I have been reading a book, Forming Intentional Disciples, by Sherry A. Weddell. Here are my impressions:
After outlining the problems with uncatechized Catholics and fallen away Catholics, she explains how receiving the Sacraments without proper formation is harmful. She explains the necessity of a conscious choice to adhere to the faith and cooperate with sacramental graces.
She says that her research has found that there are "thresholds of conversion" in the process of becoming intentional desciples. They are; one beginning to trust in God, becoming spiritually curious about God and a relationship with Him, spiritual openess, spiritual seeking, and becoming a disciple.
When one begins to trust in God, they have to overcome the doubt that God is real and has their best interests at heart. Eventually, they progress to wanting to know if God loves them.
While we all want to be loved, we tend to resist letting go of control of our lives. It seems difficult to believe that the God who created all things could care about one person. It is easier to believe that God cares about mankind in a general way, like when I say I like cats and dogs. This threshold may be found even in cradle Catholics who attend Mass every Sunday and Holy Day. They may not be aware that they need a personal relationship with Jesus. It is our job to make sure every Catholic knows this. What have you done toward this goal?
How does Ms. Weddell recommend we help them begin to trust in God?
Avoid pressure, guilt, argument, or cleverness.
Find out if a bridge of trust exists. Do they have a positive image of Jesus, the Church, a believer, or something Christian? If not, help them to build that bridge.
We cannot evangelize what we do not love. If they do not have a bridge, become the bridge for them. Listen more than you talk.
Clarify their image of God and the Church. Are there obstacles caused by a distorted view of God or the Church?
I'll review the book's other thresholds in future posts.