An interesting and all-too-brief feature on RNS on the Clergy Project, moving doubters in the ranks of ministry to being outed in the ranks of atheists. I’ve known a number of people who have left church ministry. Many found their faith battered by the institution, by their own ghosts, by their families, and by the gradual pounding of the many demanding situations we find ourselves in. I’m less interested in why people have left the Church to embrace atheism. I’m shocked, but not really surprised at the overreactions of those close to these ministers. No wonder some people think there is no God. It seems like it’s damned hard to find God in their families, congregations, and all:
Some friends cut her off, and some family members said she is unwelcome in their homes. She received hate mail and became afraid to leave the house alone.
(T)hey locked her out of the church. Her husband … had to go in and pick up her things, which were already packed.
And in defense of shell-shocked communities, maybe there are other issues afoot. Many, many years ago, a priest called a meeting of our staff. The way we were called together was unsettling for one of my colleagues, who was worried she was getting the sack. It turned out to be the boss himself. After reassuring us it had nothing to do with another woman, someone else’s money, or a child, he was gone in less than a day, and none of us had any time to even thank him, let alone utter a wish to be well.
I know it’s my perspective of twenty-four years in ministry. I don’t comprehend the loss of faith. But I understand how ministers can grow embittered, lose touch with prayer, and question everything they believe and everything they do.
What is the optimal Christian response? I should think it’s not aggression. These people might be ministers, might be our leaders. But our faith is not dependent on what our leaders do or say or believe.
It’s always sad to see good colleagues move on. I’ve worked with our fine faith formation director and our outstanding campus minister for my four years here. But these great women–two of the most talented ministers I’ve ever been privileged to work with–are moving on to other things.
The pastor just announced this past week we have two fine people hired to fill their shoes. I’m excited to get bumped down from the third-newest kid-on-the-block to the fifth.
As a liturgist, I’m used to Psalm 91 as a Lenten offering. “Be with me, Lord, when I am in trouble,” and all that. And textually, I know it is one of Saint Augustine’s seven penitential psalms. Mea culpa, mea culpa … On reflection, it is curious that a setting of a Lenten penitential Scripture would be the NPM’s number one choice of “songs that make a difference.” Have Catholics gone crazy, turning back to sin and penance? I suspect that modern Catholics latch on to the refrain of hope. And even if few enough of us see eagles regularly in real life, we appreciate the image of flight and strength and God’s protection.
How often does Easter Sunday’s favorite hymn get programmed on the other days of Easter? It’s a great tune, and so, so singable. Which song would you rather sing?
At the end of yesterday’s post, I offered an outline of the Rite for Laying of a Foundation Stone, mentioning the two options provided in RCDA I, 9. In today’s post, we will review the first option:
Approach to the Construction Site
A. First Form: Procession
RDCA I, 10 is a rubric that instructs that ”the people assemble in a suitable place, from which they will go in procession to the site.”
I, 11 instructs that the bishop has set aside miter and pastoral staff. It provides the first ritual greeting from Mass (MR1, by the way–this rite dates to 1977-78, remember), but it also permits the bishop this:
Other suitable words taken preferably from sacred Scripture may be used.
I would assume a sense of good liturgy prevails here; any “other words” would invoke the response “and with your spirit.” This is a greeting, not an introduction–yet.
I, 12 provides that the bishop “briefly” instruct the people on “their participation” and “explain … the meaning of the rite.” Remember that a homily is to follow later, so that an extended link between the Scriptures and this rite will be offered later. What would be the optimal brevity? Three sentences, more or less, I would think.
A prayer in the form of a collect is given in I, 13.
14. When the bishop has finished the prayer, he receives the miter and pastoral staff, and, should the occasion demand, the deacon says:
Let us go forth in peace.
The procession takes place in the usual way: the crossbearer leads between two servers with lighted torches; the clergy follow, then the bishop with the assisting deacons and other ministers, and lastly, the congregation. As the procession proceeds, the following antiphon is sung with Psalm 84:
My soul is yearning for the courts of the Lord (alleluia).
