Monday, 27 February 2012
A little bit of affection
I went to the Rite of Election in the Cathedral today. It was packed with people from parishes throughout the diocese who will be baptised or received into the Catholic Church at Easter. Each in turn went up with a sponsor to the Bishop to be greeted by him. In his homily, the Bishop told them that Christ had "spotted" each of them and "called them out of the crowd." He then dialogued formally with us, the members of the Catholic Church present in the pews. "Will you support our brothers and sisters and receive them with affection?" he asked. ""We will," we responded. "Affection" is not a word that we use much with regard to the Church. That's probably why we have so few members! In Africa, I learnt from the Pope's recent letter following the Synod, the preferred description of the Church is "family." Our family in the west is a bit dysfunctional: we rarely show love for one another. I've noticed that people who have been received into the Catholic Church quite often drift away. I know from my pastoral experience what the main cause of this is: they feel isolated. We cherish people in small catechetical groups before reception and then say ""Welcome to the Church," upon which we largely ignore them. Frankly there is only so much that I want to know about the nuances of the doctrine of transubstantiation; but if you show that you care for me, I'll flourish (and I'll want to learn more about our shared tradition).