The news outlets are filled with speculation and commentary about Barack Obama’s transition team and his choice of cabinet members and White House staff. Yesterday the stock market rose 500 points simply because Obama announced who his Secretary of the Treasury would be. There are a lot of reasons that knowing who Obama plans to surround himself with are important, and I want to focus on one in particular. In both the primary and the general election campaigns, Obama was criticized for his lack of experience. Now the markets, the American people, and the world are watching to see if he chooses to place himself in the midst of a community of “elders”—people who have the experience he lacks.
What strikes me about this global anxiousness about who the neophyte president will associate himself with is that we might apply that same type of concern to the catechumens. Of the four markers of catechesis—word, community, worship, and service—I wonder if we pay enough attention to apprenticing the catechumens in what it means to live in community. What often happens is community is assumed. The catechumens are coming to church, they know the catechists, they have sponsors, and some of the parishioners are praying for them. From our point of view, they are already members of the community.
But if we think that through a little bit, they haven’t yet learned what it means to be among a band of disciples. Their fellow catechumens are not disciples—at least not experienced disciples, who, like Saint Paul, have run the good race and been tested over time. When the catechumens’ ship of faith is swamped by trials and temptations, who will they turn to for advice and support? Have they been sufficiently acquainted with the parish community so that they can identify a “transition team”? Do they have a “cabinet”—a core group of fellow believers, most more experienced than themselves, who they trust and who will give them honest feedback? Do they have a community that will challenge them to grow in faith and discipleship and hold them accountable to that growth? I think that if they do not yet have such a deep commitment to and understanding of Christian community, they may need more time to learn how to do this before they are initiated.
What do you think? How do you discern a catechumen’s readiness in the area of community? Click on the comment link below and share your thoughts.
The genesis of this post
I was inspired to write about this through Liz Strauss’ blog, Successful and Outstanding Bloggers. Earlier this month, she posted “6 Ways to Build Your Own Personal Developmental Network.” Another prominent blogger, Juliann Grant, commented on the post: “It is very helpful to have a core group of people to trust and get continual feedback on our personal and professional development.” I read that after having listened to the morning news dominated by speculation and commentary on the president-elect’s cabinet and staff choices and wondering why that would be more newsworthy than, say, the seizure of two more banks, which also happened yesterday.
See also these related articles: