How to Know You Have a Relationship with Jesus

commit-relationship-jesus

I was already a little tipsy when I started this conversation with Andre Regnier.

That didn’t make it any easier.

Marcel Lejeune and I had already indulged in a few beers at the social before we went over to Damon’s, a sports bar at the bottom of the hill Franciscan University is perched on.

It serves as the main hangout after activities at the  St. John Bosco Conference are finished.

Andre was at my talk earlier that afternoon and I was anxious to hear what he had to say. We had discussed evangelization the day before and he was intrigued by my topic–how to build conversion into your catechesis.

The conversation

“I loved your talk but something was missing,” Andre told me. I found out later he has this conversation with a lot of Catholics speaking about evangelization.

“What?” I asked. I really wanted to know.

“Let me ask you a question. How do you know you have a relationship with Jesus?” he said. That took me off guard. I don’t think anyone ever asked me that question before.

I fired back, “Well, I have a strong prayer life.” I was sure this was the right answer.

“But how do you know?” Andre asked again.

Okay, this time I had to dig. I was sure I had it the first time. “I speak to Jesus about my thoughts and desires. I go to adoration regularly and spend time with him. I practice devotions,” I said. But I wasn’t as confident anymore.

“He’s got you now,” Marcel said.

“You know the answer?” I asked Marcel shooting him a glare. How did he know the answer?

“Of course I know the answer,” said Marcel. “I’ve been hanging out with him all day.”

“Okay, I’ll make it easy on you,” Andre finally told me. “You know because at some point you’ve said it. Either someone led you to say it or you’ve said it by yourself, but you know because you can trace it to a specific time when you verbally committed yourself to Jesus.”

“People say that sounds too Protestant, but it’s not,” Andre continued. There’s a solid Catholic tradition built around making a choice and performing an action to solidify that commitment. It’s all over sacramental theology. Like in Baptism. There’s a before and after. You’re not baptized, a minister says words and pours water over you, and now you are. It’s an action of God but you have to make the decision freely. If you don’t, it’s not valid. I’m not saying a verbal commitment to relationship with Christ is the same as a sacrament, but there’s precedent for the power of choice and taking a concrete action to solidify it.”

“Your talk was great. I agreed 100% with everything you were saying,” Andre told me. “You laid out the Gospel perfectly, but then you stopped short. You didn’t follow through. You didn’t give them a way to take an action. You didn’t lead them to a commitment. Don’t feel bad…hardly any Catholics get this. It’s not in our culture, but it needs to be.”

Catholics don’t follow through

That conversation really got me thinking. He was absolutely right. Catholics never follow through. We never have a call to action.

My gospel presentation did have a call to action, but it was fuzzy. It wasn’t definite and concrete. It wasn’t the kind where you knew you had committed yourself to something and now things would be different. I said something like, “Join yourself to Christ and his Church and follow him.”

I was leaving it up to them. But that’s not enough. We’re bound up by inertia. Inertia and fear. It’s the human condition. If you don’t put them on the spot a bit, that commitment will probably never happen.

What if this became a part of religious education?

When I got back home, I told people about that conversation. I talked to catechists. I talked to priests. I talked to my RCIA team. Most people said the Catholic Church didn’t operate that way. We don’t put them on the spot, we respect how God is moving in them. What if they’re not ready for commitment right away?

That’s actually a valid point. Sherry Weddell lists the different stages of conversion in Forming Intentional Disciples. You shouldn’t expect to get a firm commitment if someone’s at the beginning stages. However, I’m afraid that idea keeps us from ever doing it…even when the time is right.

What Andre said got me thinking of ways to implemented this in a parish. What if, at the end of every year of religious education classes, we asked for a commitment? What if we led our students in a prayer that pledged them to relationship with Jesus? What if we led confirmation students to pray the same prayer before beginning preparation for the sacrament?

It could respect the ages and stages they’re in. It doesn’t have to be the sinner’s prayer that commits their whole lives to Jesus. Or, it could be. I’m not sure.

But I do know this is something seriously missing from Catholic religious formation and this element of verbally committing yourself to a relationship with God needs to be somewhere.

