Lawn Chair Catechism, Session 2: God Has No Grandchildren
In your own faith:
- Have you always been Catholic?
- How did the instruction and mentoring you received help you – or prevent you – from having a personal relationship with God?
- If you were raised in a Catholic home, are your family members all still Catholic?
- What events among your friends and family seem to explain why some are Catholic, and others are not?
In your parish:
- How’s your “retention rate”? What percentage of 8th graders in your parish are still practicing the faith at age 18? At age 24? Do young adults in your parish stay in touch with their childhood faith community, or do they drift away to an unknown fate?
After years of telling God how He can act and trying to box in the Holy Spirit, religious leaders realize that they have failed to shepherd their people. Consequently, parishioners are leaving in droves, especially young adults.
St. Mary’s is an example of a parish which has thrived for over 30 years . When Fr. Bob Bedard left teaching to pastor St. Mary’s, it was an empty and in an old area of Ottawa. This church was too dead to try the usual tactics, so Father threw up his hands and gave up. It was the best thing he could have done.
“God I give you permission to do whatever you want in this parish”
The result was a down pouring of the Holy Spirit. The fastest growing order of priests in North America called “The Companions of the Cross” ( fully obedient to the magisterium) arose from this Charismatic Renewal in Ottawa. They have several houses in Ottawa , Toronto, Texas, Halifax and another city in the Maritimes with a formation house near Comberemere, Ontario- Madonna House. Many young men brought up in this Charismatic Catholic Church have become priests and they DO have a personal relationship with Christ just like Bible thumping Protestants. Once the Holy Spirit touches a young person, he becomes a fervent, faithful Catholic.
Friends, and prayer partners, who I knew from a Charismatic Prayer Meeting, invited me to join them at the university’ mass . As anti-Catholic as I was, I knew that my friends were saved and born again in the Spirit and Truth.
” How could they believe all the cult like trappings of the Catholic Church when they were saved and Spirit filled?”
It only took one mass for God to strike me with a lightening bolt. The strongest presence of God that I had ever encountered enveloped me. I literally could not stand without my legs quaking. Immediately after mass I managed to make my way to one of the Jesuits, who smile at me and made an appointment for the very next day.
When Fr. Bernard asked me why I wanted to become a Catholic tha following day, I blurted out without thinking,
“If the Eucharist is actually the Body and Blood of Jesus, then I want to receive it. Am I selfish?”
Father could not stop beaming as he said,
“That is not selfish at all. That is the best reason to become Catholic that I have ever heard.”
It was an exciting journey of discovering and unwrapping all the treasures of this “one true Church” and an unexpected encounter with Mary. Instead of running around asking if people knew Jesus, I felt like saying,
“Have you met the Virgin Mary? Do you have a personal relationship with her?”
So from my perspective, the Church will begin to grow again when we humble ourselves and confess our arrogance and ask God in His mercy to send His Holy Spirit and fulfill the prayers of Pope John XXIII.