What if parish ministry never returns to ‘normal’…intentionally?

Industrialized or highly process-oriented formation structures built on cultural assumptions and ecclesial personnel, the likes of which no longer exist, are simply insufficient in a fractured postmodern, post-Christian society.

(Image: Josh Applegate | Unsplash.com)

Today, the longing for “normal” is practically palpable. This virus, and all its social ramifications, taints all of life with the abnormal – from wearing a face covering to elbow bumping, and from contact tracing to seeing grandma through the window. To this, many say: “I’m tired of it” or “I just wish we could go back to the way things were.”

This kind of talk is common in our parishes as well. We want our Mass schedules and programs back, and we want them just as they were before.

But, whether in daily life or parish life, what if “normal” never returns from its grave? What if “normal” never arrives on the horizon?

We often search for peace elsewhere. We hold out hope that peace will arrive in a new set of circumstances, which will certainly make us happier, healthier, and more content. All of this is the manifestation of a certain infidelity to the present moment, as if God is everywhere but here, now. Msgr. Luigi Giussani challenges this kind of mental retreat into the past or flight into the future. On this point, Giussani emphasizes that “Living life as vocation means tending toward the Mystery in the circumstances through which the Lord has us pass, by responding to them. […] Vocation is going toward destiny, embracing all the circumstances through which destiny has us pass.”

However, the truly Christian position, one that takes the Cross as its starting point and in all its seriousness, believes peace is possible here, now, because peace is not an absence of struggle but the presence of a Person. Jesus Christ, the Son of God, has entered in profound fullness into the depths and heights of the human condition. Encountering Him in the present, then, is the key to changing how we engage our circumstances, and maybe even discover new opportunities to change them in the process. We do not have to change our circumstances in order to encounter Him.

If God’s providence is at work today, as Giussani indicates, then God must be beckoning us – “ineffective” church-workers that we sense ourselves to be right now – to something more, right now, and not in a month, in a year, or in years from now. What if we enter deeply into the present circumstances instead of looking before or beyond them? What will they teach us? What new opportunities arise? What is God doing right now – in my life and in the lives of the families that comprise the parish? Will they actually show us a new way forward should things ever return to “normal?” Are we open to that? What if God is allowing this time, in part, not only for families to reset amid the frantic lives they lived just 6 months ago, but also for the Church to reset her approach to ministry? What if a parish’s evangelizing and catechizing ministry does not return to “normal”? And, what if that is intentional?

In what follows, I simply wish to offer a few observations about what God might be doing in the present and what this could mean for parish ministry – particularly those ministries directed towards youth and their families – though some of the principles could be applied further. This list is by no means comprehensive, nor is it thoroughly researched. Instead, it is just one parish minister’s attempt to think-ahead by simply thinking-now; it is an attempt to get at “the real” of the now with an openness to seeing what God might be teaching us and where He might be leading us.

Our plans are…just our plans

If the coronavirus and all of its reverberations throughout society teaches us anything, it is this: We are not in control. A couple months ago, while speaking with a priest from a nearby diocese, he recalled, for the first time in weeks, the pastoral plan that numerous committees had developed over many months. He asked, “I wonder where this whole situation leaves that plan?” I have to believe that an unprecedented series of circumstances, like those we are enduring, has significantly impacted, if not entirely altering, nearly every five-year, three-year, and even one-year strategic plan. Everything is up in the air. It is hard to know exactly what next week will hold, much less next month, or next year.

This is not to say pastoral planning is valueless, but today’s situation does make one profoundly aware of the fragility of those plans. In the end, we realize that our plans, which may be saturated with good intentions and may be rooted in prayer and discernment (though I’ve been part of enough processes to know this is not always true), are just our plans and that we do not “make” the Church. It also makes us realize that sometimes our plans can become idols, attempts to take control, or, as Joseph Ratzinger puts it in Introduction to Christianity, to “tame the mysterious by…grasping the divine in one’s hands.”