What do you think? Where should this commitment be included? Is it too Protestant or can this actually be incorporated into Catholic religious formation?

Let me know in the comments below.

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Comments

  1. I think we’re kidding ourselves if we believe that by having elementary-aged children recite a formatted “commitment” that it necessarily means anything more than the fact that they are able to read aloud. And yes, I’ve tried it with my confirmation class at the end of their retreat. The lackluster manner in which it was read, not prayed, told me they viewed it as just one more thing they had to do to get out of there that day. I actually wondered if I had trivialized the concept of commitment since it was a group activity. If students were encouraged to individually pray a commitment prayer before the class when they felt ready, then perhaps that would be more meaningful. But peer pressure is incredibly strong in the 8th grade, and I’m not sure that would ever happen.

    • Thanks for the feedback Alice. I would agree with you that for elementary aged kids, you’re not really getting a lifelong commitment. And I wouldn’t expect it to be. They’re too young. But perhaps it’s planting ideas and notions about what is expected and setting a tone for later down the road. And perhaps you’re getting a commitment appropriate to their age. Is there no worth in that?

      I would also agree with you that a commitment prayer prayed as a group would not be as effective. Especially if they felt it was “the thing to do” or the hoop to jump through. That’s a really good idea to make it an individual thing to be prayed when ready, but to put some sense of urgency to it. That way it’s freely done, but it’s not just washed over as a totally passive thing that they have to come up with on their own. It should definitely be something that’s done when they’re ready and not before. Otherwise it’s not really a personal commitment. Sherry Weddell said something recently about the fact that Catholics never make these kind of commitment statements outside of the collective “yes.” The Creed is like this but we say it all together. The renewal of baptismal promises is the same way. We need something that’s personal, belongs to the individual, and is said because they mean it.

      • Marc, Is this kind of commitment to grow in faith not what we do with every confession? Is spiritual direction and mentorship not the place we have to keep guiding people to go deeper into their faith, growing in love and commitment? Have we so industrialized the sacrament of repentance that it is boiled down to empty words performed en masse as a coming of age?

        • See that’s the point though. You’re right, that kind of commitment should grow in confession but obviously it’s not. The average person, especially a kid, doesn’t have any kind of spiritual direction or mentorship. That should properly take place within the family but it’s not. None of this stuff is happening. Kids, and most adults, are not being guided to go deeper into their faith and grow in love and commitment. They just plod along in complacency. I think it has been industrialized. That’s probably something that should change as well.

          I agree with you that the sacraments and their vows should be enough, but they’re not. The passive, hoping for the best approach is not working. Something else needs to be done. I’m not talking about coercion, empty rituals, or forced conversion. I’m talking about invitation. Inviting someone to go deeper into the mysteries of Christ though a personal commitment. To pledge themselves to something greater. It could be very simple like asking them to commit to prayer. It could be a more full blown asking them to commit their lives to Jesus. But I think the power is in the invitation/asking. I think we need to be more intentional. We can’t afford to sit back and say what we’ve done in the past is fine. It’s not working anymore. And invitation doesn’t interfere with the working of grace and God’s will. It may be how God chooses to act in a person’s life.

          • Marc, I agree with you completely there. How do we form intentional disciples? How do we help our students understand, appreciate, and grow in the faith they have? How do we take them deeper? It isn’t in programs or formulas or methods, but in personal relationships that challenge us to holiness. That expect us to be who are created to be and help us do it.

            For example, anyone can put down a worksheet that asks what a student is giving up for Lent. They fill something in–soda, chocolate, my favorite TV show–and you give a checkmark. What’s the point? A good teacher will educate on asceticism and on the freedom that comes from being unfettered to earthly bonds and will guide the pupils in choosing meaningful things that will draw them closer to Christ then will keep the dialog going through Lent on how the fast is going for each, what help they need, what encouragement can be given, and what challenges can be undertaken.

