Pt England School - changing pedagogy and using technology
The coming of the Spirit
Pentecost challenges us to think afresh of the ways the Holy Spirit flames amongst us. Tui Motu asked writers to respond to six distinct questions. Here are their responses.
Question 1: Where do you see the spirit moving in the place where you minister?
Author: Rev Bosco Peters is chaplain to Christ’s College, Christchurch, and runs New Zealand’s most-visited Christian spirituality website: www.liturgy.co.nz.
We can count nearly four hundred times that the feminine word ruach (meaning breath) occurs in the Hebrew Bible. This breath of God is a primary image of God’s Spirit — and of the way God’s Spirit acts.
My principal ministry, as chaplain at Christ’s College, is with young people. Young people are a breath of fresh air.
They are a breath of fresh air in the open accepting way they treat each other, and others generally.
In the Septuagint and the New Testament, God’s breath is translated as pneuma (πνε?μα). It occurs about the same number of times in the New Testament as ruach does in the Hebrew Bible.
Jesus said, “the pneuma blows where it chooses” (John 3:8)
Many older people grew up in a monochromatic context. That context has gone. Young people live in a multi-cultural, multi-ethnic, multi-faith world. Theirs is a globally-connected village. They take for granted that some of their friends will be Muslim, atheist, agnostic, and so forth. Even when that is not the case in the non-virtual world of daily encounters, it is certainly the case on Facebook and the other virtual villages they inhabit. They listen to each other’s ideas with respect. They may appear ‘wishy washy’ with regards to listing doctrines most people have solely in their heads, but they have firm convictions about racism, homophobia, sexism, recycling, justice, and our responsibility to each other and to the environment.
Their flexibility is not a weakness. It is a strength. Especially in rapidly-changing times. Flexibility meant that young people often took astounding leadership roles after the Christchurch earthquakes. Sam Johnson (who was chapel prefect in 2006) received national and international recognition for mobilising the Student Army. Lucas Perelini, a current Year 12 student, received an award (for service) in the way he provided emergency relief, food and water to residents of Dallington.
These are just representative. Students organised trips into the Eastern suburbs. We would arrive and knock at the door of a household. There would be tears of joy as the householder realised this wasn’t some official who was planning for some future visit — here were young people with shovels now, ready to get the liquefaction off their yard.
Then there’s the delight of seeing young people go on to bring dynamic energy to church leadership and structures. One example: Jeremy Johnson, who arrived at the school in the same year I started my ministry here, held the newly-created position of Vice-Chancellor of the Anglican diocese of Christchurch before he was 25.
Another word in the Bible regularly associated with the Spirit is dunamis (δ?ναμις). It means power or energy. It occurs in the New Testament more than 120 times.
Jesus says, “you will receive power (δ?ναμις) when the Holy Spirit has come upon you” (Acts 1:8)
Anyone who spends any time with teenagers will know of their energy. The same student is involved in drama, practices an instrument, is in the choir, is preparing for confirmation, is learning six subjects, plays sport, and maintains a healthy network of friends.
Then there’s the fund-raising. The students themselves organise everything from sponsored events, through sausage sizzles, and mufti days, to garage sales. In any given year they can raise over $50,000 to give away.
They have a passion for exploring meaning and awe — the heart of spirituality. Conversations quickly move from sport or the latest movie to theological and philosophical considerations.
In his Song to the Holy Spirit (quoted in New Zealand’s Anglican Prayer Book), James K. Baxter said,
Lord, Holy Spirit,
You blow like the wind in a thousand paddocks,
Inside and outside the fences,
You blow where you wish to blow.
That expresses well the experience of the Holy Spirit in ministry with young people. They are evidence of God’s breath and dynamism blowing inside and outside the fences.
It's education, Jim, but not as we know it...
The use of new technology in East Tamaki schools has brought surprising results. The Manaiakalani programme shows a way of promise.
Author: Pat Snedden is a treaty negotiator and company director, living in Auckland. He is Executive Chair of the Manaiakalani Education Trust.
