Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Will the Irish be called on to save the Church again?

Centuries ago as Europe plunged into the Dark Ages, it was the Irish monasteries that preserved the learning and culture of the Roman Empire and the Church...not to mention Sacred Scripture.

Today the Church in Ireland strives to preserve the credibility and integrity of the Church at large. From America Magazine:

A “listening program” has been launched across the 88 parishes of the Diocese of Down and Connor, near Belfast in Northern Ireland, intended to draw the counsel of parishioners in church affairs. Noel Treanor, the diocesan bishop, said, “The history of the church includes moments when the people of God are called to reform and renew the church. This is one such moment.” While the program is seen as a response to the widespread disappointment and anger felt by Irish Catholics in the wake of the scandal of sexual abuse by members of the clergy, Bishop Treanor insisted that “even if the scandals didn’t happen, even if there were just as many priests now as there were 50 years ago, this process would still be necessary.

"We have been grappling since the 1960s with the whole idea of how we make the church more participative,” he said. “This will be a step toward that, a step toward a church that is more open, transparent and where there is accountability.” Bishop Treanor said he wanted 'to live in a church where someone can feel free to say exactly what they think to a bishop and where a bishop can be free to say exactly what he thinks...'"

In a country such as Ireland, where the Catholic Church is intricately woven into the very fabric of day-to-day life, the thoughts and actions of one of its bishops is not insignificant. May more bishops such as Noel Treanor remember to care and minister their flock, rather than simply care and minster solely to the institution. First and foremost, the Church is the People of God.

Memorial of St. Claude de la Columbiere, S.J.
Daily Mass Readings
Genesis 6:5-8,7:1-5,10
Psalm 29:1-4,9-10
Mark 8:14-21

Sunday, February 13, 2011

A blessing from Ekklesia

Lasts night, L and I attended the wedding of a dear

friend of ours, a neighbor from across the street. The wedding and ceremony was held at Oheka Castle in Huntington.

Okeka is a most impressive and grand structure (for you TV buffs, the Castle is a fixture in the USA show Royal Pains). It was a beautiful backdrop for what turned out to be a most unique and beautiful wedding ceremony.

After we arrived, we were escorted into a huge stone reception hall. A string quartet playing Chopin greeted us as we found our seats. As we anticipated the wedding party's entrance, we were able to watch the sunset from, I have since learned, is the highest natural point on Long Island. After the bridal party entered, the quartet switched to the familiar strains of Here comes the Bride. J was escorted down the aisle by both her proud parents. She looked stunningly beautiful.

The celebrant, Fr. Tom was not vested formally; he wore a simple clerical suit and collar. Fr. Tom left the readings of this simple ceremony up the the cherished family and firends of the bride and groom. The familiar wise words about love from Corinthians were heard, along with rich poetry from the likes of ee cummings.

After the traditional priestly blessing, Fr. Tom requested the congregation take some vows of their own. He asked up if we...as the family and loved ones of the bride and groom..would be there for support and advice. We said we would. He asked us if we would be present, if not in body then in spirit, for the couple. We said we would. In short, Fr. Tom was exhorting ALL of us, as representatives of God's Community or Ekklesia (Greek for CHURCH), to witness this collectively, to be the offical celebrant to the Sacrament along with him.

Then Fr. Tom asked us to raise our hands. He, in all our names, bequeathed our collective blessing on the newly married couple, that they may smile upon each other's lives and walk life's journey together. I have never felt so much a part of a wedding ceremony since my wife and I were married. A wedding is the recognition of Love from the community, the Church, the Ekklesia. Fr. Tom included us in that honor, that reponsibility, instead of simply relegating us to spectators.

An interesting note about the priest; Fr. Tom had been a Roman Catholic priest, actually served at my home parish when we moved ot Levittown. From what I understand, he fell in love with a woman, and so had to discontinue his ministry in the Roman Catholic Church. However, Holy Orders like Baptism leaves and indelible mark on the soul; Fr. Tom could not discontinue being a priest any more than he could become un-baptized. He continues to minister as an indpendent priest to those who need him, sacramentally and pastorally. Please follow the link to his website and learn more about this wise and courageous clergyman.

Daily Mass Readings
Sirach 15:15-20
Psalm 119:1-2,4-5,17-18,33-34
1 Corinthians 2:6-10
Matthew 5:17-37