In other words, this situation invites us to embrace the present, to discover Christ here, to be moved by the Holy Spirit here, and to invite and accompany others along the same path. We either surrender to the Mystery, clinging to It at every moment and allowing It to lead us, or we succumb to the gravitational pull of our own illusions. Faith takes up the former position and today’s circumstances invite us to this kind of faith by casting down our fearfully idyllic ideals.

Resetting the domestic church

The upending of all of life, the ceasing of incessant activity, the stay-at-home mandate, quite literally, the grounding of the whole family, while it can be viewed with a negative lens, is an almost unbelievable opportunity for families to reset. Family dinners have returned and board games dusted off. One can only look at a screen for so long before signing out and rediscovering the goodness of the “other” sitting under the same roof. Loving one’s neighbor takes a rather concrete form in those with whom I live. For the domestic church, God seems to be offering an opportunity to set things right, to root out disorder, and to engage in life together.

While this experience does offer families a chance to reset, it also lays everything painfully bare. Families that were thriving before, seem to be weathering the storm fairly well (though certainly not without some hiccups). At the same time, for the many families that were broken and struggling before, this situation only exacerbates difficulties. I have heard numerous stories of husbands caught in their pornography addiction, children escaping reality through ceaseless social media use, growing instances of domestic violence, and so forth. Family members once able to hide, distract, or cope via opportunities outside the home now find themselves inescapably stuck. Nevertheless, the light shines upon that which was once shrouded in darkness, and new opportunities for healing arise and the Church can step into this space with the light of Christ.

Persons before programs

In the spring, after the initial scramble to stream Masses, to keep programming alive digitally, or create take-home packets, some parishes have rediscovered a more personal approach: They called everyone on the books. This type of initiative had a number of obvious advantages, the first of which is simply putting the person before the program. While this should always be the case, it is too often not. The proliferation of programs over time precludes the possibility. Phone outreach also allowed for meaningful conversations with some disengaged parishioners or with those who had disappeared altogether. Taking up this phone ministry allowed parishes to regain a sense of the relationality that lies at the core of a parish, a relationality that is far less concrete now than it once was when the parish church was at the center of the life of a town, a neighborhood, and one’s liturgical and social life.

The phone call put the parish in touch with the real lives of people.

Anecdotally, in the midst of the stay-at-home order in Ohio, I called a fellow parishioner with whom I have become friends over the last year. He is almost completely disengaged from the parish, save for his children attending religious education, and he often refers to himself as a fallen-away Catholic. For him and his family, this time was a great blessing. Members of his family engaged with one another anew. They enjoyed the slower pace and delighted in the simple pleasures of life and work around the house, and so forth. In a word, his own word, he was “grateful” for this time and is not sure if he was looking forward to a return to “normal.” He rediscovered the familial relationships that shape his existence.

Now, this man probably never read a single email from the parish, and I did not get the sense that his family is necessarily praying together, streaming Mass, or doing anything religious. Nevertheless, his gratitude was the manifestation of a religious experience, of an awakening of his religious sense. This became clear to me as he was talking. He was not grateful to the coronavirus or to the governor, but to God. And, God was using this time to open him up. I only know about this because I actually talked to him, and, in talking to him, in perpetuating our friendship, I have gained tremendous insight into where he is in relation to the Lord and how I can better accompany him. In the end, this kind of personal discovery, meaning the discovery of the person on the part of the parish, could (and probably should) substantially change the way the parish approaches ministering to her families.

Moving away from mechanical ministry models

In an address given in the early 1980s, Ratzinger describes the technological world of self-made man, one which we are watching crack and crumble (yet again), as one which takes feasibility as its foundation. In this environment, Ratzinger notes, “to a great extent the family, the basic sustaining social form of Christian culture, is in the process of disintegrating” and, with regard to catechesis, “its traditional social supports­–family and parish–are present only in broken form.”

As family life has deteriorated over time, parishes have stepped in and taken on more responsibility for youth formation. The result, however, has not been more well-formed youth, as the statistics indicate, but simply a structure that can effectively leave parents out of the formation equation almost entirely once they get their children in the “pipeline.” This often only perpetuates an ever-widening chasm between life and faith. It can also, over time, cause a subtle shift, one which is initially imperceptible, from the parish serving the domestic church to the domestic church serving the parish.