Sometimes there are moments in our life when our balance is tipped. The world suddenly looks different. I had one of those moments in October 2009.
I was in charge of a major urban development project in Glen Innes in Auckland called the Tamaki Transformation Programme (TTP) and I was invited to the local primary school at Point England to see what they were doing with technology in their school. Expecting to see the principal and his senior staff I was somewhat surprised to be in a room with seven 9–11 year olds. After an accomplished mihi whakatau (greeting) from the oldest boy, they proceeded to describe to me for the next 15 minutes their expertise in technology, without notes or adult support and with full control of audio-visual aids.
It was stunning performance, not least because all these children were of Maori or Pasifika backgrounds and were living in one of Auckland’s poorest state housing areas. Theirs is a decile 1A school. In 30 years of direct involvement in community development, treaty work and business with Maori and Pasifika people I had never seen anything so impressive.
As if to emphasise this overturning of expectation the youngest girl in the group, a Tongan and beautifully articulate, explained to me that their teacher had come to school pregnant that year. The principal seeking to find a replacement had advertised without success until her class made an unusual request. Would it be possible they asked, if they could advertise for the replacement teacher? The answer was positive and they proceeded to create a movie advertisement, describing who they were, what they were good at and what they were looking for in a teacher. These 10-11 year olds attracted a large number of applicants both national and international. As I sat with them in the classroom they showed me the movie of a woman addressing them at 6.30 in the morning, pitching to them her qualifications for the job and suggesting that if they liked her they should recommend that the principal employ her. On the day of my visit she was teaching in the classroom.
This was not school as I remembered it. Their expertise as I was later to discover was not the cherry-picking of the best students to appear before local influence brokers to impress. This was a genuine cross-section of children, all of whom had auditioned to become Point England ambassadors — to tell others who would care to enquire just how they engaged in learning in that school. It was a revolution.
Russell Burt, principal for 17 years and teacher at the school for over 20, then explained the leap in learning outcomes that were being achieved in the seven schools in the local Tamaki cluster in reading and numeracy due to the Manaiakalani Programme. For a start their children arrived at school with a learning age, on average, at three years old. The national average learning age at start of school is five years.
As Russell told it, these Tamaki children needed to learn quickly if they were to meet the average of the NZ education achievement distribution in reading and numeracy by the time they left primary school.
In sum, the children had to learn on average 1.5 times as quickly as the average child per year every year for five years to reach that point of parity. What was truly surprising, as Russell took me through the results, was that the children in the Manaiakalani Programme were nearly there.
What’s more, all participating schools had experienced increased attendance levels, greatly reduced truancy rates and a sharp improvement in on-task behaviour as students had become much more engaged.
The long tail of educational underachievement of Maori and Pasifika children was genuinely being shortened. Could it be true?
I decided to check this out and invited all the local school principals to a meeting. Everyone turned up and to my question: Is this the real deal? The answer was unequivocally positive. Why aren’t you all doing more of it then I asked?
Two reasons. Changing the teaching methodology to embrace e-learning and securing the technology were barriers to a Tamaki–wide successful implementation. If they could meet these challenges then there could be widespread support in the cluster for full implementation. TTP decided to meet this challenge.
And now …
Fast forward to school year 2012. We now have seven schools operating with 1:1 netbooks (1500 children) all financed by parents. From an average income base of $19,000 per annum per adult, they have invested $40 deposit and are paying $3.50 per week over three years to fund their child’s computer. Two more schools have joined this year.
We have raised money to start a wireless network for the whole of the Tamaki area (Glen Innes, Point England and Panmure). That is now 25 percent complete. We have professional development around e-learning available to teachers in all participating schools. And we are progressing to common IT infrastructure in the cluster. This way there is a single pipe-line from any of the primary/intermediate schools to the secondary school; and all are working from the same technology base.
