Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Play, pay, and obey

Our pastor's column in last Sunday's parish bulletin looks ahead to today, the feast day of St. John Vianney, patron saint of parish priests.
Much has changed since the days of St. John Vianney but not his example of dedicated and humble service.

What does he think has changed?
In the past, the parish priest was often seen as "a one man band." "Father is in charge of everything." Today, the priest’s role is more like the conductor of a symphony.

Or like the conductor at a symphony fantasy camp, given that we players aren't paid, but pay.
His role is to make sure all the gifts and talents are utilized and appreciated. He also strives to see that we are all "playing from the same score."

St. John Vianney's example might lead one to expect a priest would not confuse his conducting role with that of the composer or music director.
Please keep all priests in your prayers. Remember those who have been a positive influence in your life. Let go of the hurts some priests might have inflicted on you.

Sometimes it's not a matter of personal hurt, it's a matter of seeing fellow- parishioners hurt, or damage to the parish as a community.
Above all, let’s renew our commitment to work together to spread the Gospel and to build up the Kingdom of God in our part of the world.

That's closer to my idea of a mission statement than the usual committee-writing is. Maybe more focus on these ends would reduce the need to harp on means:
Please consider our current financial situation as you decide on your church support.

It's rather like "Father is in charge of everything" if it's the pastor's job to talk about money every time collections fall behind last year's pace.

P.S. Last Saturday was the feast of our parish's patron saint, and the bulletin cover has a portrait of St. Alphonsus that some might prefer to his statue. Like the portrait, the bulletin bio also has a soft focus that obscures a few blemishes.

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