I’ve been working with parishes over the past year to create plans and many of them include “Helping families embrace Liturgical Living to build up the Domestic Church.” One of the members of our team asked, “What does that mean? Concretely what would that look like?” I was reminded of something I read on Catholic All Year awhile ago that I’d like to share with you this week. This would be a great event to share with families to do at home. It would also be a great parish event to kick off the summer.
I met with a parish council today to talk about our Parish Vision Plan solution, and I couldn’t help but think they’re so much like most of the parishes I work with. The answer to what they were asking, and what so many ask, is simply: Time, Action, and Relationships.
I don’t normally get my “great spiritual insights” from websites like The Onion, but I saw this article and it made me think about something. Last month I wrote about the 8th commandment and my reflection on what it means to “Bear True Witness.” Then I saw this satire about how “more than half the population live their entire lives without adding to the story in a meaningful way.” I got to thinking about the story of our parishes in the world.
What is your parish doing for the person on the margins? That’s today’s question to reflect on. I was having a conversation with a friend about the upcoming synod and the preparation the Holy Father has asked each Diocese and in turn parish to do. Listen to those on the margins. I’m not sure everyone is seeking these people out though because we have a hard time seeing them. So let’s start with: Who do I mean when I say “people on the margins”?
I can be easily captured by a good headline, and this one caught me today: “Have we lost our sense of discipleship during the pandemic? Here are ways to reengage.” I moved during the pandemic and find myself at a new parish. Getting involved when there’s nothing but Mass happening on a regular basis has been hard. I love my new parish’s Liturgical Style, I even see some familiar faces each week, but I haven’t found a strong sense of community yet. I haven’t gotten deeply ingrained in the community yet – and the reason? Maybe a bit of my introverted self, but also we don’t know how to build community in the middle of a pandemic.
I began my career in ministry as a Confirmation Coordinator. I was tasked with ensuring all 200 of the candidates at my parish were properly prepared – knew their 7 Sacraments, 10 Commandments, 7 Gifts of the Holy Spirit, 12 Fruits of the Holy Spirit, and what Confirmation was and wasn’t (graduation). When I started I knew 2 of those 5, I’d never memorized the gifts or fruits, and beyond the half-a-class discussion about Confirmation I’d had in my Canon Law – Sacraments class, I’d never considered what Confirmation really was, even being a Confirmed Catholic.
A couple of years ago our OSV Institute for Catholic Innovation began something called OSV Talks around the same time they introduced the OSV Challenge. The goal of the challenge, the talks, and the institute is about INNOVATION in the Church. How can we have the biggest impact in sharing the message of the Gospel and living our mission.
As I turn the calendar from one year to the next, I typically take some time to look at what worked and what didn’t so I can adjust for the new year. How often do you do this type of reflection in parish work? If you’re anything like me when I was in ministry, probably not all that often. If you do this already, great job!!
I spent the last two weeks driving the back roads of Indiana and Illinois farm country. I saw a lot of corn fields and soybean fields, and I hate to admit it took me longer than I’d like to admit about how to tell the difference. (It helps that corn is a lot taller now than soybeans!) I couldn’t help but think about these small rural parishes in farm country that I’m traveling to though. Most of them feel ignored by big city parishes, wealthy suburban parishes, and even the Diocese. They’re hard to travel to when there’s not an interstate in site for miles and even finding a gas station can be rather complicated on a long trip!
A few months ago I was struck by a guest essay in the New York Times about languishing. An emotion we were feeling collectively as a culture that we didn’t quite have a name for it. Adam Grant defined it as Languishing – not quite depression, but also not happiness or joy. This past weekend a Catholic leader shared another guest essay from Adam Grant about the other side of languishing: Collective Effervescence.