Tuesday, 28 October 2008

What are churches for?



We have recently had our little church redecorated. While this was going on we decided to take the opportunity to rationalise the notice boards. Our church is tiny. The attendance at the single weekly Mass varies widely between 45 and 80, rising to about 115 at Christmas and Easter. Yet we had six (6!) notice boards, two of them almost the size of a normal door. And they were always full. The photographs are not of our boards but give the idea. In our village of 2,000 people there is an official village notice board in a prominent position, two external boards and several internal ones at the Anglican Church, which every one has to walk past, two at the post office, another at the car park, and several at the village shop.


So I was a little surprised at the reaction of some people to our decision to have one notice board in the entrance porch, ( behind the door) and two more at the back of the church proper. Comments ranged from "It's not just about having a neat and tidy church it also about communicating with one another and being welcoming", or " Yes I know it looked untidy from the street but at least people knew there was a lot going on in the village", "We can't just confine it to a few notices about Catholic things, can we?".
There is definitely an English disease which we might call Noticitis. I am convinced that if we were to cover the entire back wall of the church in cork it would be completely covered with fluttering paper by the end of the week. Why?

Not everyone thought it was a bad idea to cut back the notices and it is not exactly splitting the congregation down the middle, but I just thought it brought to the surface some very interesting conceptions of what the church was for.

To me the church is where I come to worship God and participate in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass and also the place where we are privileged to have the Blessed Sacrament reserved in a sanctuary of peace and calm, where one can go to pray quietly.

But it seems to me that we have replaced those things that were thought of as traditionally Catholic, processions, devotions, exposition, stations of the cross, confraternities, etc with an endless succession of good causes, social justice issues and environmental campaigns. Having jettisoned those things which made us feel good about the state of our souls it seems we still need ways of appeasing our consciences.

Just me rambling really

2 comments:

Ttony said...

A time for the only valid iconoclasm.

Such pains could be burned at the wick of a candle!

Sharon said...

we have replaced those things that were thought of as traditionally Catholic, processions, devotions, exposition, stations of the cross, confraternities, etc with an endless succession of good causes, social justice issues and environmental campaigns.

Maybe this would be an opportune time to slowly reintroduce those traditionally Catholic things. Some years ago our curate introduced vespers but since the introduction was not preceeded by instruction as to what vespers were not surprisingly not many people attended and when he was transferred the custom lapsed.

It might also be a good idea to remove all notices every fortnight/month after informing the parishioners of course.