Monday, March 24, 2008

Easter Should be a Time for "Something New"

In 2004, Bryan Massingale, a priest for the Archdiocese of Milwaukee gave his "See, I Am Doing Something New: Prophetic Ministry for a Church in Transition" speech at the annual Spring Priest Assembly. His words are needed as much, if not more, today as they were needed four years ago.

Citing Walter Brueggemann, Massingale states that "the biblical prophets have a twofold task: first, in light of God’s word, to express the people’s deepest hopes and lead them to embrace God’s promise of new life." His speech then breaks into two parts: "I have heard the groans of my people..." and "I am doing something NEW..."

In the first section Massingale spoke of the "community's groans and giving it a voice." Priests have become "older, grayer and fewer." Many are sick mentally and/or physically. A sign that "all is not well." There is also "a desire for an honest discussion of the human sexuality of priests."

Among bishops, many "fear that they are becoming a little more than 'liturgical police' enforcing laws that they did not write, were not consulted about, and really do not agree with." Among the laity there are groans for "relevant homilies" and "collaborative relationships with priests and bishops." Because of these groans and many others, the prophets states that: "These things must end!" or "to put it bluntly, a particular way of being 'Church' is dying." The "all-male, mostly celibate priesthood" is declining, we're moving from a European church to a global church, there's a shift to female equality, there's been an increase in lay participation, and a rise in "Bible-based worship" among many other things.

In part 2, I am doing something NEW...

There two "dangers" or "temptations" that arise in "times of transition:" 1) "nastalgia" for the past or 2) "despair" for the future. Then Massingale comes to some very important sentences: "Brueggemann maintains that among the ways that the prophets pierced the veil of the community’s numbing despair and energized it with new hope was by offering symbols and images that nourished an alternative vision. In that spirit, I want to offer an image that speaks to me of hopeful endings and new beginnings: the image of hospice. I want to suggest that prophetic ministry today requires a “hospice” mind set and approach to priestly ministry. I believe that priests today are called to be hospice ministers for the Church. Hospices prepare people to face endings that are unthinkable yet inevitable . . . and thus also prepare people for new beginnings that are unwanted yet full of life."

"God will work a miracle, but not the one that we expect. I’m not entirely sure what this means concretely for the Church.... a hospice approach to priesthood means that we must help facilitate honest conversations of sadness, hurt, anger and even rage, for these are some of the inevitable and essential reactions to any transition or loss. A hospice consciousness requires that we recognize that not everyone in the Church will be on the same page in dealing with the stress of transition."

Massingale closes by saying: "The prophetic vocation is to help the community to accept a loss they cannot admit and to embrace a hope they cannot dare to believe. Prophets do this by attending to the present groans of the people and positing an alternative future vision. This, I believe, is the essence of being a spiritual leader in the Church during this time of transition."

Happy Easter from a Faithful Catholic


Dad29 said...

I'll grant Massingale this: SOME Milwaukee priests have mental illnesses.

Not just the pastor of St John Vianney, either.

jackjoe said...

Isn't it amazing the real fear so many of our Church have in discussing issues that are in our face. I have looked for bu found few blogs that really want to discuss/think. You might check my blog. Jack

Terrence Berres said...

Father Massingale writes, "We are older, greyer and fewer. We are being stretched ever more thinly, to the point of breaking. We seriously wonder how much more we can do and how much more can be expected of us. We worry that the priesthood is on the brink of a demographic collapse. . ."

And yet my pastor, with one of the largest parishes in the Archdiocese, forgoes an associate pastor because the available younger priests have an "incompatible" outlook.

"First there are the groans of the priests" would serve as a good motto for the Milwaukee Archdiocese Priests Alliance.

frankjack said...

Read all your posts. very interesting, Jack

frankjack said...

Kind of changed my blog to help 23 year old new catholicnamed Frank. Jack

frankjack said...

Faithful Catholic. I screwed up. To find me hit on frankjack then to bottom of profile and hit on "liberal catholic sports music'. Sorry for the foulup. Jack

frankjack said...

Faithful Catholic. I screwed up. To find me hit on frankjack then to bottom of profile and hit on "liberal catholic sports music'. Sorry for the foulup. Jack

Anonymous said...

