The new computer runs fine. I'm just struggling to keep it within sight as I chase behind. The learning curve with new versions of Explorer and Office will be substantial. And my old printer is refusing to play along, probably thinking (wrongly) that it is headed to the land fill along with its partner of many years.
But, the email works and the normal stream of news and releases are flooding in as usual. One of my frequent correspondents is the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, which generates an enormous amount of email if you accidentally hit the ALL button. Some of their services are very useful: the daily Scripture readings, for example. The USCCB also provides a weekend packet that arrives just hours before the actual Sunday for liturgical planners. That's a head scratcher. (Or, less fortunately, a concession to reality of many parish planning processes.)
Other typical mailings are rallying missives for the cause of the moment. For example, the U.S. Catholic Church is observing currently the "Fortnight for Freedom." (I'm not yet set up for hyperlinks on the new equipment, so you're on your own to look it up.) The exact agenda of this time before July 4 has never been completely clear to me; it appears at this time the focus is the actions of the government that the bishops believe threaten Catholic life and institutions. The catechesis and observance of the Fortnight this year has been overshadowed by the pope's imminent encyclical on the environment.
My diocese is another prodigious emailer, and I get regular newsletters from the chancery in general and from our faith formation office. It is only with slight exaggeration that I say most downtown announcements begin with the headline, "Set your calendars..." for diocesan wide events months and years in advance.
It occurs to me that those of you involved in parish ministry are probably bombarded with "to do" exhortations from every church level above you. I discover with frequency that many of my student catechists and teachers have unsubscribed, never subscribed, or were not made aware of such postings by ministry supervisors in their parishes or schools. (I often ask my students in class.) There is a part of me that is bothered by this, but another part that understands that ministers in the field generally have enough to do without all the prodding from upstairs.
Which brings me to my second point, that bishops and administrators who are "big occasion oriented" overlook what most ministers need most, some warmth and a listening ear from their bishops and the chancery folks downtown. It is this personal support and outreach, and a willingness to hear actual ministerial frustrations that develops trust and interest in the focused education and personal/ministerial development that dioceses can offer. This is the "boots on the ground" pastoral approach. Where else to start "New Evangelization" than among those who will lead it in the heat of the day?
Hopefully that day will come. In the meantime, don't unplug your email service and totally ignore your in- basket but develop a good eye to discern what is useful and what is actually a distraction to your ministry. Consider the gospel challenge to swing your sickle and separate the wheat from the...uh...extra wheat.