I’m interested in a fairly new blogging effort, Intentional Disciples, that has gained some attention among the 800-pound gorillae of the blogosphere this week. This post today, while not able to completely dodge the liturgy tussles, does have an interesting take on discernment in the parish setting.
Just like it’s not easy for a traditional-leaning Catholic to write three blog posts without lapsing into liturgy-bashing, parish leaders can all too easily fall into the trap of treating parishioners as warm bodies to slot into blanks to keep programs and parishes running with a hum.
My colleague David, hired from the demise of our diocese’s CPLM, ruminates often on an interesting approach to parish volunteers and ministers. We should be sitting down with our parishioners, talking with them, listening to them, teasing out gifts, and looking to the Holy Spirit for guidance: not only in the placement of talented people, but in seeking the direction for our parish. He’s rubbing off on me in one regard.
Several months ago, a young woman, a grad student at a city university, joined the parish and asked about getting involved. She suggested being a lector, and I thought, “Let’s find out about this person before slotting her into a schedule at a Mass.”
This was a no-brainer, as they say. Her graduate studies are in music and voice. She is not only a talented singer able to navigate a number of styles, including opera, but she is a deeply prayerful young person who has just the right presence at Mass: leading people in song without dominating the electronics with her voice.
Like Peter Nixon at dotCommonweal, the discussion on ID being too conservative doesn’t make much of an impression on me. I can even overlook the quirks of their contributors’ liturgical views–if they’re getting results. I suppose that’s a rather Americanistic, pragmatic, warm-body-slot-filling approach, but there you have it. This paragraph struck me as being rich in discernment sensibility:
Therefore, we are each responsible for one another and are called to be Stewards of the vocation of each member of our community. True discernment, then, can never happen outside of the context of the Body of Christ. Bringing that down to a more practical level, we as parishes (the Church inserted into the local neighborhood) need to become schools of vocational discernment, communities where the giftedness of each member is discovered and fostered, and where opportunities for utilizing those gifts in the world are presented. We must become comfortable with naming the giftedness of others, as well as providing gentle and loving feedback when others are engaged in areas of service for which they have not been gifted or called.
Comments from the Body?