Benefits of Beacons of Light

Benefits of Beacons of Light
What might be some of the practical benefits effected by Beacons of Light? Last week I mentioned how Beacons of Light will be a sharing in the passion of Jesus, particularly his suffering and death. However, Beacons of Light will also be a sharing in Jesus’ resurrection.  Let me offer a few practical examples of both dimensions of the paschal mystery present in Beacons of Light.

Mass Schedule
One example of suffering that Beacons will bring to Incarnation Church, and to a lesser way St. Francis, will be the Mass schedule. Since we are neighboring parishes, our Mass schedules are already complimentary, which is good. It would be odd that neighboring parishes have Masses at the same time. St. Francis has three Weekend Masses, which is usual for one priest. However, generally speaking, St. Francis’ Masses are more crowded than ours. It makes sense, since their worship space is a little smaller and they have fewer Masses.

For Incarnation, since we have two priests, our six weekend Masses is usual. However, there are a couple of concerns. The first is that Fr. Ignatius will be with us only another year and a half. We will have only one priest after that.

The second concern is that, based on Mass attendance numbers, which we keep every weekend for every Mass, our large worship spaces are being underutilized at every mass. In other words, we have space for more people at every Mass.

Mass Time Subcommittee Reconvening
Over the next year or so I envision the Mass Time Subcommittee of Pastoral Council re-forming to tackle the issue at hand: reducing the number of Masses at Incarnation. This is one way Beacons of Light will be a sharing in Jesus’ suffering for the people of Incarnation.  Please start praying about this now, particularly if you feel strong negative emotions welling up about the issue.  Jesus is Lord, not my preferred Mass time!

Positive and Negatives
Wonderfully, the Beacons of Light “positives” will outstrip the “negatives.” For example, with more people at our Masses there will be an increased energy and vitality to our liturgical worship.  Everybody benefits from more energy and enthusiasm. I know I do as a presider.

Catholic Liturgy and Mega Church Worship
As an aside, I strive to bring energy and enthusiasm to presiding and preaching. High introvert that I am, this takes more energy for me than for most. In one sense, the last thing I want to be doing is to be up in front of hundreds of people a weekend. However, since I represent Jesus in a special way, and I want to do that and to praise and thank him, I’m “all in” about preaching and presiding. Pray for me that I will be more so!

Additionally, a compelling argument can be made for the fact that there is a better presence of Jesus in a liturgy when there are more people present! Communal worship and liturgy ought to be much, much more than what can be experienced by oneself or in a small group. Also, communal liturgical worship ought also be different from a mega-church, where worship can take on a modern performance/entertainment bias. In such venues the music is led by half a dozen highly paid, professional musicians who are not a part of the congregation, and the “messages” are put together by creative strangers and purchased at a cost that exceeds the yearly salary of a priest!

Ministries Blessed and Blessing
A similar message about strength in numbers applies to many ministries. The more people we have in RCIA, the better the experience for all. When two parishes collaborate for RCIA that means more catechumens and candidates. It means more sponsors. It means more leaders/catechists. These Beacons of Light promised positives are signs of the new life and resurrection of Jesus!

What about ministries that are unique to each parish, say St. Francis’ Divorce Care Ministry? Incarnation does not have a ministry to care for divorced people. Beacons of Light offers the opportunity for a parish to share with its partner a ministry that is new, giving new life to the ministry itself and expanding ministry at the new parish.  All of these are powerful Beacons blessings or positives!

New Opportunity
Therefore, as we find ourselves preparing to begin decades of collaboration, which Beacons of Light will bring, let us give thanks for this new opportunity to experience the essence of our life and joy, the paschal mystery of Jesus. Beacons will offer us ample opportunities to be challenged through experiences of Jesus’ suffering and cross. Even more outstanding, Beacons offers us new life and advancement in faith.  May we continue to pray for archdiocesan parishes as Beacons of Light prepares to begin!

Sincerely and with Love in Christ,

Fr. Pat