Monday, January 11, 2010

Motivations: from Thanks to Conversion

After teaching catechism and preparing our catechumens for baptism it usually is a natural step, finishing the catechumenate-- period of teaching catechism-- to receive baptism and enter the community of faith, participating in the sacramental life of the Church. However, it does not always work that way.

Living in a mission station we do not have many who show an interest in the Church, probably one or two a year. This year after teaching for over a year I felt that the father and daughter that had been preparing where a rather unique type of cathechumen. Usually, those who do not show an interest after starting the program, drop out or it becomes obvious they are not interested because of their absence from the classes and not attending Sunday Mass. However in this case the two of them were very faithful at both the classes and the Sunday Masses. There were few questions and showed little desire to be baptized.

Both of them had come out to the English classes that I was conducting and were very faithful. They asked if they could attend a catechism class so they started to study. After studying for over a year, I did not feel that I could accept them even in the "first initial stage of conversion".

Motivation is important and it is not infrequent that people come out to the Church because they are attracted by the building, they like the priest or the sisters in the parish, or are asked to do so by their parents or friends. This father and daughter I felt wanted to thank me for the time spent teaching English. This is no big problem, for you feel that the motivation will change and they will be open to the graces given by God during the catechumenate. The problem comes when you have done a sufficient amount of teaching and the motivation is still, ' thanks for the efforts in teaching English', what does one do? I have told them to take some time off and see what God is saying to them in their hearts. If they see some changes we will resume the steps to baptism.

Motivation is an important part of our faith life. We can do many things for many different reasons but we know that love trumps them all. In giving, St. Paul tells us to not to give out of necessity but with joy. We all have to work to purify our motivations in what we do daily and to get to a point where what we do is done out of love, and even the very laudable motive of thanks can be elevated to another dimension if we remember that it is all grace. Hopefully this father and daughter will begin to feel the love of God and want to respond in the months ahead.

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