As the parish attempts to make up for a lack in the domestic church, the whole of parish life can become programmatic, and the parish can end up relying upon and putting pressure on the domestic church for the survival of the very same programs it originally created to help families. We end up dangling a series of carrots (often sacramental ones) in front of families out of fear they will simply walk away after they jump through enough hoops to receive the last one, and they do. The irrelevance of such programs for the lives of many parishioners has become rather apparent in these days. Is so happens that when people go into “survival mode,” they slough off everything extra, everything irrelevant. Many have jettisoned parish programs and the parish’s feeble attempts at staying relevant, though this perhaps just lays bare what was already the case.

All of this invites parishes into a new moment. If a parish can, in the midst of this time when programs and events grind to a halt, put the person before the program, invest in relationships, and generate conversations like the one mentioned above, that parish will gain tremendous insight into where families (particularly parents) actually are and likely have been. This will require finding new and creative ways of “going out” to the families where the families are now that various levels of separation exist between them and their normal points of contact with the parish. Through it all, it will likely become clear that one-size-fits-all programs, ones which are highly mechanical and which assume a homogenous audience, are, quite simply, inadequate.

This could teach us an important lesson as we move forward: Industrialized or highly process-oriented formation structures built on cultural assumptions and ecclesial personnel, the likes of which no longer exist, are simply insufficient in a fractured postmodern, post-Christian society. Perhaps the best way to pick up the pieces is to go to each piece personally somehow. We can start to see this in our current “normal” because it is one of the only ways to do ministry – i.e. personally. In living intensely “the real,” in being faithful to God in the present moment, and in opening our parish programs (and ourselves) to constant renewal, we might just discover a new “normal” – one that is more personal, more animated by faith, and less hampered by fear and control.

In this experience, we might find, perhaps, that we ought not go back to “normal.”


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About Brad Bursa, Ph.D. 2 Articles
Brad Bursa, Ph.D., is the Managing Director of Parish Leadership Formation for the Archdiocese of Cincinnati and an Assistant Adjunct Professor of Theology at Thomas More University in Crestview Hills, Kentucky. He received his doctorate in Theology from The University of Notre Dame Australia and lives in Cincinnati with his wife and five children.

31 Comments

  1. What a bunch of baloney. No matter how many times pious types try to spin this as positive, it ain’t positive for the church, and it especially ain’t positive for those who have trained and dedicated their lives to working for the church in parish ministry. Salaries, which are mostly poverty level to begin with, are being cut and jobs are being lost. Yet everyone is supposed to be amazed at how the Spirit is working in all this to bring about something better. Well, you know what? It ain’t better, and it ain’t going to get better soon. No rosy optimism from me: just hard-core realism. Parishes and schools are going to close because of this. The church will be less able and less effective. Yet this author says nothing more than look on the bright side. There isn’t a bright side. Oh, wait, maybe the bright side is that with massive parish closures there won’t be a priest shortage anymore because the small number of priests will now match a smaller number of parishes.

    • Amen Kevin! If the Holy Eucharist is the source and summit of our Faith, we are being deprived of It! The Church needs the Holy Eucharist and the other sacraments as our food for the journey….this truth has been forgotten as we trade receiving the True Presence with the viewing of Mass on media. We’re told to be happy and settle for that….don’t even ask for the Mass and sacraments to return. And we’re supposed to be happy about this new normal?

    • I completely understand your frustrations at this terrible situation. My church and the two nearby churches are not doing Mass during the week,in my village they are only holding a Sunday Mass this weekend. Churches will be closing left right and centre. Hold faith.

    • The bright side is that you and I have been chosen by the Lord of Lords to follow Him and help Him build up His church. He never said it would be easy. He never said we would all agree. He just said to “follow me.” The work we do at our parishes is always needed but we have neglected the work that needs to be done outside the parish, reaching out to all who do not come. Why don’t they come? Shouldn’t we invite them in person? This pandemic forces us out of our comfort zone and calls us to reach out to our brothers and sisters to help keep the flock together. We are called to evangelize always and what a great time to make a better plan for our parishes to do so. It sounds like you have done a lot for your parish and I thank you and will pray that you continue to do so. God bless you.

