Friday, February 11, 2005

I am going to try to put this delicately, but I think raging against the bishops while disengaging from parish life is the easy way out.

As Mark and others have pointed out, I can't be very effective in confronting Church governance. So I can type my angry comment box entry, maybe fire off a letter, and be pretty confident that I've done all I can do.

But if I engage in parish life, I might find out some more. I might find about about the family whose daughter is pregnant and isn’t sure what she’s going to do. I might find that the catechism program needs good teachers. I might find out that there’s a lot of fellow parishioners who are just barely getting by. I might find out about the widow in my neighborhood who recently lost her husband who never learned how to drive and could use a ride to Mass each week. And so on. This is true regardless of how empty the homily is.

It seems to me that Mr. Dreher is inviting us to withdraw from an arena in which we can be effective – parish life, into one where we’re less likely to be effective – Church governance

Sunday Mass isn’t just for filling our own needs – there’s another side too – it calls us to something more. Part of how it does that is by making us aware of the needs of the people around us. It’s not just about what’s in it for me.

Maybe some people are called with a charism to fight for better Church governance, and maybe Mr. Dreher is one of them. But I don’t think that’s the case for most of us. Most of us are probably called to live the works of mercy to those around us. And there are few better ways to learn about that than attending Sunday Mass.

How do I better serve my daughters? By raging from my St. Louis home about the Bishop of Dallas’s behavior? Or by working to make my parish a lively, spiritual community where they can encounter and learn about God?

I know my answer.
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