After at least four years of walking in the Way, two years after their first Scrutiny, and on the eve of their second Scrutiny, Kiko and his catechists still treat their community members as if they are infested with demons. When introducing the written questionnaire that will serve to prepare the brothers for their “individual scrutiny”, Kiko says,
“In fact we have many burrows within us where demons are squatting and hiding. During this convivence, they are all afraid, and are good and quiet in their holes. We silenced them with the Word, with the songs, and with the Gospel. We have rendered them inoperative…We want to get to those dens and throw them out, we want to flush out demons.” Kiko Arguello, Catechetical Directory, Vol. 4.
Remember, Kiko is talking about baptised people who have walked in the Way for many years. While we’ll talk more about this obsession with the demonic in a future post, the emphasis on demon-infestation is made more problematic in the questionnaire by the catechists’ exclusion of the consideration of the members’ personal experience of God’s grace, especially if that grace was experienced either outside of the Way or before they joined the Way.
They do this by forcing the scrutinized person to craft a narrative of their spiritual journey that has the Neocatechumenal Way as it’s only point of reference. Each of the three primary questions on the questionnaire concerns one of the temptations of Jesus in the desert, and members are told to answer each question considering three time frames:
- Before they joined the Way
- While they were walking in the Way
The Church does listen to the Gospel story of Jesus being tempted in the desert by Satan on the first Sunday of Lent every year, so this story certainly can be useful for examining our consciences. However, the catechists do not accommodate any discussion of God’s grace working outside of the Way. This principle pervades the Way, and many of us have experienced this when we were forced to listen to members’ testimonies at Holy Mass. Members never seem to remember any move of the Holy Spirit in their lives before they joined the Way. Click here to listen to one such example.
Let’s get back to the Second Scrutiny Convivence. Before lunch on Saturday , community members are instructed to get a pen and paper. The three questions are then read to them and they copy them down.
After lunch the members work on the questions individually for a while, and they are told not to read the scripture verses associated with the questions. They then discuss their answers with each other, one question at a time, in the small groups that the catechists have assigned them to, and read the scripture verses after each question. Family members and couples are not assigned to the same groups, because Kiko says, “We have mixed the groups, separating couples and families, because you can be completely honest in talking about sex, money, etc.”
Each person is brought before the community, one at a time in a random fashion, and reads the answers to the questions in front of the catechists and community. The individual scrutiny, which I will discuss later in another post, has begun.
Here is the actual questionnaire:
The first temptation: Satan Tempts Jesus with Bread
- Before you attended the initial catechesis, what did you count upon for your security and safety? Tell us facts. [Do not, I repeat, DO NOT share any lessons about trusting God that you learned before joining the Way.]
- Have you experience a change of direction with respect to your security as you have walked in the Way? Tell us facts.
- In what concrete things do you put your safety today? [If you have a modest retirement account for you and your spouse, mention it now, brother.]
- Luke 12:13-40 [Parable of the Rich Fool, Do Not Worry]
Second temptation: Satan asks Jesus to tempt God
- Today, in practice, what do you still not accept in your life, or what is difficult for you to understand? [Now is the time to mention problems in your marriage, substance abuse in your family, unwanted same-sex attractions, etc.]
- Have you experienced a change during the process of walking in the Way? Tell us facts.
- Before you attended the initial catechesis, which facts had you not accepted with respect to the reality of your life? [Remember, all spiritual growth happens AFTER you join the Way.]
- Matthew 16:24-26 “If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.”
- Luke 14:25-35 “Whoever comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and even life itself, cannot be my disciple.”
- John 3, 8ff “The wind blows where it chooses”
- John 12:24-28 “unless a grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies,”
Third temptation: Satan tempts Jesus to worship him
- List the idols of today’s world. Before you attended the initial catechesis, were you their slave? [Do NOT discuss any life-changing conversion to Jesus Christ that you experienced prior to entering the Way. I’m warning you, it won’t go well for you!]
- During this journey in the Way, have you experienced some victory of Jesus Christ over these idols? Tell us facts. [Don’t you dare tell them that you experienced some victories of Jesus Christ years before joining the Way!]
- Today, concretely, what idols are you still enslaved to today? [Sex and money are favored – do NOT forget to mention them.]
- Luke 16, 10-15 “You cannot serve God and mammon.”
- Luke 18: 24-28 “How hard it is for those who have riches to enter the kingdom of God!”
tags: Neocatechumenal Way, 2nd Second Scrutiny