            While this should ideally be happening in the home and in the parish and the confessional, it should also be happening in the catechesis as the teacher is supporting the work the rest of the community is engaging through a close guidance of the pupils under him or her. I think you’re hitting on an important topic, which I don’t think Andre intended, and that’s that there isn’t a formula. But you can model that relationship with Christ by having a living relationship with your pupils, which will at times include challenges to go deeper (and encouragements to not get in over their heads). By that, they come to know Him who you share with them through your work.

          • Isolde, I absolutely agree that you need to have relationships with students for challenges like this to be effective. I was never thinking that it wouldn’t happen that way. I suppose depending on the person there could be differing levels of that friendship, but I think the results would be much better if the student knew the person really cared about them. I think there is and isn’t a formula. There is in the sense that there’s a certain psychology to how a person comes to understand the concept of Jesus and makes a decision to change and follow him. There isn’t in that, every person’s different and there’s always different things that they respond to or that draws them. You must know them and understand them to be able to know what they’ll respond to. But I think there are steps you can take to move them along. That’s what Sherry Weddell’s Forming Intentional Disciples is all about. There are 5 thresholds people move through on their way to conversion and they’ve been proven to be nearly universal in different people traveling the same path towards faith.

          • Marc,
            All that stuff is there in the Sacraments, in the Mass, in good religious education, but you cannot change what is not happening in the homes. You can’t fix what is essentially not yours to fix. Families have to pray together, take the sacraments seriously, go to Mass regularly and talk about God in the home. Words are not going to change peoples relationship with God. Look to the Protestants they believe they can say the words and then go out and do whatever they want and they are assured heaven. Words are only a small part of the answer, but we are fighting the public schools, television, movies, books, games and social media. I home schooled my children (all adults now) and I see the difference between them and their peers. They have relationships with God and my daughter the only one married with children is teaching that to her children. They take the sacraments seriously and go to confession often. They go to Mass and listen and believe in the real Presence. These are what are lacking today. Mass is a habit for most, they don’t even think about the Real Presence in the Eucharist, or the gifts from Reconciliation. They don’t read the Bible at home, or pray over meals in public. Some words are not going to change that. They need to believe and accept and learn to give all to God.

          • It’s true, that stuff is happening in the sacraments. You are absolutely right about that. But it’s not explicit and people aren’t being led to understand all that is happening in the sacraments. I think something that gets them to understand their commitment could be another step in the right direction. And, while words can be hollow, there’s also power in words spoken with meaning. I don’t think they’re useless.

  2. Hi!
    Thank you. Well I will tell you my story. I am a cradle Catholic. I am into the new evangelization big time. I am an account manager for Lighthouse Catholic Media and get the awesome cds into parishes. Got one who needs them? Let me know name and diocese please.
    I am a (young) gramma and an on fire one!

    Ok, so, back in the day when the Catholics had a void in bible study etc. I went to the awesome Protestants (while firmly staying Catholic). I listened to their bible studies and absorbed their love of Jesus. It worked. I knew what was not true and what was.

    I am in the last generation (I think) of strong Catholic’s from the Catholic school days when nuns taught us. I know my faith.
    But something was missing and I knew it was the “personal relationship” with Jesus Christ. I prayed for that and prayed the prayers that the Protestants prayed.

    I had a deep desire to know and fall in love with Jesus. If someone really wants that it nags at you. It pulls you to seek Him. It does not ever go away. Each person who desires Him will get Him. It is a craving, and it grows.
    He puts specific unique things in your path just for you that will help you grow closer. Talk to Him because He listens.He hears.

    In the beginning one must start speaking to Him, our invisible lover, in private and also public (church etc).
    Yes, go to adoration chapels, rest in Him, sit in nature, read and re read the New Testament and get absorbed into the scenes. . .etc. etc. and contemplate His Presence. He is The Presence.

    Read Fr. John Hardon’s writings on the Real Presence. The USCCB now has the Book—Pocket Gospels and Acts of the Apostles. Pope Francis began this. Keep it in your pocket or whatever and read it over and over forever. It changes as you re read it because you are also changing.

    Love comes from the deepest recesses of the heart. If someone intrigues us then we want to get to know them more and then spend time learning about them and being with them. We get to know them first as a friend and then as a spouse/lover. So do this with Jesus.