    • That a question like this even has to asked. These professional journalists are so far behind. For the majority of catholics church ended 5 months ago. They will never return. For those remaining we put on our masks bathe our hands in ethanoyl and other inflamatory chemicals upon entering. We then keep our distance and behave. This is only phase one. Phase 2 in the fall will require proof of testing to enter. Francis and our bishops are already lining up with gates and the mad vax squad. So oneday soon you will take the vax or not be allowed access to sacraments. Does that simply things?

    • This is just phase one. Phase 2 as promoted and promised by gates and the powers that govern us will be much worse. Church is over as we know it. Sure in a few weeks youll walk into your local church. Without a mask. Without having to sanitize your hands in chemicals. Youll shake hands and hug your old friends sure. Its over. They wont let us up. Store foods. Prepare for mandatory trace testings and then the mad vax.

  2. A thought-provoking article by Brad Bursa. Thanks. For the last several months, mankind has been facing a breathing-crisis. Re-thinking survival in order to serve is becoming the real challenge before all.

  3. Brilliant, relevant article which needs to be read by all Parish Priests and their Ministry leaders. The personal approach also shows compassion and consideration for what their Parishioners are coping with and helping provide the spiritual means which they are personally in need of

  4. I have personally felt that normalcy has disappeared for a very long time within the framework of the style of preaching I have all too often encountered in homilies, prayers of the faithful and other practices and devotions within the church. I just read that the words “under God” were purposely omitted at a political meeting of some sort for the second time, without so much as a word of protest from religious figures that I am aware of. The lax manner of dress that has become permitted at mass, the refusal to pray in particular for our president as opposed to generally for “those in government leadership”, the unwillingness to fight for our first amendment right to worship when abortion clinics, liquor stores and other such “essential services” have been permitted to remain open, especially when social distancing and wearing masks, washing hands could have been implemented from the beginning of the current pandemic, erode the credibility of the leadership that seems to have retreated in fear or are pandering to the far left politically, so as not to offend those who would abolish Catholicism altogether in the US, if not in the entire world. Thankfully, courageous clergy around the country, in Wisconsin and California to name a couple of states have begun to rally in public forums to oppose what offends Catholics, who though in the minority, strictly adhere to the tenets and dogma of the religion instituted by Christ. May God’s light shine through the darkness and expose the evil that tends to threaten the very life of the Mystical Body of Christ on earth, and God help us all when our day of judgment arrives.

  5. What a beautiful article to read at the start of my day. What wonderful insight into family life. A lot of “food for thought”. This Covid 19, though lethal, is bringing families together. In other words it does bring a calmness into our lives which fosters a healthy spiritual life. Thank you for this article.

  6. In 1928 St Josemaria founder of Opus Dei saw the same thing Dr Bursa is describing. He called it the “apostolate of friendship.” This was the means early Christians, mostly the laity, used to convert the pagan world when there were no “parish programs.” In reality the parish cannot be the primary means used in the new evangelization. Each and every baptized person needs to heed the Lord’s call to spread the gospel.

  7. A required assessment of a unique moment, perhaps era. We may reasonably review the broken pieces of what previously conveyed the faith and adjust to reality. Leadership embedded with faith and reasoned assessment can adjust well as it has here in W NYS. Best results are in parish ‘communities’ [now largely consolidated former parishes] where doctrine was uncompromised. Attendance is relatively good as previous now, perhaps better. R Arroyo remarked to friends aren’t you going to Mass? No, they said we’ll watch it on TV. The downside of lockdown is becoming Laissez Faire accustomed. Sioux Falls SD Bishop Donald de Grood’s response is to revoke the option to stay home and reinstate the serious obligation to attend Sunday Mass. As a community. He’s correct. We’re doing quite well here in New York State doing the same [except for de Grood’s courageous restatement of obligation for his particular setting] following CDC guidelines, I’m confident SD will do at least as well. Faith in Christ is not optional nor are its demands. Strength and courage and faith in Christ’s presence among us will win the day. A turn to trust in God’s providence has historically been a positive turning point. Readjustment when required. Although the benefits of community outweighs the detriment of isolation. Neither must bishops cow under local Govt prohibition. We have an unalienable right to live our faith. Love for Christ and each other demand it.

