July 27, 2017 v4 p29
One of the first things I knew when I returned to my faith was that I needed to be more involved than I was growing up. I have been trying to figure out how to do that ever since.
When I made the decision to return to my faith I wasn’t sure where it was going to lead me. I’ve shared that whole story a couple of times I believe. After a few months I began to get the feeling that I needed to serve more in my church. I began to pray to God and let him know that I was ready to serve in whichever way he wanted me to. It didn’t take too long for that way to be revealed to me as I was approached about joining the local Knights of Columbus Council at our Parrish. I had figured I would end up joining them anyway before I started those prayers because I could see how they were active in both the church and the community, much as I am through Scouting and was through the Lions Club. It was pretty much a no-brainer. I joined and immediately felt welcomed to the Council and began volunteering whenever I could. The older members have been more than appreciative for my support.
I was told a few months later that it didn’t take long for my name to start coming up for leadership positions. That doesn’t surprise me. In every job I’ve held I have showed up and done my job to the best of my ability. That has always resulted in me being given more responsibilities, and ultimately promotions. All of that coupled with all of the other leadership positions I’ve held in volunteer organizations explain to me why those conversations were happening. I had hoped it would be a couple of years before I was approached about taking a leadership position, but I kind of knew that I could only delay the inevitable for so long. I stepped up this year to take on the role of treasurer, which I’m sure is the first of many positions I will hold in this organization.
One of the directives of the Knights is evangelization. I’m fairly certain that this is tied to the Pope’s call for a new evangelization of the church. I began sharing some of the Catholic blogs that I have been following with my wife and some fellow Catholic friends. They have all found them very helpful. But those are the easy people for me to evangelize to. They are already active in their faith, and while everyone needs to continue to grow their faith, there’s a different audience I would like to reach.
I know a lot of people that were involved with the Catholic Church growing up. Most of them, like myself, strayed away throughout their late teen and adult years. During that time is when the Catholic Church began to fall on hard times. There were multiple sex scandals, the beliefs and teachings of the church were skewed in the public eye. There really wasn’t much of a reason to stick around. That’s not why I left my faith, but I am fairly certain those may be some of the reasons that some of them did leave. These are the people I would like to reach. These are the people I would like to share more of my journey with. These are the people I would like to be a part of their journey.
One of the biggest factors in my faith formation as an adult was reading The Bible. Not just a few of the books, or specific chapters. I read then entire Catholic Bible, from cover to cover. After I finished it I tried looking for a different way to continue my faith formation. I tried simply reading the daily scripture readings, something I had picked up during my first reading. It was nice, but I was feeling like I still needed more. A few months ago I decided to read all of Letter’s from the Apostle Paul, in chronological order. That’s been pretty insightful. I’m almost through all of them and need to figure out what area I want to read next, I’m leading towards the Psalms.
Aside from reading my Bible on a daily basis there are a few Catholic speakers that I get a lot of good content from. One of them is Fr. Mike Schmitz, a younger priest from Minnesota. Most of the rest of the speakers that I’ve listened to have mentioned him in their talks. He seems to be the unofficial face of the new evangelization. He is very well spoken and is very engaging. I have shared a few of his posts on social media and get a positive response from Catholics and Protestants alike. Another one of the speakers I started following early on is Jeff Cavins. He is a former Protestant Pastor who was raised Catholic, left the church in his late teen years, only to be called back to Catholicism by The Lord. His journey is a really fascinating story. Both of these speakers publish their podcasts through the Catholic media company, Ascension Press.
Along with their weekly blogs they produce faith formation materials. They range from studies of The Bible, adult and teen faith formation, and historical studies of the Catholic Church. During some of the podcasts I subscribe to from Ascension they run short ad spots for their study programs. In each of them they mention that some of them are free if you get a group of four or more to participate. I haven’t looked too far into that but this is where I feel my calling to evangelize is leading. I’m looking for a deeper understanding of The Bible. The program I’m particularly interested in going through is “The Bible Timeline.” This study takes the participants through the entire Bible and dives deeply into each period of salvation history. There are multiple ways to read The Bible, and chronologically is one I’d like to try.
This is where you come in. If you’ve been interested in deepening your faith and understanding of The Bible, I believe that this may be one way for you to do it. If you’re looking to get back to your faith, Catholic or Protestant, this may be one way for you to do it. I’m not looking to try and convert anyone to Catholicism, but if it happens I will support you any way I can. What I hope to get out of this is a deeper understanding of my own faith, to help other people gain a deeper understanding of their faith, and possibly strengthen some families or friendships. Feel free to reach out to me if you’re interested in joining me this fall. I don’t know what the study group would look like yet, but that’s something I will figure out along the way, much like I have the rest of my faith formation.
So if you were Catholic, have always been Catholic, are interested in learning more about the Catholic Church, or are a Christian looking to strengthen your faith, please consider joining me. What have you got to lose, except everything you could gain by participating?