A very short reflection on this Saturday before Palm Sunday 2013. My wife and I are getting ready to escape from our computers for a few days. I will pick up my electronic pen again in early April.
The new Bishop of Rome continues to amaze and inspire. I look forward to Holy Week and the coming weeks. There is a danger of course that people will simply look at Francis but not really move. A danger that dressing down becomes the focus. Yes the packaging is important, but content is the core issue. Structural change is still what we need. I hope Francis will do his part in transforming the old institution.
Regardless what Francis does, we need to act now, ever more energetically, to change the church.
Let us resolve to work energetically as transsubstantial change agents. It is a great old Catholic word. We need to make substantial structural change in the church. And it starts with the local church.
How do we pave the way within our families, among friends, in our neighborhoods, in our parishes, schools for:
Greater involvement of women in church ministry……How many women will be around the altar in your parish this Holy Week? Sorry to say I saw only one women, a reader, taking an active role in the papal inauguration liturgy. For the rest it was still an old boys club ritual.
How do we support young women who have a vocation to ordained ministry? I had one in a seminar last week. She is about ready to switch to a woman-friendly Episcopalian diocese. Well that is one kind of transsubstantial but I wish she could stay in the church of her birth. Right now she is a university student and doesn’t have to immediately transubstantiate…..But she feels increasingly estranged in a university parish situation in which the women hand-out hymnals and care for the babies in the back of the church and the men dress up and run the show up front.
I have many friends who are gay. What about when those friends get fired from a Catholic institution when their lifestyle “comes out”? I am getting to be an old man (seventy this week) and an angry old man. I know more than a few bishops who condemn homosexuality and same-sex relationships with great fury but secretly enjoy and flourish in relationships and escapades with their own same-sex buddies.
Divorced and married again. Not just married again but happy and healthy and holy in new marriages. Can we make structural changes for them? Communion as normal people? Sunday liturgy? Parish council members? Eucharistic ministers?
A young “single parent” mother, a teacher in one of our Catholic schools, shows up in her classroom one day very obviously pregnant. Her colleagues congratulate her. The principal and pastor fire her, and the local bishop denounces her for her “bad and immoral” example. How strange for church leaders in a church that honors and celebrates Mary who once showed up pregnant and without a husband. “But, but….” you may say. And I can respond “yes but, but……”
Well friends you make your own list…….I need to work on mine. We need a lot of structural transubstantiation in our old church if we want that church to welcome and nourish the young and not just comfort the old with nostalgic symbol and ritual.
I am delighted by what I see in Francis the new Bishop of Rome. Today he visited his “brother” the “emeritus Bishop of Rome.”
Hopeful images that call for active transubstantiation……..STRUCTURAL CHANGE at every level!
Very kind regards and every good wish for the Easter season!