Tuesday, May 14, 2013
What's the Plan?
I had a discussion with a group of priests recently, we were talking about ageing clergy, clergy in ill health, tired clergy and ultimately parish closures. We spoke about the need for evangelisation and then realised that most parishes and diocese have no plan to evangelise, only to manage decline. Yes, we will carry on our parish catechetical programmes, doing what we have always done, the problem is that what we have always done doesn't really work. If it is done well it leads to gradual decline, if it is done badly the decline is faster.
Michael Voris in the video below talks about the lack of "supernatural faith", I am always uncomfortable with Michael's analysis, it seems so American, so easy. I don't think we need much of a plan, just a vision of Jesus, perhaps the first thing we do is admit that we really do not have any answers of ourselves, except for Jesus, that we aren't even really sure of the question either.
Pope Benedict's "plan" was "reveal the beauty of the face of Jesus", Pope Francis' "reveal the mercy of Jesus". A Greek bishop friend wanted to found a convent of nuns "to reveal Christ's love in community", many Catholic priests and bishops see the way forward as "Eucharist Adoration" (others will speak of "Eucharistic Exposition" which tends place the emphasis on him rather than on our adoring), then others will suggest Marian devotion as the path to renewal, or Lectio Divina, others will suggest the return to the Mass of Ages. Vorris himself seems to indicate the answer is a return to good old fashion catechesis and "ass kicking".
What is the heart of these ideas, and all of them seem to work (for some people), is that they turn our eyes from our own efforts to what God does, in that sense it is "supernatural faith", rather the natural faith of Baldrick's "a cunning plan".
"Cunning plans" always come to nothing, and so does mere human endeavour, what we need to realise is that God's answer to all mans ills and the Church's too, is Jesus. When we place our hope in aything else it is a 'house built on sand', it won't endure. The problem is that we need the vision of Jesus to see Jesus solving our difficulties and triumphing over them. Unless we are rooted in in him we lack supernatural faith, hope and charity too.
The Church today, especially bishops and priests need a good dose of the supernatural, our cunning plans over the last half century seem to underplay that. The vision of John XXIII for Vatican II was that it would be a supernatural experience for the bishops taking part and for the whole Church.
Posted by Fr Ray Blake