Many Catholics believe that being faithful means meeting the minimum requirements of weekly attendance at Mass, observation of holy days, and fasting from meat on Fridays during Lent.
Yet Church leaders encourage adult Catholics to commit to a lifetime of educating ourselves in the faith. That can include pondering Scripture, developing a daily prayer life, reading inspirational books that help grow our spiritual lives, and consuming Catholic media, including books and podcasts.
“We tend to think of Sunday Mass as the minimum requirement for practicing Catholics, but if we are in a relationship with Love itself, that undergirds our entire existence, we don’t want to do the bare minimum,” explains Katie Dawson, director of Parish Evangelization and Faith Formation for the Diocese of Orange. “It’s like we are invited to this abundance at the banquet of the Lord, and instead, we satisfy ourselves with only a crumb.”
Indeed, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops underscores this invitation in its Faith Formation mission: “The Church’s catechetical mission aims to help the faithful of all ages to grow in both human and Christian maturity, enriching the whole of life with the leaven of the Gospel. Consequently, appropriate goals and content will embrace all the faith dimensions of an adult life—for example, understanding and communicating the faith, skills needed for personal growth, the experience of family life, relationships, public service, and concern for the common good.”
Instead of looking at our faith as an obligation, Dawson says, we must respond to this meaningful invitation from God to live our lives with Him in the fullness of joy.
Orange County Catholics have the opportunity to develop and deepen our faith by participating in a variety of parish and diocesan programs, as well as taking advantage of a variety of Catholic reading and media opportunities.
LOCAL FAITH FORMATION EVENTS
While suspended during the current pandemic, many parishes will resume group meetings, giving us the chance to grow in our faith together with like-minded Catholics. Several parishes periodically offer Taize prayer services, during which parishioners chant and pray in relative darkness to grow closer to God.
At St. Polycarp Church in Stanton, attendees can join Catholic Scripture Study each Tuesday at 7 p.m.
St. Bonaventure Church in Huntington Beach offers a Faith & Fellowship meeting every second Thursday. St. Kilian Church in Mission Viejo offers an Adult Faith Formation class on the second and fourth Mondays, and St. Joseph Church in Placentia on April 16, will hopefully begin its Welcome Home program for Catholics who have fallen away from the Church.
CATHOLIC BOOKS AND PODCASTS
Dawson recommends free books available from Dynamic Catholic, including “Jesus Shock,” by Peter Kreeft. She also recommends “God, Help Me,” by Jim Beckman (Amazon paperback, $12.16), and “In the School of the Holy Spirit,” by Jacques Philippe (Amazon paperback, $13.85).
Dawson also likes the Abiding Together podcast, which discusses important themes of the spiritual life and offers inspiring insights that help deepen your relationship with God.