A very good, old friend of mine, Fr. Austin Fleming of the Archdiocese of Boston has been an inspiration to me for many years. We first met 28 years ago, when he was a young priest, and I was a very, very, young seminarian. Austin and I both share a love for, and a strong intellectual passion for the Church’s liturgy and music. Despite many trials, especially in the vineyard of Boston, Austin has been a beacon of hope and light for many, many people. He has been keeping a blog, and many of his thoughts have triggered some of my own thoughts for our vineyard in New Jersey. Recently, he wrote of an encounter with some friends reflecting upon the state of affairs in the Church in Boston in the past few years. Austin, in typical fashion, took that experience, translated it into wisdom for contemporary Catholics in Boston, and put it into wonderful word-wisdom for all of us. With all respects to Austin and his sources, I’d like to translate his wisdom to our own Diocesan Study of Parishes, especially for the Diocese of Trenton!
Lakota tribal wisdom says that whenever you discover you are riding a dead horse, the best strategy is to dismount. However, in the church we often try other strategies with dead horses, including the following:
- Buy a stronger whip.
- Change riders
- Say, "This is the way we've always ridden a dead horse."
- Declare, "No horse is too dead to beat."
- Study alternative uses for dead horses.
- Require all parishes to have a dead horse.
- Visit other parishes to see how they ride a dead horse.
- Run a workshop to increase sensitivity to dead horses.
- Provide funding to increase the performance of dead horses.
- Harness several dead horses together for increased speed.
- Appoint a diocesan committee to study dead horses.
- Cluster parishes to share the benefits of dead horses.
- Promote a dead horse to a position of authority.