    • “If a parish can, in the midst of this time when programs and events grind to a halt, put the person before the program, invest in relationships, and generate conversations like the one mentioned above, that parish will gain tremendous insight into where families (particularly parents) actually are and likely have been” is not new, although it should be revisited as suggested. Many priests, as few as there are have been visiting families. What is essentially lacking is a revitalized faith. Preaching Apostolic Tradition, what is perennial and necessary. Grace accrued by prayer and sacrifice alone will address our the spiritual malaise and reignite faith.

  8. This is a timely piece, thank you Dr. Bursa. Diocesan structures are often huge, with a department and staff for nearly everything. Reforming these amounts to something like an aircraft carrier doing a 180, yet essential. How it will be accomplished is another matter, but circumstances are forcing the institutional church to do more with less, in a unique set of circumstances.

    • The church since Fatima has been fundimentally socialistic, ignoring Pope Leo’s rerum novarum. Could it be that God is making the change before He comes again and it doesn’t include socialism or the church’s teachings for the past 100years? Mary teaches us that Satan was released on the world, including the church, for 100 years. No teachings on that. Why?

      • What you say is simply wrong. No, the church has not been going socialistic since Fatima. The Catholic church stood strong against communism and was instrumental in its defeat. No, Rerum Novarum is not ignored. Not at all. If you somehow think church teaching has been wrong for the last 100 years, I have no idea what to say to you. I am unaware of anytime Mary said that Satan would be unleashed on the world for 100 years. Maybe you are thinking of the supposed vision of Leo XIII, but that is pretty much just a story that was made up. Nowhere in his writings has anyone found Leo saying that, no one witnessed that and wrote it down.

  9. Kevin T.,
    I’m very troubled at the effects this whole epidemic is having on our parishes but maybe we really didn’t have the best model to begin with. Or at least the parish model we’ve had for the last 50 years or so.
    I keep thinking of my Mennonite friends & their communities which are thriving. The Amish, too. The Amish are currently the fastest growing denomination in North America. The reasons for that are their large families, high retention rates for their youth, & a deep sense of community & fellowship.
    Paid youth ministers, CCD teachers, choir directors, organists, RCIA directors, etc don’t signify for them.
    My Mennonite friends support their pastor & his family & the teacher of their one room school. And that’s about it. Whatever else happens in their faith community is voluntary & they reach out to the community at large, especially in times of natural disasters or fires.
    If we’re raising large families of devout Catholics & practicing our Faith in ways that enable our youth to remain faithful, our parishes will be fine. They may look different but they won’t disappear.

  10. As for adjusted ministries for “[e]ncountering Him in the present”–possibly overlooked here is the parish as an “assembly” already fully drawn together by the Eucharist to fully encounter Him in the sacramental and “personal” Real Presence (“body, blood, soul AND divinity,” fully…”present!”)–quite more than any less concrete (and Protestantish) “congregation” molded and remolded primarily by ministries.

    Bursa develops a good point about re-centering families (for example) to more fully live this (and any) present moment, but the current and pervasive secular culture of “now” (“the present”) has given us an amnesiac cancel-culture (also Catholic-lite)—-a vacuum that simply demands attentiveness and return to the undiluted sacramental life.

    As in the hamburger ad: “where’s the beef?”

  11. Being unaware of how much help is already available too can be addressed as
    well ;
    just today , came across this through The Spirit daily site –
    https://www.catholicexorcism.org/deliverance-prayers-for-the-laity
    Good to see how The Church is responding well , to the need of our times , for more intense spiritual warfare .

    True , many persons might also desire at times , to be able to pray with another , whom they can trust as being spiritually mature .

    Parishes and dioceses working together to make such possible – can see that day too being not far off and meanwhile sites such as this one , with extensive long prayers , strong soothing tone – good resource too –
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZtEywOwX6Ks

    ‘Silence of the Sacred Host pervade me ..’ –
    ? part of the difficulty – having to detox from the need for noise and as mentioned in the article ,
    the blessings of The Father there , as always ..

