Monday, July 11, 2005

The Times They Are A Changin'

Shortly after JPII died, the principal of our parish school announced she was leaving. A week later, our pastor was reassigned to the Cathedral Parish and our Parochial Vicar (Assistant Pastor) was recalled by his bishop to the Philippines.

"That's four new 'P's' in one year," I pointed out to my children, who thought it was kind of funny. Well, at least DS#2 and DD#2 did.

Everyone did their jobs--we have a new pope, a new principal, a new parochial vicar (also from the Philippines) and a new pastor. We also have new procedures for distributing the Eucharist and for handling the Lectionary (the book containing the readings, the Psalm, and the Gospel for Mass on Sunday). To our old pastor's credit, he had held off making any procedural changes in the Mass, wanting to let the new pastor design them. But orders came down from the Diocese that the changes were to be made by June 1. So they were because my parish, while often innovative, is also obedient.

Two things I have learned over the last 52 years: change happens and people don't like it. Traditions mark the Big Events of the seasons and of our lives. Threaten those traditions, and many people begin to lose their sense of themselves, of their relationship to the world. And they protest, "But we always..." "It doesn't feel like Christmas/Passover/my birthday unless we..." So the complaints have started with the changes in the parish. No one, including Father, is quite sure of what the new procedures are, how to make them work seamlessly in the context of the Mass.

This weekend marked our pastor's second weekend on the job and his first homily. He spoke of change, of the need to mourn. He had been in Rome for JPII's funeral and for the conclave and used pictures of his experience there to reassure us in the parish that it was okay to mourn the passing of the old, the familiar. When BXVI was elected, Father asked one of the many who were in St. Peter's Square, how she felt about BXVI. The woman said, "I trust the Holy Spirit."

And so do I. Sooner or later, we'll figure out how to make the procedural changes work. We'll know when we're supposed to stand instead of kneel, what to leave where, how to accept the chalice and the ciborium from Father before we distribute Communion. Father and the new principal will find out what our Oktoberfest is all about. They will have suggestions, which will be met with varying degrees of acceptance from the parishioners, the faculty, the staffs, the parents, the students. Change is life. And, with apologies to Bob Dylan, the times are ~always~ a changin'