October 23, 2011

A Different Perspective

It's amazing what a $20 can of paint can do. For thirty-three years we have had wallpaper on our dining room walls.  It has changed througout the years but it was always a floral pattern of various colors.  When we decided to redecorate in anticipation of our daughter's wedding next October, I needed a major change.  Down came the wallpaper.  After a few weeks of looking at bare walls and  painted on splashes of sample colors, I chose a soft pastel green that is very soothing.  Saturday we painted the walls.  I can't tell you how different the room looks and feels. It is a tiny room to begin with, but the solid color makes it appear much larger.  I felt like the woman in the commercial that can't stop looking at her newly painted living room. I could not take my eyes off of it. The only thing I put back on the walls was a crucifix, and I think that I am going to keep most of the walls bare except for the wall leading to the basement where my oil painting of dogwoods looks perfect.  I even uncluttered the cabinet and like it this way. I might get rid of some things or find other places for them to go. It's like a whole new room!

This morning I was reflecting while again gazing at my newly painted walls, that change often is a good thing. It helps us to look at things differently, with a new perspective, and often with a eye for possibilities that we would not have considered before. I bet you think I am going to be posting about the changes in the text of the English translation of the Missal.  While it is true that I am very much immersed in introducing the new texts in parishes throughout our diocese, this is not what I am referring to.  A few days ago I posted a rant about having to cancel presentations for adults in the parish due to lack of interest.  I was extremely frustrated, as would anyone who worked as hard as our team to come up with decent programs to form adults in the faith. A number of people pointed a few things out to me that got me thinking.  The biggest observation was that perhaps what we as a parish staff and adult formation team are focusing on what we think they need and not what they want.  There is probably some truth to that, although a few years ago we did conduct a survey and based our programs on the results of it.  But in few years things can change.  The Millennials have come of age and I have been told that their needs for religion and spirituality are different than the generations before them.  But that doesn't get us off the hook in teaching them the truth about our faith.  In actuality, I think their needs and desires are the same, they are just not aware that what they are looking for in life, is God.

What needs to be changed is the way we reach out to not only the new generation of Catholics, but to all Catholics as well.  Technology is changing the world and maybe it's time to take advantage of advances in information communication and use these new tools to evangelize.  Who knows, instead of sitting in their cars texting their friends they could be reading a reflection on their iPhone about Catholic teaching on the family.  We could use Facebook to send out little bits of information that would make them think about their faith in a way they never did before.  In addition to using technology we could address the needs that both women and men have to socialize with others of their own sex to discuss things that are important in their lives.  This affords a wonderful opportunity to gather together and to talk about their lives, but also to bring in the faith perspective.

So perhaps my minor meltdown last week was a good thing. I called a meeting of our faith formation team for later this week, and my pastor thinks we should form a focus group to explore new ways to reach out to people and meet them where they are.  We need to paint with broader strokes, and hopefully while be open to  what God is calling us to, throw away what is not working, and to evangelize our parishioners in new and exciting ways that will bring them closer to Christ.

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