IS THERE ANY HOPE FOR THE CHURCH?

I have been pondering this question for a long time now.

Maybe it’s an age thing but I am so tired of the language of crisis.

It must be twenty years now that I am listening to talk of the various crises facing the Church with a host of names attached to them including, crisis of faith, crisis of vocations, and crisis of identity.

This talk has oftentimes been accompanied with a half baked, sugary, pious, declaration that the cavalry are en route. This is, on a good day, based on the premise that the Lord will provide. This is of course true. However, on a bad day, it ignores our baptismal call to become steeped in the Spirit and to be co workers with God’s grace. It also very conveniently ignores the impact of our individual sin and most specifically institutional sin.

As for the cavalry coming?  They are certainly taking their time. The truth is, the gaps in the hedge are getting wider and those of us trying to man these increasingly wide stretches are getting more scarce. We are getting older. We are getting tired. Clearly the cavalry are not coming, at least not the cavalry as we know it.

I think at times we look in the wrong places for inspiration and leadership. I mean most of us in leadership are a dull lot. From a personal perspective, as one in a leadership role, I am an abject failure. Part of the reason for this is, I spend at least two thirds of my time in administrative tasks. To my shame and regret, only a fraction of my time is spent on the sacramental and liturgical, and worse still, less on dreaming and creative thinking.

I remember one evening, shortly after I had made some critical comments about Church leadership, I received a phone call from a bishop whose opening request was that I would never reveal his identity, which I was very happy to guarantee. There ensued a most interesting conversation which had at the heart of it, his question, why would I lambast the bishops for their lack of prophetic voice? Since when was the prophetic voice found in official leadership, indeed why would I think I would find the prophetic within the system? The bishop urged me to look to the margins or indeed outside the system for the prophetic voice. I initially resisted his contention but have since come to see the wisdom in what he was saying.

So is there any hope for the Church? The short answer is, if I didn’t believe there is , would it not in fact make it difficult to remain a priest? Surely if I had no hope for the Church my life would be a contradiction?

Of course there is hope for the Church. There are green shoots all around. It will look very different. Smaller. Leaner. More potent. Less clerical. More lay. A life of prayer more evident. Saying prayers less important. More silence in liturgy. Small cells. Vibrant. The reemergence of the healing Church. The prophetic Church. The missionary Church.

The return to Jesus is key. The rediscovery of Jesus, or simply the discovery of Jesus, is pivotal to the Church of tomorrow.

I am excited and energised at the thought of the extraordinary power of the Holy Spirit to reform and renew.

Fraternally, JoeMcD.     05. 05. 24


Add a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.