Welcome back for Week 6 of Lawn Chair Catechism: Chapter 5: “Thresholds of Conversion: Can I Trust You?” As always, all of the discussion questions can be found here. No need to even read the book if you haven’t, the study guide is descriptive enough that you can answer the questions thoughtfully. Feel free to post your comments on this blog and read other responses over at the main discussion here.
This week’s 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?(I have already tackled these questions here.) Have you ever been that link of trust for another person? (I’ll tackle this one now).
When I read this chapter, I could easily conjure up the memories of each threshold I went through and how I could answer each question. I am also able to place where my husband is, or those thresholds he vacillates between. More enlightening for me was what my role is in his vacillation. I am his link of trust. Whoa. No pressure there.
Let me stress that we cannot bring anyone to faith through pressure, guilt, argument, or cleverness. Conversion and true faith are works of the Holy Spirit. But it is also true that we can, by our responses, help or hinder another’s journey. (p. 132).
Now, not news…my husband is a self-proclaimed atheist. He goes to mass with me every week. Our boys go to Catholic school, I cantor at church, were recently married in the Catholic church, are moving right next door to the Deacon and across the street from the church to be closer to the boys’ school and my parish activities (not to mention Eucharistic Adoration whenever I want it. Woot! woot!) But he is adamant that he does this to support me and my decision to be Catholic and raise our children in the Catholic Church and is not a believer.
I’ve wanted to write about how difficult it can be at times to be the spiritual leader of my family. How I feel their mustard seeds require me to nurture their faith and help them grow – stay with me – by my actions – not any other way. I live out my Catholic faith all the time and boldly. I talk about it anywhere and with anyone. I don’t respond to a “Hey how are you?” with “And with your spirit.” Although, that could work. I can’t remember where I read it, or learned or absorbed this idea of showing and evangelizing through my actions – especially – with my husband. I think it puts a lot of pressure on me. When I disagree with something, or fly off the handle (I do that), swear, gossip, obsess, scream – anything that is not the perfect Catholic way of living, or as I picture it, leaving mustard seeds to Jesus Christ (think of the Reese’s candies path in the movie E.T. – no. I don’t think my husband is an extra-terrestrial trying to go back to his planet). When I mess up, I worry that I’ve taken a step back for my husband and his journey. I confessed as much to my priest and he stopped me dead in my tracks and in the middle of my sobs and tears. He said “Cristina, you are a practicing Catholic, not a perfect Catholic. The Holy Spirit will take care of all of it. You just practice as best you can.”
I think I will try to answer the rest of this week’s questions in your own faith throughout this week. This chapter was a doozy for me. In the meantime, share with me…
This week’s questions regarding 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?