This year Tamaki College, the only secondary school in the Manaiakalani Programme, became the first low decile state secondary school to go fully digital. Every one of the nearly 700 students is operating off the netbook for all their learning. Remember this is happening in an environment, which when measured by all the external socio-economic metrics, is profoundly challenged. It is NZ’s oldest state housing community.
At its heart the Manaiakalani Programme is an inside-out transformation by this community. These parents when faced with the dire outcomes for their children’s educational future if there was no change have responded to school leadership in the area to change these outcomes. This process has been on slow burn since 2001 but has received successive boosts with Government money since 2002 for learning improvement.
When the digital world exploded in 2005 with YouTube and all other social media, the students in Tamaki adopted this new world with relish.
A new education trust
Last year we formed the Manaiakalani Education Trust. Our job is to enhance this opportunity by resourcing the re-tooling of the schools to be on the front of this positive learning wave. The central vision of this Manaiakalani cluster is to make digital citizens of these children, able to access their learning any time, any place and at any pace.
This approach which has directly enabled the heightened engagement of children directly improves educational results. Teachers raise their students’ capability in reading, writing, thinking, listening and speaking, supporting students in publishing their digital work locally, nationally and internationally using web 2 technology.
Today, three years on from my first encounter, the success of this programme has come in large measure from the ability to coalesce a new kind of partnership that includes government departments, community, whanau, schools, commerce, volunteers, philanthropists and local government. The results are climbing and the evidence of performance is being gathered and evaluated by Auckland University Uniservices and the Wolf Fisher Research Centre under the guidance of Professor Stuart McNaughton.
We expect by school year 2013 to have nine schools participating in the Manaiakalani Programme with 2500 children, 1750 of them on 1:1 netbooks. Not a single family in Tamaki with a child in any of the Manaiakalani Cluster Schools has declined to invest in their child’s future.
Outside the square
Edwina Gatelely came to NZ recently at the invitation of the Adult Education Trust. Cathy Harrison interviewed her after she had completed a one day presentation in Christchurch and a week’s retreat at Hamner Springs.
Author: Cathy Harrison is an educator who specialises in working with young people.
Edwina Gateley is an internationally acclaimed spiritual writer, a poet, an artist and a retreat director. Many people consider her to be a contemporary prophet, a muse or modern day mystic. “There is a crack in everything, that’s how the Mystery gets in,” wrote Edwina some years before similar lyrics in Leonard Cohen’s Anthem became popular. But she doesn’t fit into the boxes that people make for one another. She never did.
She tells of the excitement of the mid-1960s, when she was inspired by the movement of the Holy Spirit bursting through the Second Vatican Council, opening the doors to provide dynamic opportunities for laity. She was in her mid-twenties, on fire with love of God, and since her teens she had felt a call from God to be a missionary, a call that later grew into her dream of establishing the Volunteer Missionary Movement (VMM).
Edwina took her call to mission to the bishop who responded “Well now my dear, that’s wonderful, what congregation do you want to join? We have our boxes for you. If you want to be a missionary you must be a sister. You must fit into a box!” Back she went to God who said to her, “I am the God of the back door. I am God who creeps around the edges, looking for cracks and weak spots so that the Spirit can move in and transform, even though we set up our great walls, even though we close our front doors.” She went back to the bishop, offering to be a volunteer. The bishop could cope with that and she was sent to Africa.
But Africa turned her upside down. She took her notion of a male, western, white, British God into the bush and the villages and discovered that God was already waiting for her when she got there. God was in the people and the banana plantations, in poverty and simplicity. A big God, much bigger than the God she had been taught about. God was loose, everywhere. Edwina didn’t know what to do with this big God when she returned to England. How could this big God fit into the local church?
Conscious of God’s call deep within, she drafted a plan for the VMM to enable lay people to meet another side of God somewhere else before returning to England and continuing the work of transformation.
