Tomorrow, March 21-22, Fr. Joe Healey will give an online presentation entitled "Pastoral Responses to the Worldwide Eucharistic Famine." To register, go now to https://www.futurechurch.org/teleconference-with-fr-joseph-healey-mm . In some regions of the world, they are called Base Christian Communities (CEBs) and in other parts, Intentional Eucharistic Communities (IECs).
My response: I agree with Fr. Joe that there is room for a parish based model and a community based model as we chart the presence and future of worldwide Eucharistic Communities. Celebrating Eucharist does not depend on ordination. Whenever we gather to remember Jesus, share the Bread of Life and Cup of Everlasting Joy, we celebrate a valid Eucharist because of the love and communion we share as the Body of Christ sharing the Body of Christ with one another.. Roman Catholic Women Priests are prophetic witnesses to the full equality of women in a renewed, local grassroots community model that is propelling a paradigm shift from clericalism to a community of equals celebration of Eucharist today in the contemporary church. Bridget Mary Meehan ARCWP, www.arcwp.org
From the perspective of many theologians today, the priesthood of the Faithful needs to be underscored and promoted among Christians. Jesus never intended for his Church to become a religion as such. Rather, he offered a simple commandment of loving God most often expressed through loving our neighbor. It is a new humanism given not to one culture but to all of humankind guiding us to a highly ethical way of life shown less in abiding by established laws and more in how we care for one another. The ultimate goal of Christianity is to bring the whole of humankind into a kind of fraternal unity.
In the early Church, there was no distinction between clergy and laity. This emerged and developed over centuries. We need to return to sharing in Christ's unique priesthood: the ordained ministry is there to keep the unity in faith and serve as collaborators to the bishops, while the common priesthood of the Faithful is there to spread the Gospel message and live as Christ in today's world. If understood in this way, according to the French theologian, Fr. Joseph Moingt, the problem is not of ordaining women or not, of allowing priests to marry or not, but of foreseeing a new way of living together within the Church."
Jesus introduced the Eucharist as a simple meal to be shared among his friends. He never intended it to be a highly ritualistic ceremony that could only be celebrated in the presence of an ordained minister. There is room within the structure of the Church for both the parish model and for small Christian communities. But as we witness more and more parishes closing and fewer people called to the ordained ministry of priesthood, in our capacity as baptized people, Christians could well be celebrating the Eucharist among ourselves in small communities.
By joining or beginning a Small Christian Community, we could indirectly change the structure of the universal church. No one with power ever willingly gives it up. But a reform movement can find grounds for moving beyond Christianity as a religious institution and toward the humanness of the Gospel message: love of God and love of neighbor. We may not be able to change the clericalism of the hierarchy, but we could, by our teaching and example, educate the Faithful to better understand their own call to priesthood and, as a follower of Jesus, to live as Christ in the world today.
|To learn more about joining or beginning a Small Christian Community, we invite you to go to www.ThePeopleSpeakOut.org . To get started on creating a community of your own, go herenow. We welcome your participation in Fr. Healey's presentation and in helping create the movement of more small gatherings of Christians in home settings.|