Saturday, October 31, 2015

Where I'm coming from...

I halve some thoughts on the Douthat vs. the Academics brouhaha that is currently brewing, but since my recent blogging has been rather sparse, I should probably establish some of my current personal context first.

I'll start with what weighs on my heart personally.

As I've mentioned before, I serve as a catechist for our parish's Confirmation program. To me, the person I will describe represents, to borrow a term from baseball analysis the highest "leverage" people from my perspective.  This is based on a composite, rather than any particular individual.

She's the mother of one of my students. She "was raised Catholic" as people are fond of saying now, but has recently been a "Christmas and Easter" Catholic, if that. She may be divorced from my student's father, and may or may not be remarried. She has friends and family members who are actively anti-Catholic, maybe a gay relative who fells unwelcome in the Church, who would seriously challenge her if she increased her involvement with the Church. She or someone she know has been on the wrong end of some pastoral decision, maybe even one that was perfectly justified, but the hurt remains. Maybe her childhood parish closed, or some aspect of her wedding she wanted was overruled. Over time, it just became easier to leave the Church behind.

But, as her son approaches the age for Confirmation, something in her wants this for him. Maybe it's pressure from her parents, who have kept the faith. Maybe she has some positive memories from her time in the Church, and wants her son the experience them as well.

Whatever her reason, she finds herself at the threshold of our church.

And what will she find there? Is it something to which she will want to return, and be part of her children's lives.

Now, I'm not saying that we should or that I do water down the Church's teachings so that she'll keep coming back. Nor is this the only perspective from which we should consider pastoral decisions. The older son may not have behaved admirably, but his pain is also real, and also needs to be addressed.

But my suspicion is that this woman is showing up at the doors of many of our parishes, and this is a critical time for her and her children's souls, and we need to seriously consider how both our behavior and our pastoral decisions might impact the direction she moves in.

In my judgment, prominent Catholic commentators announcing that they prefer a "civil war" to accepting their admittance to communion is not helpful.

That doesn't mean it's wrong, but that's my initial reaction.

More to come...
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