    This is how to have intimacy with Jesus. He is invisible as a body in the flesh via our eyes but only via our heart and soul is He visible here on earth.

    I see Him in nature, plus…go to the Hubble website and see the universe in detail. Get AWE!!! Just look at the way all things are made, it is really incredible.
    Also look at photos (google) of magnified flowers, sand, eyes, etc. etc. Look at the details. He is in those details. Look at the photos of the Aurora Borealis/Northern lights. All He made is truly awesome.

    Look all around you and stop and pick a flower and check it out. Observe nature–get alone and silent with Him. There is too much to distract us these days. Sit on a mountain alone with Him or by an ocean, by a waterfall or in the woods.Talk to Him and tell Him how much you crave Him.

    He is really quite alive! Invisible in human form, yes. At first it is easier to just picture Him as a real body sometimes. Like a little kid’s imaginary friend.
    Only He is not imaginary!!! Then close your eyes and listen.

    Just fall in love with Him. Use human means. Then, whatever you do as life goes on you have already connected with the One who will guide your life forever.
    The hard part is to really consistently do this. But once in awhile we slip because we are human. So He understands. We just get back on track.
    We all have consolations and desolations.

    One more thing. As a child I was taught to “do” the Stations of the Cross. I think it is rare these days. But I learned to walk from one to another and meditate and think on the scene at each station. The Pope does this at the ancient ruins of the Coliseum in Rome on Good Friday. (seen on EWTN cable tv)

    Every Lent and sometimes in between I do this meditation. I ask Mary, His mom, to walk with me and I bring my emotions into what I am doing. I really picture myself there with her as He was being killed. Your imagination and emotions can help you feel the saddness of that whole situation.

    The more I did that the more I began to love Jesus. He was brutally murdered. . .but just for me (and you) personally. He loves you that much.

    Sooo that is my bit of insight on having a personal relationship with Jesus. It is not just personal but actually intimate. All Christians can have this and I think that the Protestants have had that more intentionally.

    The Catholics have always emphasized the sacramental church. Put it all together and you have the whole thing. We are all His One Body. We really need to unify on our sameness and not focus on the differences!

    Hope this helps! God bless you. You are really tapping into the new evangelization using new media! Keep it up! : )

    • Thanks for the comment! You really do have a wonderful relationship with Jesus and are great at articulating the means of keeping that active. I think that’s so important. These are all awesome suggestions. I could really see the Stations of the Cross giving that personal element as well. That would be a great thing to emphasize at Lent. Not just going through the motions but using that refection as a way of really, personally connecting to Jesus. I think you’re absolutely right. If we merge the Protestant fervor of Christocentric daily devotion and the Catholic sacramental worship, you have the whole thing. Of course, the Saints have some pretty intimate relationships with Jesus as well.

  3. Very social contracty, and all the emphasis is on my initiative instead of the initiative of the Father in Christ. Decision is all, but let’s not reduce decision to social contract and the sandy ground of individual intention.

    Every statement like this must be judged against the experience of Mary. What would be her reaction if you asked how she knows she has a relationship with Jesus? Are you drawn to adoration, to the Mass? Do you recognize the presence of Christ in these and other circumstances: like getting out of bed or commuting to work? Do you embrace Christ when you recognize him? This is a relationship, a lived covenant. Anything less is inadequate. I can only imagine what would happen if I treated my relationship with my wife as some sort of formalistic social contract…

    • That’s a very good point Fred. Relationship is so much more than a social contract, and if it’s just that it’s inadequate. However, didn’t you begin your marriage by saying vows? Didn’t you make that decision and then freely ratify them in front of witnesses? You weren’t married until you did that, until you spoke those words. It wasn’t enough that you just felt it. It wasn’t enough that you asked her to marry you. You had to officially go through the ceremony and profess it. And perform the action of placing a ring on her finger. Again, that was the form of a sacrament and we’re not really talking about that but there is an analogy. Perhaps calling for this kind of commitment is just the beginning. It’s not the be all end all. There’s most definitely more involved in maintaining a relationship with Christ. There has to be. And, like a marriage you grow in your understanding of the commitment as time goes on and it has to deepen. However, could this be the way to mark the transition and start the relationship with more to follow?

