Sunday, April 27, 2008

Let This Be My Prayer Today

This is probably a stupid question, but it's bugging me. It's Sunday, so it's time for Andrea to fret about Catholicism and religiosity and faith... Big, deep questions.

Except not so much today.

A few weeks ago, I went to church. It happened to be the feast day of St. Vincent de Paul. The short version is that he was a French peasant in the late 1500s. He became a priest, and had a special heart for poor people. Other priests came to work with him, an order of priests formed itself, and today there are Vincent de Paul ministries in many parishes around the world. Mostly it's true (but not required) that these Vincent de Paul ministries are led by lay people rather than priests or nuns, which makes me inclined to like them just on the face of it.

So, I'm at Mass on this feast day. There's a commissioning ceremony for the Vincent de Paul volunteers -pretty standard stuff. By accident, though, I was sitting in the pew with them. They are good people. They are dedicated people. The few that I actually know are interesting and wonderful people. But mostly they were people I don't know.

And I have to tell you that they looked like no fun at all. They were mostly old (and you thought I was as old as a human can be. Apparently not.) and grumpy-looking. The woman next to me read her missal throughout the whole Mass. The woman next to her said the rosary throughout the service. Blech. What that behavior tells me is that there's a very old-school theology attending this ministry to the poor.

That inclination makes me worry about what their service to poor people looks like. Is it similarly conservative and old-fashioned? I don't know. But mostly I was wondering why only old grumpy people are attracted to this ministry in the church. It wasn't always like this. Why would anyone want to join them??? They didn't seem terribly welcoming. What do they do at their meetings? Why would I give up an evening to join them?

I couldn't think of a single reason, and that's just a shame. And I'm sort of predisposed to think that the work is important. What's it going to take to persuade young, comparatively hip people that this kind of work is fun and important and the mission of their lives?

So, my prayer today is that people I like will come join me in these ministries to the poor and oppressed. Fairly lame, as prayers go, but it's all I've got today.


Lisa :-] said...

I guess my question is, what is wrong with younger people that they do not have the heart to minister to the poor? Is it not glamorous or ostentatious or technology oriented enough?

Why should we have to market the concept to them?

shroomheat said...