Saturday, June 4, 2016

CONFESSION OF A PARISH PRIEST MOVING ON

Two sentences in Jack Valero's article in Crux, "It's Time to Consign Clericalism to the Past..." struck my conscience and provoked a "mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa" in me:

As result (of clericalism), “we have generated a lay elite, believing that only they are committed laymen who work in the things ‘of the priests,’ and we have forgotten, neglected the believer who often burns his hope in the daily struggle to live the faith. These are the situations that clericalism cannot see, as it is more concerned to dominate areas more than to generate processes.” 

This is my confession:

Bless me laity for I have sinned....

Since about 1994 I have been into Catholic Stewardship as it is understood in the classical sense of the laity and clergy giving of their "time, talent and treasure" to the Church. The key to the sucess of this movement hinges on the "ministries" that are offered in the parish, like Walmart offers merchandise. Having worked in retail for many years, this had/has a certain appeal to me.

The successful parish in this model of Church is one that has people completely engaged in the life of the parish through its many, many ministries and constant institutional activities. There is always something going on at Church!

The reason behind this push to make the parish like Walmart with its services is built upon the psychology of a person who is engaged in the life of the parish in a ministry will be more likely to increase the giving of their treasure. 

Time is described as time in prayer, Bible Study, catechesis and attending Mass and popular devotions such as adoration---noble and we need more of this, no?

Talent is described as giving to the parish what you are best at doing, like teaching, or gardening, or carpentry or maintenance and the such. It also means joinging the choir, being an usher, lectoring, serving the altar and being a Eucharistic minister, serving on committees and doing fund raising. 

Treasure refers to a person's material good, such as money, property and the such and giving a portion of that to the Church, i.e. universal, diocesan and local. The rule of thumb is 10%, 8% to the parish, 1% to the bishop and the rest to charities of one's choice. 

In reality while the number of people who are more engaged in the life of the parish increases, so too does the consumer mentality and the parish becomes like a country club for people to have services and feel engaged in the churchiness of the parish, its institutionalization. 

But in reality it creates what Jack Valero describes:  “we have generated a lay elite, believing that only they are committed laymen who work in the things ‘of the priests,’ 

In reality what we have "aped" is the Protestant congregationalist mentality about being church along with the Walmart mentality and country club mentality.

We might have upwards of 15% of the parish into all the activity, but we pay scant attention to the 85% and more who simply want to come the Mass on Sunday and have some sense they are loved by God, given the grace to carry their cross and have some hope that they are forgiven and have the possibility of going to heaven.

How many unsung heroes do we have at Mass each Sunday who will never volunteer nor have any desire to be a lector, Communion Minister, choir member, or attend the myriad of meetings that often politicize the laity and cause them to become power grabbers, shakers and movers.

Most Catholics simply don't want that. They want to be Catholic in the world and find enough grace on Sunday (if they even attend Mass) to make it through the week. Some are marginal Catholics who struggle with their faith and feel even more marginalized because they aren't a part of the eltite doing everything and they have no desire to be a part of the elite.

In as much as I have contributed to the mentality that “we have generated a lay elite, believing that only they are committed laymen who work in the things ‘of the priests,’" I beg pardon of you laity and ask for absolution. 

What are your comments on what constitutes a good Catholic and are good Catholics who don't engage in the institutional aspects of the parish made to feel marginalized when in fact they are the foundation of the Church? 

My final comments: 

In the past a good Catholic was one who was described as "praying, paying and obeying." Today this recipe is mocked by progressives who hate to give, are wont to pray and certainly won't obey!

But this soundbite put all the laity on the same level and what constitutes a good Catholic, one attends Mass every Sunday and Holy Day of Obligation, goes to confession at least once a year and makes their Easter duty, who supports the Church and follows the commandments of God and the laws of the Church and believes in the Deposit of Faith, the faith and morals of the Church. 

In my mind that constitutes a good Catholic who in turn does his or her best to make sure they have a Catholic home and act as Catholics everywhere they find themselves.   

