Message from the President
As Pentecost is upon us, it is the right time to reflect on the power of the Holy Spirit. I must confess, Pentecost is my favorite feast. Not because it was the birth of the church or even because it occurs in late spring but because it reminds us of our true identity. We are the vehicle of the Spirit. It is through us that the Holy Spirit does all her work. We are all the beloved children of God. The story of Pentecost, as relayed in the Acts of the Apostles, (Acts 2:1-13) describes a situation where a group of people, probably men, women, and children, are gathered in what must have been a fairly large room. These were just regular folks. They were frightened and confused but something happened on that day that they were hard pressed to explain. Suddenly, a Spirit moved in among them and they began to speak in a manner that none of them had ever done before. They left the perceived safety of the upper room and went into the streets to proclaim the good news. The Jews who had gathered in Jerusalem from all over the Roman Empire were amazed at these people. Most of us recognize that if this event had not occurred it would seem likely that Christianity may not have happened at all. The message of Jesus would have been confined to a small group of people who had interacted with him. We must remember that these were ordinary folks. They were not kings or queens, nobles or scholars, or even priests. They were what we today might call laypeople. Yet, they received the Holy Spirit and made a huge difference.
There are many of us today who are facing a circumstance not all that unlike the people gathered in the upper room. We are dismayed at the direction our church has taken. The hierarchy is well established and powerful. We know that the message of Jesus, the one that the earliest disciples called "The Way," is one that is life-giving; one that rejects materialism and self-aggrandizement. We are also like them in that we are afraid. There are many of us who have concluded that we are far too weak and insignificant to face off against the Vatican, the bishops, and the well-organized, so-called traditionalists. We are afraid that if we speak up, we will be ostracized or even worse, excluded from our community. There are so many who have just given up altogether. The fact that the second largest denomination in the U. S. is "Non-practicing Catholics" is ample evidence of that. Others ridicule and mock us saying that we are fools and we cannot do anything about the institution that our church has become. To all of those, I must offer a rebuttal. Where is your faith in the Holy Spirit? If the Holy Spirit could move through that upper room and change a small group of frightened people into a force that ultimately changed the world, why in heaven's name could She not do the same thing now?
This year we have seen events in the hierarchy that were indeed, profound and unexpected. Benedict XVI resigned, something not seen for over 600 years. His successor, Francis, has shown a different face of the papacy. He has openly rejected the trappings of royalty and advocated for a greater display of humility. There have been occasions in which one bishop publicly chastised another, something simply not done in the past. Nevertheless, we cannot rely on the hierarchy to change itself, nor should we. The Spirit did not seek out the chief priests and scribes. She sought out the common people. I am convinced that She seeks the same today. So, how should we respond? I believe that we should accept the role of reformers and true disciples. This year, ARCC is going to embark on other initiatives.
* The first of our initiatives is to call upon all of you who read our
newsletter and those to whom it is passed. The disciples in the upper room were moved to see visions. So let us do exactly that. Let us develop a vision as well. Tell us what your vision is in terms of leadership. What is it that makes one truly a leader in our church? List for us the traits of a good bishop.
This is a fairly simple undertaking
that anyone can perform. How would you describe an effective bishop? What do you look for in a bishop? Once you have developed a list of traits, share it with us. Please submit your list by June 1, 2013.
We will then gather all the lists and share them with you. This will result in a couple of outcomes. Whoever comes up with what we think is the best list will be rewarded with a prize of a couple of books written by some of our distinguished members. The other outcome is that we will then distill the lists into one list that we will then publish in the newsletter. This will be a starting point for another venture.
* We are looking for those of you, inspired by the Spirit,to get involved in what I believe is a bold plan. If you are interested in pushing for change in your own diocese, this is the opportunity for you. We hope to have at least a couple of people from a few dioceses step forward and help us plan and carry out a campaign that will express the will of the people. I realize that this may sound a bit vague but that is because the details of the plan will be up to those who respond. We have a general idea of what we want to do but it is you who will make it a reality. The important thing is that the real source of the strategy will be from individuals in their own diocese, not from us or some other reform group. The central point is that this must be a process that rises up from the people. If you are interested or you just want to know more, please drop us a line. So, again we seek at least two people from a diocese to help us coordinate this effort. We really need to hear from you by June 7, 2013. You can either go to our website http://arcc-catholic-rights.net and contact us directly or e-mail me at President@arcc-catholic-rights.net.
Finally, I invite all of you who may consider yourselves from either the pre-Vatican II or Vatican II generation of Catholics to tell your story. In a discussion with my son a few nights ago, he said to me: "Young people (by this he meant Generation X and Y) have no idea what it was like before Vatican II or even what Vatican II did. So, many of the young Catholics and some of the new priests are able to paint an image of the Church that is distorted. They tell us that everything was better before Vatican II." This, my friends, is a clarion call for all of us. If we don't follow the example of the disciples on Pentecost and tell the story, we will be remiss in our obligation as followers of Christ. Why should we allow those who weren't there to tell others what it was like before? I am sure you are all aware of either "retro-priests," even older priests and bishops, or conservative groups who convey an image of the church before Vatican II (or even after) that is just plain wrong. I can think of no ministry more important than the passing on of the real story. After all, isn't that what started it all? The disciples told the story of Jesus
of Nazareth and what he taught. Along with that story, we should be telling our story. How a church that was stifling and harsh opened its windows and let in the fresh air 50 years ago. That's the meaning
of Pentecost that we should all take to heart.
Patrick B. Edgar, DPA