Thursday, April 7, 2011

The Sacred Status of Dry Bones

The body of St. Patrick's  is filched
What if our parish churches had truly been dead? Not going through tough times, but truly empty of life and vitality. Not a temporary shortage of the clergy, or a cyclical change in demographics that comes and goes. But dead. Dry bones dead. The remains a husk, the skeleton of a building. Closed, shuttered, decaying.

What should be done? Like a loved one who has died, what is the obligation of the Church to its dead?

Should the body be obliterated? Not lovingly handled and cared for after death, but now treated as a source of filth to be filched of its finery? Quickly, remove that ring and grab the gold necklace!

Is a dead church, like a dead body, to be acknowledged as a temple of God, something holy? Does it not have the right to exist still on this earth, to stand--a silent tomb--as a witness to resurrection?

Ezekiel prophesied about the dead bones of Israel. Listen for the words of Ezekiel 37:12-14 at mass this Sunday. 

1 The hand of the LORD came upon me and brought me out in the Spirit of the LORD, and set me down in the midst of the valley; and it was full of bones. 2 Then He caused me to pass by them all around, and behold, there were very many in the open valley; and indeed they were very dry. 3 And He said to me, “Son of man, can these bones live?” So I answered, “O Lord GOD, You know.”
4 Again He said to me, “Prophesy to these bones, and say to them, ‘O dry bones, hear the word of the LORD! 5 Thus says the Lord GOD to these bones: “Surely I will cause breath to enter into you, and you shall live. 6 I will put sinews on you and bring flesh upon you, cover you with skin and put breath in you; and you shall live. Then you shall know that I am the LORD.”’”
7 So I prophesied as I was commanded; and as I prophesied, there was a noise, and suddenly a rattling; and the bones came together, bone to bone. 8 Indeed, as I looked, the sinews and the flesh came upon them, and the skin covered them over; but there was no breath in them.
9 Also He said to me, “Prophesy to the breath, prophesy, son of man, and say to the breath, ‘Thus says the Lord GOD: “Come from the four winds, O breath, and breathe on these slain, that they may live.'” 10 So I prophesied as He commanded me, and breath came into them, and they lived, and stood upon their feet, an exceedingly great army.

Dry bones can come to life. Death can be destroyed. The body can be resurrected. And because our God can do all these things, it is highly immoral to destroy Catholic churches that have not died, but are and were still living and breathing, as St. Patrick's was, and as St. Vincent's is now.


  1. Gretchen- This is all good and true but what you are missing is the critical piece to the puzzle: Parish leadership and those who support him, have written our churches off. Don't care. Won't care. It's not even on their radar to reconsider.

  2. I think the critical piece to the puzzle is a sovereign move of God Almighty. If He could make a Paul of a Saul...

  3. Miracles do happen but who can predict one? We are forced to deal with the reality of the situation. In my opinion, this is where we are at:

    People are tired of the fight against leadership.
    They have left, they comply or they just get by. Deacon Dean has the Diocese in his corner; as misguided as our Diocese is, they have the power to make foolish and selfish decisions. The parish leaders have convinced many parishioners that our survival as a parish is contingent upon closing Churches and the Diocese backs them. Most people do not believe that our leaders could be deceptive- even when you provide facts to prove this happens, the Parish will counter with statements that are deceptive again and back it forth it goes. At some point, we are left to wonder "does anybody really know what the truth is?". Eventually, people no longer trust either side.

    So, the miracle we really need is for the personal enlightment that you refer to with Saint Paul. People need to sort through the "he says, they say" to find the truth. If this happens, then there will be passion to work together to preserve the traditions of this broken parish.

  4. Ecclesiastes 9:15 -- But there was found in it a poor wise man and he delivered the city by his wisdom. Yet no one remembered that poor man.

    And this: One with God is a majority.

  5. I got one!

    "It does not take a majority to prevail...but rather an irate, tireless minority keen on...setting brush fires of freedom in the minds of men."

    --Samuel Adams, American patriot

  6. Love these quotes!

    Generally, a small group of people fight for change. An active majority would be great, but it's rare.

    Also, I think that what has happened in Springfield, MA and Allentown, PA is a miracle. Previously, the Vatican panel almost never ruled against bishops, except on a technicality. The timing could not be better....

  7. 10:28- Based on his history with Rome, Bishop Clark is marked for another hand-slapping, this time for his mishandling of the sale of Saint Vincent's. Added to the concerns from Rome in regards to low vocations, low participation and mass exodus's, don't be surprised if the Holy Father put's the brakes on the closing of Churches. There really is hope. I just hope there are enough people left in the parish who give a darn.

  8. 10:55 Right now people are thinking that because they haven't heard any more about the impending sale of Saint Vincent's, must be it ain't true. The parish is being intentionally quiet but much is being done behind the curtain to expedite this. People won't accept how terminal their church is until they see the timeline for closure. Then there will be a firestorm. But maybe a little too late.

  9. Is there a little manipulation going on here, methinks?