Sunday, March 23, 2014

Faith Among the Ruins

I found this documentary at New Liturgical Movement. The urban parish of Saint Peter, in Omaha, Nebraska, has been brought back to life through a revival of its own heritage, and a restoration of the sacred.

People lament the demise of historic church buildings. They like to blame the diocese, and the local bishop. But the fault really is our own. WE decided to move out of those neighborhoods. WE decided that a life in the suburbs, where we would need a car to go damn near everywhere, was a testimony to our prosperity. WE decided that it was better than walking down the street under our own power. WE let drug dealers take over the old neighborhoods. WE let their property values go down. In the Omaha case, an interstate highway split the neighborhood in half.

It's always something. And only WE can take them back.

WE can move back to those neighborhoods. WE can restore the houses, one address at a time, one block at a time. WE can be the reason for a convenience store or a restaurant to open down the street. I know this, because over time, it happened in my own neighborhood. As long as I'm in the DC area, I wouldn't live anywhere else.

On the other hand, if you're the Bishop of Cleveland, you'll even close urban parishes that are well-attended and financially viable, because when your episcopal office is a license for running roughshod over the faithful, that's what comes naturally. And over the years, you get so used to the idea, that eventually even Rome cannot support your habit of liquidating real property for a fast buck to the detriment of the faithful, and you end up looking ... well, like the Bishop of Cleveland did when that happened, and more than once. So, while a number of old parishes in Cleveland have been closed or "clustered," some have remained open, against all odds.

Thankfully, this was not necessary in Omaha, at least not this time.

Another positive trend is the rise of a variation of the "flash mob" phenomenon, known as the “Mass Mob.” This is where word is spread through social media to converge on one dying urban parish for one particular Mass on a given Sunday. You know that has to shock the bejeezus out of a discouraged pastor now and then. If the monasteries were the cause of establishing Christendom in Europe in the early Middle Ages, the grand edifices where our forebearers once worshipped, can herald the rise of Christendom in the city, don't you think?

Or don't you?

No comments: