Tuesday, March 10, 2009

What Parish Would Jesus Close?

A few years ago, there appeared throughout the country, shirts, bracelets and other items with the initials: WWJD? To some it was trivial, marketing kitsch; but it truly is an important ethical question of volition. We, who, say that we, are christians ought be followers of Jesus in more than in name alone. We ought to emulate Him as much as our ability, being an occasional admirer is not enough.

Sunday evening last, at Saint Sava’s, in attendance, from all the Eastern Orthodox Catholic churches of the area there was celebrated The Triumph of Orthodoxy. Now, most of these churches were independent of each other, and yet, they share a common communion, and are part of the one holy catholic and apostolic church. They are not in communion with the church of the west, Rome. The grand shame of the Great Schism continues. These orthodox many are organised by nation. There they were slavs, and greeks, and arabs, and smaller nations in unity.

To the new world there, also, came those who were in communion with Rome: the many eastern rites, and the slavs, teutons, celts, latins, litvins, and more; also the iberians came and joined with the indian nations. In the cities, and even the rural parts, many, if not most, parishes were predominately of one nation. With new patterns of internal migrations, and the fashions of the current age, this has changed in the US.

The Catholic church in the US is diverse, the hierarchy (bishophry) not so much. Much of the laity have been subject to: pray, pay and obey. Some members and parishes of the byzantine and uniate rites were driven away to eastern orthodoxy. Some of the poles formed a schismatic national church which, because of its separation, has veered from orthodoxy. And as we have seen here, many polish parishes are cited for suppression, and many of these poles are not willing to quietly surrender. Many catholics, who have no argument with the old, true and everlasting faith, nor with Rome and the pope, past and present, but have been misused by the american bishops.

Here and elsewhere, the three reasons cited (demographics, clergy shortage and expense) for the necessity of reducing parishes are invalid. In public discourse, virtually everyone has agreed, that, they are valid premises. The Church has a body of canon law, which is similar to a constitution, it is a legal code. We have seen, in this country, constitutions and other social contracts ignored, even abrogated, too often. The public debate is thoroughly on the principles of the american business model, which the public errantly accepts. The three reasons, often cited, are reasons the american business model gives for reduction of franchises. The american business model gives great honor to capitalism. Capitalism is a form of mammon worship, and it should not be substituted for canon law, nor the Sermon on the Mount.

A parish is a juridic person, as in american law a corporation is a fictive, yet legal, person. A parish is formally erected by a bishop, in the diocese he oversees, not rules. Once created it is meant to be perpetual. To suppress it towards extinction is not easily done canonically! And in alliance with this, these parishes, and their property were created by these diverse people, and given to the future in trust. Canon law does not put a quota for one priest for so many parishioners, a parish can have, and often has had, no resident priest. We are being told, that, the old parishes must pass away for the new. Some of us disagree.

Capitalism wants to maximise profit. When we take this to the logical extreme of continuing action, we come to the point where, after getting the most, and expending the least (maximised efficency), we have gotten everything for giving nothing. Jesus gave us all and took nothing. American business management theory does not belong in Jesus’ church. In this Sunday’s Gospel, John tells us of the time Jesus drives marketers and financiers from His Father’s House.

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