Thursday, September 27, 2012

Our Cunning Plans and God


Baldricks, "I have a cunning plan" was part ecclesiastical culture of the last part of the 20th century: small groups, Ministry to Priests, Renew, diocesan visions or vision statements, strategies of various kinds were all part of priestly life and they all seem to have disappeared almost with out trace under the sands of time. I don't dismiss them entirely but I have always felt they were displacement activity to avoid living and proclaiming the Gospel.
The Gospel depends on that most fragile of all things "a relationship", first and foremost with God but also between human beings. Faith is passed on not by schemes but "in the space within a Divine embrace". Ultimately the foundation of the Church charity or one could say Grace.

“Solving the pastoral problems that present themselves in your dioceses must never limit itself to organizational questions, however important these may be. This [approach] risks placing an emphasis on seeking efficiency through a sort of 'bureaucratization of pastoral care,' focused on structures, organizations and programs, ones which can become 'self-referential,' at the exclusive use of the members of those structures. These would have scarce impact on the life of Christians who are distanced from regular practice [of the faith]. Instead, evangelization requires starting from the encounter with the Lord, within a dialogue rooted in prayer, which then concentrates on the witness of giving itself toward the end of helping the people of our time to recognize and discover anew the signs of the presence of God.” 
–Pope Benedict XVI: Ad Limina Address to the Bishops of Western France Castel Gandolfo 21 September 2012
I think it is important to remember that in England apart from the two Papal visits the greatest large scale act of Evangelisation was the visit of the relics of St Therese. Here it has been events like Forty Hours, our 150th Anniversary opening Mass. I have a sense that teaching is important but so too is space, space for the touch of God, for people to come and open their hearts.
In our cunning plans Grace, Divine Providence, God himself is often excluded. God's displeasure towards David, seems to be because he places his trust in bureaucracy rather than Him.
"If you want to make God laugh tell him your plans".
In many ways the problems of the Irish and other Churches are the result of "cunning plans"; substituting management of a situation for trust in God and seeking his goodness in all things.


RCSawston said...

You say that Faith is passed on "in the space within a Divine embrace". I hope that It is not too fanciful to suggest that human relationships are nurtured and flourish in the space between an "human embrace". That is the space where people listen to each other and develop sympathy, compassion and understanding of what it is like to be each other. This is the space where relationships grow and flourish. It is out of this flourishing that the Gospel may be lived. What we catholics often say to, and about, each other, for example, in the "cyberspace between us" does not bode well for "the end of helping the people of our time to recognize and discover anew the signs of the presence of God.”


I have to be honest and say that, from my experience, the Catholic aptitude of searching for excuses not to evangelise is epic in its proportion (others experiences might be different).

John Vaughan Neil recently said that the Catholic Church is in a state of paralysis when it comes to publicly evangelising. I have to say that I believe that he is 100% correct.

The problem is that there needs to be some level of conversion of heart towards Christ, because without this it seems to me that most seem to be apathetic.

I am convinced that the approach taken by Youth 2000 is presently showing signs that there may be future generations who will consider that Christianity is more than going to Church once a week.

I have to say that unless that a similar approach is taken with adults then we are pretty much in the territory of St. Patrick who had to wait (to a certain extent) for the old generation to pass away.

Despite detractors I am convinced that the New Evangelisation is the only way to deal with this issue. The best examples I have seen are rooted in tradition (and do not throw the baby out with the bath water i.e. just how Pope Benedict advises). Unfortunately 'good examples' are few and far between (but it is early days).

I am not a youth worker, but I am absolutely convinced that if we do not have solid youth workers/catechists in our congregations then it is time to prioritise getting these kids to solid youth events elsewhere in the country, otherwise we are literally pouring the church money down the drain.

Things were so dire at St. Mary's that three of us completed the paper work (H&S), hired a mini bus (£45 a day) and took the youth of the parish to Youth 2000 at Walsingham. It was either that of see our church add to to the 94% teen Catholic lapsation rate. We will be doing it again.

The catechesis is sound and at least the youth saw for once that they are not alone.

Pablo the Mexican said...

Saint Athanasius.

How did he inculcate the Priests and the Faithful that were spoiled by heresy?

How was Catholicism re-established?


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