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Forming Intentional Disciples: The Path to Knowing and Following Jesus Paperback – July 3, 2012
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1) Weddell uses a series of "thresholds" which tend to make judgements on a person's spiritual life. Although having such a list is good on a practical level as a shorthand when in professional ministry, these thresholds seem to be given too much concrete value. It can also lead to the awkward situation of a serious Christian sub-consciously (or consciously) of putting all of their friends and acquaintances into lists (e.g. Timmy and Suzy are Seekers, Bob is Open, and Jim is Curious). All the while, the person is comfortably listing themselves as “disciples”. Yet maybe Timmy the Seeker just seems like a Seeker, and is actually a Disciple, etc.
2) The book seems to de-emphasize the Sacraments. Yes, it talks about how wonderful they are, but the author openly disparages the argument of “letting the Sacraments work”. Although we must avoid a magical view of Sacraments, and must not deny the need for a personal relationship with Christ, including a strong prayer life, sometimes we need to remember to let the Sacraments work.
3) Her system does not seem to account for those disciples are seriously affected by sin. Those who truly love Jesus, but seem to love drink or women or money just a little bit more; those who struggle with themselves, but also struggle with Our Lord. I think those using her system might refuse to recognize these folks as “disciples” and drop them into some other category. When I read Brideshead Revisited, I just don’t see those neat categories at work in the Flyte family (although one does in Charles Ryder, just to be fair!)
Again, these points are made as constructive criticism, and I highly recommend the book.
While she is somewhat biased toward the group which she helped to co-found, The Catherine of Sienna Institute, she provides plenty of insight for everyday Catholics and parish professionals to use in the development of their own faith life. She also questions some of the fundamental assumptions that we Catholics often have when approaching the faith.
For example when discussing the current catechetical paradigm adopted by many Catholic education programs, she posits that we assume "that a baptized child will pick up the Catholic faith from the family and the parish as naturally and inevitably as he or she learns language and culture" (p. 68). We seem to assume that the personal relationship with Christ will come from the reception of the sacraments and from learning doctrine and facts about Catholicism; which certainly worked in the past because faith was more deeply ingrained in the day to day activities of a normal Catholic individual. This paradigm no longer works, which has resulted more than half of Catholics who leave the Church citing the lack of a personal relationship or encounter with Christ.
I would recommend this book for people serious about rediscovering their own faith and as a means to assist Catholics in evangelizing others within and outside of the Church. Catholics have been encouraged from numerous popes and church councils to evangelize, but many are left wondering what this actually means--Weddell has helped to fill this gap between theory and praxis through the publication of this book.