instruere...inlustrare...delectare Disputations

Sunday, September 21, 2014

From parable to model?

At the Friday night session of the Forming Intentional Disciples mission Sherry Weddell just completed at my parish, she gave us some time to draw our own paths through the Five Thresholds. After trying for some minutes, I said to myself, "Nope. The Five Thresholds model just flat doesn't fit my own experience." As I wrote in the last post, this isn't such a surprise given that I'm not a post-modern.

Which raises the question, what model does fit my own experience? Put another way, is there another model that might help form intentional disciples, preferably one that accounts for the importance of the communal and ecclesial dimensions of our relationship with Jesus? While I'm at it, how about a model that doesn't stop at intentional disciples, but takes the Christian all the way to union with the Father, through Jesus Christ, in the Holy Spirit, so we may be called not just disciples but friends, and indeed children and heirs?

Granted, that might be overkill for working with high school seniors in CCD class who don't know the Lord's Prayer. And a full-blown model would have to be used with care around adult Catholics in leadership positions who don't know a personal relationship with God is possible, or they might be too distracted by all the moving parts to notice that the whole thing sits on the ground of a personal relationship with God.

In any case, I went to sleep Friday night with a brief prayer for illumination on the question of a model for spiritual growth useful for helping others to grow, and I woke up Saturday morning with the thought of the Parable of the Sower.

And I thought yes, that works as a description of spiritual growth at all levels. An individual soul can, as Jesus explains, be described as shallow soil or rich soil, and then within that soul there are different weedy patches and hard-packed roads. Every day is a matter of converting bad soil into good, and making sure good soil doesn't revert to bad.

How might the Four Soils model be developed and used? Got me. I only prayed for illumination, not an action plan.

But when I heard the Gospel reading at the Mass before Saturday's FID mission session -- Luke 8:4-15, the Parable of the Sower -- I thought it was something more than coincidence.