Monday, September 1, 2008

Real estate: before

The Catechesis of the Good Shepherd presents one tremendous stumbling block: in order to follow this method, one needs a dedicated space, or actually three dedicated rooms, in which the environment is carefully prepared.

Why is the necessity for rooms such a hindrance? If you're asking this question, you haven't done much parish work! Space in any parish is hard to come by, and it seems to be a part of our cultural belief system that the more functions a room has, the greater the virtues of the community it belongs to. Even requesting that a parish assign a room that would otherwise stand empty and unused to just one group, for its exclusive use, can sometimes draw quite a bit of anger and suspicion. Adding to this complication is the problem that catechists almost always begin by requesting a room for the youngest group to be catechized -- 3-6 year-olds -- a group that many believe are not ready for catechesis, or for whom catechesis is unnecessary. What? You want us to dedicate a room to the exclusive use of 3-6 year-old children, none of whose parents will contribute a cent toward rent? To do what?

After a long crusade for a room in one particular parish where I was starting up Catechesis of the Good Shepherd, a good friend there said to me, "You know, Suzanne, when I first met you, I thought you were on fire for the kingdom, but as I get to know you better, I begin to think that all you actually care about is real estate." We laughed together about that one because, the same might have been said of Abraham and Moses, too.

Because I've moved several times since I first began as a catechist with the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd, it happens that I am always leaving a place right after a parish has finally decided to give the catechists rooms for the atria. But now, after eleven years of wandering and making do, I belong to a group of catechists who have received not one, but three rooms in one of the Catholic schools that closed this year. When I first heard the news, I couldn't process it completely. Slowly, the reality of what we have been offered is starting to dawn on me. I took some "before" shots of the three rooms and will post the "after" pictures when we're up and running.

This is a miracle, one I'd forgotten how much I needed and wanted, after all the years of doing without it. I only pray to be worthy of such a gift.

The future Level One atrium

The future Level Two atrium

The future Level Three atrium

As you can see, there is indeed much work ahead of us!


Bridgett said...

I face the very thing at my parish in St.louis. We sold our closed school...there is the parish hall, the kitchen, the food pantry, and one coveted room big enough for an atrium. (our levels 2 and 3 are at an adjoining parish). It is a leap of faith for the powers-that-be. But they're going to let me try.

Justine said...

Oh my! How exciting!

Dumbstruck by the Mystery

...our temptation is always to impose our prejudices or our measure on reality -- except when we are faced with a fact that leaves us dumbstruck, and instead of dominating the fact ourselves, we are dominated, overcome by it. If there were no moments of this kind, the Mystery could do anything, but in the end, we would reduce everything to the usual explanation. But not even a Nobel Prize winner can stop himself from being dumbstruck before an absolutely gratuitous gesture. If there were not these moments, we would find answers, explanations, and interpretations to avoid being struck by anything. It is good that some things happen that we cannot dominate, then we have to take them seriously, and this is the great question of philosophy. If the conditions for the possibility of knowledge (see Kant) impose themselves on reality or if there is something that is so powerfully disproportionate that it does not let itself be "grasped" by the conditions of possibility, then the horizon opens. If this were not the case, then we could dominate everything and be in peace, or at least without drama. Instead, not even the intelligence of a Nobel Prize winner could prevent him from coming face-to-face with a fact that made him dumbstruck -- instead of dominating, it was he who was dominated. Here begins the drama, because I am called to answer. It is the drama that unfolds between us and the Mystery, through certain facts, certain moments, in which the Mystery imposes itself with this evidence. These are facts that we cannot put in our pocket, which we cannot reduce to antecedent factors.
-- Julian Carron in "Friends, that is, Witnesses."