Eventually she showed her plan to the then Cardinal John Heenan in London. At the end of the interview he said, “‘I give you no permission to start any kind of Lay Missionary Movement in this country. It’s premature.’ What? After 2000 years the laity is not ready to be involved in Mission?” So Edwina went back to Africa. It took until 1969, but Edwina’s VMM was finally begun. It has prepared and sent hundreds of lay people from the United Kingdom, the United States and Europe as volunteer missionaries to countries in Asia, Africa and Latin America. Before he died, another Cardinal, Basil Hume, told Edwina that “the VMM was the best thing that had happened in the Catholic Church in the last hundred years.”
A few years on, with an inspiring VMM operating, God called Edwina to move on and consider new directions. After a three-month retreat in the Sahara Desert in Algeria, North Africa, she found herself travelling to the United States, where she studied theology. Then, inspired by mystical dialogue with Teresa of Avila, Edwina spent nine months in prayer and solitude in a caravan in Illinois. Here she awaited clarity in relation to her next ministry. The call came from the streets of Chicago where her new community would include prostitutes, homeless, winos and drug dealers. By 1983 Genesis House became a reality where Edwina could provide safety and hospitality to women in prostitution wishing to make a new start. This continued until 2006. Edwina is still involved with the VMM and with women in recovery from prostitution.
An exquisite communicator, Edwina is in tune with her own story and equally, her message. There is nothing abstract, no rhetoric, just pure Gospel narrative about Christ alive in the margins today. The God whom Edwina knows so intimately lives very close, deep within her. She explains that God lives and calls three inches from her belly button. This is the God who is in touch with her feelings and instincts. God is very real for her, not God as often presented from the head, as rational, intellectual, separate or far away but the God who lives deep within us.
What is the Spirit saying to the Churches in our time?
“If we are looking for leadership, guidance, spiritual direction from within the institution we are looking in the wrong direction. We need to look at a different group of people — the myriad of faithful Christians who are gathering to mend the broken world, trying to be faithful.
“The Spirit is speaking wherever we are listening. We need to ask ourselves, ‘Are we listening in the right places?’ ”
“The future church will embrace women’s ordination and the gay community; it will be inclusive and its focus will be peace and justice, the poor, the homeless, those living on the margins of society and the healing of our world.”
How do we recognise holiness in our world today?
Holiness is about being in touch with one’s inner dignity, beauty and potential and being conscious that every human person has these qualities. They are simply untapped and therefore undeveloped.
Jesus was conscious that he was of God and in God. It made all the difference. When we recognise that in ourselves it leads to a great awe and humility, which lead us to honour our brothers and sisters. We are all called to be family. It is not just about blood relation. It is a matter of being family by the very fact that we are made in the image of God. Whether I know you or not, we are connected. This understanding rises above and beyond all class, economic status or race and places the human heart and soul in the centre of the faith experience.
There’s a strong movement in the Western world (at least) towards spirituality in its broad sense. How does this link to radical action. What’s the connection and what’s the tension?
“Radical action?—?the Spirit of God has broken loose from a great cathedral and is roaming in the market place! (see Wisdom 6).
“Creation itself is one great sacrament?—?the Spirit of Wisdom is not confined to any space. There are thousands of sacraments, not just seven. They are all around us.
“No amount of sin or evil can repress the Spirit of God who embraces all. But we make God small! We minimise the Divine Presence with our small minds, limited vision, codes and canons. Our changeless invitation is to call forth the Realm of God on earth and we have access to the grace of God to actually make this happen!
“Of course, there are political and moral choices to be made. If we spent a fraction of what we spend on war on real human needs we could provide food, education, water and sanitation for everybody. The invitation is never withdrawn. God never gives up on the human race’s potential for redemption.”
Edwina is full of hope and radical faith. She explains that we must tap into our wills; we must not feel helpless or give way to despair.
Where is hope finding concrete expression amidst economic recession and national and international violence?
Her answer is that we can find hope in the words and ideas of the prophets and mystics. Edwina explains that one of the roles of the prophet and the mystic is to offer hope. By nature the mystics live on the margin of society and culture and see more deeply. They are infused with a different consciousness. They do not create their visions; these come from their sense of God. They frequently find God present at the centre of a disaster. But to understand prophets and mystics we require a great faith.