Another appropriate song may be sung.
Then the reading of the word of God takes place as described below in nos. 18-22.
And with that, we’ll pause for commentary …
Note the use of the miter and crozier. The staff especially is used when the bishop leads the people physically from the gathering place to the construction site.
Torches are a better choice than mere candles.
A note on the music here … Exterior processions seem to demand music with rhythm, to have a better opportunity for people unaccustomed to singing outdoors to keep together. I don’t necessarily mean instruments, but a selection that has a natural rhythm. With utilizing a psalm, I might suggest careful planning and the placement of “stationary” psalmists along the way, perhaps three or four. Singing the entire psalm is optimal. The imagery is excellent throughout, and I especially like the second half of verse 12:
The LORD withholds no good thing
from those who walk without reproach.
The rite allows for “another appropriate song,” but my own strong preference would be for the 84th psalm, whole and entire. If the procession were especially long, maybe add Psalm 100, or 127. I think I would avoid 122 or 24. I think there’s no excuse on not having a setting in the parish repertoire. At bare minimum, sing an excellent rhythmic alleluia (surely there is one of these …) and use the chanted verses of the psalm.
Tomorrow, form two. But for now, any other thoughts from you readers?
a) Respect for the autonomy of the sciences: “the Church… affirms the legitimate autonomy of culture and especially of the sciences”. (Gaudium et Spes 59)
b) Evangelical discernment of the different tendencies or schools in psychology, sociology, and pedagogy: their values and their limitations.
c) The study of the human sciences—in the formation of catechists—is not an end in itself. Acquiring awareness of the existential, psychological, cultural and social situation of (people) is accomplished in the light of the faith in which (people) must be educated. (225)
d) In forming catechists, theology and the human sciences should mutually enrich each other. Consequetly it is necessary to avoid a situation in which these materials are converted into the only norm for the pedagogy of the faith apart from the theological criteria deriving from the divine pedagogy. While these are fundamental and necessary disciplines, they are always at the service of evangelization which is more than a human activity. (226)
(225) “In the teaching of human sciences, given their very great number and diversity there are difficult problems in regard to choosing from among them and in regard to the method of teaching them. Since the question here is one of training catechists, not experts in psychology, the norm to be followed is this: determine and choose that which can directly help them to acquire facility in communication.” General Catechetical Directory 112.
(226) A fundamental text for use of the human sciences in the formation of catechists continues to be that recommended by the Second Vatican Council in Gaudium et Spes 62: “The faithful ought to work in close conjunction with their contemporaries and try to get to know that their ways of thinking and feeling, as they find them expressed in current culture. Let the faithful incorporate the findings of new sciences and teachings and the understanding of the most recent discoveries with Christian morality and thought so that their practice of religion and their moral behaviour may keep abreast of their acquaintance with science and of the relentless progress of technology: in this way they will succeed in evaluating and interpreting everything with an authentically Christian sense of values”.
This brief section offers four logical standards to apply. We accept the scientific disciplines we use–their veracity or accuracy within the bounds of human understanding. In doing so, these disicplines are applied to a discernment in light of their use as tools of catechesis. In other words, we do not conduct schools of psychology or other sciences as such. We utilize science to make catechists optimal communicators, as the note #225 referencing the GCD suggests. And finally, though we may use human science to communicate more effectively with human persons, we never lose sight of the reality that catechesis is authentically a participation in the grace of God, enlightening other souls in search of understanding that same God.
about Todd Flowerday
A Roman Catholic lay person, married (since 1996), with one adopted child (since 2001). I serve in worship and spiritual life in a midwestern university parish.
Neil has been a blogging collaborator for the past several years on Catholic Sensibility. He brings his unique experiences from theology, spirituality, and the ecumenical sphere. Pay special attention to each one of his posts.