Dear surfers, I wanted to write more topics on the future of Christianity but it has been a struggle to find words from leaders who I feel have a vision of the future. Outside of Catholicism there are some who have a solid vision, but within the Catholic hierarchy none will stand up. Perhaps I will dedicate some blog posts to those leaders with a solid vision of the future outside of Catholicism. In the mean time, I would like to discuss a vision of the future put forth by current Catholic leaders. Today we will look at the writings of Archbishop Dolan.
Archbishop Timothy Dolan leads the archdiocese of New York and regularly posts a blog as part of his ministry. A recent blog post was on the topic of Eucharistic Adoration and what makes a thriving parish “tick.” I would file this under The Future of the Catholic Church according to Archbishop Dolan.
The Archbishop’s blog takes you on a whirlwind tour of a thriving parish all in search of “what makes this place tick.”
[The parish is known for;] … high rate of Sunday Mass attendance; first-rate school; excellent religious education for kids, teenagers, young adults, and adults; remarkably effective stewardship; and successful initiatives of social justice, pro-life efforts, evangelization, and neighborhood presence.
– Archbishop Dolan
The Archbishop artfully peels back the layers on his journey until the tour ends at a chapel located in a former convent. Here he describes “Jesus, really and truly present in the Holy Eucharist.” The exuberant Pastor is then quoted saying “I’m convinced this Eucharistic adoration is the key to the vitality, growth, and effectiveness of our parish.”
Alright surfers, here is where you say to yourself – does Stephen Covey know about this? Does Archbishop Dolan really believe that this is the key to Catholic Church success and a vision of the future of Catholicism? If we add a good dose of Eucharistic adoration to our parish lives we can share in the successes of the un-named parish in New York?
Okay, before we go too far, I am not bashing Eucharistic adoration. I am a firm believer in the tradition of Eucharistic Meditation as a way to spend quite time and commune with the Holy Spirit. A bit of spiritual rejuvenation helps everybody connect to God. What I am referring to is Archbishop Dolan kissing up to the Pope in the guise of presenting a model for Catholic growth in the future.
It seems like harsh criticism, and I might be out of line and may have to apologize later, but the Archbishop has a forum unique to his position and a responsibility to lead the Church. Did he chose to skip over all the other tools and programs the un-named parish is using to grow and thrive to focus only on one aspect? The key to all of the parish successes is just Eucharistic adoration? Truth be told, that one aspect also just happens to be the pet project of the Pope. This seems coincidental or highly irresponsible, and not a complete model for the future of Catholicism. It would have been better to create a series or multi-page blogs with a true model of how a parish might learn to be better. Keep the Eucharistic Adoration as one part of parish life, but don’t put all your eggs in one basket.
Pope John Paul II, in his letter On the Mystery and Worship of the Eucharist (1980), wrote: “The Church and the world have a great need for Eucharistic adoration. Jesus waits for us in this sacrament of His love. In the opening prayer of the Perpetual chapel in St. Peter’s – Vatican the Pope prayed for every parish in the world to have perpetual adoration.
His Holiness Benedict XVI has very vividly expressed: “Let us beseech the Lord to reawaken in us the joy at His presence and that we may once more adore Him. Without adoration, there is no transformation of the world”
– XI ORDINARY GENERAL ASSEMBLY OF THE SYNOD OF BISHOPS 2-23 October 2005 (The Eucharist: Source and Summit of the Life and Mission of the Church)
If you follow the evidence you will see that the Pope “very vividly expressed” and Archbishop Dolan seems to have lined up to be counted as those who showed support. Even if it means that it comes at the expense of all the other good programs in a parish.
I will provide you a cause and effect corollary. If you were to plot ice cream sales versus shark bites you will see that as ice cream sales increase, so do shark bites. Does this mean that an increase in ice cream sales causes increases in shark bites? No, there is another factor that has been overlooked: Summer. What has Archbishop Dolan overlooked as a factor in the parish success?
When the first disciples asked Jesus about following Him, He did not say, “Come do a bunch of stuff with me.” Nope – He invited them to “Come, stay with me!” Eucharistic adoration is a great way to answer that invitation.
– Archbishop Dolan
The Archbishop did have some redeeming words that can be used for the future of Catholicism. Eucharistic adoration, or better yet Eucharistic Meditation, is a great way to answer the invitation to spend time with God. We have been vacationing as a family from our home. The term staycation is what is typically used. When you are at home it is sometimes hard to feel the relaxation of a true vacation because you see all the stuff you need to do. The same can be said of not having a good place to experience Eucharistic Meditation. Going to the Church building for an hour or more creates the necessary space that allows for proper meditation. This is a gift the parish can offer, a good place to get away from home and spend time with the Holy Spirit. This is good advice for the future of Catholicism.
…I would like to recommend that during this time of vacation, you revivify your spirits by contemplating the splendors of Creation. Parents, teach your children to see nature, respect and protect it as a magnificent gift that presents to us the grandeur of the Creator! In speaking in parables, Jesus used the language of nature to explain to his disciples the mysteries of the Kingdom. May the images he uses become familiar to us!
– Pope Benedict XVI (to French-speaking pilgrims following the recitation of the Angelus on July 10th.)
The Pope understands that you need to find a space away from your daily distractions to spend time with God. If your parish does not have a convenient space available for meditation, use all of God’s creation. God lives within all of creation, not just the Eucharist, so nature is just as good as any other location. Make sure you take time to get away.