instruere...inlustrare...delectare Disputations

Sunday, August 05, 2012

Forming Intentional Disciples, pt. 1

I've read Sherry Weddell's Intentional Disciples blog since she started it (with others involved in the Catherine of Siena Institute) eight or nine years ago. Sherry and I have exchanged any number of generally compatible comments on various blogs, I arranged for her to speak at a Lay Dominican Congress in 2005, and we met for dinner once when my business travels brought me to her home town of Colorado Springs.

All of which is to say that I don't claim objectivity in reviewing Sherry's book, Forming Intentional Disciples: The Path of Knowing and Following Jesus. But since the book is of a piece with what she's been writing on-line for years, and since I've thought for years that what she's been writing on-line was important, I don't hesitate to say, "Read this book. Then give a copy to your pastor."

The establishment of one fact is as critical to Forming Intentional Disciples as is the establishment of the fact that Marley was dead is to A Christmas Carol. That fact, established in uncomfortable detail in Chapter 1, is this:

Catholic parishes today are not forming Catholics.

That is to say, what American parishes typically do by way of religious education, faith formation, liturgy, and so on -- which is all the majority of lay Catholics experience in the way of religious formation within the Church -- does not typically produce someone with faith in Jesus Christ and the Church He founded.

The statistics given in Chapter 1 bear this out. The one statistic that really brought me up short came from a Pew survey, according to which only 60% of self-identified Catholics believe in a personal God, while 29% think of God as an impersonal force and 8% don't know.

When two out of five Catholics don't believe in a personal God, I have to ask myself in all sincerity: Why am I blogging about jocose lies?