Tag Archives: friendship

Friendship, Interior Life, Apostolate

2013-05-11 12.25.47

A pretty bluebell forest in my new neck of the woods 🙂 Sadly only had phone camera with me

We’re approaching the height of Confirmation season. One of the things our Bishop is telling all the Confirmation candidates (spoiler alert to anyone in our diocese) is that they need good, Catholic friends. How true this is for Every Single One Of Us! In my own life, Catholic friends have been a source of joy, fun, consolation, laughter, inspiration, spiritual growth. Whatever state of life we are in – married or single – we need our friends. I’ve discovered, as friends get married and begin families, they need friends in new and different ways. Friends who are very different from you and who inspire you to try harder or challenge you to see beyond your own viewpoint and ways of doing things (sometimes learned the hard way). Friends who don’t really get your line of work and so will take you out of yourself by doing or talking about something completely different. Friends who do share your work and will help you laugh about it. Friends you’ve known so long you can happily curl up on the sofa with, each with your own book. Friends are the remedy and the consolation for much in our life. I do think that the need for good friendships for own interior growth cannot be underestimated. There is a wonderful chapter about this in this fabulous book – for all you ladies out there.

Of course, it is rare (especially as you grow older, don’t you think?) for friendships just to happen, with very little effort. Some friendships just click – you both adore each other – and not very much work is involved at all – or at least it doesn’t feel like work. When I was younger, I only bothered with these kind of friendships and pretty much ignored everyone else. (Yes, how obnoxious.) Now I am older, I am valuing friendships all over the place. Do you know why? Hopefully because I’m a little maturer. But also because, over the last four or five years, I’ve realised the potential within friendship for our apostolate.

Each of us, if we’re baptised, has an apostolate – whether it’s active or kinda dusty. Each of us, through our union with Christ as his disciples, are called to be busy and active in bringing others to him. All the people we are in contact with in our daily life. All of them. The lady on the desk at the gym. The lovely lady who shows me new eye makeup at the Clinique counter. My driving instructor. The people I went walking with in the bluebell forest at the weekend. (Just a quick scan through my past week…) Building up friendships is the absolute best way to bring others to him. It creates the foundation which, once developed, can be the basis for evangelisation. Our friendship is the first stage Sherry Weddell talks about in her book.

This is the obvious kind of apostolate. The less obvious kind is with our Catholic friends who are maybe a little less strong in their faith. Jesus uses our friendships here, too, if we pray for our friends and about them. What would he have us do? How can we help them grow deeper in their faith? After all, the more passionate disciples he has, the more the new evangelisation can spread.

I admit it, I prefer this kind of apostolate to the previous one, and some things I’ve tried here include: inviting someone to a talk, a retreat, a course (discern what they’re ready for); invite someone to be a catechist-helper on a programme (not teaching, but helping with a small group – it is the best way to ensure they get the catechesis they never had themselves as a teen); invite friends round for dinner – a mixture of on-fire Catholics and on-the-edge ones; let friends know you really need some help with cooking food/giving lifts/registering people for your Catholic event; invite them on a hike with your Catholic friends; start a reading group (you want to be careful here – inviting Sunday-Mass-going-only-Catholics to study Church documents with you is not going to cut it; however, there are some interesting, less threatening books that gently introduce people to the faith – Viktor Frankl’s Man’s Search for Meaning; Walter Ciszek’s With God in Russia (oh dear, notice the concentration camp theme); Jacque Philippe’s Interior Freedom). Above all, pray and offer small mortifications for them – this is the most effective thing we can do in our apostolate.

Just because we’re catechists doesn’t mean we’re not called to be evangelists too 😉 In every sphere of our lives… using all our creativity, imagination, effort…

Friendship is a wonderful gift. As we grow into our catechising-evangelising lives, we realise that some of our best friends are those we have brought to the faith or catechised, or both… And we have received much, much more grace than the little drop of water we have poured in.


Fruitfulness…

20120318-222329.jpgOne of the most amazing things to experience as a catechist is fruitfulness. It reminds me I am a co-redeemer with God, that I am a co-worker with none other than the Holy Spirit.

Sometimes the reminders of God’s fruitfulness come out of the blue, like the lady who showed up on the doorstep over a year ago, who said the only way she could explain how she got there was that God guided her. She did not know who Jesus was but she felt she wanted to become a Catholic. This Easter, she will be baptised. This is definitely an extraordinary instance of God’s fruitfulness. Mostly, though, God uses ‘ordinary’ ways of drawing people to himself, ways which usually involve other people.

The Catholicism course has been an example of one of these ‘ordinary’, but yet extraordinary, ways of God drawing people to himself. There has been a wonderful grace about this course, an infectious joy and enthusiasm which mean people do not want it to end, and people discovering – some for the first time – the joys of being a Catholic. We have one person who will be received into the Church and another who will be confirmed as a result of this course. We have other cradle Catholics who are more determined to live seriously their Catholic faith. And this kind of joy and enthusiasm does spread. The people who have received a lot are among the first to be signed up to the School of Prayer we have starting after Easter. They are becoming more involved in Church life and telling their friends. Fruitfulness means ever increasing circles of people, more and more connections, and friends of friends drawn into the communion of the Church. It is beautiful to witness it.

It is true to say that working for the Church is often hard, for a variety of different reasons. But this fruitfulness is the main thing that makes it beyond worthwhile. This makes it the job I would do for free if it was practical. What other reason can there be to do a job like this?