Wednesday, September 07, 2011

Rebuilding the Church 101

This is Philadelphia.

And especially for those of us who call this place -- and, above all, its church -- our home, what a moment.

Over the years, these pages have covered the better part of a hundred transitions, if not more. But never has any of them been like this one... never any like this in the living memory of most of us on these shores, really.

Then again, clearly, that runs in the family now.

Still, by means of comparison to other well-noted crisis situations, even for the "culture shock" another Capuchin brought to parts North eight years ago, Sean O'Malley was no stranger to New England before going into Boston... and not even he was saddled with the mountain of challenges that now fall on the shoulders of his onetime classmate.

Indeed, it's been eerily fitting that the image of a scaffolding-wrapped Cathedral, cords hanging from its crosses, the adjacent park torn up and closed off by cyclone fences, has stood as the iconic comment on the state of a shaken diocese over these last painful months.

* * *
Whoever was sent here this time around, given the epic sea of circumstances the Ninth Archbishop would stand to inherit -- a multitiered scene decades in the making, extending well beyond the signal horror of two grand jury reports in six years -- the choice and his arrival was bound to be significant.

Given Rome's resolution in the form of a staggering, 200-year ground-shift, however, the better one knows this place and its storied past, the easier it is to remain dumbstruck at what is happening in our midst.

Ergo, as anticipation -- or, in many parts still, the fear of the unknown -- builds in advance of tomorrow's launch of Philadelphia Catholicism v.3.0, even if the formal handoff of the chair remains some hours away, we'd be remiss to set into this historic turning-point any other way than with Archbishop Charles Chaput's return to what, until now, has been his most familiar River City speak-easy, from which many memorable messages of his have been sent wide over these years.

To be sure, the tour de force Installation Homily that's expected will likely stack up in a class by itself... for now, though, in his first major talk following the July appointment -- the Opening Mass of last month's Knights of Columbus Supreme Convention in Denver (Readings) -- here's fullvideo of Archbishop's preach on the core of his native Franciscan charism, which likewise could well be considered his overarching task in his new charge: the work of rebuilding the church, underscored by a broad-sketch concept of how the should optimally proceed....

And so, as a new era dawns and a new call is sounded to begin the restoration of a hurting, scattered people to faith, life and trust, especially for those of us who make up the Body in these five counties, may the response of Francis to his commission at San Damiano become ever more our own as we face the hopes and trials of what's likely to remain a turbulent road ahead....
Most High, glorious God,
enlighten the darkness of my heart
and give me true faith,
certain hope and perfect charity,
sense and knowledge,
that I may carry out, Lord,
Your holy and true command.
#9, welcome home.... Phils fans, buckle up.