      • Marriage and celibacy are vocations by which we come to know God. These are the adult paths we willingly cooperate in and take to grow in our faith. We discern, get guidance, and undertake them with vows–whether through marriage, ordination, religious life, or perpetual virginity–and from those vows come the graces to continue growing our faith with God through an appropriate community life (marriage, monastery, etc).

        What could a catechism teacher provide that would be more meaningful? Or what could he expect from his students that would be on par? We don’t need something on top of the sacraments and vows. We need to help our students prepare to discern and undertake these vocations so that they can take the vows. The priest shortage and number of annulments show that it is a real need to embrace the vows we have. There is no real need to make up more to give a false sense of having already arrived.

        A more appropriate analogy would be to say that a marriage does not come about when the secular engagement occurs. A kid saying he intends to follow Christ is not the same as an adult capably vowing it and committing himself to his vocation and the subsequent community life it brings. The two should not be confused, especially in our catechetical programs.

  4. I don’t ask my catechism class for commitment. Instead I show them my commitment. I also tell them bits and pieces of my faith journey over the years, especially when I first said to Jesus “Take me and use me as you will,” and meant it. I think saying “I have a relationship with Jesus” is as glib as saying, “I accepted Jesus Christ as my personal Lord and Savior,” or “The Eucharist is the source and summit of Christian life,” or “I have a relationship with my wife.” Most of the time when I hear people say such things, I think, “If you really understood what you’re saying you would not be using that tired old formula.”

    • Well said, Christian. I didn’t think about how important the witness of your commitment would be in this. But that still leaves it up to them to make the decision to make the commitment themselves. Should be be more intentional about it? What led you verbalize that commitment? Did you do it on your own or was there some prompting…even indirect?

      • I was aware for let’s say 20 years, that while I was very plugged into trying to be what God wanted me to be, I was holding back in some way that I did not do with my wife and kids. That is, I was committed to my family without reservation, but re God I didn’t want him throwing bad stuff at me like I was some sort of pious saint that’d endure anything for God. Nuh-uh, podna. And I knew of that little prayer “Take me and use me as you will,” but would never say it because God only knows what he’d then think up that would be a real pain in the butt. At the same time I was chafing at the conditional nature of that relationship, waiting for the right time really take a leap of faith. Finally I accepted there would never be a right time, had a change of heart, and said it out loud one night. Felt nonplussed about it for a few weeks…did I really mean it, or was I just self-medicating with a nice piety? But over time I realized I”d made a real jump, and felt liberated, felt…expanded. More serene, serenity not being my bag at all. So now I can say that little prayer when I need to, and it’s great. Life is better and different being able to do so. Funny I still say it out loud; something about the physical involvement matters. But that’s a bit of what I tell the kids about commitment in general: commitment’s part of growing up and being an adult, you commit to a marriage, to parents, to kids, and to God, too.

  5. Great food for thought here, Marc. Okay, this is the analogy conjuring up in my brain….New Year’s (or anytime of the year) resolutions. I can resolve to any number of goals – weight loss, read more, pray specific devotions, etc – but if I keep them all in my mind and heart, not spoken to another, there is a lack of accountability, and therefore a greater likelihood to not keep my resolution (ie save face!). Is this not the same dynamic in a verbal/witnessed “from henceforth, I will serve Jesus”? If it’s all in my mind/heart, then no need to worry what others think or say when I am less than Christ-like. In applying this to the parents in religious ed this year, this has me thinking that perhaps I should challenge them to make at least spiritual resolution for the coming Faith Formation year…and they make it known within the context of their family to hold each other accountable. [PS: ‘Hope you’re settling in well!]

