The Roman Catholic Church in The Bahamas is part of the worldwide Roman Catholic Church, under the spiritual leadership of the Pope. The diocese was elevated to a full diocese, as the diocese of Nassau in June 1960. On June 22nd, 1999, the diocese was again elevated as the new Archdiocese of Nassau.

Saturday, April 9, 2016

The devil wears PRADA!

Within the last month, my wife has attended 3 Anglican funerals with the most recent one this past Friday being attended by both of us at St. Anne's Parish, in Fox Hill. The presiding Priest for all of those who were being laid to rest was Fr. Kingsley Knowles, the senior Pastor of St. George's Anglican Parish, Mt Royal Ave, who hammered the message that the funeral event was really not for the dead, but rather for all of us in attendance.

As I sat and pondered that message I couldn't agree more. Our loved ones laying in that coffin or the urn have moved on from this earth, many of them are resting in the presence of God. As Fr, Knowles expressed our hope and prayers to one day be with our loved ones in Heaven, he reminds us of 1 Peter 1:3-5. Our soul is not dead, but rather it will live on, either in Heaven with God or be sent to a place where many of us refuse to admit exists, Hell! Peter goes on and speaks about a new birth, but what exactly is this new birth? Peter reminds us that Jesus' death and resurrection were not in vain, it was our ticket to the inheritance that awaits us in Heaven. We will be reborn to Christ in Heaven.

As we left the funeral and headed home I told my wife that it should be our goal daily to always be ready for that day when we are called to answer for our lives. My mind flashed on the person laying in the coffin and I wondered to myself where he went, but it's not my place to be questioning the way someone lived their lives. It is my hope that I can live my life to be an example for others who are lost and may need help to find Jesus.

Fr. Knowles reminded us that that our number goal on this earth is to live our lives as Christ did. It seems like a big task, but one that is attainable, but the human nature within us tries to conform to the way of the world as if Jesus would want us to go with the times. I am reminded of a saying that goes "We do not want a Church that will move with the world, we want a Church that will move the world." We should all aspire to make that change within.

Unfortunately, as Fr. Knowles reminded us, there are many who will sit up in Church today, then, later on, tonight we are winding up on the dance floor. In addition, there are some of us who are present tonight at the funeral who do not even speak to a relative or friend any longer, maybe even present here in the Parish tonight. Is this the way that Jesus lived while he was among us? Absolutely not, yet we profess to be Christians and are quick to challenge anyone who we feel is not living the way we feel they should be living.

The same can be said of those of us who attend Church religiously each and every week, including our religious members of the cloth. This article was birthed because of the message received during the funeral service last evening, thanks to Fr. Knowles. How many of us can honestly say that we live to the best of our ability the way that Jesus lived, and expects us to live? I am sure the number is very low if we are to be very honest with ourselves. We step up in our Sunday go to meeting best outfits with the 'Holier than Thou' look on our faces, but does that really make us good Christians? It would probably make it so much easier if we all just stayed to ourselves with no interactions with anymore, however, we have been called to be a Church community of believers. This is where the difficulty comes into being.

If you've never been directly involved with your Parish' day to day operation then you are probably one of those who attend Mass, participate in the service by singing, praying and receiving communion, then you leave to go home. Speaking from experience, you are probably better off than some of us who are actively involved within the Parish. Why would I say that you may ask? As an active member of my Parish, I am directly involved with the Mass each week as an altar server. I can honestly say that it has crossed my mind many times to step down and just be a regular member like everyone else; as it frustrates me at times to see and hear the things that I do being directly associated.

Let me make it quite clear that my views are my views alone and do not come from anyone within the Parish or the Archdiocese. As a regular lay person, I was so naive to the point that I would have thought that everything within the Church was peaches and cream. You couldn't come to me and tell me one negative thing about my Parish as I would have never believed it. Unfortunately, I see things from a different light and perspective now. I shouldn't be surprised that fighting and disagreements happen among members of the Parish including differences between our clergy members, but is it healthy for the congregation/members who look to the Church for guidance and instructions?

