Thursday, October 8, 2015

Practicing Catholic Synod At Home and In The Parish

The Synod is ongoing, but what about the rest of us, in the parishes, in the pews?  The pope has returned to Rome and we've had a week of feasting on identifying as Catholic to the world.  Now it's time for the work of being Catholic.  As a member of the Catholic blogosphere (not an actual cabal or illuminati, it's my own made up name for the mass of Catholics out there blogging about either being Catholic, trying to live Catholic, or learning about Catholicism), the big question we're all left with, is now what?   

Somehow, in the midst of feeding the homeless, clothing the naked, reading scripture, praying the rosary, standing up for the unborn, instructing the ignorant, and all of that, we've somehow sensed, we've missed something important.  So important, there's a Synod on the Family going on, because all this doing has not done what it is supposed to do, create a community, a sense of being each others' brothers and sisters, in Christ, and in reality.   Why hasn't that happened?  

Because we've been a Church of Marthas or Marys, of left wings and right wings, rather than Marthas and Marys, we've been so busy either trying to find the right prayer, right saint's practices to know for our interior lives, or so busy trying to right the world's wrongs (sort of like Catholic Captain America or Catholic Batman), we've stopped focusing on where all this starts, and the point from which all of this should flow.   
Pope Francis called families, "Factories of Hope," for so they are supposed to be.   If the Domestic Church is a factory of Hope, then the Church --that is, parishes, are to be industrial complexes of hope.   How do we do this, both on the micro and macro scale?  
First, we must begin by looking at the Holy Family, which starts with Jesus.  Mary says yes to God's plan, and the Holy Family begins.  St. Joseph says yes to Mary, and the Holy Family flourishes.  Not economically, but emotionally, spiritually, and physically, the family does what it must to live and even thrive, with each person of that blessed three doing their part to build a full life.  Joseph teaches his son a trade, he also takes them to Egypt, keeping Mary and Jesus safe.  These are the special ministries gifted to him, and to all husbands and fathers, to make the home a place of security and stability, to make it possible to thrive.   Mary feeds and nourishes, ministers and prays, this is her hidden ministry, not unlike every mother who ever surrendered nights to a sick child, or whole years to the care of an infant.  The interior surrender required to mother or father is no small sacrifice, but done well, is like the air itself, expected and necessary and yet invisible.  This sort of air, should be the air we breathe at home, and all the more so at Church.  
So why isn't that happening?  
Well, it is, but like the air, we cannot fully see it, we can only see (for the most part), when we miss the mark, when we pollute the air the Domestic Church and the Church herself, is supposed to create.  
So how do we become better stewards of our families and our Parish, so as to create the community, to preserve, protect and heal the Body of Christ we're called to be?   

First, we must recognize, the hidden crosses of our lives are what need ministering.  The cry of the woman in this article which inspired this post,is not that different from the silent cry of the teen who is feeling overwhelmed by life, or the older adult who suffers from feeling cut off from all of life by widowhood, or the single mom who struggles with a kid with special needs. The reality is the Church is supposed to be a hospital, not a triage center, with ongoing pastoral care for all who enter her doors.

We have perhaps become too committee oriented, too compartmentalized as a people, and as a church, shunting problems to the "proper people" with the "proper credentials," when what we really should be doing, is ministering to whichever souls show up, and not presuming anything, about the mother of twelve or the father of two, the kid with the nose ring, or the woman who comes to every mass. If we must assume anything as a Catholic about everyone else in the pews, it is that they, like us, are starving, and need to be fed.

Second, we must recognize, within the Domestic Church, the man and woman before receiving the sacrament of Marriage, are like the bread and wine, and with the sacrament, transformed though the accident of their forms remains.  The substance is forever sacred, and supposed to be given to the other, as a means of sanctification, healing, and sustenance. That feeding of each other, is supposed to make the rest of enduring the trials of this life, bearable. It isn't just sex, it's intimacy and primacy, two things we often ignore because there are so many "real world" demands on time in this day and age, so many distractions.   We need to teach this to couples considering marriage, couples in marriage, and to imprint it on our children, this is the expectation, the purpose of marriage, to witness to the world, and to each other, the love of God.

And Third (this is by no means exhaustive, but blogs can only run so long before people get bored), we must begin constructing community, both within the Domestic Church, and in the larger Parish.  

What does that mean?

Families must work, eat, play and pray together, to be fully what they are called to be.  The Parish, being a larger family, must provide through the sacraments, services and opportunities for instruction, opportunities for all four.   Cultivating Traditions which build, rather than exhaust, will be the challenge of the Church, helping feed the body, mind and souls of a hungry and exhausted people, desperate for not a respite from the world, but a healing of the world itself.  

1 comment:

Ed Murray said...


I think you are hitting it mostly on the


What about those who are still Single?

We are left out in the cold because we are not Married and we do not have children.

Why is it that we are always left out?

Leaving a comment is a form of free tipping. But this lets me purchase diet coke and chocolate.

If you sneak my work, No Chocolate for You!