Tom McMahon wrote today's commentary when Halloween was being celebrated in his neighbourhood. He was in an upbeat mood from a whole series of news articles and commentaries during the week. This is an optimistic commentary about a lot of good things happening in the world if not in the Catholic Church.
e-MAIL POSTS POUR IN … GOOD NEWS—GREAT COMMUNICATION … LIFE!
A pessimist gave me a postcard in 1967 as a joke concerning Vatican Two and my initial enthusiastic embrace of John the 23rd's cosmic adventure. He said the reform would not last ... it was a fad.
Note the broken wire as the uni-formed "leader" comically addresses, top-down, his subordinates. I have kept this 44-year-old reminder centered before me as I write always aware that the People of God have made many other connections concerning God and religion. As in our series on the ecological religion of Thomas Berry and John Muir etc. our anchor connections are many and deep in Mother Earth. The best of the religion of Jesus has been right under our nose all along.
This past week I have received e-mails from around the world — not in 80 days but in split seconds. Much has poured in and I will try in this commentary to make a collective summary of this valuable information. We seem to be at a visible crisis point in the Battle of the Titans — old and new church. Articles have come via Catholica and others by way of chat rooms I belong to. What a wonder that ordinary people can swiftly receive such valuable information for study and spiritual guidance. We are exchanging a treasure house of wisdom while Rome tries to seal up its Pandora's box.
Time out! We pause here to acknowledge the role of Catholica in this new found treasure source. WELL DONE, BRIAN COYNE! The connection line to the people is solid and information is flowing fast and meaningfully. Take heart that your spiritual endeavor is paying big dividends. I appreciate that "grace" does not come cheaply. My check for Catholica's continuance is in the mail.
Let me break down the relevant and meaningful posts I have recently received, only by name now with an ongoing development over the next few weeks. I would hope that interested folk will research each, preparing Catholica (not a place but a people) to have a sound base for discussion I list four as starters.
I attempt to intermingle these five on a non-academic level hopefully instructive to us ordinary folk. This is not a wild blue yonder enterprise as our base again is centered in Creation especially Mother Earth. and in peoples' experience.
I learn as I write. I am excited by the information and challenged mightily to digest the whole and bring it to a level of discussion fit for those we used to call the pay and obey pew people. I'm that ordinary Great Depression kid from 15th street who happened to become a priest. I have never invented anything while priding myself on my pastoral ability to bring information to ordinary folk. People taught me that skill during my 57 years of ministry.
"Community" continues to attract Catholics to Mass...
Today let's peruse Bill D'Antonio's SURVEY of AMERICAN CATHOLICS and my mother-in-law's funeral. Both helped me to understand the role I have played before Vatican Two and during the heyday of Vatican Two discoveries. I mix them in the following, leaving the other three till next week (and adding more).
D'Antonio breaks the Roman Catholic Church today into three categories: Group 1 are pre-Vatican Two Catholics born in 1940 or earlier when Mass was said in Latin, the priest with his back to the people.
We went to Sunday mass or you surely went to hell, immigrants from Ireland, Italy, Poland, Germany and other European Countries. We did not eat meat on Friday, marking us off from the rest of society.
This was the group that gathered for Jennie's funeral. I met at least a dozen who are 91, went to grade and high school with my mother-in-law, were baptized and wed in All Souls Church where I served as associate pastor in the early 1960's to their teenage kids who are now in their 60's. We had a great reunion after the service and they were happy that I was married and had children.
Group 2 consists of Vatican Two Catholics born between 1941 (WW2) and 1960 constituting 47% of all Catholics by 1987. My wife Elaine is classic with Catholic education in grade, high and university, never darkening the doorway of a church today and choosing to have her Sunday Mass faithful mother buried without a Mass. Jennie told me two weeks before her death that she went to the 9am Mass on Sunday finding no one there she knew and went home without talking to anyone. D'Antonio points out that community continues to attract Catholics to Mass.
Group 3: A 2005 survey brought evidence of the arrival of a new generation, the Millennials, the first generation to come of age in the 21st century, born between 1979 and 1987. They were 9% of the Catholic population in 2005 and now make up 23% of practicing Catholics. in 2011. They identify with Pope John Paul's concern for the poor, the environment and the common good while deciding for themselves the morality of sexual behavior. They are a generation of iPods, Blackberries, and texting, alert to wars, recession, 9/11, and the clerical sex abuse scandal. Tom adds this highly educated group knows how to deal with clericalism. and they are powerfully female. These are the young who will study Brian Swimme, the Big Bang theory, and the marvels of celestial discovery that Michael Morwood so eloquently encourages.
At Jennie's funeral my 79 year old ski buddy priest carefully addressed the issue of the Creator's presence in all creation with emphasis on the divine within all humankind. Michael Morwood would have been delighted; one of the old timers told me "Tom, the ceremony was different yet I surely liked it." Jennie's grandson, my son Steve, gave the eulogy and I put one of Jennie's golf clubs into her casket. We had a celebration of life. I reminded them at graveside of the hallowed ground on which we stood, made holy by many deceased relatives to whom we owe the gift of life. I cried in remembrance of the many relatives and friends I had pastorally served before Vatican Two, as friends and fellow believers. This pre-Vatican Two group was exposed to the Church in the Modern World. They liked what they heard and saw; I plan to visit them with fuller explanation of the Church in the age of technology. They are an earthy group, Italians mostly, who know what community and the joy of life are all about.
The local pastor questioned at Sunday Mass why we did not have a church service and Mass. He is from a third world country, and is hard to understand. He does not allow outside priests to perform sacraments, thus making sure money stays in his control. He lives 25 miles from the parish in Saint Francis Woods, one of the posh districts of San Francisco.
Time to sign off, with a promise to return on the combination of good news information and what that means to our daily lives, rediscovery of the Creator's presence.
Tom McMahon, in San Jose, Ca., jazzed to be able to share all this with you. 31Oct2011
What are your thoughts on this commentary?