Encouraging your pastor toward Eucharistic revival
While many readers enjoyed my suggestions in A simpler program for Eucharistic revival, one friendly reader pointed out that something was missing from my list: an exhortation to parishioners “to keep encouraging their pastors.” Good point.
If your pastor shares your desire to increase reverence for the Eucharist, and has implemented one or more of the proposals that I offered (or some of his own—my list was neither original nor exhaustive), the chances are that he has heard complaints from some liberal parishioners. He will need encouragement, to balance off that negative feedback. So, rather than complain about the steps that he has not taken, thank him for what he has done. Then, after the encouragement, you might suggest another step.
This positive approach is not only more charitable. It is also more effective. Think of what Jeeves, in the novels of P. G. Wodehouse, refers to as “the psychology of the individual.” The pastor, when he sees you approaching, might think: “Oh, boy; here’s that guy who’s always telling me about the things I should do.” If so, he won’t be anxious to talk to you. On the other hand, he might say: “Oh, here comes that nice fellow who’s been supporting me.” In that case he has no reason to avoid you. Which means that you have his attention, and another opportunity to encourage him.
Think of it this way: Your pastor presumably falls into one of three possible categories:
- He is mostly—or even completely—in agreement with you on the need for greater Eucharistic reverence. So you don’t need to convince him. He is your ally. He may hesitate to do what you would like, for reasons that you may or may not understand. (He may feel pressure from other parishioners, other pastors, or diocesan superiors.) If you trust him, and he trusts you, you can make common cause, and perhaps overcome the obstacles. If you criticize him, he’s not likely to include you in his circle of trust.
- He has no strong feelings, one way or another, about the reforms you would like. He is, therefore, likely to take the path of least resistance. Your challenge, then, is to make it easier for him to enact the reforms—to persuade him that the reforms will have attractive consequences. If there are divisions within your parish (and most parishes do have divisions), make sure he thinks of you, and others who desire Eucharistic reverence, as “those nice people,” rather than “those people who are always complaining.” So if he takes one small step in the right direction, don’t complain that he hasn’t (yet) taken another larger step. If you do, he may be tempted to conclude: “Those people always complain anyway; why bother trying to satisfy them?”
- He may actually disagree with you, and see no need for greater reverence at the Eucharistic liturgy. You can do your best to plant the seeds of ideas now and then, but you aren’t likely to convince him. Pray for him. And look for another parish.
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