Saturday, July 16, 2011

Humility and Parish Life (CAF Crosspost)

I'm sure I'll get drummed up in short order for this one, especially by someone more knowledgeable than I. Somewhere between Canon Law, the Missal, and My Understanding there's going to be a disconnect. The thing is, I've seen something, and it's bothering me.

Everyone here on CAF surely knows that the church arranges herself into provinces, then dioceses, then parishes, and that there's a hierarchy that follows, but that parishes have defined borders within themselves, like the counties within each province/state that make up a country. Traditionally, people used to stay within their parishes as far as Church attendance, with a few exceptions; my great-grandparents (my mother's father's parents) are devout Catholics from the old country, who, for all intents and purposes, worshipped within their parish, but had the funerary rites for my Great Grandfather said at the Cathedral, and buried him within the city, rather than up country, where thy live. But, for the most part, the practice was to be within your parish; it was your secular neighbourhood as well as your spiritual community.

The impression that I got was that, in those days, everyone knew everybody, and if you were new to your parish, you got to know your neighbours very quickly through social functions under the auspices of that parish. Nowadays, if I can say that (these being the only days I know), the trend seems to go something like this, at least with what I've seen here.

"This particular aspect of the Mass isn't reverently done enough (an altar server fidgeted, female EMHC, priest sneezed at the pulpit) for my taste, so I am going to find a new church to go to."

Now, I'm a big fan of freedom of choice, and I know this. I also have a tendency to judge, as evidenced by the fact I'm writing this out at all. Having said all that, though, it seems counter to Humility, a Christian virtue we could all use a little more of, to pass judgement on the reverence of a parish and then abandon it for another. In a time when Parishes are closing left right and centre and attendance of the Mass is at a low, parishes need our support more than ever, and in more ways than simply materially.

Saint Francis of Assisi told us to, "Preach always, and when necessary, use words." If your parish isn't reverent enough, wouldn't it be better to attend it in full reverence, without pretence? Your devotion to the Faith will be witness enough to the others around you. It's not like the priest is running the back of the shop at your local McDonalds and burned your fries. The Church is the Body of Christ, and he deserves better than infighting and fracturing.

Communities need the support of the people who live in them as much as they need the support of God. Think of your neighbourhood as a tiny maple sapling, and the Church as a great, ancient maple that has stood for generations. As much as our sapling needs the sun of God's Grace, it needs the water of our Good Works, and to take root in the soil of good, gracious hearts.

Acer, Arcerpouri. As the maple, so the sapling.

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