"to put it bluntly, a particular way of being 'Church' is dying."

Yes, the moral realativist school of thought that hijacked the interpration of Vatican II and has now been sulking since 1978 becuase they did not reform the Church in their own image is "dying" out as fast as you can say Humane Vitae.

The "battle" in the Church between the ortohodox and the heterodox is nearing it's end, and the sooner that end comes, the sooner the Church can get back to speaking Truth to a culture and world sorely in need of it without having to worry about getting attacked from within.

"The all-male, mostly celibate priesthood" is declining, we're moving from a European church to a global church"

-Yes, the Church is becoming more global, but I have a feeling people who decry an all celibate male priesthood aren't going to be too fond of the form the global church is taking, don't just take my word for it, sit down and talk with a priest from India, Africa, China, the Phillipines, etc.

Oh and as for Latin America, Mexico is about to nearly double the number of priests there in less than a decade...

"Vocations Booming in Mexico

KOENIGSTEIN, Germany, DEC. 5, 2006 ( Mexico is seeing a veritable boom in vocations to the priesthood and religious life, says an official of Aid to the Church in Need.

"There are about 12,000 young men preparing for the priesthood in Mexican major seminaries, while 15,000 active priests are serving the faithful," said Xavier Legorreta."

As for the comment...

"there's been an increase in lay participation"

-What is most important for the lay people is Mass attendance, in the places I have been to where the lay people "participate" the least, i.e. only Priests hand out Communion, Mass attendence is the highest. In Poland for example, anyone but a priest giving somone the Eucharist would be unthinkable (same goes for communion on the hand and altar girls) and yet upwards of 75% of the population is at Mass on every given Sunday.

Here in the USA the more "traditional" dioceses are the ones that thrive, in my diocese they have totally turned the tide of the "vocations crisis" and even small parishes are getting a second priest, meanwhile in the more liberal dioceses Churches continute to merge or be closed.

Among young people, the approach to Catholicism seems to be "love it or leave it." So yes, of course, huge numbers of the younger generation who were baptized Catholic have left it, mostly becuase unlike their baby-boomer parents who were Catholic in name only and limited their appereances at Church to Christmas, Easter, and funerals, their kids are atleast consistent enough to stop faking it.

Those young people that have stayed in the Church are usually pretty devout and educated in their faith. I met scores of college students who go to daily Mass, pray the Rosary, read Aquinas, revere John Paul II, these people are the future of the Church, the future Priests, nuns, parents, educators, etc. and their reaction to the likes of Massingale is simply to role their eyes and thank God for Pope Bennidict XVI.

frankjack said...

Question for anonymous. Under your analysis does the church need a laity? What function do they serve but for money and to carry out the directions of the clergy. In other words we know the church could not perforn its functions without a clergy. And you seem to say the laity has no essential necessary purpose.

Do you approve of this quote from my diocese leader. "We participate in Christ's self-offering to the extent that we join ourselves to Christ, not to the extent that we are capableof inderstanding the words of the prayers."

The church you like: a lazy, ignorant laity, with no real function but to support the clergy(corrupt or not). The good old days of weekly attendance at a "mystery" show where you are really not essential or needed. Jack

Anonymous said...

Frankjack, thanks for your questions...

"Question for anonymous. Under your analysis does the church need a laity?"

"What function do they serve but for money and to carry out the directions of the clergy(?)"
-Enough has been written on this, being a lay-person though is a default status, it is not as if every single person is called to the religious life. The future of the church passes through the family, so at the risk of oversimplifying, the laitys' function is very tied to working in the world, and in their families, for the good of the Kingdom of God.

"In other words we know the church could not perforn its functions without a clergy. And you seem to say the laity has no essential necessary purpose."
-See above.

"Do you approve of this quote from my diocese leader. "We participate in Christ's self-offering to the extent that we join ourselves to Christ, not to the extent that we are capableof inderstanding the words of the prayers."
-By diocese leader do you mean Bishop? I do agree with the quote as near as I can tell, if the value of our particpation was strictly limited to the extent we were capable of understanding the words of prayers, that would mean that the young, the disabled, new immigrants, the elderly, etc. are less able to encounter Christ, obviously this would be absurd if such barriers existed.

