Tuesday, January 11, 2011
C'est La Vie?
I was intrigued when I heard the announcement that the CBC radio show "C'est la vie" would be broadcasting a show about a woman traveling to her "small town in Maine" for the closing of her French-American Catholic parish. I dialed up the show and listened to it online. It turns out that small town is Biddeford, a place with which I'm pretty familiar. I listened with interest as she described herself as having moved away from the town many years ago, and having left the Church altogether.
When she returned for the final Mass, though, she was moved to tears. She kept saying things like "They are taking our Church away from us" and "They are taking my culture." She mourned this Church which she admitted she had stopped supporting and stopped believing in (but fully expected to be buried from) years ago.
This is baffling to me.
Who, I wondered, does she think "They" are? Who is taking this Church away, and from whom? Now, I don't deny her feelings, and I'm sure they are deep and sincere- but, what do those feelings mean? Is this what the parish church has become, merely a monument to our childhood faith? Why do we think the buildings should be held open until we are done using them, and until we are ready to use them again? How has our association become so strong to a building and not to a God?
The narrator said that if she'd ever known that the church building would ever close, she would have done things differently- she would have sent her donation checks, even from far away in Canada. But... why? Why pay to keep one building open while she's surrounded by thousands of churches where she lives?
I don't think this generation, this postmodern world, is completely to be blamed for this disassociation- I think as a Church we are constantly reaping what we sow, especially in the form of repercussions for how we've (or how we've failed to) evangelized, served, and educated our people. So, how did we come to this place? Here in our Archdiocese, people sit in the cold, dark, empty church buildings of their closed parishes rather than go down the block to join another congregation of people who are just like them.
How did we get here?