Wednesday, 17 January 2007 07:41
Written by Keith Strohm
Michael Liccione, of Sacramentum Vitae, has a very interesting meditation on institutionality versus intentionality. Here is an excerpt from his thoughtful post:
. . .the Catholic Church, at least in this and other developed countries, is just too bloody institutional. That accounts for a great deal, if not most, of what bothers me. What got me thinking about this are two facts of which I have lately been reminded: the indulgence of Archbishop Wuerl of DC in Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi's "celebration" Mass at Trinity College, where of course the pro-abortion pol received the Eucharist, despite USCCB and Vatican guidelines; and the explosive growth of Pentecostal churches throughout the Christian world. The former, discussed in an informative and lively threadat Amy Welborn's Open Book, exemplifies not rocking the boat against powerful cafeteria Catholics; the latter now presents us with what is arguably the numerically largest form of Christianity next to Catholicism itself. The former signifies institutional thinking; the latter signifies that such thinking is missing something.
Read the rest of it here.
Although he doesn't come right out and say it, perhaps the 'something missing' is intentionality--in formation and discipleship. We've talked a little bit about the reasons why Pentecostal Christianity seems to be the fastest growing section of the Church today, but one of things it does seem to have is an emphasis on encounter and relationship with Christ through the power of the Holy Spirit.
Like Michael, I too don't believe that the Church can survive without its institutional side. Christ embraces the whole of our humanity--"stuff" matters. The reality is that where two or three are gathered in Jesus' name both Christ and politics are in their midst. The question is which will we follow?
So often, we, the members and leaders of the Spouse of Christ, the Church, act as if we were the Widows of Christ--stumbling along purely on our own human effort--forming and calling committees and commissions, acting as if we can deploy merely institutional resources toward particular issues.
So, I do have some questions:
Why are the pentecostal and other evangelical denominations growing at an explosive rate relative to our own?
Does intentionality matter?
How do we bring that intentionality into our own communities? What are the concrete things that can be done to accomplish this?
Discussions regarding who is or who is not eating in the "cafeteria" are not helpful to the dialogue, but I would imagine just about anything else is.