"The church you like: a lazy, ignorant laity, with no real function but to support the clergy(corrupt or not)."
-You are being rather hostile, and obviously putting words into my mouth. I am not encouraging an ignorant laity, I'd be the first to recomend a lay person pick up some Augustine or Aquinas and learn all they can about their faith. As for lazy...I would say missing Mass is lazy, going to Mass every week, and even better, daily, particupating in devotions like the Rosary also takes a commitment of time and discipline.

"The good old days of weekly attendance at a "mystery" show where you are really not essential or needed."
-I don't see weekly attendance is simply part of the "good old days" I am not old enough to have good old days, but I have been to some countries(and even parishes in the US) where weekly attendance by nearly all memembers of the parish is a reality and you ought to look at what works and not be so hard-hearted and block-headed because the Church did not recreate itself in the image you had hoped.

As to the "mystery" you seem to mock, the Pope himself wouldn't say he has it all figured out regarding Paschal Mystery. If you do, I'm sure he'd love to hear from you.

You are right, I am not essential, or needed, at the Mass. God wants us there, but obviously he does not need us, we need him! It is an honor and a blessing to be able to go to Mass, to be invited to encounter our Lord in such a way.

frankjack said...

Anonymous,you seem like a nice guy but I'm not sure I wat to be called a "default" status. I'm still not clear what you think the laity does or is? Is the clergy not to work in the world for its betterment or should we compare them with the oracle at delphi?

Some how after 75 year exposure to catholicism the idea that a catholic main duty in the world was saying the rosary and trying to read Aquinas( I assume you agree with Aquinas that women are 'defective' men and rape is better than masturbation)

I take it that you believe the mass is just as good, it none of the laity know what is said. Rather strange I would say!

You see I AM old enough to remember the 'good old days'. No interest in others, no regard for the poor,the christianity basically chanting beads, no scriptural knowledge---go to mass once a week. This is obviously what you want to return do. I call it lazy Christianity. Do nothing for anyone but yourself; have as many children as possible to eventually enrich the coffers of the Church. To hell with the laity, we clerics are the church, you laymen are just "default." Every society , every church goes through a period of yearning for a "golden" past where everything was just perfect, if we could only go back.

My friend you are the hostile one. You hate Vatican II because it said all of us are called to work for God and you had rather say your beads, read Aquinas (what part?), go to a church service where most have no idea what is being said and yearn for the carefree olden times, worship your priest and call you fellow church members 'not needed.'

You say God does not need us(the laity) but why then does he need arrogant clergy or for that matter any clergy. Is God any more God because of the clergy. Is God lessened if B16 were to die.

Your argument, in sum, is Christ came to the world to create priest. All the rest is really not necessary. Shame on you. But you are young. No doubt you support the right of these 'supermen'to do what they want, and I assume that includes child molestation. And, of course, your priest is always right since any criticism of him only comes from those pitiful "defaulters."

Do you have any obligation to others, or just to yourself. I thought there were two great commandments, and have you heard the story about the sheep and the goats in the New Testament.

No where do you mention doing anything for others. You see, that may take work and sacrifice. I thought maybe we served Christ by serving others. You never mentioned that, despite your vague reference to serving the kingdom of God, by which I take you to mean serving the clergy, since the laity are not needed in the Church.

I know your type. Crawling off to latin masses and to hell with your neighbor. God bless and give you knowledge. Jack

Anonymous said...

Jack, I hope I have not offended you, of course discusions of religion always tend to get a little tense, but rest assured I mean no ill will in anything I say. I am writing under the assumption that you are a Catholic (obviously a bit disgruntled but still Catolic) if you have left the Church, then sure, everything I say is no good to you.

I am only a third your age so you can maybe chalk everything I say up to being young, idealistic, and as of yet not disillusioned with Christ's Church, I pray that my attitude always stays so cheerful.

As to Aquinas, I have just started reading what he has to say about the Eucharist. I have not gotten to the stuff you are upset about, but remember, he is a saint, so it really is not our place to be so harsh about one who is in Heaven with Christ and probably praying for us right now.

The Mass is just as good if none of the laity knows what is said, for example, if you went to a Mass in Norway and did not understand it, does that really make the Mass worthless? This is why things like kneeling, the ringing of the bells at consecration, etc. are so important.

