Monday, January 14

I used to live in a place where weather forecasts were unnecessary. Florida's like that. Temperatures ranging from the 50's to the 90's for half of the year, and the other half, humidity clinging to you like an unwelcome relative, only to be chased away every afternoon by the most welcome rainstorm.

Indiana's not like that. At least part of Indiana isn't. Fort Wayne seems to be located in this strange corner of Indiana that toys with any and all fronts that dare to make it this far. I don't even know why the members of our resident, toothy and briskly suited television weather brigade even bother. It's like some pathetic little farce they put on every night at 6:10 - All Dressed Up with More Lies to Tell. Their forecasts are always wrong. If you follow the forecasts from the Weather Channel for this area (ZIP code 46807), you'll see that they change as the day goes on. It was supposed to snow this morning. Then they said it was supposed to rain. It did neither. It was clear all day until about 4. Then it was supposed to be clear this week and snow on Friday. Now it's supposed to snow tomorrow and Wednesday and be clear the rest of the week.

See. It's like life. Don't bother predicting, I say. Keep planning to the bare minimum. You never know what's going to happen. After all - if you'd been asked to predict your life's course twenty years ago, would your vision even have been able to begin to see where you are now? No? And isn't it better that way?

Thanks a lot. Sometimes when you think about what the institutional Church (i.e., RC) is and isn't doing in this country, it boggles the mind. Especially when you've been involved in it, and you've seen the scores of wasted hours spent on brainstorming, planning and evaluating pointless programs that meet no one's needs. In contrast, here's an article about two young evangelical ministers who actually set up an booth for their anti-pornography a porn convention. And where does Catholicism come in? Oh, scroll down to the last few paragraphs and read about the veteran porn "actress" who says she prays the rosary three times a week. Between that, Robert Hanssen, and reading an article about totally Catholic-school educated Kurt Warner's adult "embrace of Christianity" and present fervent evangelicalism, I'm about ready to just retreat into the baby corrall with Joseph for the rest of the week.
We are down a priest, again. Our associate pastor (parochial vicar? I'm unsure of what the latest proper lingo is) of a year has moved on. Like many new priests of our diocese, he is from another country - Sri Lanka, in this case. I know nothing of how he dealt with parish life here, except in terms of liturgy. Unfortunately, that did not go well, and I think it caused some problems in the parish. His accent was heavy, but that wasn't the real problem. If he spoke relatively slowly and stuck to the order of the Mass, we all did fine - if you had a sense of what he was supposed to be saying, you could usually figure out what he was saying. You could understand about the first five minutes of his homilies, as well - after that point, he got into it, started speaking more quickly, and became unintelligable except for his frequent punctuation of "And so, my dear friends."

No, the problem with this fellow was that he didn't stick with the order of the Mass - he indulged in more extemporaneous comment than I've experienced in a Catholic Mass since about 1975. He'd precede the Introductory rite with sometimes five minutes of commentary. He'd end the Prayers of the Faithful with the same. At several points during the Eucharistic Prayer, he'd go off. Often, at the Breaking of the Bread, after the Agnus Dei, he'd inject some comments as well. Earnest, lengthy and unintelligable comments. It was really awful. At some point, I understand the pastor tried to put a stop to it, with only moderate success, and near the end of his term here, it seems as if the pastor took over all preaching responsibilities.

Well, that's over now. He's been transferred to hospital ministry in another town, a move prompted by another factor, I understand: he failed his driving test and needed to be stationed somewhere was driving was unecessary - he'll be living right across the street from the hospital.

One muses on this issue at the great risk of sounding parochial, xenophobic and less than catholic in one's Catholicism. As I wrote to someone last week, there is no doubt that the Catholic Church is the most "multicultural" institution on the planet, and it's something intrinsic to our identity and something to celebrate as well. Part of that identity is the interchange of people - folks from all variety of ethnicities ministering to each other when needed. That's great.

But the hard truth is that in some dioceses (I'm not saying it's the case in mine, because I don't know), an influx of priests and seminarians from other countries is being used to cover up the reality of the priest shortage in the United States. Look carefully at the figures when your bishop boasts about how many seminarians he have. How many of them are actually originally from his diocese? How many have been recruited from overseas? There would be no problem with this if all these recruits were being trained to be proficient in English (or whatever language they need to know to minister in their community) before they were sent out, but they're not, and there are other problems as well.

This poor preparation and desperate placement of recent immigrants into large, complex parishes is completely unfair - not only to the parishes, but, more importantly I think, to the priests who are put in situations that are built for their failure and demoralization.

Here's a good link to religion news:Religion Review.


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