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Friday, December 2, 2011

The Lay Need Lay

After two months of travelling, I'm finally in one place: Arlington, VA.  In my couple weeks here I've started to settle in---I cleaned my room (which now needs to be cleaned again), I've been interior organizing (buy of the week? Dish rack for the house), and I've started to venture out to see what is in my community.
We are the 99%.

I saw this bulletin in our our local Catholic paper, the Catholic Herald (which I've become quite fond of), and it was for this book forum on JPII's "Love and Responsibility" for young adults in their 20s and 30s at a local church.  I thought to myself, "I'm a 20-something, I like JPII, and wait, it's at my actual church St. Charles?"  Could I receive a stronger sign God?

At the book discussion we read a chapter from Sri's "Men, Women, and the Mystery of Love" together, split into groups (one all guys, the other all gals), ate pizza that we ordered on the church's dime, came back to small group and discussed some interesting topics, a memorable example being about if it's OK for a husband to send a text coming home from work that he's excited to see his wife naked later.  In hindsight, it's funny that we were bringing out all these hypothesizes, or "hypos" as one guy called them, of marriage life being all single people in the room.  It's like I was back at Catholic with college friends talking like we know exactly what NFP could be like.

Later we went out for drinks, well, rather the next door diner for milkshakes and drinks, and hung out.  This was an important factor for the night as we got to get to know each other better outside of the book talk.

Here are my takeaways:

-It was refreshing for me to meet other good Catholic men who aren't already in my close CUA circle.  (i.e. it was affirming that other like-minded guys exist).  In fact, one of them, Steve, invited me to one of his Catholic guy groups where they "booze and smoke cigars" in their get-togethers once a month.  I am so down.

-The discussion was thought provoking.  I mean, what is the answer to the hypo of the naked text to your wife?  I realized my answer in prayer last night, and it involves mirroring our love to the holiest marriage we all know, a phrase I will coin right now: WWJD, What would Joseph Do?

-Lastly, and most importantly, the group touched on a topic that I've been thinking about for awhile: the Catholic community.  One woman even called us out, "Protestants are so much better at community and fellowship."  Why is that?  And what can we do?

A big part of why Protestants are so good at fellowship and community is because it's lead by lay people.  Catholics obviously have a hierarchy, and while we love our priests who lead us, they wouldn't be seen at our marriage discussion about hypothetical sexual text messages.  So, what can we do?

Answer: the lay need lay.  We lay people, the 99% of the church (occupy that), need to step up and create stuff for each other.  We need more groups like the one I joined last night (though, as Steve and I joked, we'll need more ones that aren't called "Love and Responsibility" if we want to draw more guys).  We need intramural basketball teams, running and biking clubs, bowling groups, coffee open mic nights, and yes, Steve, fish fry's.

And nothing wrong with book clubs or bible studies or prayer groups (I'm been part of my fair share), but they all need to end the way last night ended: over some food, drinks, and laughter.  Because we need more of it: fellowship, or rather fraternity or sorority----community.

More importantly, we need lay leaders to lay the law (say that five times fast) and step up and organize these things.  If you, yes YOU, have an interest or hobby, I guarantee someone else and their friends do, too.  I appreciate women like Patricia,  a 22-year-old college graduate who was the one who started up this group last night.  It took her two seconds of real-life adulthood to realize that if she wasn't going to organize something, no one would have.

The lay need lay.  If not you, who?  If not now, when?


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