You Can Get There From Here - Mystics and the Manayunk Reconfiguration

Father Nicola Bux is Professor of Eastern Liturgy at Bari and Consultor of the Congregations for the Doctrine of the Faith, for the Causes of Saints, for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, as well as of the Office of Liturgical Celebrations of the Supreme Pontiff. He posted some thoughts in an article about the Easter Season posted earlier on Zenit entitled, “When to Celebrate? The Liturgical Season.”

In the article, Fr. Bux states, “…it is crucial to understand the concept of memory to understand the liturgical season: it does not mean a recalling of the past but man’s capacity, given by God, to understand in unity today the past and the future. In fact, a man who loses his memory, not only forgets the past, but does not understand what he is in the present, and much less is he able to project himself in the future.” [Emphasis mine]

Over the past two months, I have walked a pilgrimage with the people of the Parish of St. Lucy and the Parish of St. Mary of the Assumption. Both will be celebrating their respective final Masses on July 1, 2012 as the parishes are slated to close in light of the first phase of parish reconfigurations of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia. To assist in the transition, we held two off-site retreats, one focusing on “Spiritual Exile” and one on “What to do When the Church Disappoints You.” In addition we had several liturgical events commemorating the sacraments that had been celebrated over the decades in both churches. It was felt that these events would address the emotional and spiritual needs of the parishioners and the need to celebrate the magnificent past of our parishes in Manayunk. Their history is storied, proud, long, rich in tradition, deep in faith and service to community, city and country.

But this is NOT merely about history. We are a liturgical people! And liturgy takes the past - and makes it present, here and now. The “today” element of our faith community and liturgical celebrations have huge implications. We cannot become stuck in nostalgia. That becomes denial and it’s unhealthy and can even become destructive. Something like… “Oh it was so GREAT back then. It will never be the same” … can lead to … “What’s the use of doing anything further. We can just stop now.”

We need an “Easter” in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia and perhaps that Easter can start in a place like Manayunk.

God has something for US to do, NOW, HERE, in THIS place! The “today” element gives hope because the activities that we must enter into TODAY provide hope because the point to a future!

As I stated in a previous post, the world is not only looking for “spirituality,” it’s looking for “mystics.” Mystics become mystics because they have experienced the Cross. The good people of Manayunk have certainly carried, and continue to bear, the Cross of Jesus Christ in their lives, in their hearts, in their homes, in their places of works, among family and friends. We might not have become mystics but we are certainly doing what must be done to answer a “Universal Call to Holiness.” And maybe we do have mystics in our midst. Not they mystics of the past - they’ve died. We need mystics of today!

One Comment Add yours

  1. An Easter is certainly what Manayunk needs. The New Evangelization, which I describe as the effort to reintroduce Christianity as a culture force, isn’t even close to present in this neighborhood yet. This is not a tragedy, but a true opportunity. It’s a place full of young professionals; people searching for meaning and truth in lives just being built — and the Catholics of Manayunk have an opportunity to evangelize, market, and share the faith if they want to. That’ll first require learning to be more bright and hopeful than most were during the time I lived there.

    “The effort to reintroduce Christianity as a culture force…” I love that line, probably will steal it (with the proper approbation of course!). I see signs of that happening in the lives of people who, while still grieving, have put a stake in the ground and said “we want to help.” They’ve made appointments and spoken with Fr. Kletzel and are already planning to implement some of the leadership model that Fr. McGuinn started at St. Mary at St. John while. They are also trying to continue to keep the connections that were developed with the St. Lucy people in mind and intentionally and consciously invite them to any events. Small start but a positive one.

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