The Collins dictionary word of the year for 2022 was ‘permacrisis’. Gosh what a word to capture the reality that crisis after crisis have swept across the world in recent times. The war in Ukraine, Covid, energy supply and cost of living increases all effect the world we live in, which as the word suggests has become entrapped by circumstances beyond our control.
For the Church, and our partnership of parishes, there are another set of circumstances that suggest crisis too. The ongoing reality of the pain and suffering which survivors of abuse live with bubbles into our consciousness when victims speak out. The effects of past criminal cruelty continue to awaken in our culture a loss of connection with the church and an ever increase in decline of practice of religious observance. There are many other reasons too why people walk apart from their parish and don’t make time at the weekend to gather with their brothers and sisters at a parish celebration.
We are not unique in living through crisis, many periods of history are characterised by exactly these challenges. As a people of faith we have recourse to the scriptures and the sacramental traditions of the church. We are bound to each other by our common baptism and we never journey alone. We are the children of a loving God and the many ways God is present in our lives will be a constant support. We are also challenged by our faith, to live well, to priorities the spiritual life, to have the care of those in need always in our hearts.
We have a spiritual dimension to life that sustains us in crisis, we have in Jesus a companion to guide us through all that life can throw at us. We have the comfort of knowing that the work of the Holy Spirit will always share with us the gifts of courage, fortitude, right judgement and wisdom to ensure that we don’t crack in crisis.
As the wheel of life turns we will surely see green shoots again. As certainly as the Spring will bring light, new life and warmth into our days, so too better times are ahead for our faith community too. New will also mean change and something will be asked of us all, to reimagine how to be God’s people, how to be Church, how to be Parish. For sure it will be a new reality rooted in lay involvement, with fewer clergy and more openness to the meaningful involvement of women and to the world we live in.
So much has already happened and while the road ahead is not always clear, we can advance one step at a time. Fear and apathy are the enemies of change. The future is built on the foundations laid by our parents and grandparents and with their wisdom to guide us and a strong desire to succeed we can of course rebuild, renew and reinvigorate our parish.