Our parish's semi-regular session for Catholics who have left the Church for one reason or another, and are investigating whether or not they should return, has begun. It has a formal name, which I will not divulge for privacy, but "Cranky Catholics" works pretty good.
A very small group this time, and fairly representative of the type of people who are drawn via our ministry back to the Faith. Noteworthy:
- a man who is so horrified at the presence of an abortion "clinic" in our area that he is reviewing all of society and his entire life for sinfulness and realizing that he needs to be in church. Since he's a cradle Catholic, he headed right back our way. He's overboard on abortion, which is possible, since we are trying to cover a broad spectrum of information, but his heart is on fire.
- a quite young man (can't remember VII at all) who drifted away from all faith, and absolutely cannot explain why he is being drawn back. He says that God has a mission for him and he's kind of afraid to find out what it is.
- a lapsed Catholic who now attends both a Protestant and our Catholic Church, since her husband is Protestant. I think she wants a socially comfortable place to connect to people from our parish. The brisk discussions are freaking her out, and she might not last the whole session.
- a woman who looks and sounds like Central Casting sent her to answer a request for a 60's-era hippie-now-feminist. She challenges every word: "What is God? What is holiness? What are morals? Why do we use the Bible?" She's probably the most intellectually oriented of the group, and if she really puts that brain to work and calms down her ingrained rejection of all male authority, should do pretty well.
The others haven't broken through with a distinct style yet; we're just beginning.
It is simply STUNNING to realize what profound thoughts and sincere questions people, ordinary average people, are carrying in their hearts. And it's stunning to realize that they are willing to say them out loud to us, the team, who they don't know, in a church in which they don't know anybody.
Pray, as ever, please, for us as we ply them with coffeecake and information over the next month.