Earlier today I linked to two posts, by Cravings author, Mary DeTurris Poust, which gave vent to frustrations felt by far too many Catholics, these days — including me — regarding the quality of our liturgies. Mary is craving something better, healthier.
This evening, Elizabeth Husted Duffy, who shares one priest with three parishes, looks at what it means to be a healthy parish:
Our new priest’s schedule is brutal. On Saturdays, he says the vigil Mass at one church at 4, followed by a Spanish Mass at six. He hears confession before each. On Sunday’s he hears confessions and offers the 9 o’clock mass at our Parish, then a 10:30 Mass at our sister parish. On Sunday evenings, he sometimes has to fill in for neighboring parishes where priests are sick or absent for some reason. He says four additional daily masses during the week, including one for the Catholic school kids.
He needs the parish itself to be healthy, to be self-serving, to offer its own leadership outside of the Mass, so that he can do what he needs to during the Mass. More and more, I see how parish life is a mutual relationship, a marriage of sorts, where everyone has a place in the family, and a job to do so that the family can be healthy and stay nourished.
I can’t imagine what it’s like to go into a church as a priest, and have everyone there looking to you, starving for leadership, hungry to be fed and have only oneself and the Eucharist to offer.
And yet, I can see how this happens in large churches where the parishioners are nomads who change communities every five years or so, who travel 10,15, or 30 miles to sit with other strangers and ask for a decent meal. The priest there is the only parent, serving thousands of orphans. No wonder everyone goes away from it a little bit hungry.
And no wonder the lay people who do get involved don’t seem to know any other way to serve, than to put on a good show–sing a song, play their guitar, offer something of themselves, even if that’s not what anyone went to church to find.
It’s a generous and good piece. and food for thought for those of us craving…more and better. Read it all.