Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Ah! They are Getting it

I am now having great fun with one of my Biblical Studies groups. Last year I slogged through meeting after meeting with everyone expecting me to do all the work and to let them simply ask questions. In the end, we kept coming back to, "Did Jesus really have brothers and sisters" and "Is Mary a perpetual virgin," and "What really is the communion of saints." No matter the number of times I answered the questions, the same questions were asked. I labored through presentation after presentation noting my dissatisfaction with the methodology, but they were all satisfied that I did the work and they were able to comment that I was doing a great job.

This semester I am asking each person to present and each is doing a terrific job. Better yet, they like presenting. They remark that they are learning a lot about the materials and that each topic seems coincidentally designed just for them. Their prayer styles are quite diverse, the songs they choose to play add to their personality, and the topics are artfully given. They feel empowered by the end of the day.

I try to deflect questions back to the presenter so he or she can have the first shot at teaching and they are giving very solid answers. They are becoming experts in their chapters and they remain in control of the discussion. It is quite a relief for me and at the same time it is beautiful to see what is emerging from within them.

The past two weeks we spent time talking about Catholic marriage and what makes a marriage strong. At one point, I was able to articulate what I am hoping happens with each of the people in the group. I want them to come out of their shells, speak with authority that arises from their experiences, trust in their innate goodness and in their well developed skills, and reach their potential. Their faces brightened because they know I believe in them, but that it is complicated because they are in a culture that squashes their individuality.

As we were speaking of mutual love in marriages, I reminded them that they are a valuable part of the marital team and that it is always best that they take care of their own needs and desires first while not neglecting the needs of their spouse. What they want and need is important for them to talk about with their partners. Again, I watched as people fidgeted in their seats as they were getting enough courage to believe in themselves. One woman raised her hand and asked if I would conduct a gathering for married couples so they could talk about all the material I raised in the group so they could develop healthy ways of strengthening their relationship. We talked about choosing to fall in love each day, finding joy as an individual within a marriage, developing gifts and finding private time and enough space to develop as a person, and committing to loving oneself and by extension their spouse as well.

People were happy with the discussion because the presenter did such a beautiful job and because they felt affirmed. They do hunger for religious knowledge and for spiritual development. Therefore, we are planning a retreat for later this month where people can have some silence and structured sharing. I'm delighted that we can finally move into new areas of spirituality. I'm watching people come alive before my eyes and they want more. It is beautiful.


  1. John, thank you for sharing this beautiful reflection on how your people are coming alive before your eyes. The Holy Spirit is very active in the work that you are doing. This is the work that Christ is calling us to do. It warms my heart to read of this. Blessings and prayers.

    1. You are welcome, Lynda. The people are responding so graciously. It can only be the work of the Spirit. Hallelujah.