Thursday, September 24, 2015

So I have to admit I pointed and clicked my way through 30 minutes of wasted time....doomsday predictions.

I don't have a wish...I just have a self-imposed penance of checking out a particular website that profits much on inspiring faith through fear.  After all we are starving for solid, faith filled websites that are inspiring portals to a deepening awareness and education.  I can't believe how wanting the internet is for solid and engaging teachings of the faith....but for some reason it has been so dumbed down that a 'meme' is considered prayer.   wow and churches are empty because?
I came across a so-called website that reveals locutions (who is an anonymous author of course).  it is predicting some sort of 'flash point' bringing- people- to -Jesus- moment while the Pope is in America.  The authority of the so-called locutions rest in the fact that some priest from Scranton PA reviews them before they are published.

It's stuff like this that makes it so difficult to keep the blinders on.  On a variety of levels--this little link is so wrong.
It plays on the instant publicity of the historical visit of Pope Francis to the United States.  Many catholics and non catholics are clicking their way through the internet and being fed all kinds of news, interpretations, theories, and myths.
Such publication by a 'catholic' website does nothing for the faith but instead defines itself as a portal for yellow journalism.
But...let's play with this.

If it is true?  If 'something' happens...
--apparently some economic collapse.
--some people finding God.
--many people jumping on a bandwagon.
--huge profit for the anonymous bank account?

It if is false?
--end of a website?  probably not---this locutionary business is pretty could have been a -'mis-hear'.
--some people finding God?  well maybe not so--since God's publicity ended up being a no-show.
--people will be forgiving...and forgetting...and someone else will eventually replace the locutions with something new.

Here's the deal.
If there is impending doom and gloom or overturn and prosperity (depending how you look at it)...then why not just be ready anyways?

--Receive Eucharist, Go to Confession, Read some Scripture, Do some Fasting?, Pray, pray, pray.

Or if nothing happens...still why not be open to new grace in your life by...
--Receiving Eucharist, Going to Confession, Reading some Scripture, Doing some Fasting, Praying, praying, praying?

You get the idea...

In a nutshell..
Let's get to the essence of our faith love and forgiveness and mercy---not fear.

And...if there is a flashpoint as the locution says and my writing and calling this out is all proven wrong?  
In that case,  I readily admit I was wrong and still I pray that love and mercy prevail...not fear.

Monday, September 21, 2015

Irregular Priest

My lovely wife sent me the following link.

It is a NY Times article, concerning married priests.  Probably one of the best articles I've come across in a long time.

I would recommend reading the introduction to what follows.

Not only is the essay well researched, the argument is very pragmatic and rational.
She calls for Pope Francis to open the priesthood to married men.  Okay, Okay...just hear me out.....

For those who may be reading this for the first time, allow me to briefly share some background.
I was ordained a Roman Catholic priest.
I left the priesthood and married my lovely wife.
We became Episcopal and I was welcomed as an Episcopal priest.
Years later, we returned to the Roman Catholic faith, following a rather remarkable conversion story orchestrated by the Blessed Mother.

In the years that followed our return I have wrestled with only one difficult teaching in the RC faith.
According to canon law (the law of the church) I am not permitted to celebrate the sacraments, except to offer reconciliation and last rites in danger of death to an individual when a 'regular' priest cannot be found.
My son sums it up best as 'jedi priest'

So, I am not allowed any 'regular' celebration of the sacraments.  In other words I am not permitted to do what I was 'ontologically' graced to 'do'.

Now, there are multiple reasons for this regulation--all of which exist in order to protect the faith--I understand.

Still, simply stated----no priesting.

I don't want to be a parish priest.
I don't want to have parish council meetings, plan weddings, or worry about a cemetery and parish school (few that are)
I've always been clear on those above points.

But the one thing I miss?  Praying and celebrating Holy Eucharist and hearing confessions.
The one thing that probably is needed more than ever in this world.
But I am not allowed.

It is a spiritual fact of my life and I wrestle with it almost everyday.  

When we first returned to the faith, I was ok with it.  I just wanted to be able to receive Holy Communion and go to confession and be in the 'graces' of the church.
But I have to tell you, not celebrating Holy Eucharist or offering the sacrament of very difficult.
I don't know why.  I am fulfilled and blessed and I know I am to be married.  I have peace--

But that gnawing---ontological---desire.
I have sought spiritual counsel and insight.  I have entered into multiple discerning moments--maybe I ought to offer a private Mass at home--for the souls in purgatory? for the sick and suffering?  What harm could come?  Would my soul be harmed, my family's soul?
For years I have gone round and round.

The NY Time's article was good--it gave a fresh voice to an age old rational argument.  But there is so much more.
Maybe there are guys out there, like me---maybe a hundred or so who have no agenda, who have no desire to 'take' over the celibate contingent, who have no need to be in charge, who are fulfilled and yet could offer what they were ordained to do---offer the sacrifice of the Holy Mass and hear confessions.

