Thursday, July 22, 2010


We have a relatively new music ministry in the parish that is made up of mostly high school folk that sing worship and praise music. Before going to Steubenville for a youth conference they gathered on the front steps of the church and ran over their music. (This gave me the idea that we need a summer lawn and picnic concert series here next year.) The music that they do is very contemporary and I quite enjoy it. Thus far they have played during adoration when we have our confirmation meetings and a song or two during Mass a couple of times. One of the songs they like to do is “Big, Big House.” The words say something like, “ It’s a big, big house with lots and lots of rooms . . . it’s my Father’s house.” The Church is like a big, big house with the whole extended family living under one roof. And when you have so many people living under one roof, no matter how big the house is, some of the people under the roof will get on the nerves of other people under the roof. Such is our fallen nature.

Now it would be one thing if some of the people under the roof were doing things that were contrary to house rules. An extreme example would be one of them selling drugs to neighborhood kids. That is completely unacceptable. Something should be done. It is another thing, when, even following house rules, some people are bothered by other people. “George is reading again and I want him to come outside and play with me! Make his stop reading!” Well, George has a right to read and so we let him alone even as it drives someone else nuts. But we are family and so we do the best we can.

It is not much different in the actual life of the Church. It is true that there are things that are clearly off of the Catholic playing field. These can be in our corporate life, such as using beer instead of wine at Mass, or in our private life such as having a harem but wanting to declare yourself a good practicing Catholic. House rules are house rules.

But even when someone is clearly on the Catholic playing field, there can still be controversy. Liberal, at least in my understanding of the word, is a rare beast in the Church and is usually not found where one expects it. My understanding of the word when referring to persons in the Church is one who is open to everything that is valid in the Church. If the Church says, “Yes,” then the liberal says, “Sure. Why not? I will not be more restrictive in than the Church.” But many times those who freely take on the title liberal have a small set of Catholic practices or beliefs that are held onto passionately making them the mirror image of traditionalist that can have a similar small set of beliefs or practices and each turns their nose at the other.

The same thing could be said between countries. Very often those of us in the West can think we have a superior handle on what is right for the Church. If Rome doesn’t tag along we accuse them of lagging, not getting it, or being fuddy duddys. If the Church in Zimbabwe doesn’t agree with us we take our definition of freedom, justice, and modernity and think that of course they should accept what we hold dear because it is right and they should come to accept it even if they are not ready for it. Granted there are some things that are just same the world around. You can’t shoot someone for eating a carrot out of your yard. But sometimes people of different nations and cultures have different ideas of freedom, justice, and modernity and they are on Catholic field. They have different problems and goals to which they need to attend. The big, big, house then seems to get a little smaller as we try to even out the rules for a billion people instead of the few thousand in a parish.
It takes a lot of smiling, a lot of acceptance, a lot of welcoming, a lot of understanding, a lot of self sacrifice, a lot of learning, and a lot prayer and trust in Jesus’ promises and the power of the Holy Spirit for us all to get along and if single households can’t always do it without a lot of clanging into each other, so much more need to work at peaceful coexistence as the universal family of our Father.


Anonymous said...

Christ will forgive me of all my sins no matter what your beliefs are. I grew up In the church. Pretty much what you have to say is pure BS

Fr. V said...

Ah Anon . . .

Now there's a compelling argument.