Sunday, January 31, 2010

A Beautiful Community

If you need an argument for small parishes with a relatively high clergy-to-laity ratio, run on a volunteer/part-time basis with more concern for organic community and traditional ritual than formal institutionalism and bureaucracy, you need look no further than here:

This Orthodox community in England is small, they don't even have a permanent chapel, instead rotating between several borrowed (including a Deacon's house-chapel, apparently). It reminds me of the suggested parish model from the "base communities" article by Fr O'Donnell that I wrote about previously.

Just look how involved they are in their beautiful little religious rites, in community life, in traditional piety, and fun and fellowship too.

I don't think I need to point out that this sort of communal intimacy and personal connectivity is very hard if not impossible in a 10,000 person parish under some distant full-time pastor, with the Novus Ordo blandness that provides so very little foundation for binding a community in a ritual cycle and sense of mystery...

It's nothing fancy; they can't afford some big church compound or full-time staff. And yet they are highly motivated and committed, and I find the images of their life as a parish community so beautiful and touching nonetheless.

They use candles and natural light. The women are covering their heads, but the people aren't "dressed up" too rigidly. All different ages are represented. This is not rocket science. I'm starting to get the sense that Catholic churches waste a lot of time and money on specialized things and programs that offer diminishing marginal returns, when really you can make due with some worthy necessities and emphasizing the fundamentals, all while spending very little (as when we spruced up our chapel with that new antependium).

God Bless England and God Bless the Orthodox!

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