Archbishop Rozanski in his August 25, 2022 St. Louis Review article entitled, “SERVE THE LORD WITH GLADNESS | Dying and rising with Jesus is the goal of our lives as Christians
The organizational dying and rising with Jesus of All Things New is a part of the rhythm of the life of faith” would like us to consider dying as a natural part of all of our Churches’ walk through All Things New. He even states,
“Well this year is, organizationally, like a long Holy Week.”-Archbishop Mitchell Rozanski
Truer words could not have been spoken!
The only difference is that Jesus’ death on the Cross was His mission, given to Him by God the Father for the salvation of all mankind. This cross that is being placed on the Bride of Christ (His church comprised of both lay people and priests) is being given by Archdiocesan leadership with assistance from the highly paid consultants, Catholic Leadership Institute.
This comparison to “dying” made me wonder where we all might be in the 5 stages of grief. Right now, many of the lay people in the Archdiocese are in STAGE 1: DENIAL. People don’t want to believe that our priests and Archbishop would close 100+ parishes without a very grave reason. They don’t want to know that their parish might be closed, and they hold onto the hope that because their parish is out of debt, or large in size, or is over 150 years old, they will somehow make the cut. Sadly, they do not see the bigger picture:
…so that there may be no division in the body, but that the parts may have the same concern for one another. If [one] part suffers, all the parts suffer with it; if one part is honored, all the parts share its joy.1 Corinthians 12:25-26
Once the “preliminary” church closing list gets outed (and yes, there is a list of which churches are going to be closed/merged), the lay people move into STAGE 2: ANGER. They decide they need to gather busloads of other people and head down to the Archbishop’s residence and protest! But this becomes a challenge in itself because when they talk to other lay people, some of them are still back in denial (stage 1), others don’t even know what’s going on, and others think you should never question church authority for any reason (and by the way their son is in the seminary and their best friend works for the Archdiocese).
This leads them straight into STAGE 3: BARGAINING. This is when the lay people want to either meet face-to-face with the Archbishop (if I can only sit down with him, he would understand…) or send a whole stack of letters (surely if a bunch of us write letters, he will have to respond….). They discover others have tried with no results. Or they never hear back from the Archbishop for an appointment and get a form letter back from their own heartfelt correspondence. They may even ask their parish priest, “What can we do to save the parish?” The priest often has no solutions and feels his hands are tied, both out of obedience and because he knows that the plans are already set, regardless of any facts.
The lay people may find themselves in STAGE 4: DEPRESSION. When they get over the shock of what is going to happen to their beloved parish and pastor, along with the emotional roller coaster of realizing how wrong all of this really is, they may find themselves depressed. What can be done? The Archdiocesan leadership holds all the cards.
But, as Catholics, we know that depression is NOT from God. And that moving into STAGE 5: ACCEPTANCE just simply cannot happen. Why? Because, Jesus may have died for our sins but He also conquered death when He rose from the dead. We are a RESURRECTION PEOPLE and we need to start acting like it. There are many, many ways we can push back against this preliminary plan:
- PRAY – anything is possible with prayer. Ask your priest to increase Adoration hours at your church so more people can gather and pray. Start offering a daily Rosary at your parish for the Holy Spirit to guide our leaders and our priests. Offer sacrifices, fasting, reparation for All Things New. Go to Mass and Confession regularly. Pray the Novena to the Holy Face, or the St. Michael Chaplet, or any other heartfelt prayer for help. Send up those S.O.S. prayers to the Communion of Saints and all the Angels, as well as the souls in Purgatory, who are waiting to be asked for our help.
- GATHER – start talking with other lay people and get together with Catholics who are planning a response and already getting ready. This is NOT about one parish. This is about the BODY OF CHRIST!!! There is power in numbers! When 1,000+ people gather at the Archbishop’s residence for a Rosary, that cannot be ignored.
- TAKE ACTION – talk to a Canon lawyer who is not tied to any Archdiocese and find out your rights as a lay person and your pastor’s rights. Learn what rights will be taken away from your parish pastor in the “family of parishes” model which is being proposed. Be prepared to ask solid questions at the upcoming Listening Sessions, such as: Why does this have to happen so quickly? Why haven’t we tried other methods of evangelization to keep churches open? Etc.
WE are the CHURCH! We must act! ONWARD CHRISTIAN SOLDIERS!
We will overcome because we are a RESURRECTION PEOPLE!!!
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