“It’s time to speak out, to declare that God lives in the chaos and from within that chaos God invites us to hope and new life if we change our ways and actually begin to care for one another. When we are in continual denial, when we are accepting of things as they are, there’s a silencing of the mystic and the prophet. We don’t want to change. But when the system collapses the prophet and mystic might be heard. At that time we realise that the Spirit continues to speak: ‘I am with you. I have never abandoned you.’
“We are in a liminal time, a time between the old and what was, and the new that must come. It is a time requiring great trust in the essential goodness and potential of the human spirit. We CAN move forward into a healthier and happier existence; we are capable and gifted. What is necessary is moral and political will and that may come about only when we are desperate and there is so much chaos and pain that we HAVE to move forward in new ways.
“I believe this time is now. And those who have eyes to see will see.
“All this is part of our biblical story.”
Edwina doesn’t fit into any of the boxes people made for her. In any case, she says, “God breaks through the boxes that we or others want to fit us into.”
Not with my Spirit!
The challenge of mission is to work deeply within a culture, allowing oneself to be immersed deeply in the language and idiom of that place and avoiding a literal translation which stultifies the creativity which reflects the creative spirit of God.
Author: Patrick McMullan is a Columban missionary from Oamaru working in South Korea since 1984. Presently he serves people with special needs and is chaplain to English speaking community at Seoul National University.
Bishop Colin Campbell’s recent article on the new translation of the Order of the Mass, “Did the ‘first cab off the rank’ go into top gear?” (TM, October 11), is a fascinating read. The Bishop raises significant issues including the use of appropriate, inclusive and dynamic liturgical language, private versus communal faith and, indirectly, the dis-empowerment of local churches.
The understanding of God
As a missionary, however, I thought Bishop Colin’s most challenging comments came when he addressed deeper theological concerns, “the understanding of how God was being presented and perceived.” These words capture an intrinsic dimension of mission, especially when couched in the context of engaging with the self-presentation of God in the world. One would struggle to find a more apt, everyday, job description of mission.
I had my initial experience of the new translation while home on holidays at the beginning of 2011. Frankly, the experience was disheartening, leaving me not wanting to participate in the Eucharist. How, I wonder, am I supposed to function as a priest and lead others in worship if I can neither give assent to the changes nor find them liturgically appealing? The thought of becoming a liturgical robot is most unsatisfying. However, what options are there if one wants to function as a priest with integrity? I struggle for an answer and suspect I am not alone. I tip my hat to those who, unlike me normally working in Korean, struggle daily with this translation.
I suspect that the liturgical changes, especially when coupled with the abuse scandals, are destroying the soul of the English-speaking churches. Sadly, at the very time the Church is becoming acutely aware that its structures are dysfunctional, the voices of the faithful are being suppressed at a profound level, namely in their ability freely and naturally to worship God.
My early missionary years were lived under military dictatorship in South Korea (1984-1987). One feature of those times was the strict control of artistic expression, the banning of live music, the arrest of poets, writers and musicians, and the excessive focus on the reproduction of classical art forms. The reason totalitarian regimes act in this way is simple: the true vocation of artists and musicians is to give expression to the deepest hopes, aspirations, and desires of people. In theological terms, art is a meditation on the dream of God for the world?—?dangerous stuff for any institution of power.
Liturgy opens us to mystery
Liturgy is artistic expression in a most refined and communal sense. Our words and music simultaneously engage us with each other and open us up to the mystery of God. I wonder if the emotional and cognitive dissonance experienced by many good people, as they mouth the new translation, comes from an imposed alienation rather than any lack of faith? Is it any wonder that many Catholic communities seem dispirited?
