Cardinal Pole has an interesting post on his blog analysing Bishop Ingham’s announcement of The Diocese of Wollongong’s Pastoral Planning process.
I am pretty “ho-hum” about these measures. “Pastoral Planning”, and all the energy that goes into it, often seems like a diversion from the real work of actually pastoral ministry. Whenever I hear someone say that “we need to pause, take stock and consider our journey ahead”, I wonder: Who’s got the time to pause? There’s too much work to be done! When you are in the business of evangelisation, you don’t have the luxury of being able to shut the shop doors for a stock-take.
That being said, the other thing that bugs me about “pastoral plans” is that they always seem to be full of pious waffle describing more or less what we are already doing – and thus they become moments of self-affirmation rather than a kairos of repentance and purification. This is, of course, where Cardinal Pole comes into the picture with this excellent comment:
• Centred on the Eucharist
Where all should be welcomed, where our pain is acknowledged, where our brokenness is healed, where we are nourished by Word and Sacrament, and where our mission is renewed.
One might see “Centred on the Eucharist” and think ‘ah, good—centred on the Eucharist means centred on God, which is as it should be’. But notice how, as they say, ‘it’s all about us’—about “our pain”, “our brokenness” (whatever that means; more on this shortly), “where we are nourished”? How Holy Mass is considered not as a Sacrifice of adoration, thanksgiving, propitiation and impetration and therefore directed to and focused on God, but as a sort of group therapy whither we can all go for ‘affirmation’ (especially evident where it says “where our pain is acknowledged, where our brokenness is healed”, so that we indulge ourselves in our own imagined victimhood, distracting us from the true Victim on Whom our entire attention should be focused at Mass)? So ‘Centred on the Eucharist’ is, bizarrely, nothing of the sort—it is centred on us.
Here’s a thought, your Eminence: How much of this sort of rhetoric around the Eucharist do you think might be a direct result of the songs that are so often sung at the Eucharist in our Catholic parishes? Just as dropping “men” from the Creed has led some to think that Jesus became incarnate only for us Christians, so constantly singing about “all being welcome”, about “healing our hurts”, about “acknowledging our pain” etc. has affected our Eucharistic theology.
So a quick glance at Gather Australia gives us:
No. 192 “For the bread and wine and blessing, for the friend around this table, for the peace and for the healing… When your love breaks through our darkness, when the broken come to wholeness…”
No. 200 “We come as your people, wecoe as your own, united with each other, love finds a home. We are called to heal the broken, to be hope for the poor,…”
No. 201 “Take this bread, come as you will.”
No. 202 “Take up your burden now, walk till you find just what the journey means; walk while there’s time” (That one gets my award for the most meanlingless drivel ever put to music)
It isn’t hard to see where this is all coming from…