    • Great analogy Julia! I love it. I could see that being the same dynamic operating here. I’m sure it’s possible make a strong commitment silently to oneself in the privacy of your own room. However, if you voice it to another, doesn’t it have more weight? Often in the Bible, Jesus asks people to voice something or ask for something. I was just reading the story in John encounters a sick man who’d been sitting next to a pool for 38 years waiting to be healed and Jesus asks him if he wants to be healed. It’s pretty obvious, yet Jesus asks him. Why? So Jesus will know? He already knows. It’s so the man will know. He has to say it himself and ratify his conviction before Jesus can act. We need to hear ourselves say things to others so we’ll own it. When you say it, it becomes yours. Sounds like a perfect idea to get a spiritual resolution from your parents. Perfect application.

    • All the comments here are really thought provoking. Yes, I have read Sherry’s book and our parish did a book club review on it. The main question coming out of our discussion is your question, ‘What does a personal relationship with Jesus look like?”

      All the suggestions and and observations mentioned here seem very valid. I would like to share that my own ‘adult’ commitment came when I lived a Cursillo weekend. It is not about ‘formulating’ a prayer or commitment statement, though that is there, but it is also about a ‘lifestyle’. It is about having the opportunity to meet with like minded people, searching deeper and expecting more of their own living of the faith and choosing to be really as holy as God would want them to be. JPII called all of us to ‘Holiness”. I that is that most difficult concept for adult Catholics to accept. We missed the lesson about ‘becoming Saints’. As long as the Catholic adult practice does not bridge that chasm from ‘oh, I’m not supposed to be that Holy, only priests and nuns are that way” we will continue to have difficulty ‘transmitting’ that faith that is the lived relationship known by Protestants. Yes, the ‘evangelicals’ I worked with were on point, when a situation developed that was obviously dependent on a higher power they had no problem praying their concern and their petition for the assistance of the H.S. They were in synch with their ongoing relationship with Jesus.

      The idea of Cursillo is to steep oneself in the tripod of Piety, Study, and Action. We can teach this. Kairos at the upper grade levels is the precursor to Cursillo. But, unless the adults that are parenting and mentoring have a committed relationship with Jesus, there will continue to be a struggle to help young people develop their own relationship of love for Jesus There are just too many distractions in our world today.

      I am wanting to query, how to ‘evangelize’ the sacramentalized adult who is ‘drifting a These are the ones who are not attending the ‘new evangelization seminars’, or interested in the study options made available at their parish.

  6. I soooooo agree that this is a step we should take in this year of evangelization. I just stepped away from teaching CCD after 11 years because of the resistance to this we have in our leadership. I poured my heart out on this very topic. Their view is that if we complete a book and test over it, then we have chatecized well. I insist that we must connect the head to the heart through cultivating a relationship with Christ so that those teachings take root in their hearts. We are losing 80% of Catholics after Confirmation (research by Matthew Kelly). We must add this missing ingredient.

    • Jane, you are so speaking my language! Yes, yes, and yes! I completely agree with you! It can’t just be about completing the book and taking a test. Catechesis must lead to relationship with Christ. That and the development of the interior life is the goal of all religious education. I’m sorry to hear you had to step away because you couldn’t find any leadership willing to support this idea. I pray you find someplace more accommodating.

    • My experience is those who are able to add the missing ingredients do so. Those who cant, don’t. It’d be great if every catechist was alive with personal witness and an evangelizing worldview, but few are, and the positions must be filled by September regardless.

      • Those are the situations where the Called and Gifted seminar comes into play. It is really necessary to develop teams of people who have the understanding of their charisms as given to them by God. Sherry mentioned we have no way to know how many of those sitting in the pews around us are really baptized Catholics, much less committed Catholics. I think being aggrtessive about who is placed in the positions of CCD and RCIA is very essential to bringing about the true development potential of the candidates at what ever level of age an instruction they are working

    • I don’t do any testing in my catechism class, and I believe the kids are better off for it.

  7. Great post, Marc. I’ve known Andre for quite a while and heard him speak many times… and he never fails to challenge me in some way.

    As others have mentioned, we have many opportunities to verbalize our commitment to Jesus built within our faith, but I don’t know if they often are explained that way. One in particular that has struck me in my own prayer the past year is the good old, simple creed we say at Mass. I mean, if we really break down what we are saying there and if we really *mean* what we are saying, then there is simply no way that our lives would not change. I believe… I believe… I believe… said out loud, hopefully from the heart, every week. But it’s so easy to simple say those word by rote.