A missed opportunity
The introduction of the new translation could have been a missionary opportunity, par excellence: a chance really to think about the God we are presenting and perceiving. Through words and music the new translation could have facilitated a resonance with the Spirit of God speaking in our world today, rather than flirting with a romanticised vision of the past.
The common experience of Columban missionaries is that of learning another language and working in-depth in a cross-cultural context. Everyday mission experience teaches that literal translation is unsatisfying communication. Successful missionaries involve themselves in the dynamic process of being immersed in the idiom and syntax of the host culture. That is, they have to learn to think and express themselves in another’s language. Liturgical language, I suggest, must follow a similar process.
What image of god?
This immersion engages the question of the image of God being presented and perceived. More importantly, the process is a challenge to discover the self-revelation of God in the host culture. It is the same lesson that St Peter had to learn in the house of Cornelius nearly 2000 years ago (Acts 10). This formative experience runs counter to the project of creating a literal translation of the Latin liturgy. Unfortunately, the traditionalists seem not to have embraced the Church’s experience of mission in order to inform their translation process. Little wonder we now have such clumsy phrases as “and with your spirit” and “come under my roof”.
Need for uniformity?
The new translation would seem to presume the need for uniformity across the English-speaking world. Linguistics, however, makes a useful distinction between language as a vernacular (the Vatican II option) and language as a lingua franca. The former refers to a language specific to a population, a mother tongue such as Korean, while the latter refers to a functional, ‘bridge’ or universal language such as Chinese Characters in East Asian academia. In this respect, English is in a complicated position. Nevertheless, it strikes me that part of the problem with the new translation is a desire for its language to be an expression of an ecclesial lingua franca, i.e. Latin in drag.
There are, in fact, a multiplicity of English languages, shaped by different historical narratives, cultures and classes. This linguistic diversity is something to be welcomed and celebrated by our artists, musicians and poets. However, the opposite seems to have happened. I suspect that the malaise in which we now struggle is caused by institutional hubris and the attempt to build a modern tower of Babel. Uniformity and rigidity are the presenting symptoms.
Crossing cultural boundaries
Sin is an experience that missionaries know something about. The deliberate act of crossing cultural barriers makes missionaries very conscious of their personal failings, limited world-views and the reality of structural sin. Sometimes painfully and sometimes with joy, missionaries learn that there is no such thing as a perfect culture —?no matter how good the rugby team is! Theologically, we interpret these limitations as original sin; the reality that our world, good but not complete, is an on-going project.
Thus, it is a sad irony that the Church, which places such a strong emphasis on sin, would seek to canonise an historically and culturally particular expression of worship. Good as that expression may be, there is, by definition, room for development, refinement, and even new ideas. The creative challenge is to remain faithful to the sound tradition but open to legitimate progress. In this sense, inclusive language is an obvious example. Mission challenges the Church to avoid both the absolutising of a particular culture and the presumption of a uniform English language.
Perhaps nowhere is my disappointment more acute than in the changes to the words of the Consecration: from “you and for all” to “you and for many”. Seemingly innocuous, this change reflects the long running battle of traditionalists against the Mass of Pope Paul VI. If only this issue was a battle of words. Disturbingly, what is really at stake is the contemporary theological understanding of mission.
The Vatican II concept of salvation for all is demanding, (Nostra Aetate, 2) The world, and not just the Church, is the domain of God’s salvific dance. Theology articulates this renewed, humble and positive engagement with the world through concepts such as dialogue with other religions, ecological integrity, social justice and the option for the poor. My own experience of mission in Korea has constantly surprised me as I have discovered the actions of God in ways, and places, that my own cultural background could never have presented or perceived. I am thinking of the freshness that comes to the very experience of God when the Gospel is preached in a society not shaped by the remnants of Christendom.
