Lawn Chair Catechism 2.0: Assembly Line Construction

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Welcome back to Lawn Chair Catechism, hosted by CatholicMom.com! Head to this page for a quick explanation of this year’s book and how you can participate.

If you’re participating, too, be sure to link up at the main Lawn Chair Catechism post today!

This week, our chapter talks about God’s revelation to us, and how we can grow in our faith and spiritual lives. This chapter contained a really big surprise for me: that I cannot grow in my spiritual life through my own actions!

Being pro-active about your faith doesn’t help much because what we’re supposed to be doing is learning to be receptive to God’s will—listening for Him and looking for insights into what He wants us to do and where He wants to lead us. Rather than thinking of it as paddling your boat with prayers to get somewhere, think of it more like unfurling your sails and allowing God to take you where He wants you to be.

Wowza!

Let’s take a look at the discussion questions (and I’ll try to be less long-winded this week!):

* How easy or hard is it for you to reveal yourself to others? How does it make you feel to know that God eagerly reveals himself to us?

The Return of the Prodigal Son by Pompeo Batoni

When I meet someone new, I tend towards shyness and insecurity. This manifests in one of two ways: either I’ll clam up until a few more people are there to instigate conversation, or I’ll overcompensate and start babbling on about everything in the world. There tends to be no middle ground here. It’s as if I am BEGGING new acquaintances to LIKE ME PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE!

When I think about God revealing Himself to me, eagerly seeking me out, it’s a bit overwhelming, but, at the same time, it’s comforting. I wrote about this a while ago, when I realized that God is like the father of the prodigal son:

Finally, I realized what it means to say that if we are unfaithful he will still remain faithful, for he cannot deny himself. No matter how much we might deny Him, God will always look for us, searching the horizon for his prodigal sons and daughters. He loves us, and will never give up hope that we will turn our hearts to Him again and come home. Like the father of the prodigal son, His desire is to have all of His children with him, happy and safe in His home. He seeks us out, calls to us from the distance, though we often ignore Him and pretend not to hear. He watches for us – how else could the father in the parable have seen his son “at a great distance” – and when we appear on the horizon, still a long way from being really, truly home, He runs to us and embraces us with the kind of love we can never truly understand in this life.

God doesn’t need us to do all the work. If we seek Him out just a little bit, He runs to meet us where we are and carries us the rest of the way. We just need to assent to His will!

* Why is it impossible to be spiritually proactive?

We can’t take the first step towards God, because He’s already taken the first step towards us! God has been drawing us to Himself all our lives; after all, the Baltimore Catechism taught us that we are made to know, love and serve God in this life and be happy with Him in the next!

Think again about the prodigal son and his father. Even though it appears that the son has taken the first steps in reconciling with his father, long before he has started home, his father has been searching for him on the horizon. He was “still a long way off” when his father saw him, which means that his father probably had been spending a decent chunk of his day looking for the boy in the distance. Long before the son was ready to come home and apologize, his father had already made the decision to forgive him and was praying and hoping he would come home just so he could say those words to him.

God is like this. Long before we get the idea in our heads that we should get close to God, He calls to us in our very souls, drawing us nearer to Him. But like the still, soft wind outside Elijah’s cave, we have to really be paying attention to hear Him. As soon as we start to pay attention, His voice is there, already speaking to our innermost hearts!

* In what ways did the following people strive to be spiritually pro- active? Adam and Eve, the people who built the Tower of Babel, Judas. How did things turn out for them?

Each of these people figured that they could take action to get closer to God somehow. Adam and Eve thought that by eating of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, they might be able to understand what it was really like to be God. The people of Babel thought that they could reach Heaven of their own accord by building an enormous tower that was bigger than anyone had ever seen. Judas thought he could force Jesus into action and get Him to re-establish the Davidic Kingdom by creating a confrontation.

None of this worked as planned. Adam and Eve lost their brilliant intellects, and humanity had to rebuild what they lost gradually (and always with clouded intellect and judgement). The people of Babel were thrown into confusion, emphasizing that they truly could not attain Heaven without God’s help. Judas “betrayed innocent blood” and lost all hope, for he never understood that Jesus would not be establishing an earthly kingdom that might perish.

* Has there been a time in your life when you were able to say, “thy will be done” to God?

This is something I have to work on every single day. I have certain intentions that I pray for all the time, things that I cannot bear alone. I lean heavily on God to pull me through times when I fall into depression and depair over these things. And at those times, I have to remember that I can’t control it. I never could. And I do my very best to pray, “Thy will be done,” and hand it to God. Sometimes, when it’s especially hard, I close my eyes and envision myself walking up to the Cross and physically putting the intention at His feet. I have to do it. I can’t fix things on my own.

Praying “Thy will be done” is incredibly difficult, though, especially if I’m praying for an intention that affects me emotionally. And I have to admit that there are plenty of times when I pray it half-heartedly.

But then I remember that I’m the prodigal daughter, and God is going to meet me where I am, pick me up out of the dust, and carry me home where I belong.

And I can rest in that.

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3 thoughts on “Lawn Chair Catechism 2.0: Assembly Line Construction

  1. Barb B loved the first Chapter, wish I could put THAT in the bulletin, I agree with sometimes getting stagnant and that is when I push to get back on the wagon. Chapter 2 was directed more to how I do things, sometimes I pray just before Lecturing “Lord these are your words, let me speak Clearly, Slowly and Show your love; Amen” it seems to settle me prior to reading. I have shared that with new lectures and youth, because I want them to know I still get nervous, I need to work at Lecturing, it’s not “old”. I agree with Carol, Love this book and how simple it is to understand the message. /bb

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  2. I want to thank you Joe for writing this book. I am new to the Catholic Faith and at times find it difficult to get my head around some aspects. I find your book easy to read and understand and I look forward to sharing it with my children (when old enough) as I struggle to find the words myself. I was praying to God for a book or information to come my way to help me on my path as I was feeling stuck. I wanted a book to read that would make my heart sing, and yours has and I can’t wait to find time to read more and then perhaps read it all over again. Heartfelt thanks, Madeleine.

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