resolved conflicts and unhealthy patterns. If they began to want more, the shifting dynamics would rock a boat they are at least comfortably floating in. Who’s to say when the trade-off is worth it?

I can understand why people who know they ‘believe in God’ and who at least come to Church just veer off at the sound of us enthusiasts cheering for ‘more yardage’ in the great football game of Faith. They know they’ll end up in heaven and have eternity to sort it all out with God, and meanwhile are content to lead plain vanilla lives trusting Him to get them home. They might even feel a bit superior to those they perceive as grasping at more spiritual goodies. I wish for more for them, and I think to grow up as a Catholic fully you need to want to struggle through to ‘more’, but I don’t know that we’ll attract them to it by promising greater happiness – even though it’s a true promise.

Well, yawn, time to rise and shine and get the laundry done! Enjoy your summer!

P.S. Today, I feel very old! Looking for my ‘cheerleader’ I was appalled to find that the girl next door is now the porn star in full public view! I’ve not been a sports fan, so I guess I completely missed this decline…whew!

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4 Responses to The New Normal

  1. I am happy to report in as a normal Christian who was rescued from the life of a lukewarm Christian by the grace of God. Many years ago my husband and I were dragging our children to mass and CCD, doing our duty, but not really worshipping or participating in parish life. Praise God we are now in a vibrant, enthusiastic, evangelizing covenant community of Catholics who praise God loudly, hug each other freely, serve each other gladly. We are learning to forgive one another more easily in our shared life. We work in parish ministries to let the Holy Spirit use us to bring more lethargic people out into the light of Christ.

  2. Erin Pascal says:

    To share our faith is one of our greatest Christian duties. But this is not an easy duty to fulfill as most people today are quite sensitive about the subject of religion or belief.

    I have had an experience back when I was in college when I talked to two of my friends about salvation and they attacked me pretty badly. It took me a while to get back on my feet and start sharing my faith in Jesus again.

    Whenever I feel reluctant about talking to others about my Savior, this text always comes to mind:
    Luke 9:2 “For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words, of him the Son of Man will be ashamed when He comes in His own glory, and in His Father’s, and of the holy angels.”

  3. DonMulcare says:

    It may not be necessary to talk about our relationship with God. Whether or not we share our thoughts and beliefs, our interactions with those about us will speak in stead of our words.

    Thanks for sharing,

    Don

  4. Jan says:

    There’s a difference between “faith sharing” of an intimate nature and talking about the general movements of the spiritual life as they are lived out. For example, I’m not going to tell you what the contents of my prayers were this morning–how my life is going and what I’m sharing with God personally, etc. But I have blogged about the movements of the spiritual life over the course of my life, because this can help other people. And it helps me to learn too.

    There is a sequence of steps to the spiritual life and they’re universal. There is no shame in being part of a universal pattern, which I am. Thousands of people have been studied and these stages are well-known outside the Catholic world in the US. Talking about these steps is not particularly personal. This is how the spiritual life works, and if we keep that in the dark, people won’t know what to do. This is the problem. They don’t know what to do. This is why people are leaving the Church. About half of them throw up their hands and give up; the other half end up with the protestants because at least they will talk about the parts they know about. This is what the statistics say.