I cannot help but interpret the change to “you and for many” as a creeping return to extra Ecclesiam nulla salus. Maybe there are some who are beyond salvation but that is a judgement for God alone to make. The Church, on the other hand, is tasked with feeding the hungry, satisfying the thirsty, welcoming strangers, clothing the naked, visiting the sick and those in prison (Matthew 25). Incidentally, it is a brilliant counter strategy to the exigencies of contemporary political economics. Salvation for all demands trust in a generous God. Salvation for many, on the other hand, opens us up to being self-referencing and self-justifying. That is, we begin to think we deserve to be saved because we follow those rules, customs and rituals that we rationalise are from God but are, in fact, human constructs.
Vernacular the signature act
My missionary mentor, the late Fr Cyril Hally, frequently reminded us seminarians that the choice for the vernacular in the liturgy, while not the most decisive decision, was the signature act of Vatican II. Pope Paul VI gave direction to the Council’s decision when he exhorted that “the rites be revised carefully in the light of sound tradition, and that they be given new vigour to meet the circumstances and needs of modern times.” (Sacrosanctum Concilium, 1963) What we can see with the new English Missal is a rewinding of the Council’s desire to engage the world. It seems that the traditionalists have won for now, but at what cost?
AN OPEN LETTER TO THE CATHOLIC BISHOPS OF NEW ZEALAND
John Dew, Archbishop of Wellington; Colin Campbell, Bishop of Dunedin; Pat Dunn, Bishop of Auckland; Denis Browne, Bishop of Hamilton; Charles Drennan, Bishop of Palmerston North and Barry Jones, Bishop of Christchurch.
John Dew, Archbishop of Wellington
1 MAY 2012
As a Catholic of 81 years, and an active member of the parish of St Patrick’s, Paraparaumu, I feel the need to express my concern and bewilderment - and I believe that of many others - at the present emphasis in the Church on returning to pre-Vatican 11 wordings in our prayers and liturgy. We have now returned to the old wording of the Lord’s Prayer, and are currently spending a considerable amount of money reprinting altar missals. I wonder what other changes to pre-Vatican 11 days are envisaged, and why. I note that the Pope has appointed 22 new Cardinals known to be conservatives like himself. I wonder will this be the precursor to further reversions to a use of Latin, meatless Fridays, the Eucharistic fast?
Rather than looking backward, I believe this is a time when our leaders should be moving forward to meet the pressing challenges facing the Western world today. I feel there are more important issues - the selfish demands of the “me” culture... the widening gap between the haves and the have-nots. ... a need on the part of the Church to appreciate the changing role of women in society and in the church... the growing disregard of the sanctity of human life with the acceptance of abortion and euthanasia...
Looking around us at all the grey heads at Mass with women predominating, together with the decline in vocations and the walk-out by the younger generation, it seems obvious that the Church should be concentrating its efforts meeting the needs of a rapidly changing society and underlining its essential teachings on issues of faith and morals. It might appear that the Pentecostal Christian churches are making a better job of appealing to all ages than we are.
The introductory brochure, published to announce the initial changes in the liturgy wording, was titled “New Words. Deeper Meaning. Same Mass. An aid to the introduction of the new words of the Mass ”. This is confusing - to put it kindly - because we know these are not new words but a return to the liturgy of fifty years ago. Reinstatement of the word “consubstantiation” has no deeper meaning to the average Catholic. Changing the Our Father back to “trespasses” instead of “sins” invokes a vision of “Keep out” signs to most people.
There can be only one standard by which to judge the policies and actions of the Church - whether or not it is guided and motivated by the spirit of the gospels. The present emphasis on the wording of the liturgy and our prayers would appear more reminiscent of the scribes and pharisees with their concern for the letter of the Law.
To get things in sharper focus, I feel we must recognise the Catholic Church is not the Pope or the Curia. The Church is us - the billion Catholics throughout the world. Closer to home for us the Church is St Patrick’s and our neighboring congregation Our Lady of Fatima, our faith in Jesus Christ and our love for each other.
To put it bluntly, the changes to the former liturgy are fiddling while Rome burns. I would be very relieved if you could allay my concerns.
With my deepest respect, I remain yours in Jesus Christ,
16 Tainui Street,
Tel 04 9022246 E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org