Welcome back for Week 10 of CatholicMom.com’s Lawn Chair Catechism: “Break the Silence”. 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.
Once again, the Holy Spirit never leaves me without something to share that relates to this week’s topic. So, a big shout out to the Holy Spirit.
By all means, if you would like to answer the questions for this week in the Comment Box, I am all ears (or eyes, as the case may be). I was really hoping, at the outset, to actually answer each question faithfully, but then, it wouldn’t be a journey would it? So dear friends, as I was reading the chapter for this week, this line popped out and eyeslapped me “Everyone is welcome except practicing Catholics”. (p. 188). Now I know what you could be thinking, so I will give you the proper context:
Once a bridge of trust is in place, people can be surprisingly open to what we have termed “threshold conversations.” What do we mean by threshold conversation? It is the initial step of listening evangelism, that moment when we invite an individual to talk, simply and directly, about his or her lived relationship with God. We listen prayerfully, seeking to learn what the journey has been like and, if possible, what spiritual threshold she or he is at now. If we take the time to first learn where people have been and where they are now, we can much more effectively encourage them on the journey to intentional discipleship.
The high point of every Making Disciples seminar is always the chance to take part in a live threshold conversation. We invite all kinds of people from the surrounding community to tell their story. Everyone is welcome except practicing Catholics, because we want to give those who attend the experience of listening to someone whose experience is really different from their own.
Weddell, Sherry (2012-07-05). Forming Intentional Disciples: The Path to Knowing and Following Jesus (pp. 191-192). Our Sunday Visitor. Kindle Edition.
Just this Sunday, I cantored at 10AM mass. Now, generally, when I cantor, I make sure that I also set an example to parishioners (my husband and family included). Just because I am contributing to the mass in a formalized capacity, doesn’t mean that when I am not singing, I get to tune out (didn’t even mean that pun). I pay close, close attention, especially during the homily, when most people aren’t. You know, they may be looking at other people, chewing on their fingernails, reading the bulletin, writing in their checkbook – I’ve actually seen that. In any case, this day, I lost myself for a second and looked over. A woman was in the pew by herself trying to hide tears. She looked so pained that I came very close to walking over to her to just sit next to her, maybe put my hand on hers. She looked that sad. I continued to look at her and prayed right. at. her. All the Our Father’s, Hail Mary’s, Glory Be’s, Memorare’s and personal intentions for her peace that I could muster. I don’t know if it made her feel better but I had to do something.
Remember the mass readings? Luke 11:1-13 (and yes, I will paste here – we need more scripture in this house). I ask that you prayerfully read this and don’t gloss it over, even if you’ve read it a million times. Everyone with ears ought to hear – and that means always, and every time!
Jesus was praying in a certain place, and when he had finished,
one of his disciples said to him,
“Lord, teach us to pray just as John taught his disciples.”
He said to them, “When you pray, say:
Father, hallowed be your name,
your kingdom come.
Give us each day our daily bread
and forgive us our sins
for we ourselves forgive everyone in debt to us,
and do not subject us to the final test.”
And he said to them, “Suppose one of you has a friend
to whom he goes at midnight and says,
‘Friend, lend me three loaves of bread,
for a friend of mine has arrived at my house from a journey
and I have nothing to offer him,’
and he says in reply from within,
‘Do not bother me; the door has already been locked
and my children and I are already in bed.
I cannot get up to give you anything.’
I tell you,
if he does not get up to give the visitor the loaves
because of their friendship,
he will get up to give him whatever he needs
because of his persistence.
“And I tell you, ask and you will receive;
seek and you will find;
knock and the door will be opened to you.
For everyone who asks, receives;
and the one who seeks, finds;
and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.
What father among you would hand his son a snake
when he asks for a fish?
Or hand him a scorpion when he asks for an egg?
If you then, who are wicked,
know how to give good gifts to your children,
how much more will the Father in heaven
give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him?”
The homily was centered around being able to give your children to God when they are ill, hurting, wrought with a disease suddenly, or going through personality changes. To trust him.
Go back to the woman in the pew.
Can you imagine how she must have been hurting? I didn’t make the connection to the “why” at the time. But, the Holy Spirit never lets me down (when I am quiet enough listen, although sometimes I get yanked around to pay attention). Mass ended and I walked out slowly as usual. I lost sight of the woman and my husband was helping out with the school gift card selling so I lingered a bit. The woman walked right toward me and said how much she loved to hear me sing. I said thank you but that I was watching her and praying for her. I asked if I could give her a hug. She had no idea anyone was watching her, let alone praying for her, she replied. I asked her if she wanted to talk. She told me of her son and how they were on a family vacation in Hawaii and he had an ear ache. This little boy was taken by Medivac from one of the smaller islands to a larger one where they were told he has a tumor behind his ear. This little boy is going to the 1st grade. He will have to receive a few procedures to remove this benign tumor, but there is a chance it will recur. I scribbled his name down on my bulletin, hugged her again and said she could come over to my house whenever she wanted for whatever she needed. That I lived just next door to Deacon TC. She knew where it was, and now, where I am.
I walked home and passed Deacon TCs house. His wife was starting to make a peanut butter pie from scratch and I offered to help her. During my time there baking, I mentioned the woman to Deacon TC via another topic and he knew who she was immediately. She is a convert from the class before mine. Faithfully, humbly and lovingly seeking out our Lord because she needs Him in this time of crisis.
Now let’s take a step back and look at the scene:
The Lord in His infinite goodness and wisdom, the Master Architect of every life, put me to cantor, put her in the pew, put the Deacon (not Deacon TC) to speak the homily and gives him divine utterance to speak a message just for her. My friend, S, put my husband on the schedule to sell gift cards for the school so I would linger and meet up with this woman just in front of the church, even after, I lost her in the sea of people. Don’t we feel that way sometimes? Lost in the sea of people? We’re not! We’re not!! We are always to be found! If I wasn’t being a listening evangelist or broken the silence when I saw her, I never would have known why she was so grief stricken. I wouldn’t have been able to pray effectively for her. Lifted her and her son up to our Lord in a specific way. Even the responsorial psalm, I believe, was for her. “Lord on the day I called for help, you answered me.”
Both of us, converts.
Both of us, loved so generously.
All of us, practicing Catholic.
See you next week.