Friday, June 18, 2010

Advice for novices

From William of St. Thierry's Golden Epistle (written in 1145) :

"Not that, to follow the Apostle's teaching, it is not in keeping with human nature or unfitting or undue or unjust to have an occasional headache in God's service..." Hmm.

Saturday, June 05, 2010

The water of baptism

We just had a baptism rehearsal with one of our newer families. I'll baptize their 2-yr.-old tomorrow using a bilingual liturgy, praying more of the service in Spanish than usual. (We offer a Spanish/English service once a month.)

I knew that the baptismal candidate does not like water on his head (!), so when he stood on the step stool in front of the font, I invited him to touch the water, and then to put water on my head first. It worked! He was happy as could be as we rehearsed tomorrow's liturgical actions (until we got to the Chrism, and the Squirm Factor went way off the charts...I'll have to think of something for that!). This will be our first baptism done in Spanish, and I'm ready.
Demos gracias a Dios. Aleluya, aleluya!

Thursday, June 03, 2010


I'm old-fashioned when it comes to numbers. I like to balance them either in my head, or on a piece of paper, putting aside all offers of a calculator. Like doing crossword puzzles, learning a language, and eating blueberries (so I've heard), simple math is one more way to keep one's mind sharper.

In my work as a parish priest, I'm not normally the one who worries most about numbers and retention of parishioners (except for this temporary period when I'm acting rector). In this past week while contacting newer members and visitors, I've learned that in the race to claim new members, it's easy to overlook the needs of established members. Sometimes, the reliable people who maintain the life and health of the church (and who appear to have it All Together) aren't doing well at all. But it takes sitting with them long enough to unearth the clues. It takes deeper listening that could have been used to connect electronically with more people or urging visitors to become members.

I'm happier connecting more deeply with a smaller number of people, which means I may never be the best person to grow a church in terms of increasing numbers. Give me more face-to-face communication and handwritten notes or letters. (Let me eat my blueberries and use a pencil to balance my checkbook.) It's important to pay attention to the people we already call our parish family members, and we don't always remember to do so. For me, it is not all about numbers.