Friday, July 29, 2011

Itches and Scratches

Friday has arrived and with it several more inches of rain here in Chicago. This has been the rainiest July here in Chicago since weather records have been kept. When these thunderstorms roar through the Midwest, the rain just comes down in sheets and the thunder is relentlessly deafening. Same pattern the last two nights; I need some sleep!

At any rate, I was re-reading a few short sections from Eduardo Galeano's Book of Embraces this morning. I used his "The Function of Art 1" as part of my NPM Plenum. I re-read his "The Function of Art 2" this morning. Here's the text:

The Function of Art / 2

The preacher Miguel Brun told me that a few years ago he had visited the Indians of the Paraguayan Chaco. He was part of an evangelizing mission. The missionaries visited a chief who was considered very wise. The chief, a quiet, fat man, listened without blinking to the religious propaganda that they read to him in his own language. When they finished, the missionaries awaited a reaction.
The chief took his time, then said: "That scratches. It scratches hard and it scratches very well."
And then he added:
"But it scratches where there isn't any itch."

This immediately brought to mind two things about our work. The first, of course, has to do with the new translation of The Roman Missal. There are those who, even thought they will not use the exact words, will say that there just isn't any itch when it comes to their current celebration of Mass in the current translation. Ergo, the new translation might scratch very well, but "there isn't any itch."

And then I thought about the Church's evangelization efforts in general. In early September, I will be leading two workshops in the Archdiocese of Boston, focused on the RCIA. I have mentioned here before how troubling it is for me to see that Catholics in the diocese in which I grew up have only a 17% regular Mass attendance rate. I believe that the RCIA is one of, if not the best, evangelization tool for the Catholic Church. But, when I think about Boston, I wonder where people are itching; not only people who are being drawn to Christ for the first time, but also for those who have drifted away. Did people drift away because what was being offered didn't "scratch" their itches?

Where are you itching?

Gotta sing. Gotta pray.


Becky said...

A friend of mine recently had a long conversation about what it means to be Catholic. She recently started attending a non-denominational church and says that it feels more like a home for her because she doesn't feel like she has to follow all of the "rules and regulations of Catholicism." As a Pastoral leader, I feel comfortable with defending the Catholic faith and offered her both gentle arguments for the Catholic faith and friendly support for her journey of Faith, but it ended in tears for her. Was I scratching that itch too hard?

Paul said...

We have lost about fifty families over two years to a non-demoninational church due to the way the archdiocese handled a sex scandal with a former pastor.Many of these people were real leaders and felt that their voice did not matter. The church they went to is actively seeking catholics to join them. It really hurts, but I understand their frustration.