Monday, 20 August 2007

It's now or never.

No this isn't Elvis alive and doing a blog. Shame really because listening to him sing would be preferable to listening to some of the desperate stuff that has bounced off my eardrums these past few day. You don't mean Fit for Mission? Well yes and no. I have heard of things that I find intensely irritating: examples of the parochialism and pettiness of what passes for Church life; of people creating unnecessary obstructions to the development of a well planned programme of evangelisation and of individuals choosing to spend their own money rather than jump through the silly little hoops set out for them with the dubious possibility of some cash at the end of the process. On the one hand you have a group of Christians wanting to evangelise and on the other you have a system, a process, rules, bureaucracy.I tell you Jesus would have had a tough time getting funding for his Mission.

So why the Fit for Mission connection? Well simply that unless there is a radical intention to simplify and liberate the system of doing things; until we have openness and an end to the protectionist attitudes of the "elect" in parishes and on deaneries; until we realise that WE are the church, not the building not the hierarchy not the system, then Fit for Mission will be neither fit nor a mission.

I understand that the next stage of the review is upon us. Well I hope there is wider consultation than before. Nobody up there (not Heaven) seems to appreceate the disconnection between where they are at and the vast majority of Catholics in the Diocese.
A priest suddenly announces he is to stop the evening Mass on Sunday. No consultation or discussion, just an arbitrary decision. Apparently it's against canon law to say so many Masses.
Maybe so; but is this how a family communicates?

Anyway there you are. If you want to have your say now is the moment. Get in there; say it as you see it. At least, even if you are ignored you have been true to yourself. There is just a possibility that this consultation could be genuine if you do.

I have to go now, Elvis wants to use the computer.

Friday, 10 August 2007

Here I stand

Good quote from Martin Luther. Why I quote it is in relation to some of the previous posts which are critical and unfavourable to the Fit for Mission review. I have already deleted some critical blogs and had thought about deleting these too; but I have decided aginst it. It would be dishonest and I do think that the Church as an organisation and a hierarchy should be criticised when necessary. In challenging the day to day operations is in no way an attack on the Magesterium of the Church. As laity we are more than entitled to voice our opinions and views on how our churches are run and, more importantly, how we fulfill our evangelical commission from Christ. So the blogs can stay. Now is the time for the laity to speak out and to take a lead. Even if that means challenging the traditional set-up then so be it. (Is that OK, Martin?).

The Maze

I was in Church, before the Blessed Sacrament, and this image came to me. People wander around looking for direction in their lives, but they are like people in a maze trying to find their way to the centre, but at every turn choosing the wrong direction. Sadly what they don't know is that at every turn Jesus is standing there and saying: "Follow me. I am the Way. I will show you to the centre." So they go down one path and there at the corner is Jesus; but they choose the other way. They come to the next corner and the next and so on, and either wander all their lives down blind alleys, or someone says to them: "when you get to the turning next time, look for the man who is there: he knows the way." Until they know about Jesus they will not see him;and if they don't see him they won't follow him. That's where we come in.

Thursday, 2 August 2007

Chicken or egg?

Which came first:the idea for the review or the financial crisis? Not that they are linked, but it would be interesting to know. If we hadn't had a financial crisis would we have had a review? Why are we suddenly focussed on Mission when we should be focused fully on that all the time? And why has the Diocese drifted for so long without the present sense of urgency when congregations and vocations have been falling for years?
What will happen to the proceeds of the sale of land from "redundant" churches, most in prime building areas?

Will the money be re-invested in the local faith community and the local churches; or will it be centralised for Diocesan use? Surely the community losing churches has to have some clear understanding of what will happen in a practical sense as a result of the loss; and what benefits might or might not accrue to the area.

I don't know what forum exists to discuss these and other questions which are, I believe valid. Perhaps someone will enlighten me.

Wednesday, 1 August 2007

Parish or perish?

We are clearly retaining the traditional parish structure, though geography and population might give parishes a different feel in the new structure (and new structure there will be , make no mistake). Presumably we will keep the deanery as well. What do you mean : what is a deanery? What we desperately need to do, if we are not simply to replace the current defunct stucture with a similar one on a slightly larger scale, is to radically alter the way parishes and deaneries operate. They clearly do not work at present and do not involve, represent or communicate with the vast majority of the faithful within their geographical areas. Some of the questions we should be asking are: how do we engage parishioners and why are we failing to do so at present? Why are so many nominal Catholics just that? Why do so many people just attend Mass but do not seem interested in any greater committment of time to their faith? Why are so many unable or unwilling to share time and talents in their parishes or deaneries? Is there a comfort zone for priests and a few laity which they are reluctant to allow others into? How are parish councils created, elected, unelected, changed, accountable etc.? Ditto for deaneries. These bodies are not representative, democratic or accountable and we live in a world where people are used to these values in their institutions. Perhaps, even at this stage of the review, an independent local forum for laity would not only validate the review process but could offer a much wider lay input than has been provided so far. It could also form the blueprint for future laity work, providing a truly equitable way of meeting our mission obligations. We need to chuck out old style ways of working and, in some cases, destructive protectionist attitudes. If not, we will not be or become the living body of Christ and we will not provide the effective, evagelical witness that is our obligation and our society's right.