    Thanks again for your post and to everyone for your wonderful comments!

    • Thanks so much Fr. Darryl! You know, I’ve thought about the same exact thing. The Creed is exactly this kind of thing. When we say the Creed, and when we renew our baptismal promises, we are making that verbal commitment all over again…every time. I think one of the things that keeps it from really sinking in for most people is that we say it as a group. Not that we shouldn’t. It’s wholly appropriate that we do. However, there’s no opportunity for Catholics to personally say something that ratifies they faith individually. We say it all together, but we never say it apart. We need to because it has to be personal, coming from inside you, for it to make a difference and to stick. But I think you’re absolutely right–it could be the case that the Creed does that for someone as well.

      • Dave Wells says:

        Marc, great article. I think Fr. Darryl is on the right track here. I heard Andre at the Bosco Conference, and it’s true- as Catholics we don’t know how to “close the deal” by asking for a specific commitment. However, the Creed is the traditional way to do this. At each Baptism, the one to be baptized is asked to renounce Satan, and all his works and all his empty promises and then profess faith in the Holy Trinity. In the Eastern Rites, this is even more explicit: the candidate faces west (from whence comes the darkness), renounces Satan three times and actually spits in his direction; then the candidate literally turns around, facing east (from whence comes the Light), and three times is asked to join Christ – and then professes the Creed. For those of us who are already baptized, the renewal of baptismal vows can be a method of recommitting our lives to Christ. St. Louis de Montfort, in his missions, concluded them by asking people to renew their baptismal vows and actually sign them on paper! Perhaps this approach would alleviate the “rote” aspect of just saying the words and understanding what they’re really all about.

  8. Claire Allen says:

    Hi Marc
    My experience is that most Catholics don’t have a relationship with Jesus or know how to have one because they were never shown how. Catholics always turn up their noses and say “That’s Protestant”. So what? Sorry but “protestants” are right in this regard! It appears to be the reason why Catholic’s faith falls apart many times and also why they turn to and place more emphasis on reverence and worship of everything except Jesus Christ who is the very reason we are Catholic in the first place.
    I definitely agree that a commitment should be taken even if its a solemn renewal of our baptismal vows (which are pretty powerful promises). We will see a return of the fervour of the early church perhaps!

    • Yes, exactly! I think you’re exactly right Claire! Most Catholics haven’t been taught to have a relationship with Jesus. The faith is taught to them in an impersonal way…an abstract, educational way. I agree too that baptismal promises are powerful and definitely a commitment. I think perhaps they wash over most of us though because we’ve done them so much and we do them all together as a group. Perhaps doing baptismal promises individually would have more impact. I’ve heard other people talk about doing that with great affect.

  9. Marc, wonderful post. My initial (and without a great deal of reflection) thoughts are perhaps the prayer ought to be a commitment to openness to Jesus and the Church. Perhaps it’s a half step but to someone who is still not sure they can jump into the pool of full faith and commitment, what they are committing to is remaining open to what Jesus (and through him his Church) has in store for them. And in a group setting, perhaps the liturgy could be set up so that the person doesn’t have to say anything out loud, but merely moves from where they are seated to a central location (altar rail, kneeler in front of the Blessed Sacrament, etc.) and pray the prayer of their choice. For those who are ready, give them a prayer that reflects a full commitment to “drop their nets.” For those who may have come from nothing to a seeker, but still not completely sold, they pray that prayer of openness. So people are invited to make some sort of real commitment but can keep it to themselves and commit to something they are really ready to commit to.

    • That’s a good idea Dcn. Tim. A prayer for openness they could pray by themselves could be a half step…perhaps if they didn’t feel ready to take that full step. Thanks for the suggestion!

      • “…perhaps the prayer ought to be a commitment to openness to Jesus and the Church.”

        Wow. Wow. Even Scrooge likes this. I’m gonna ad-lib this sort of prayer next Wednesday night. This is just a terrific prayer. I am way fired-up.

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