A time for everything under the sky

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The beauty of our multi-faceted faith is the symbiosis and interdependence of these three pillars of faith, along with the layers of social justice, doctrine and dogma.

November 11, 2022

Word in Progress Karen Michaela Tan

My teenager snuck up on me after communion and whispered, “Did the kid behind us kick you?” To my affirmative, the offspring said, “He kicked me too! But I found a way to make him stop. At my raised eyebrow, she said happily, “I backed off. Hard.”

Times like these are when I find myself in a catechetical dilemma. As my child’s first and forever faith trainer, I should talk about tolerance and turn the other cheek. I should take this opportunity to shine more of the spotlight on how Jesus was hung uncomplainingly on the cross, without despising or rebuking his executioners.

And yet sometimes bad behavior and bullies are committed in church because of the wrong call to turn the other cheek. How many times have we sat in church or ministry meetings that have been dominated by a pushy member who insists that his way is the best and most correct for the church? How many times have we had the rules of the Catechism of the Catholic Church smeared in our faces by people who read that big green book not to understand the faith, but to use its legalese against us, when most of between us just keep it because it’s big and cockroach threatening?

So many of us know at least one person who has held a position in the community for so long that they can recite each president’s tenure (and recall each one’s missteps). A person who, by virtue of making himself indispensable by knowing all the standard operating procedures that go into reserving church halls for events, the forms to be completed to request the loan of gas stoves for fundraisers, etc., also gives himself the misplaced belief that he knows best, always?

These people we acquiesce to, in order to keep the peace because we are “good” Catholics, are corporate HR nightmares and bullies in an unconventional sense.

Because the commandment ‘love your neighbor as yourself’ and Luke 6:29 “If anyone slaps you on one cheek, offer him the other also. If anyone takes your coat, do not take your shirt” is used so arbitrarily and without any real context, the “good” Catholic suffers and seethes, muttering between his teeth: “We must pray for him”.

Leadership in the Church is basically a thankless job. Long-time (and long-suffering) BEC Coordinators don’t get raises (or raises!). There is also no gold watch at the end of their service.
These selfless men and women do what they do because they believe in charisms, and they live the gospel exhortation of Matthew 28:19-20, to go and make disciples of all nations, teaching them to observe whatever God commanded them.

While I am not suggesting that service to church, community, and God be tainted by overly secular means of reward and recognition, I do believe that all church ministries need organizational checks and balances , because it gives members the mandate to raise human issues. kind of resource.

This must be understood and sanctioned by all parish administrators and priests, whether or not they are particularly gifted in the art of organizational management. While the Church is directed by the Word of God (Holy Scripture), it is, unlike other Christian denominations, also guided by Sacred Tradition and the Magisterium (the authority of the Church to give authentic interpretation of the Word of God and of Tradition).

The beauty of our multi-faceted faith is the symbiosis and interdependence of these three pillars of faith, along with the layers of social justice, doctrine and dogma. Those who quote Scripture should also know the relevance of the passages in the context of humanity and human dignity, and the protection thereof. Take for example the verse mentioned above about turning the other cheek to an aggressor. When we are victims of robbery or gun violence, do you think the first thing we do is submit to the aggressor? On the contrary, the instinct of self-preservation makes even the gentlest people scream, thrash and fight back.

In church ministry, this instinct for self-preservation is demonstrated by people leaving service. Because there is no way to speak out about real human injustice, no human resources department to file complaints for workplace harassment or unethical behavior, good people choose to leave. This brings to life the saying that the only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.

Conflict is not new to the Catholic Church. Ever since Jesus’ early warning “If they have persecuted me, they will persecute you” (John 15:20), Christ has warned His followers to anticipate the negativity of the world. The early Church experienced two centuries of harassment from the Imperial Roman government, the English monarchy’s assault on the Church, and continued criticism of the Church’s position on certain societal issues today.

Yet service in the Church today should not require its participants to be armed for mortal combat. People who serve in the Church must be protected from other well-meaning but overzealous crusaders who see only their personal interpretation of situations.

Lay people who lead ministries need to be able to spot the signs of the narcissist, deal with them, and know without a doubt that their pastor supports them in their endeavors. A good resource on managing these personalities for ministry leaders and church administrators can be found at https://www.vancopayments.com/egiving/blog/controlling-church-members.

There are many resources online that can help lay leaders understand the psyche of bullying or controlling members of ministry, but ultimately there must be a clear policy that states that controlling, dominating or any type of passive aggressive weaponry is counter-intuitive. to the body of Christ and the Church that most of us are trying to build.

Turning the other cheek to bullies isn’t always the answer. Because even Ecclesiastes said there is a time for everything under heaven, including a time to tear down and a time to build, a time to be silent and a time to speak.

If we want to keep a strong and healthy ministry participation; if the Church seeks to retain the talented, the most gifted people, those who are most capable of giving loving service, we must know when to stand up and call out the bullies who undermine the primary calling of the Church, which is to love, to save and to protect.

(Karen-Michaela Tan is a poet, writer and editor who seeks God’s presence in the human condition and seeks ways to put God’s Word into real action. You can contact her at: [email protected])

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