Saturday, July 1, 2017

Time For Plan B?

Yesterday I talked about a robust job market that gave employees relative free agency, such that it was possible to balance the costs of remaining in a bad job situation against the benefits of updating a resume and seeking new employment. The point at which an employee potentially realized he had reached the balance point I called an "oh, bleep moment". The conditions that permit this include, in the individual, good situational awareness, both of the current work environment and the outside job market, a sense of one's own worth (both economically and in the eyes of the Almighty), and a sense of justice.

As I looked at pictures of the provisional and often shabby worship environments in the OCSP over the past couple of weeks, I couldn't help but think certain conditions were missing, certainly among the laity but even among some of the clergy -- these would include good situational awareness, both of the current worship environment and nearby parishes, a sense of one's own worth in the eyes of the Almighty, and a sense of justice. Now and then I've heard from people, including clergy, who've said the St Mary of the Angels parish suffered injustice at the hands of the Church, and I agree, but frankly, looking at all those sad worship environments in the OCSP, I've got to think a greater injustice is taking place there.

This includes allowing members to hold the illusion that things are going to get better. As my regular correspondent points out, within five years of its founding, Our Lady of the Atonement had acquired its property and commenced construction. Within five years of the erection of the OCSP, nearly all its communities are still in basement chapels or the equivalent. Sending Fr Phillips around isn't going to change things. The injustice includes appointing mediocrities to serve as clergy, many of whom had unsuccessful careers in fringe denominations and have shown no greater success in the Church -- while passing over better candidates. My regular correspondent asks whether Msgr Steenson has worshiped or had any involvement with the Minnesota OCSP community since his move there, for instance -- does this say something?

Indeed, my regular correspondent pointed out

Three men were ordained as priests in the OCSP [last Thursday]. Fr Martens will be taking over some of Fr Kenyon's pastoral responsibilities at SJE, Calgary, but this parish has gone from having a full-time pastor with a full-time associate, to having a full-time pastor with a part-time deacon, to having a part-time pastor. Who will be working with the Bros, which I predict will be a culture shock for both parties. Fr Erdman will be working to grow his community of Our Lady and St John, Louisville; I counted about 25 people at his diaconal ordination in April, and this may have included friends and parishioners of the host church. So only Fr Simington will be available to fill one of the gaps that exist in the OCSP or will appear in the next year (I understand he is going to Rochester). The pace of ordination will need to pick up, especially of priests who will be available to minister to more than a few dozen.
More than a few dozen or less, how much of a difference is there? The whole idea of a shortage is an abstraction created from the idea that the OCSP needs to minister to individual tiny stagnant or shrinking groups, so widely separated that there's no way to merge them. And since nobody irrespective of jurisdiction could countenance paying clergy under such circumstances, the OCSP and the laity are getting the marginal characters they can afford.

The question I have is whether OCSP laity, outside the handful of communities that can maintain a full parish program, has the situational awareness, the sense of their own worth, and the sense of justice to move on. (Indeed, I think of clergy, better candidates than those selected, who were passed over in the runup to the OCSP who themselves had the ability to reassess their mission in life and move on -- it would appear that some of the current marginal individuals serving as clergy in the OCSP, or who wish to, will also be called to do this at some point but are oblivious, at least so far.)

Maybe the "oh, bleep moment" that came most clearly for me was the photo of Bp Lopes celebrating mass ad orientem on the windowsill of the Orlando hospital chapel. Everyone, I think, can do better than this. Folks, look around, see what's available in the diocese and listen to the call.