Maybe the 'irregulars'  (my term for this group i'm in)  don't need a salary or a rectory.  I wouldn't expect any money or even reimbursement, My ordination was a gift from God (an act of love, just as marriage is a gift ) thus an 'irregular priest could offer the sacraments--truly as they were meant to be--freely given.

Maybe the irregular could sit in a confessional or offer a daily Mass--for times that aren't set in stone.  Really how many working class people can go to morning Mass and make it to work?  In one parish where my wife attended--she had to leave following Holy Communion in order to begin seeing patients on time at the office--the priest scolded her--really?
The reality for many parishes is that the morning Mass group are retirees...which is nice--but what about the person who must work all hours in order to provide for their family?  I haven't seen too many parishes (actually I can't recall any) that offer some other schedule solution for the people of God to receive the sacraments--irregulars could possible help in this area. (sorry I digress).

Since the publication of A Lost Shepherd, a few priests who left the active ministry have contacted me and I have come to realize that there really is a diaspora.  So for now the irregulars or jedi priests must simply sit and wait--more than 40 years---There really is nothing more that can be done.  To push for change would be interpreted as agenda driven and perhaps too 'liberal' and Lord knows--there is enough of that in the church some of which even comes from the 'regulars'.

Come Holy Spirit, enkindle in us the fire of your love.....and, one day, may we freely give and share the gifts you have given us.

Monday, July 27, 2015

Not Sure Where To Go With This...

I can't come up with a title for this entry.
I know what I don't want it to be or even 'be-come'.

I don't want it to come across as complaining or soapboxing.
I've done enough of that through the years and I know I tend to gravitate in that direction.
I apologize ahead of time if it comes across as such.

Yesterday at Mass we heard a 'report'
It was shared by a lay person and concerned the state of the diocese which is in the middle of a 'pastoral plan'

I know the approach, I used it many times.  Have a lay person share with the congregation the report and its concerns. It is a different voice and it may resonate with them and they may be 'inspired'.

Obviously I have a history.  I am not your 'typical' lay person.  For that matter, I'm not really sure what my place is in the 'people of God.'  And, my lovely wife has experienced it in her soul as well.  While it has been an incredible journey for our family, it hasn't been without its difficult moments.

I sat in the pew and thought of all the planning sessions, breakout groups, renewal projects and pastoral plans that I have been privy to through the years--both in the Roman Catholic and Anglican traditions. I thought of the countless fund raisers that were connected to the lived expression of the faith (so people would commit more i suppose).  I recalled my wife and I sitting in small groups and sessions trying to plan a congregation's future and inspire ministry.
I remembered hearing of paradigm shifts and new wine and old wineskins and renews and missions.
Contracts and payments are made with outside think tanks and even special software developers. I recall one parish where I worked where a  computerized time clock became the measure of ministry.

Yesterday I was told--
-Change has to happen.
-A comprehensive pastoral plan needs to be enacted.
-Evangelization and faith formation and pastoral care--all key words and areas that need to be addressed in a collaborative fashion.
It could have been a report from any number of 'pastoral plans' that I was part of over the past 25 years.  There was nothing new.

Is there an archivist who could pull out the old plans dust them off and reset the dates?  Think of the money saved--then throw a party for each parish?  Better yet, use the money to address immediate pastoral concerns--violence outbreak and abuse?  Funnel the funding to a different process instead of doing the same thing every 10-15 years?

I heard one statistic that I fear already summed up the future of this latest program before it even has a chance to take off.  It was hidden in the list of statistics--68+-
68+- people responded to the initial survey question out of hundreds--for just this parish (which is somewhat Vatican II in it's lay involvement so you think you would have had more).
Yep 68 +- --this might qualify as best a blip in statistical analysis.
Everything is down--baptisms, communions, confirmations, active priests---all significantly reduced in the past five years and the forecast is not good.
Granted, there are many many factors.  Many that cannot be controlled.

But here is the moment I had, and I am not sure what to do with it..
At this particular Mass sat three inactive priests--in the congregation.
Then I wondered--how many others were in this congregation that perhaps just can't do anything because things are simply the way they are.
I am not calling for married clergy running parishes.  I believe in the gift and presence of celibacy as part of the fabric of priesthood.  But maybe just maybe there is something else out there other than another 'pastoral plan' or another 'mission statement' or another book on how to become a parish.

We don't need a pastoral plan.
We need a reform.
We need Jesus.
We need to do the basics--not because we need vibrant parishes that will be inevitably restructured--but because our eternal salvation depends on it!
We don't need new fancy youth ministry and faith formation programs--we need models of inspiration.  We need leaders who are not afraid to risk change rooted in the truth of the Gospel.

Maybe we don't need parishes and schools.  Maybe that time has come and gone.  (There I said it)
Maybe we simply need to have someplace to gather, to celebrate sacraments, pray, fast, and live the Word.

So... do we need another plan or do we need reform?