What is our project?
02 Nov 2008
What are we supposed to be doing as a Catholic community in our time and place? At one level, of course, our Catholic Christian project is always the same, and the gospels and Catholic tradition describe it well. At another level, though, each time and place has its own particular project, just as each of us may be said ultimately to have our own particular purpose. Our family lives, personal gifts, careers, and life situations are all different.
The same is true for the church. Just consider: The project of Catholics in California during the late 1700s was to build up the missions, while the project of Catholics in the 13 colonies was to establish a certain level of respect and avoid persecution. The project of Catholics in the big cities of the United States during the years of large numbers of European immigrants was to build parishes and schools to engender pride, identity, and commitment.
Today, the U.S.--and numerous individual parishes themselves-are more diverse than ever before. It is now especially hard to say that a single project or even a predominant one exists for the Catholic community in the United States.
But surely there are unique projects for specific Catholic parishes and groups today and particular purposes to which Catholics and their faith communities are called. How much time do we spend discerning our purpose or carrying out our project? The projects of past generations are easy to take for granted today; they appear so obvious to us. And of course the tasks of previous generations do seem clear-from hindsight. But not necessarily for those generations and perhaps most of all not for us today.
That does not, however, absolve us from identifying our purpose, nor does it suggest we have no particular purpose or special task in building up the church in our time. It simply suggests we need to know our purpose as church and as a Catholic faith community and Catholic people today all the more--and then to seek it.
© 2008, Bryan Froehle.