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Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Oh, Lord, Kumbayah

As a relatively new Catholic, I cannot say I have pondered much the state of Christ's Church in places like Mississippi. But if this remarkable item, taken from the pages of the Mississippi Catholic, has veracity, Holy Church in the Magnolia State is seriously close to flatlining.
Religious communities offer visions, ideas for future

JACKSON — In June, the Mission and Ministry in Mississippi Task Force Committee held meetings with the leadership of religious order priests and religious communities of sisters and brothers to discuss, according to Bishop Joseph Latino, “how we can all coordinate our efforts to best meet the needs of the parishes and missions in our diocese.”
Ah, that has a familiar ring! As a former Episcopalian, I am well familiar with the obfuscatory language of an institution in decline. Permit me to translate: our churches are emptying by the day and we're running out of money. Expect wholesale closings and parish mergers.
Below are some of the responses from the two gatherings:
Uh-oh.
+ We can look at our shortage of priests as a “scary” time or as an exciting time. How can we help our people see these changes as an opportunity for growth?
Are you, like me, beginning to smell a big, fat commie rat?


No? Read on, then.
+ We must face the reality that with the tremendous decrease in priests, people will be more and more dependent on religious, lay persons and lay ecclesial ministers in the future.
Becoming clearer now? Brings to mind "never let a serious crisis go to waste," in this instance a last-chance opportunity for post-Vatican II reformers to push those anachronistic male priests into the background and let "the "people" run the show; to transform their diocese into a liberal mainstream Protestant church (never mind that numbers for liberal mainstream Protestant churches are even worse than those for the Catholic Church).

And off we go:
+ Leaders of religious order priests want to remain faithful to their particular charism; they are not just interested in sending more priests. They want to share in shaping a vision for the future and the future church.
I'm not sure the word "share" is entirely accurate.
+ Small communities need the Catholic Church, a Catholic presence. Because of our social teachings, we can not live around poverty, illiteracy, homelessness and not respond. We have to be true to our religious charism, which always keeps us on the edge, on the fringe.
You really want to be on the fringe? How about celebrating the mass, even Novus Ordo, strictly according to the rubrics, with chant instead of "On Eagles' Wings?" Now that would be cutting edge.
+ We need trained community organizers.
"Trained," no doubt, by the Maryknoll nuns; and you think these people would be aware "community organizer" has lost a bit of caché these past two years.


+ Some priests need to be educated that people have a right to speak about what they want as a church.
And if they won't be "educated," ve haf vays ov deelink vit tem.
+ The liturgy needs to be vibrant; we need to continue work with bilingual liturgy and talk to people about the meaning of Eucharist.
Because nothing says "Come unto me" like like "Gather Us In" croaked out in English or Spanish.

(Now skipping a bit)
+ Weekly Mass can be celebrated on another day than Sunday.
Great idea! Just a few tiny snags you'll need to deal with: the Third Commandment, Mark 2:27-28, and the Cathechism of the Catholic Church (you've heard of it, haven't you?).
+ Could we not have a dialogue about extraordinary celebrants of the Eucharist? When help was needed in the past, extraordinary ministers of Communion were started.
Gosh, would I be considered skeptical for having the notion there is an ulterior motive here?

And finally (although there are more, go see for yourself):
+ We need to develop a process where people can name their fears.
Res ipsa loquitur.

To be sure, this colloquy consisted of "over 30 sisters and one brother representing 28 religious communities in the Diocese of Jackson" (regular readers should of this blog should have no trouble guessing which ones) and accompanying photos suggest the numerous innovations proposed were yet outnumbered by the wrinkles. Still, the bishop (near retirement age himself), seems to have given a warm welcome to these 'sixties relics and their goofball ecclesiology, if not exactly his imprimatur. That is never a good idea, it only encourages them.

(Thanks to Banished Child of Eve)

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