  12. I found the article interesting. I am the Coordinator of the Families of the Incarcerated Office of Restorative Justice Archdiocese of Los Angeles and 40 yrs Parish leader of the San Gabriel Mission as a Coordinator of the Comite Inmigracion Santo Toribio Romo and on the Steering Committee for the Fiesta de San Gabriel. Because of the Pandemic many things are different. With my family and friends we Zoom. Every Tuesday. friends meet on Zoom to connect and pray the rosary. We look forward to it. On Saturdays, I walk over a mile and have breakfast with my old time friend of over 40 years. One of my granddaughters calls Tata and reads to him making her reading and public speaking much better. The families meets on Zoom for reading stories and doing crafts and cooking homemade pizzas with homemade pizza dough and on Sunday come together with families and friends to participate in a Communion Service and then the children have Religious Education classes lead by one of my daughters-in-law. With the church community, we are up to three masses in English, Spanish and Vietnamese on Sunday mornings. I am a lector and a member on the Annual Fiesta de San Gabriel which, we not be holding this year but because of the burning of the old San Gabriel Mission are continuing to fundraise this year to be able to celebrate our 250 anniversary on September 2021.
    Yes, there is a new normal with old ideas two friends of my husband who worked in the cooperate arena are now earning a living by doing what their fathers did by selling homemade Churros on the corner street and working cutting people yards. We do need to find news ways and maybe rethink of the old ways. Today is today and we need to look to the future looking on how we will stay connected to the family, church and community. We are people of Faith, Hope and Dreams and with God’s help our Dreams will come True.

  13. Congregational singing should be over for the foreseeable future. We have been made aware of longstanding risks to the elderly and others with weakened immune systems by needlessly spreading colds, influenza virus and the like through singing in crowded, poorly ventilated environments. Some may argue that vulnerable individuals need not attend Mass, but many want to be present and should not be excluded from the parish community if workable options are available. Instrumental music may thrive, especially keyboard and string instruments. Choir membership is optional; presence at Mass is viewed as an obligation and a matter of spiritual fulfillment. Those who wish to sing will be urged to join in mentally, (‘in the heart’) which many who cannot carry a note already do regardless. Some changes will hearken back to the world before Vatican II. Centuries earlier, the poet Milton insisted in another context, “They also serve who only stand and wait.”

  14. The article isn’t completely off-base but I also get concerned about those who are overly optimistic. The first step has to be to end the mass insanity afflicting most of the populace. Only then can we start evangelizing again. I liked the idea of calling parishioners individually; right now, as long as reservations, masks, and anti-social distancing are required, and almost no Catholics are fighting government tyranny, I still get the feeling that the priests and bishops would just as soon see me stay home and wouldn’t care if I ever went back to Church. Even if they do what was done in South Dakota, as long as the restrictions are in place, it’s more like saying, “Welcome, but really, we mean go away and get lost.”

  15. I have to confess an interior impasse between passively surrendering to God’s will and satisfying the fire in my belly and fight back. I certainly believe in the power of prayer, but we have to admit it – prayer is passive. The power it always gives is its strengthening of our faith. To think otherwise, to pray for action, is that not an attempt to manipulate God? I don’t know, so I have decided to apply the Catholic paradigm of “both and” as opposed to the more non-Catholic “either or”. I can hardly wait to see what happens. Meanwhile, a more long range objective must be educating our young people in the faith. With all due respect to hard-working, dedicated lay catechists, what we’re doing “ain’t working”, to quote one responder. I think this is for two primary reasons: Catholicism in the U.S. has no “catholic”, i.e. universal teaching model. It’s left up to budget constraints, lay ministers, and pastoral staff to decide what resources to use, and in the several parishes I have closely observed, the material simply does not interest the kids. I have been told of at least one superior resource, but that’s for another post. The second, and more important reason is that while the Church maintains that the primary catechists are the parents, resources and models to form parents have been feeble. When the kids return home from their lessons, most of them are greeted with silence on the subject. The future of our Catholic, and more generally, Christian, world is within children who are now 10-12 years old. We have already lost the generation that precedes them. The Church seems to finally be getting it, and getting around to addressing this massive problem. You can see it twitching in few metropolitan Dioceses. I plan to advocate this with our incoming pastor when he arrives in a few months. I urge anyone reading this post to consider doing something similar.

