If the gospel has taken on a kind of enigmatic quality in some places or cases, I think part of the problem is that we’ve tried to live the gospel alone. The gospel was meant to be lived by the Church, by the people of God, where there is a support system that says you can ask new questions. I think of the people in the New Jerusalem Community and at the Center in New Mexico who have, at great risks to themselves and their families, given up jobs building military hardware. They would never have been able to do it if there weren’t a support system saying, That’s an appropriate gospel question, and we support the risks you take in asking that question.
I don’t think we can carry the cross alone. I’m not going to get to real questions of solidarity with the poor unless I know I’m not just standing out there naked and alone. I’m not just one silly, stupid person; there is a whole faith vision calling me to do it. That is the meaning of the Body of Christ and should be the meaning of the parish.
Our parishes have become so large and so anonymous, and we’ve been allowed to attend them instead of participate in them. Today people don’t drop out of Church as much as drop in – occasionally! My hope is that little faith-sharing groups will continue to emerge, connected to parishes. The “base community” and the institutional parish need one another. The parish needs the small fervent group to keep it honest, to allow and encourage those who want to ask the deeper questions, those who want to go further, those who want to learn to pray, to minister, to study, advocate and lay down their lives for the poor. And the small group needs the parish to avoid becoming sectarian, narrow, or lost in personality and trendiness. They must regulate, balance and challenge one another.
from Why Be Catholic?
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