Lent is close at hand. My blogging will continue, at least once or twice a day on the remaining three Vatican II documents till we’re completed. Otherwise, I don’t expect any post records to be set. In fact, I’ve felt rather dry of thoughts this past week or two. Rather than force nonsense onto the internet, I’m just accepting that I don’t have much to say these days. Neil could always decide to increase his output, which would be a boon for Catholic Sensibility. Otherwise, expect a bit of a ramping down of quantity over the next few weeks, if not longer.
I have a few developments occupying my time these days. At the parish, losing an associate pastor makes for more work for lots of us, and our new pastor has been hard hit by the workload of a parish significantly larger than his last assignment. I’ve been doing more with engaged couples and mourners and I expect that trend to continue, plus probably some other things getting put on my plate. In turn, I’ll need to reassess things I’ve been doing–like liturgical minister schedules– and look to foist those things off on people who could do them competently, if not better than I.
Recently, a parishioner sent me an e-mail criticizing those lay EM’s who leave the cleansing of chalices and ciboria for the priest. Those of you in parish ministry will know the feeling: you think you explain, educate, and inform. But somebody always seems to miss an important detail. The undercurrent is an assumption that we’re not doing enough for our pastor. The reality is far different. We’d like to do more. But there are limits: imposed from above, imposed from below, and sometimes coming from our own selves.
So the parish is super busy and maybe short-staffed, ministry-wise. At the very least, our staff will have to come to grips with some misaligned priorities, and some aspects of parish life that will either be picked up by parishioners, or be summarily dropped.
In the last few weeks, I realized I needed to sort through some of my own negative feelings. Often, I see my short temper coming through after I read my posts in blogosphere comment boxes. Naturally, I don’t want to admit to my favorite foils my arguments are somehow flawed because I’m really p****d off. But I think Lent is a good time to refrain once again from blogosphere commenting. Maybe I’ll get an early start, or, wonder of wonders, make it a permanent policy to focus exclusively on my own blog. Who knows?
Lastly, I began seeing my upset over adoption issues was in part due to a possible wish to do more for adoptable children. My wife and I are hovering close to the fifty-mark in age, one on one side, one on the other. So we’re clearly not parent material anymore. Over the past few years, we’ve discussed adopting another child or two, but our assessment of our current family situation would be that our adopted daughter would remain the eldest. We might succeed in getting a more hard-core special needs child placed with us, but likely not younger than ten. And with the addition of a serious special needs child, there is always the risk of the child abusing others in the family.
Given that situation, I had to look seriously at this ministry opportunity that fell into my lap a few weeks ago. A lot of things pieced together nearly at once–some example of synchronicity. The bottom line is that a chaplain of a local children’s center was looking for assistance with music ministry. Lots of these kids are in trouble, some of their own doing, most perpetrated upon them by abusers.
My new role is to assist there for a 4PM interdenominational chapel service, run a 6PM choir practice, and visit the pre-adolescent psychiatric ward at 7PM–all on one day, conveniently enough.
My wife thinks it’s kind of silly for me to be getting into a situation like this. And maybe she’s right. But I realized that this opportunity gives me a chance to put my money (my time, really) where my mouth is on the adoption issue of America’s 127,000.
Anita reminds me that I indeed do make a difference with the parish kids, the parishioners, and my colleagues. And I know that. I believe it. But there are very needy people not too far from my home with whom I can also make a difference. With God’s guiding hand, I trust. I decided to give up my “guy’s night out” playing cards. And in return I get the bonus of spending Fridays at home, my former card night, with my wife and daughter again. Popcorn, movie, and family fun for Friday. Troubled kids on Tuesdays.
So, keep me in your prayers the next few weeks. We’ll see how it works out. I had been hoping for a writing opportunity to break through this past year, but I suspect this new ministry will be along the lines of being more faithful to the Gospel. I’ll keep y’all informed.