Where have we been? Part I

It has been a long time since I spect time wiuth this blog. Except for the occassional book review, thiungs have been pretty quiet at The Cranky Catholic. Much of the reason is logistical. As the father of two teenage boys, ther's always plenty to do. Fightss to referee, homwwork to help with, college applications to fill out, and whatnot. Then ther are the holidays, birthdays, and the typical stresses and strains of handling family issues. Also, jusst being tired.

There's also the matter of Church. Since the summer of 2006, we have been attending Mass with a rather renegade community of Catholics called the LaSalette Worship Community. The commnunity started about 30 years ago as an offshoot of a group that attended Mass at the LaSalette Shrin in North Attleboro, Mass. This group, which included divorced people, found inccludio at the Srhine that was not being extended in parishes. When the LaSalette missionaries decided to close the Shrine in 19-whatever, the community wanted to continue. This is a nice way of saying that it ccould not imagine returning to the ccold welcome that awaiting them in their parishes. Since then, the community has found refuge in a variety of places. most recently in the the 4H hall at the Topsfield Fair Grounds in Topsfield, MA.

Perhaps I should be ashamed of this, but I did not want to write about this group for a variety of reasons. One was that I was hedging my bets -- what if news got back to my home parish that I was attedning Mass in a non-parish setting? Would they still confirm my youngest son -- since LaSatte does not have permission to confirm? What kind of grief would I get from the peeple who continued at the parish? Was LaSalette just a lark -- a youthful experiment -- that would come to an end when one or another of its practices seemed too outlandish?

It took several months before I became convinced that this community is not heterodox in its faith, ewven though in a very few instances it is outside the strict boundaries of the rubrics. For instance, after the Preparation of Gifts, we may approach the altar. And we offer real non-alcoholic wine to those who prefewr it.

The community is warm and inclusive, and I will talke about this later. By and large, it is free of the kind of petty rubricism that affliccts so many parisshes and the minds of som many Catholics. We are served by some of the best homilists in the area -- people who head theology departments at major catholic universitities, for instance.

Being at LaSalette has renewed my faith in the Church -- at least that part of the Church that is inviting and loving. I have no illusions that our community represents the future of the Catholic Church. It houses far too many narrow-minded and retrogade elements to think that our little island of hope will survive. Yet I do hope. I hope that this group can revitalize the liturgical life of the entire CHurch. I hope that it points the way to a Church where men and women and children can encounter Christ on their own terms -- not the inflated an inaccessible language typically forced down our throats. I hope that our group is a test bed for the idea that parishes that allow enormous latitude to lay control are healthy and vibrant and that (conversely) parishes led by autocratic and laity-hating priests will wither and die.

I am glad to be back, and I hope to talk more about the experience of belonging to a body in which Christ is present in its members.