Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Russell Shaw on clericalism

Russell Shaw has an excellent article at Inside Catholic on clericalism in the Church. The reason it's good is that it doesn't take just one side or the other but explores it and, as one could expect, finds that the truth is "in the middle". One of my favorite quotes is this:

Not only that, one-dimensional emphasis in official Church circles on "lay ministry" is at the expense of time and energy that might better have been spent forming people for lay apostolate. Lately, the U.S. bishops' conference has concentrated on setting norms for training people preparing to work for the Church as lay ecclesial ministers. Considering the important role these people often have in liturgy, catechesis, and other areas of Church life, their training certainly merits attention. But not at the cost of ignoring the formation of lay people for apostolate in the world. Yet that's exactly what happens -- and has been happening for a long time.

You see, that's just the point - there is so much focus on the ad intra role of the laity they have no time or energy for what is, in reality, supposed to be their, if you will, "real" job. Yes, there is a very valid role for the laity working inside the Church. However, when people view having "done their duty" as having served as a lector or EMHC on Sunday you know something is desperately out of balance. And yes, I know people who think those extraordinary liturgical roles necessarily take precedence over non-liturgical apostolic work. I still, however, fail to understand how being an EMHC on Sunday and making Communion take two minutes less time can possibly be more valuable than proper spiritual formation of one's self or one's family or even evangelic work. It's interesting that there is such an intersection between bad liturgical theology and bad ecclesiology, don't you think?