Today is the start of the Lawn Chair Catechism series over at CatholicMom.com and we have been invited to participate by leaving comments and posting responses on our blogs. But, I am late, as usual, in getting started. If you'd like to participate, feel free to click on the link above to get more details about the retreat.
So here we go, late or not.
God and I are not "buddies". Not really. I never thought of him that way at all. In fact, until last Christmas, I never considered my relationship with God really at all.
As a kid, I went to Mass every Sunday. My folks did their very best to give us a good Catholic home and Catholic education. There were prayer groups, May Crownings, Jesse Trees, Advent Wreaths - every experience that could have brought me closer to a relationship with God. But I considered it all academic. Fill out this paper. Memorize these prayers. Get the grade.
As a Catholic School kid, I heard lots of goofy stuff about what the Church believed and what it didn't. As a High School student gems such as "The Virgin Birth Was Not" and "Who Does the Pope Think He Is?" came up. Not from the students. From the teachers.
Relativism (there is no absolute truth) and Determinism (I can be whatever I want to be and God will accept and love me) became the meat of what I was taught to believe in high school. So, if it doesn't matter what people believe, and I can be whatever I want to be and God will still love me, then why does any of it matter at all?
Since I was pretty certain, then, that the Catholic Church didn't know what it believed or taught, I left the Church at 18, became an Evangelical Protestant for a while. The lack of the Sacrament of the Eucharist brought me back, but, even then, I didn't consider it part of my relationship with God. It was more of a practical thing: All these people, from every walk of life, with every different experience, believe in the Real Presence. There must be something here. What is it? Well, obviously, it's the real experience of actual contact with the Risen Lord in the Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity contained in the Eucharist. But I didn't understand that until recently.
So I am still learning about God and his plans for me, who we are to each other and what that means in terms of what I do and how I present myself to the world around me. I had been looking for him all my life. How could I have missed him? But I did. Isn't that always the way with the greatest loves?
To me discipleship means to discipline ourselves to the way of Christ. After all, the word discipline and disciple have the same root word. But, so many times people think of discipline as a punishment. I certainly used to. But really it is a surrender of my will to God's will. Just like the Latin word for rule ("regula") gives us the term "regulate", which means not only to make and enforce rules, but also to even things out or to create balance. To submit to the "rules" or discipline of God, is to allow God to balance your life.
I had a friend one time who said that "obedience" is the dirtiest word in the American lexicon. The older I get, the more I see that it's the truth. We will not bend out wants and desires to what God wants. We want God on our terms. We want him to bend to our desires. That's why the debate over gay marriage is such a hot-button debate, even among Catholics. We will not become disciples because we won't accept the discipline.
I'm not sure I'm comfortable answering this question because it asks you to judge another's soul. Not everyone is on the same path or responds to the same methods. A better question might be:
Do I believe that I am being led to discipleship in my Parish? If not, am I holding myself back?
I believe that I am being led to discipleship. Opportunities to connect with God on a personal level through the sacraments and prayer are ample in my parish and I do my best to take advantage of them whenever I can. I hold myself back from discipleship and from calling others to discipleship when I dodge those opportunities and slack off on my prayer life.