Saturday, April 11, 2015

What Is Our Culture Doing to Us?

A man remembers the exploitation of the elementary Sunday school children some fifty years ago in the building of his  parish church, and writes about it in the diocesan bulletin. Many of the children would take a whetstone attached to poles with which they polished the imitation stone on the floor of the church. Many of the children ruined their clothes in the process. This was their Saturday afternoon work for a couple of months.

While building the church at the end of the 60s the writer mentions that he would spend his weekends at the construction site doing miscellaneous tasks--  no catechism during that time, all done under the watchful eyes of the parish sisters. The construction site was a dangerous place with all the equipment on the property. Today the church would have been sued for labor exploitation of the young, but because of the poverty of the times this wasn't even imagined and all joyfully joined in the work.                        

Many times during the construction, the work stopped because of lack of funds. Adults would be doing odd jobs and the children kept busy with their tasks.  Often the floor of the church would be covered with newspapers, and the parishioners would attend Mass sitting on the floor.

His mother hearing that her son was at the construction site, and working, made her happy. They were not able to give much to the construction of the building so this was a way of participating in the building of the church. The thinking of those days is hard to understand by our present generation: we have difficulty putting up with inconveniences.

Whenever he goes back to his home parish and attends Mass he looks down at the floor that he helped to build, and  feels good about his participation. There are many from those days who have  entered religious life,and have done well in living their faith as lay persons. 

In entering  a newly built, top of the line church,   the feelings of the parishioners are different from those he had as a child. They were able to live with the imperfect and simple, difficult with the new generation. Community was very important in those days, not as true in our times.

He concludes his article with thoughts on how we  become imprisoned by the culture in which we live, without thought of what is causing us to go in one direction instead of another. We are being changed. A present need is for us to observe our culture and judge its worth and failings. Moral judgements need to be made and it is not only a question of what political party is in charge.

We don't reflect on what the culture is doing to us-- necessary if we want to be evangelizers. We need to know what is imprisoning us. The very thing the culture tells us is freeing us is  taking our freedom away, and we are blind in not seeing what is happening.  He uses the story of Lazarus and Dives in Luke 16:19. A good man who was so influenced by his culture, he couldn't see anything besides his own needs.                                                      

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