-Alright, you are old enough to be familar with the pre-Vatican II Church. Fair enough, there are plenty of people of your generation who can claim that but somehow managed to survive the expereince without the same martyr complex. There are greater injustices in the world than not knowing Latin and having the priest face East instead of towards you when he consecrates the Host.

-As to your claim that there was no interest in others, no regard for the poor, etc. back then. Come on now. Catholic charity groups have always existed, and Catholics have always been called to serve the poor, think about St. Martin of Tours, or St. Francis, just to name a few.

-As to the lack of scriptural knowledge, I would bet that if we took the most "conservative" parish in any given diocese and the most "liberal" and had the parishoners tested on scripture, you'd be pretty shocked by the results.

-You presume way to much when you talk about what I "obviously" want to return to. I never said I want to return for anything. There are plenty of people who talk about how great things were pre-Vatican II, I see where they are comming from on that, but I don't think I've really outed myself as one of them.

-I am the first to admit there was no "golden" past, but that doesn't mean that we should discard all the past, we need to look to the past for guidance, see what works, and retain it.

-I do not "hate Vatican II" this is a totaly baseless claim. Have you even read the actual documents from that council? There is nothing in those documents (that I have seen) that I hate. I am loyal to the Church. I don't "hate" the Council any more than John Paul II did, or Paul VI did for that matter.

-Stop attacking the Rosary. What is your objection to it? It is a very deep form of prayer and one that Our Lady recommends.

-I do not "worship" my priest. In fact, for many years I went to a very liberal Catholic Church (no kneeling, no Crucifix, hippie guitar songs etc.) Did I have some gripes with the aesthetics? Sure! Did I like all the homilies? Ofcourse not! However a Mass is a Mass and Jesus was there in the Eucharist and that is what matters most.

-I did not call my fellow church members "not needed," in fact, the more full a church is, the better, nothing makes me happier than seeing a Church packed to the brim. When I lived in Eastern Europe, Church would be so full that sometimes we had to kneel on the front steps, shoulder to shoulder, in the slush and salt, at the moment of consecration. This was a beautiful thing.

-You seem very anti-Clerical, maybe you had a a priest you did not like in the past? Of all the priests I have known, and that draws on a wide range of ages, political views, etc, one thing they all had in common was that they were kind and decent guys who constantly put others before themselves.

-Of course I have been lucky, sure there are bad priests, because there are bad people, people are not perfect. I did not call priests "supermen"
molestation. And, of course, your priest is always right since any criticism of him only comes from those pitiful "defaulters."

-The fact that you bring up child molestation just has a grasping at straws feel. I am aware of these terrible crimes. The guilty should be given over to the law, and they need to repent of their ways or else face eternal punishment.

-Of course we have an obligation to others, esp. to the "least of God's people," the poor, the disabled, the unborn, the immigrants, the victims of war, etc.

-You attack me because, "No where do I mention anything I am doing for others." Wasn't Jesus critical of those who boasted of their good works in the streets, saying they already have their reward? I am not 100% sure, as you imply, people like me don't know anything about scripture. Would you prefer that I be boastful? All that said, I don't think I have any obligation to give you a resume of community service activities, you'll just have be left in suspense wondering as to whether and what sort of stuff I do for the good of others. If you feel any kind of need to alert me as to what good works you've accompished lately though, I'm all ears.

-You know my type? Well I am heartend to know that you are meeting more people like me, all I can say is get used to. The future of the Church is those who really care about it.

-Point of fact though, you are wrong about me and the Latin Masses. I have been to THREE in my life. So maybe you do not know my type after all?

frankjack said...

Well, young man, you and I are somewhat alike. On occasion we demonstrate a slight lack of charity. However, be that as it is let me make a few responses.

You say I talk of helping others, I suggest you read my blog written recently by a young 23 year old who through my wife and my small help has been given a new life, and, by the way is now Catholic. Now I mention this and the over two dozen people I have brought to the church because you have challenged me. After all you brag about saying the rosary, reading Aquinas, and weekly mass attendance. I was foolish, I guess, to think you might take some satisfaction in trying to help others.

