September 9, 2018

Friends,

I returned from my vacation on August 26. I had two weeks of wonderful weather which I experienced in Mystic, Connecticut; Marshfield, and the Cape. I did a lot of reading, walking, thinking, and resting. It’s not easy for me to take a vacation, because I get very attached to my responsibilities in the Collaborative. But I also know that those much more experienced than I strongly encourage the need we all have to detach ourselves at times, for our own emotional and physical health. In the case of those in ministry like myself, it also contributes to our spiritual health. I didn’t mention that I did a lot of praying. I didn’t necessarily say a lot of prayers, but I surely prayed. For me, praying is becoming more aware of God’s presence, and that continues to happen to me every day of my life. I don’t have to talk about it, but I experience it.

I’m not so sure people would describe me as holy or pious, but I am very aware of how sacred you and I are to God, and therefore should be to one another. So the words I would use to describe myself would be “fully human.” Christ said, “I came so you may have life and have it more abundantly.” Enjoying life in healthy ways is a sign of being a person of prayer. I did go to Mass on the holyday (August 15) while on retreat in Mystic, CT, as well as both weekends on Saturday evening, once in Marshfield, and once on the Cape. As much as I enjoy preaching and celebrating the Eucharist, it is a wonderful respite and opportunity to sit in the congregation and observe how other parishes celebrate their faith at church.

I’ve mentioned before how I find younger priests (under 45) to be so traditional, and I try very hard to understand the direction in which they want to take the Church. I was raised in a pre-Vatican II Church, but have been deeply changed by the Second Vatican Council, and in my mind now have a much healthier theology (understanding of God) and ecclesiology (understanding of the Church). Younger priests (not many exceptions) have been raised in a Vatican II Church, but are doing their best to return us to pre-Vatican II days, e.g., Latin Mass, Communion on the tongue, black vestments at funerals, and weekly Confession. One of the three Masses I attended was the most extreme example of that theology and ecclesiology. I was offended by what I heard, and truly believe those parishioners are once again being encouraged to return to the days of fear and trembling. I have to believe that this young priest is determined to reverse any of the theological developments that he believes have led to the demise of the Roman Catholic Church since Vatican II. He believes that the secular society is out to destroy Christianity, and that the culture of death has lessened the value of human life. He sees it as the Church versus the world.

I obviously value my faith and the sanctity of all life, and I feel very comfortable in the Catholic Church of today. The world is changing, and I don’t’ necessarily accept all those changes as being for the better, but the Catholic Church has to speak to the people of our day. I’m not afraid of the world, and I don’t see the world as the enemy of the Church.

I realize there are people in our three parishes who long to return to the Church of their childhood, while others have moved on long ago. I can only speak for myself, but once my understanding of God changed, I could no longer celebrate my faith the same way.

Enjoy Life!

Fr. Coyne

 

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