Before I get into the details of my concerns with the way that I see things being done, let me just say firstly that I am astonished by the hypocrisy of people who claim to be "Christians" yet they do and say things to get what they want, whether they offend or hurt someone in the process. As Fr. Knowles expressed in his homily during Mr. Knowles' funeral, we must live our lives the way that Jesus lived. This should be our number one goal and purpose in life. It's high time we step out of those Prada shoes and focus our attention on letters we see on bumper stickers, key chains as well as apparel, WWJD! What would Jesus do!

I applaud any priest who is in charge of running a Parish because it is no easy task, as it can be seen as a business with similar day to day operations. There are bills to be paid, expenses to be monitored and monies to be accounted for as tithes are collected and deposited. So what's so hard about that you may ask, absolutely nothing, but it can become a nightmare when you have forces that may try to work against you and try to force your hand to do as they wish. I run my own house and refuse to allow anyone to dictate to me how I should run it. Similarly, Parish priests are given a mandate by the Archbishop to lead the members of the Parish, including the running of the finances and day to day operation of the Parish.

The bigger the Church the more responsibilities there are so it may be necessary to have committees assigned to assist. These committee members are obviously not paid for their services as it is a given that we help our Pastors and the Church as best we can. The problem with this though is that some people can become so very attached to the post that they refuse to see themselves stepping down or allowing someone else to fill in or take over. We become too comfortable and take ownership to something that is not rightfully ours. This is why it is necessary to have a limit on how long someone doing a non-paid job can serve in any given post.

How is the tithes and fundraising monies handled at your Parish? This is something that a lay person has no idea what goes on, or who is responsible for the collection and security of it. Recently at my Parish, a procedure was put in place to change up the way that the monies are being handled for both Masses at Saturday evening and Sunday morning. You wouldn't believe the noise in the market from this change. I was taken back by the way people grumbled and complained about it as though their way is the right way. As an employee of an organization, if I am not in agreement with something that my boss has put in place then I have two options and only two options; I can either sit quiet and perform the new task or say that I'm not doing it and step down and move on.

Rather than coming together to make our Parish great we do our best to bring it down. It is no secret that some of our Parishes are losing members (hopefully to other Catholic Parishes), including that of my Parish, but we need to take a serious look at how best we can rebuild them rather than argue and complain at every little matter that we disagree with. Unfortunately, you can not change the mindset of some people. They believe that they are right and no matter what you say, they will oppose you. As with companies, there is always a group who stick together and rally for or against an issue. They will forever be faithful to one another. You may think I am making this all up, but this is serious business and it is filtered through and through the Church.

Having gone through a number of priests lately, too many to count, I can state unequivocally that each Priest is sized up to see how far their buttons can be pushed. I am ashamed to admit this revelation, but God knows it happens and I am certain that Priests can write their own story. As much as I wish we had a permanent priest for a great number of years as that of St. Cecilia's Parish, I will have to say that it keeps our shakers on their toes because they don't know who they are going to get next, as well as they won't be able to spin a Priest their way if he is only there for a short period of time.

To put it into perspective as that of Donald Trump "We need to make our Parish GREAT again." We need efficient and effective committees, committees that have a service limit time. LET'S MAKE STM GREAT AGAIN! Don't be fooled, the devil sits right among us within our Parishes and he means business; he can be found on the altar as well as within our pews. Deep within myself, I believe that things can change and they will, but I will be willing to leave and find another Parish if I begin to feel otherwise.

1 comment:

  1. Very well said..... Congratulations my friends -- and do not forget priests come and go but Jesus is with us forever - He is the same yesterday - today and forever -- the message stands for itself regardless of the messenger -- Be blessed -- I miss you all -- You are all always in my thoughts and prayers -- I am living home and everything is fine.


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