June 24, 2013

The article, “Is it time to rethink the parish?” (WCR, June 3) reopened, for me, feelings of profound sadness. It is not nostalgia for the more secure and comfortable times in the past but for the smothering of life that has delayed such a question for so long.

Two priests, interviewed in Rome while awaiting the result of the papal election, were quoted in Maclean’s suggesting that change occurs very slowly.

They explained that most people think change is directed from the top-down while, in fact, the pope only knows what other bishops tell him about their dioceses and bishops only know what priests tell them about their parishes. I couldn’t help but notice that there was no mention of laity.

The way of discipleship is open to the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, the impulses of relationships and, most particularly, the inclusive love of the Father as shared in Jesus Christ.

Paul’s letters constantly called all the members of the churches to grow in maturity through one-anothering – for example, “serving one another” (Galatians 5.13).

Such appeals were (and are) directed to all members. These earliest New Testament writings address a church as an assembly of people of a particular place with respect to their lives in common, not a particular leader.

Msgr. Pagé’s “How can a community be eucharistic without a priest?” points to an opening for all the baptized to engage in one-anothering as the way of growing toward the maturity that leads to service rather than waiting as children to be fed by those few certified to serve.

It is long past time to risk acknowledging the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, responding to the impulses of relationships, trusting in the love of the Father and following the lead of Jesus Christ.

Angus Perry
Edmonton