Thursday, August 4, 2011

You Can't Always Get What You Want

What is wrong with this picture? 

No? Isn't it obvious? It is the perfect example of a church that is not going to make anyone happy. You see the 1970's banners and the wooden sun rays around the crucifix (as it is ordinary time and not Lent/Easter, the clay pots at the center of the sanctuary and the plywood-airbrushed risen Lord covering the crucifix is in storage for next year) to relate to the modern side of people. Then, you can see a beautiful tabernacle front and center as a nod to the traditional. And then, for the Saturday vigil, the Latin-rite priest allows us Byzantine Catholics to have our Liturgy there; hence, the portable life-size icons are there temporarily to simulate an icon screen.
Just as we lay people shouldn't complain when a priest coughs in the wrong place, we should also be merciful and flexible where our parish is concerned. We should do our best to cease 'church shopping.' This may be easier said than done. Maybe the bishop just sent a priest who is 'liberal.' Maybe our feelings got hurt by other parish members. Maybe the job that was 'ours' (choir member, washer of the linens, flower arranger, sacristan) was taken by someone else or the priest wants to shake things up by moving people around. Are these reasons to change parishes? Perhaps, but not necessarily.


  1. Good things to ponder. We just had the merging of two parishes (only a few blocks apart - 8 minutes by foot), but both were very different. One - "incllusive language", no kneelers, bongos featured in the music, etc. And the other - emphasis on reverence, outreach to homeschoolers, sung evening prayer, novenas, etc. Now NO ONE is happy - except those who are oblivious to detail. I feel so estranged from everything. It is PAINFUL.

  2. I know what you mean about church shopping. We have four parishes within just a few blocks! It seems people go wherever they feel like that day. The kids want different music, mom wants a good homily and dad wants to get out RIGHT on time. No problem! They just go to a new parish each week so they all get a turn getting their own way.

  3. you get what you need? ;-)

    All kidding aside, isn't that what's really important? Getting what you need from God in a location? People need to ask themselves these questions:
    --Do I have a church in which to pray freely? (remembering those abroad who do not have freedom of religion and those here at home who might live hours from a place of worship)

    --Am I praying when I'm at church? (because, um, that's the point!)

    --Am I able to receive sacraments? (is the priest willing to give confession as needed, is there a "real" Mass/Liturgy and not pre-sanctified gifts because the priest has to travel around, etc.?)

    If you can do all of this, then there's no need to church shop. While I write the above, I'm torn, because I have wanted to church shop in the past. Typical reasons: I didn't like how the priest said Mass, I didn't know anyone, etc. But now, after going East, there is a need to STAY PUT. Yes, there's a church 5 minutes from our house with much younger people who I might see around town and could maybe make friends with, less time and gas spent driving around, no weird looks when I tell people where we go on Sundays.

    Our little church needs us (DH & I); we're among a handful of younger people. Right now, we have the time and ability to drive 40 minutes one way to give our church some life and a feeling of growth. (It helps that we like the people and the priest!) Yes, it is a sacrifice, but it's worth it. Someday, we might not be able to and we'll have to make a different kind of sacrifice.

    Is being faithful supposed to be easy? I don't know, I think it depends on the way you look at it. I know you've written about this (faith, easy) before, and I don't know if there's a clear answer. It's hard to tell someone to suffer, if they are TRULY unhappy with something, just because that's what they should do. Especially if it would drive them further from the place/religion/whatever, or make them like dead wood--there physically, but not mentally/spiritually. On the other hand, why should we NOT suffer? Christ did. Our forefathers did--in Europe and here. Maybe it boils down to everyone's view of suffering is different and that's from where the issue stems?


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