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Saturday, 01 March 2008 10:59

Written by the other Sherry

Sherry W. posted this over on Amy's blog in a comment box; I think it's worth repeating:

Here’s the deal. Everything in the Christian life isn’t about the intellect and content. Catechesis is only one part of the whole. Catechesis is not formation. Formation enables a man or woman to integrate his or her lived faith, intellect, feelings, relationship, and work into a whole life devoted to Christ.

For many people, relationship is the center of the universe - the center of their relationship with God, all meaning, all purpose - the point of everything! That’s where they start in any spiritual journey as well.

So they simply can’t survive on the combination of an impersonal formal liturgy and a non-existant community life. They leave for places where people actually know their name and notice when they show up.

Some people need to experience the healing and transforming *power* of God in their lives. Their marriage is failing, or their child is an addict, or they struggle with depression or a life-threatening disease, or are about to become homeless. They need to see God heal or transform their heart, or give them hope, or experience being actually cared about and for by a Christian community. They need to see something really different about Christians in order to trust them. They need to see - not just beautiful liturgical symbols of grace, but evidence of that grace really transforming a real human being’s life.

Transforming spiritual experience is not the same as being “touchy-feely”. Most of the post-V2 pablum that I’ve encountered is so emotionally bland, gutless, passionless and powerless as to be embarrassing. It has neither wit or wisdom to recommend it and usually leaves people’s lives untouched. Only the most repressed ecclesial bureaucrat could imagine that it would be gripping.
Transforming spiritual experience is St Paul (not exactly a passionless man) saying “For me to live is Christ and to die is gain” with a complete human and lived integrity that others recognize immediately. Here is a man who has *lived* it to the depths, with his whole being - and is speaking from a existential depth that is utterly compelling.

Some people (and many cultures) are simply exuberant and openly emotional by nature. They process by emoting. They connect by emoting. They relate to God by emoting. They can’t worship without emotion and without contact with the feelings of others. They may give more reserved people hives, but they are part of the body of Christ too. There has to be room for them too in our worship, in our community, in our vision of what it means to be Catholic. Or they will go to places where there is room.

If you’d like to explore some other kinds of options when it comes to reaching out to the unchurched, Catholic or not, - check this out:


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