  16. “They called everyone on the books.”
    .
    We got three or four calls from a “movement church” (the type with the worship band playing Hillsong, etc). We did not get a call from our parish, even after substantial flooding to our neighborhood. My husband recently joined the K of C. His first official contact was to sell him Life Insurance–a Zoom meeting scheduled at the dinner hour.
    .
    While many non-Catholic groups and churches organized to help in flood relief efforts, I am not aware of any Catholic ones. A friend said the St. Vincent de Paul Society showed up after the majority of the clean up was well underway–an afterthought, I understand. Some one in the Society noted they were going to send money overseas, when over 10,000 had been dispaced in their own back yard. My friend went to an intake interview to see if she might qualify. The Society did not know, because they didn’t know how much money they had to offer.
    .
    Works of charity may be an important Catholic value, but I honestly don’t believe they do it well.

  17. We have had ‘new and creative’ for over 50 years. Ain’t workin’! Let’s fall back, regroup, and recover orthodoxy, the sacred, the mysterious. Let’s go full TRADITIONAL and see what happens. 73% of Catholics attended weekly Mass before VII. We were down to about 25% after VII and before the scamdemic. Bishops said don’t bother and that is just what the uncatechized, non-believers in the True Presence did. Let’s get the old play-book out and see if we can’t start growing. What do we have to lose?

  18. The accent on the parish and the family…In 451 A.D. Pope Leo the Great, outside the gates of Rome, turned back the decked-out Attila the Hun. Families were spared the horror. Preceded by a procession with the elevated monstrance, the chat was not long. The complete circumstances of the departure are still debated.

    Historically, the tottering Empire had already conceded outlying pacification powers to domesticated tribal invaders; and today, the Church likewise surrenders its authority to bordering synodal tribes, especially in Germania, and to a cannibal regime in China. Are we now reliving the 5th century…?

    In 2014-15, for the Extraordinary Synod on the Family, and this time inside the gates of the city and the Vatican itself, another pope entertained a Keynote Address from another enrobed visitor from Germania, Cardinal Walter Kasper.

    Kasper pontificated at prolonged leisure—setting the table for what has been anointed a “new-paradigm,” the consequences of which for the entire Church and for the family are matters of at least unresolved “debate” … Often met by silence, as when the former Pope John Paul the Great is discretely shelved as just another saint—and therefore safely beyond living influence—while his now unread words for the 21st century await a New Springtime, perhaps even under “The Next Pope.”

  19. I believe the Church cannot be renewed in its mission without the renewal of marriage. And the renewal of pastoral leadership of our priests. The former confect the Church, the latter confect the Eucharist, the efficacious sign of unity amongst all the households of faith. The family has been struggling since the early 70s, with no-fault divorce, and rates of inflation which meant that families of 4 needed two incomes to make 40K. St. John Paul called for the renewal of marriage in 1981 (Familiaris consortio, nos. 65, 70-71) His instructions were ignored. Pope Francis I chose to call another Synod on the Family 35 years later. From what I can tell consternation, not action, was result. Without happy healthy couples and families on the path to holiness, makes no matter the parish structure. The virus presents the Church militant an opportunity to revisit its mission, and to strengthen the domestic church as constituent and agent of evangelization. Whether this is the work of the Spirit Dr. Bursa, remains to be discerned. Whether the sluggish, clerical institution will respond is questionable.

  20. I see the point that is being made and agree with the lived experience. I offer a UK view on these matter which you can take or leave. I am old enough to remember the Latin mass , remember being instructed what to believe. Today the world is different and requires a different approach. This is what I do , have a plan C , my wife has a plan B . But we search for plan A , Gods plan for the world. Which interesting enough can be found if you look and even more amazing it is within our small abilities. So be available for Gods work where you are and he will keep sending opportunities to you all we need to do is recognise them and do our best for the kingdom of God here on earth

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