Thursday, November 17, 2016

Down With Functionalism

In a bulletin for priests, the writer mentions his first year in a preparatory school preparing for entrance to the college seminary. During that one year, he experienced an educational method which he had never seen before or after.

Not once was he ever shown his marks. The rector did interview all the students and he remembers being told his weak points and where effort was necessary. He surmises this is what all the others would have heard.

Different tasks that were given to the students for the smooth running of the preparatory year were not given because of special talents, but a way of helping the student in his formation. If a student had difficulty getting up in the morning he would become the regulator, in charge of ringing the bell for rising and lights out. Those who would have problems with reading would be lectors and this was true of the other tasks. 
Teams were formed for sports. Each day for an hour they would recreate together playing a different sport. It mattered little whether the student liked it or not. His past was not considered important but preparation for the future: changing attitudes would change behavior. No matter how inexperienced or  lack of knowledge, with new learning one would gain confidence and become a new person.

A person with talent instead of just trusting on what he possessed, was to look at his weak points and humbly work to overcome them and let the Holy Spirit lead to a new way of being: not restrained by habits of the past and letting efficiency and functionality be the only motives. When one forgets the presence of God within him, the community to which he belongs is paralyzed.

When God gave his mission to Abraham he was already an old man and he chose Moses who had a speaking problem. Jesus also picked 12 who did not have the qualities we would see as necessary for the work. They learned by working on the job they were given to do.

Function is not  as important as being. This concept is not easy for us to understand in this present world. When we continue learning, trust in God and trust in the  movements of the Spirit we will be free and open to new experiences. 

Pope Francis in his address in Rio De Janeiro at the World Youth Day said: "[Functionalism] Its effect on the Church is paralyzing. More than being interested in the road itself, it is concerned with fixing holes in the road. A functionalist approach has no room for mystery; it aims at efficiency."

Korean society has a great trust in qualifications (specs, specifications).  We are lost in the world of functionalism. Our young people are overcome with this burden that society makes them face in finding a job. When we follow this way of the world in our parishes we are continuing to burden our young people.

Do we  believe that God is leading us with his graces? When we do the whole community of faith changes and will not this change the atmosphere of the community to which we belong? "God chose those whom the world considers absurd to shame the wise; he singled out the weak  of this world to shame the strong" (1 Cor. 1:27).

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