Lawn Chair Catechism Ch. 6

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Join the Lawn Chair Catechism discussion at every Wednesday this summer. well built faith lawn chair catechismWe’re reading A Well-Built Faith by Joe Paprocki, but you can participate even if you haven’t read the book. Check out the free Leader’s Guide, which covers the main points of the book.

Discussion Questions from the Leader’s Guide:

  • What does it mean to say that spirituality is not just a slice of the pie that represents our life, but is the whole pie?
  • What’s the difference between belonging to the Church and being Church?
  • What does the concept of stewardship have to do with spirituality and Church?
  • What does it mean to say that the Church is one, holy, catholic, and apostolic?
  • Why do Catholics place such great emphasis on Mary and the saints? Explain our understanding of the Communion of Saints.
  • How would you summarize the Catholic understanding of the afterlife?

Joe Paprocki starts off strong on page 37 with the statement that “the Church is not a club.” This is a concept that Father H at my parish drives home very regularly. At every baptism and wedding, he reminds the congregation that these sacraments are not private family moments but joyful occasions for the whole parish and the whole Church. And he exhorts the assembly to offer not only prayer support but the support of a true community to these families, because these sacraments are not only for a moment, but the beginning of a lifetime.

This is a concept that, I feel, is lost in a world where the Catholic culture is not as strong as it was when my parents were young. And I think that Father H is telling all of us that we need to be Church, not just “belong” to the parish and show up when we feel like it.

My parish, right now, is engaged in a community-building effort that they’ve described in our church bulletin:

Many times we ask ourselves, what more can we do as  individuals and as members of a Church family to reach out to others in our parish community. We would like to create a caring community where fellow parishioners know the names of their neighbors and where the church members come forward in times of difficulty and joy.

This is sorely needed, and I’d venture to say that my parish isn’t the only one that needs an effort like this.

The folk group I’ve belonged to since 2006 is that community for me. We’ve celebrated births, baptisms, First Communions, graduations and marriages together. We’ve rejoiced together at someone’s good news, prayed for each other frequently, delivered dinners when someone is ill, laughed together, and even provided tech support. I am so grateful to call these fellow musicians my friends, and I know I can call upon them for whatever’s needed–and they can call upon me. But we are united by more than friendship and the common bond of music. We are united by faith. We are Church for each other.

I used to dislike the phrase “being Church” because I felt it was just more spiritual jargon with nothing behind it. That’s before I had an actual experience of what it means to be Church.

What’s your take on this week’s chapter?

3 thoughts on “Lawn Chair Catechism Ch. 6

  1. Our parish is really struggling right now. Last year about this time, we discovered our pastor, who had been I’ll and not celebrated Mass since just after Pentecost, had to retire because of his illness. We never hade to go without weekend Mass or Confession, but the instability has done great damage to the parish. 10% of our parishioners have left & donations are down more than that.

    It’s funny, because we used to have the best reputation in the diocese as a welcoming parish who is friendly towards new people and visitors. I’ve been praying that our new pastor, who arrived on Tuesday, will help bring back stability, and that some people will return to the parish. But only God knows if that’s going to happen.

    • Parishes always struggle in times of transition. We’ve seen around here that when parishes have been merged (and ours was one of them in 2008) there is a huge exodus. Priestly transitions are another reason people leave. The merger was difficult; I won’t deny that. But 6 years in, I can see how we have a stronger community than either parish did on its own 8 years ago. There is a LOT of work to be done, but I think we’re on the right road.
      I hate when people jump ship when the going gets tough instead of waiting it out and trying to be a positive factor.

      • I think that’s what really frustrates me. We went through a period where we were having HUGE disagreements with our pastor 7-8 years ago, which bled over into several staff members, and we nearly left the parish. (We didn’t because it didn’t matter much where we went because the same things were happening all over.) We stuck it out, and it helped ME grow as a person. I learned to pray FOR the people we were in conflict with instead of ABOUT them.

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