As to reading Aquinas, I have read and taught him to students for many years. Had you lived in his time would you have accepted this great saint when he tells us that government approved prostitution is a good; that women are 'defective' men and that masturbation is worse than rape?

I am a Catholic and very friendly with many priest. But answer this question, please. What should I have done when I saw one of the bishop's chief assistance looking at a magazine made up of pictures of naked teen-age boys? Should I have kissed his ring? I have no objection to homosexual priest. But apparently the church does. Knowing that the priesthood has a higher percentage of homosexuals(not pedophiles) than other professions, is the church not guilty of at least a small degree of hypocrisy?

Are you aware of this quote from the catechism: "In the restoration and promotion of the sacred liturgy the full and active participation by all the people is the aim to be considered before all else; for it is the primary and indispensable source from which the faithful are to derive the true Christian spirit." Does this discount the laity?

Why do you say I have a martyr complex. Is a layman not to fully participate in the Church?

As to Catholic charity groups, my wife is related to two of the largest contributors in America to catholic causes. You will just have to take my word(of course, you don't have to). But today Catholic charities are a bit different than pre-vatican II. Today it is considered the obligation of all catholics to contribute in time and money, not primarily just the Knights of Malta.

The child sex abuse scandal. Just a straw?!! I am critical of JPII and B16 for paying little serious attention to this. The rape of a 9 month old by a priest is 'just another sin.' So send them to another parish. Oh, and the bishops that cover this up: give them a cushy assignment in Rome or make them a cardinal. You bet this makes me mad!! And you say these men have been 'called' by God. An insult to the Almighty!!

Will just have to disagree on Biblical knowledge. I know of NO church in my diocese that had Biblical study classes until quite recently.

I agree with you on church aesthetics. I attend no guitar masses. But I do think Bach(a proestant) Schubert, and other musical greats have a place and should not be pushed aside by those who want Gregorian chant exclusively because they think Christ"s church was created for the use of Latin.

BTW the way where and when did Mary tell us to say the rosary. Certainly you are not relying on the private "revelations" of Lourdes and Fatima, which, as a catholic, I do not have to accept and do not accept. Christianiity is too important to be placed in the hands of disturbed adolescents for what to do. In fact I believe the church teaches that all necessary revelation ended with Christ.

Well, good luck. Check out my blog: Liberal Catholic Sports Music. I look forward to your response. Jack

Anonymous said...


-Of course I'll take a look at your blog.

-Well done bringing the young man into the Church.

-Furthermore, I am happy to hear that you have been invovled in the conversions of so many people, I actually did not challange you on this matter. If we are keeping score though, of course I can't make such a claim, I have helped two people convert, and I have helped a handful of lapsed Catholic friends return to the faith, return to the confessional, etc.

-I did not "brag" about saying the Rosary, etc. In fact, I do not say it as much as I should! I only mention it as an example of an "old" devotion which has not really gone away and is perhapes more popualar with young people than you might expect. In fact, I would credit the praying of the Rosary, and the Divine Mercy Chaplet for the conversion of one of my friends from Luthernism to Catholicsm.

-I see you are going to cherry-pick things out of Aquinas, I am not going to engage in any sort of battle-of sound bites. He is a saint, he was also a man though, so less than perfect. I am sure that in your role as a teacher you turned plenty of students against St. Thomas Aquinas, forgive me for not jumping on the bandwagon.

-As to your question about kissing the ring, etc. I don't roll with the hierarchy so much so I have never been in that possition, I have only seen Bishops maybe four times in my life, and only from the back fo the Church, never met one really... as to the Bishop's assitant looking at the porn-magazine, I would have told the Bishop, and if no action was taken, maybe consult a Cannon lawyer? I don't know what else to tell you.

-As to your claim about the higher percentage of gay priests, etc. A lot of that has to do with how certain liberal dioceses screened out men who would have objected to that kind of culture within the priesthood (that is part of the "vocations crisis.") Also, maybe some of this has to do with people being in denial about who they are when they are young, and think that not being attracted to women meant they were called to the priesthood, I don't know.

Anyway I think the tied has turned on that, it would be interesting to see the statistics for priests ordained since 1990 or so. I would bet that the number who are gay is a lot lower, also, I think the Pope actually forbid gay men from entering the priesthood recently.

