Yesterday, Roger Cardinal Mahony began to pass the leadership of his archdiocese to his successor, Archbishop Jose`Gomez. Cardinal Mahony said the following in his homily: “As I near the end of my time of tending this corner of the Vineyard, the shepherd’s staff is being passed to Archbishop Gomez,” said Cardinal Roger Mahony of Los Angeles. “Mahony goes; Gomez comes. Christ alone endures. The Church’s foundation and its future is not in either one of us. Our foundation and our future are in Christ alone.”
Although the cult of the personality has always been around in the Church and in politics, I believe that it is more magnified today than ever in the post-Vatican II Church and her liturgy. This would include not only the much discussed "cult of the personality" of the priest who presides at Mass, facing the congregation as though an actor on a stage, but also the "cult of the personality" of the congregation. Many Catholics today choose a parish based upon the friendliness and hospitality of its members, the types of programs offered for young and old, the sense of community and belonging as well as whatever outreach programs there are. They also look for a particular theological vision, progressive, traditional, contemporary or extemporaneous.
It seems to me with our incarnational theology, the "Body of Christ" meaning all of us who are baptized, confirmed and receiving Holy Communion and celebrating the other sacraments, Penance, Anointing of the Sick, Holy Matrimony and Holy Orders, are a part of but not distinct from our Head, Jesus Christ, true God and true man. In Him alone is there the perfection of the intersection of the Divine and human, both in His Divine Person and in His Body, the Church , which is also Divine in origin and human in expression.
In Canon Law, a parish is a geographical jurisdiction which a pastor heads. In the everyday life of Catholics, the hope is that we act as Catholics toward one another, are hospitable to our neighbors, show concern for the poor who live with us and beyond and work in politics to bring to bear our Catholic teachings and identity.
The small amount of time we spend at "Church" on Sunday and during the week is meant to reinforce our community life outside of the Church's physical property. Therefore, a more vertical relationship with God should be reinforced at Mass rather than the horizontal relationship we should be having with each other everyday within our "parish boundaries."
The vertical expression of our relationship to God during Mass is precisely a focus of attention upon God present in the Most Blessed Sacrament in the tabernacle before Mass and after which means praying to God silently and not visiting with one another--do that during the time you are not in the Church, the horizontal, which is important but in the right location and time.
The same is true for listening to the Scriptures, responding in song and prayer appropriate to your state in the Liturgy, and receiving Holy Communion. The "Ite Missa Est" is all about going out to the world in a "horizontal" way to love and serve the Lord after having experienced Him in the most "vertical" way possible during Holy Mass.
I don't beleive the intention of the reform of the Mass was to do away with the vertical experience with have with God at Mass and substitute a more horizontal expression of the Mass with one another. The horizontal means emphasizing hospitality, community on Sunday morning in the Church building, holding hands during prayer, extended sign of peace, talking and clapping when moved to do so. This occurred not from the post-Vatican II liturgical documents, but at the behest of liturgists who often had their own vision and agenda as it regarded what they preceived to be the "spirit" of Vatican II.
So, why do you join or leave your Catholic parish? Because of the priest, the congregation or some other factor?