I hope you are all enjoying your weekend. I am in the teeth of my busiest season--my diocese offers a wide range of theology courses for Catholic school teachers, staff, parish catechists, during the month of June. Yours truly is teaching four courses in eight days, so my posting of late has been limited.
However, next Saturday will be my last course, as this program is going on-line in July, and we face-to-face instructors will be put out to pasture. Truth be told, I am glad to see the upgrade in the diocesan program, and I do welcome the opportunity to do more writing, including the daily (?) posts on the Cafe Blog.
I had a fine day yesterday in Ocala, Florida, working with the faculty of a pre-school conjoined to a large Catholic parish/school, Blessed Trinity. One of the pleasures of teaching has been the opportunity to talk with Catholics in different parishes about their ministries. I was quite impressed with the wide scope of services to the poor. Blessed Trinity is a tithing parish and thus active Catholics are able to enroll their children in the Catholic school at a nominal or minimal fee. I had heard about this years ago, but a school mother of three explained to me exactly how it works...evidently very well.
My students yesterday entertained me far more than I did them. A great deal of conversation in the course about the Church and catechetics. It is just about always true in my experience that Catholics have a great deal to say, and they are looking for clearer answers and explanations than the Church is used to offering. In rare free moments I am reading Richard Gaillardetz's "A Church with Open Doors: Ecclesiology for the Third Millennium." He makes the point that the health of the Church of the future will depend upon our discipline to listen--to our own members, to other Christian believers, to all people of good will, and even to our enemies.
To be honest, I have often thought that we are somewhat arrogant in our certainty about how and to whom the Holy Spirit can speak. Harnessing God's saving love is a risky business. I see in the paper last week that a New England bishop has ordered his priests to deny deathbed Communion to someone in a same sex marriage unless he or she repudiates the union. Sometimes it is relatively easy to know where the Spirit is not speaking.
I wrote on Wednesday’s post (June 14) that I would address the issue of Church Law and the rights of lay Catholics in their parishes and dioceses. I am looking to complete that post for next Wednesday’s stream on professional development. But in searching for supplemental or introductory material, I came across a long-forgotten friend, Our Sunday Visitor. My guess is that OSV’s weekly paper appears in the vestibule of more churches than any other. My mother and father met as pen pals late in the 1930’s through OSV.
Leaving nostalgia aside for a moment, I found an excellent introduction to Church Law in a 2016 edition of OSV, “Laity Turn to Church Law to Challenge Decisions.” (2012) I recommend this as an introduction to the subject of Church Law. For any Catholics with Perry Mason blood in their veins, I call your attention to James Corrida’s Introduction to Canon Law (2004), a full text available on Kindle and Amazon Prime.
While I was reading OSV, I came across two other essays not unrelated to our issue of law and rights in the Church. “Lapsed Catholics Weigh in on Why They Left the Church” (2014) and “Young People Are Leaving the Faith. Here’s Why.” (2016) I was particularly intrigued by the latter, which concluded that Catholics decide to leave the Church on average at age 13. Young people apparently judge the Church as antithetical with science and history; OSV observes that fewer and fewer Catholic youth are educated in Catholic schools, where religion and science are taught conjointly. If one thing is clear, the issues surrounding catechesis and evangelization are much more complicated than most of us believe.
On My Mind