-I guess we just define full and active participation differently, as to role of the laity. Speaking for myself, I don't want to hand out the Eucharist, I don't want to give the homily, I do not want any attention being directed towards me at the Mass etc. I want the priest to do these things.

-I said you had a martyr complex because your descriptions of the pre-Vatican II church are like hyperbole but you take them seriously. Things were not as great back then as some people say, but I have a feeling they weren't as bad as you say either. I am just kind of sick of the attitude one sees from people who act like "growing up Catholic," "Catholic guilt," etc. were these awful burdens that haunt them to this day.

-Your wife is related to two of the largest contributers in America to Catholic causes...ok I take your word for it.

-I have no qualms with the Knights of Malta, they seem like a good organization.

-The scandal, I call it a straw man argument because usually that is something enemies of the Church bring up in response to any point they don't like. I am sad to hear you thorwing it around becuase usually it is just the sort of thing athiests say to try to make Catholics feel bad. All I can say is what I said before, it was bad, priests should be held to a high standard, no one is above the law, sin is an insult to God, what more do you want me to say? None of my priests were invovled in it, nor was my Bishop. Also, the Pope was very frank in dealing with the mater. Should all the clergy be punished for the evil actions of a few?

-I am glad we agree on aesthetics, I have no problem with Bach, or any of the baroque composers for that matter. Gregorian Chant need not be the only music of the Church, but I don't think we are in any danger of that anyway. In all my life, I have only been to maybe five masses were there was any Gregorian Chant, I think it is beautiful, and you know what? Frankly I feel a little cheated that this great music herritage of our Church has been to a large extent dennied to me and all the other young Catholics who have been forced to sit through awful guiatar-Masses, Marty Hagen music, etc. Still, the Mass is not about me so while I may disagree with some things on matters of taste, I usually keep that to myself.

-Where did Mary tell us to say the Rosary? She said so to St. Dominic in 1208, or is that just another "private revelation" that you dismiss? As to Lourdes and Fatima, I used to distance myself from those events, mostly, I realize now, to appease my Protestant friends, but I have seen the error of my ways lately in not respecting Mary's message more.

-It is rather uncharitable of you to describe St. Bernedette of Lourdes as a "disturbed adolescent."

I hope that covers everything. God bless!

frankjack said...

Anonymous, I have really enjoyed our exchange of views. Most people say 'never discuss politics or religion.' I say those are the two best things to discuss. So just a couple of comments.

You are famiiliar with Occam's razor I am sure. So your explanation of the gay priest issue seems to fail that test. I have never heard your explanation. Is the explanation to be prefered not what you suggest but that some homosexuals feel that the priesthood is a cover for their tendencies? I have never heard your explanation.

On the issue of Lourdes and Fatima. With what we know of psychology today and the tendencey or pre-adolescent and adolescent to seek this type of attention, I think Occam would lean toward my view. You are aware that Lucia (Fatima) predictions were not revealed(she wrote them down) until years after the the events she predicted. You and I can predict JFK will be assassinated. Have you read B16 analysis of Fatima. He points out that no one can predict the future and that what Lucia saw was just in her head. Nothing actually physically appeared.As to the dancing sun B16 does not give that the dignity of even discussing it. He wrote this before he was Pope and he knew JPII wanted the events verified.He did the best he could.

Aquinas is fine, but he was of the middle ages and did a type of reasoning not well accepted today. I suggest the finest catholic philosopher is Cardinal Newman, my personal hero. He was not 'high' on Aquinas at all. You should read him. Just one great insight from Newman:'We do not become holy because we find God; we find God because we are holy.'

You may be aware that there is a movement now among some catholics to beatify Pius XII. This is an effort to 'play down' Vatican II through the back door. Pius might be instructive. As a catholic writer suggests his strength was his weakness. He was so interested in his personal piety that he had a hard time seeing the world as it was. He did somthing, but very little, to mitigate the horrors of the holacost because he was so absorbed in his personal piety.

Did you want to make a comment of the role of the laity from the catechism that I quoted?

Private revelations are basically for devotional purposes and are not meant to be dogmatic.

Looking forward to hearing from you. Jack