On Wednesdays we join CatholicMom.com as we explore Sherry A. Weddell’s book Forming Intentional Disciples. (Until July 31, you can purchase this book at the special price of $10 with free shipping. It’s a fascinating and challenging read.) If you haven’t read the book, you can still follow along with the study and discussion guide.
This week we are reading Chapter 7 on Openness. This is a chapter that really resonated with me. I did not know that this is the stage of faith where we lose many people to other traditions because their “spiritual needs were not being met” (p. 161) but as the chapter went on, this all made sense to me.
People in the stage of Openness are hungry and they might not know how or where to be fed. Weddell mentions “if they hesitantly come to talk to parish staff or leaders, the response is most often to try to connect them with some parish or diocesan activity” (p. 161). I’ve seen this happen. A lot. And some people stick around, while others drift away and still others abruptly disappear.
Worthy though these activities might be, that’s not necessarily what’s going to nourish the faith of a person in this stage. I think if you want to bring someone to the point of discipleship, this is the place where you need to provide them with a mentor of sorts.
The chapter concludes with a suggestion and a testimony. This is the time, the author suggests, to encourage such people to go to Adoration.
The study guide question:
Over the next six months, what changes can you personally make, to help your parish disciple those who are at the threshold of openness? If you are currently at this point yourself, to whom can you go for spiritual mentoring?
My parish is blessed to have an Adoration Chapel that is open 24/7. I think, though, it is underutilized by most of the parish. There is, of course, a core group of people who make sure someone is always present. But I feel that in a way the Adoration Chapel “belongs” to that small, closed core group. I have not visited it much, but when I do, I feel like I am barging in on someone else’s private prayer time. This might be a function of the size and layout of the chapel, which seats about 12 in a triangular space. Visiting more, not less, would probably help in that regard–yet I don’t really feel “welcome” in there. But I would also like to see my parish host an Adoration event on a larger scale, perhaps in the church itself, on a regular basis so that people would feel more welcome to experience Adoration outside of that tiny chapel.