Dear Blog Visitors:
Today’s blog post will focus on two distinct topics:
1.) A CLARIFICATION OF MY MEMBERSHIP IN SPIRITUS CHRISTI CHURCH
2.) REFLECTION ON THE SPIRITUALITY OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH
A CLARIFICATION OF MY MEMBERSHIP IN SPIRITUS CHRISTI CHURCH
As expected, there has been some criticism on a few blogs authored by conservative Catholics, concerning my recent announcement that I was joining Rochester’s Spiritus Christi Church, which is independent of Vatican oversight.
One enterprising blogger suggested that by moving to Spiritus Christi, I would be placing children in danger with my radical theology, and he inserted my face in a demonic figure. Another person suggested I should appear before an Inquisition. Thus, the picture I included at the top of this blog post.
In the first place, I am not moving to Spiritus Christi as a staff member or catechist. Perhaps in time, there will be a ministry I will become part of within the community. However, at present, I will be simply attending liturgies and embracing the inclusive nature of the worship environment.
I look forward to receiving Communion at Spiritus Christi, minus any judgment by a few in the Rochester Diocese who feel I am not worthy to receive, simply because I was ordained a married priest. While I truly appreciate the fact that a few diocesan pastors and pastoral administrators have openly invited me to receive the Eucharist at their parishes, I didn’t want to get them into trouble as a result of a few persons trying to capture photos of my receiving Communion and then sending the images to the Vatican. Yes, there actually was (and perhaps still is) a ‘Grosswirth Communion Watch.’
It didn’t take long for word to get out that Fr. Bob Kennedy, pastor of Blessed Sacrament Church, asked me to refrain from receiving Communion at his parish. (He was worried that conservatives at the parish would cause trouble for him if I received.) This was all it took for the ‘Grosswirth Communion Watch’ to take root.
I am grateful for the ministerial certification I received from the Federation of Christian Ministries, which allows me to officiate at weddings, baptisms and funerals. This at least allows me to serve what has come to be known as ‘Catholics in the diaspora.’ Perhaps in time, I will have an opportunity to minister in some capacity at Spiritus Christi. However, as stated, I am content with being a community member in the pew for the time being.
REFLECTION ON THE SPIRITUALITY OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH
As reported in the latest edition of ‘America’ (Catholic magazine), a 2008 Pew Forum Survey reported the following:
1.) 1/3 of Americans who were raised Catholic have left the Church.
2.) Ex-Catholics outnumbered converts to Catholicism four to one.
The article in ‘America’ cited several reasons for the above statistics. However, I would like to offer a few brief reflections of my own:
I believe the heart of discord in the Catholic Church lies within the realm of spirituality. The hierarchy needs to understand that within any local diocese, there are a variety of liturgical, spiritual or leadership preferences:
A.Some prefer devotional worship.
B.Some prefer lively worship.
C.Some prefer traditional, classical music.
D.Some prefer folk music.
E.Some prefer to see only male priests at the altar.
F.Some prefer to see women present at the altar.
G.Some prefer the Latin Mass.
H.Some prefer the vernacular Mass.
I.Some prefer a multi-cultural Mass.
J.Some see the hierarchy as autocratic.
K.Some see the hierarchy as lacking the type of authority they would like to see.
L.Some would like to see more judgment as to who can and cannot receive Communion.
M.Some feel Communion should be available to all who come to the table.
N.Some find their spirituality fulfilled within the context of a liturgy.
O.Some find their spirituality fulfilled within the context of solitude/private space.
P.Some would like to feel less distinction between the clergy and laity.
I could go on forever with the above list. However, these are just a few example of how Catholics can differ in their individual preferences. My argument continues to be that the Roman Catholic Church is a big tent, and all spiritualities, worship styles and desires for inclusion need to be respected. Otherwise, Catholics will seek other venues for encountering God in a way that satisfies their spiritual quests.
In recent years, I have found that my most profound encounters with God have been in isolated settings, whether it be in the midst of nature, or sitting home with an inspiring piece of sacred music. I am hoping that having an additional Eucharistic setting at Spiritus Christi will once again connect me with a non-judgmental community. At the very least, it will be satisfying to receive Communion, without wondering if someone is taking a photograph to send to the Vatican.
Let us continue to pray for more inclusivity within the Catholic community.
Peace to all,
Labels: blessed sacrament church, grosswirth, rochester diocese, roman catholic church, spiritus christi church