5 comments:

Anonymous said...

Talent
[156.] This function is to be understood strictly according to the name by which it is known, that is to say, that of extraordinary minister of Holy Communion, and not “special minister of Holy Communion” nor “extraordinary minister of the Eucharist” nor “special minister of the Eucharist”, by which names the meaning of this function is unnecessarily and improperly broadened."

rcg said...

This is a difficult lesson in leadership for anyone to learn. In the case of parish it is especially tricky because there is no succession that leads on of the lieutenants to eventually become the priest. This happens in some Protestant churches where the congregation hires a minister to lead them as they want or gets fired. The priest must lead and accurately and dose out spiritual medicine according to the needs of the parish. The faux crisis of decreasing clergy was the spark that ignited the rise of the lay-cleric and the situation discribed in the post. Priests abdicated responsibility rather than sought help; and failed to prioritize or even discriminate between what was essential and merely an enhancement.

This is very interesting to consider in light of the liturgical war and how the different factions launch Christian life from the central act of worship and obedience.

Stabat Mater said...

I attend a parish in which there is little-to-no lay-involvement. TLM & ad orientem Novus. Men only allowed at the altar. At Novus there is one lector, one deacon, & Father. Typically only laymen administer Communion at the altar rail for daily Mass. While I totally get the elitist mentality of the few mentioned, I don't think that all lay involvement suffers from clerical power-tripping.

That being said, there are many needs of our parish, a few paid employees, and very few people doing anything to help the parish. Because it is a "wealthy" parish, people literally assume someone will be paid to cater events & clean up after them. We cannot get the families who eat breakfast there EVERY Sunday to take a turn bringing breakfast. And these people vacation, so there is no financial crisis.

In my humble opinion, I thought parish life was supposed to be an extension of our family life??? My grandparents were always assisting the church and hosting family events at their parish, even preV2. My great-grandmother crocheted linens, walked several miles to Mass daily, and she & her friends cleaned the church & rectory. I think paying staff/out-sourcing every bit of maintenance & responsibility is protestant. Oh, and organists & singers were parishioners, too, not paid-- that has certainly come from protestants. Should we not be fostering a Catholic culture and family-centered environment within our parishes instead of only pew sitting & just coasting through a worldly existence surrounded by pagans?

At one point in history our churches were lavishly ornate for the glory of God. Now most individual homes are more expensive, intricately decorated, and well-tended with TWO perfectly quoifed children. People once earned money & tithed generously for the church to be beautiful & flourish. Now they work to buy themselves more stuff & better vacations.

I guess I am power-tripping by having my kids at church in choir, at the altar, cleaning, working so often while everyone else enjoys Disney World. Perhaps I should check my self-centeredness when I tell them to tend to Father's needs. And I should probably hand over the extra $60 a week spent in gas to travel to this beautiful parish some 40+ minutes away because every church in between is filled with altar girls and horrible music from the 70's. Yeah, I can see how I am the one contributing to all the problems in the church by NOT just showing up to pray, go about my own life, and assume that everything the church has/needs magically appears via leprechauns & pixie dust.


Anonymous said...

Stabat - You have revealed the exceptional weaknesses of Fr. McDonald's "confession." He reveals his own bugaboos, not any problems or issues with involved or very involved laity.

Thank you for your service and that of your family.

Stabat Mater said...

Yes, well as a homeschooler, I could use some leprauchans & pixie dust since I don't have an orthodox school available. LOL. MANY schools available, mind you, just all so tainted. Instead, we use blood, sweat, and tears here. May God fill the gaps & cover all my shortcomimgs with His mercy & grace.

As a cradle Catholic I don't know much scripture by verse and citation, but I do know God says something rather explicitly about FIRST FRUITS. But now that 2 generations have been completely indoctrinated with socialism, we are all equal in standing around waiting for "someone else" to make sacrifices to get the work done. I just pray my kids see more of my joy in exercising the lost virtues of religion and justice than my frustration with the lack thereof in this ever-declining culture.