ONE OF THE CLAIMED AND often ordinarily humanly serious complaints that many people have for leaving the older churches or religions, whether of the universal/Catholic Church, the later denominational churches or indeed of any other faith  and religion, is that all these older religious outfits very soon get so routine in their ways and methods that it feels humanly attractive to just leave and find something more exciting and new, for their ever searching human minds! “After all”, they say, “it is all the same thing, the same seeking for God, finding Him and worshipping Him, no matter where it is.”  On face value, even though this is essentially and in principle true, the real crux of the matter is this: Is it the same “God” that you find in all these religious outfits of our human searching? Do those “Gods” that we find there, and the means and methods by which they worship “Him” lead to the same human and divine ends? Well, if not for either or both of these two questions, does the original reason for all these wide searchings make any more sense? Is the searching, just merely for variety and entertaining atmosphere and systems, fit for a religion? Does it fit for a God that, if He must be God, does not really change; being the same, yesterday, today, tomorrow and forever? Well, well, well, these are obviously some of the questions and the answers which these varying religious experience searchers neither ask, nor look for their answers, before moving out for these apparently wild goose chasings! But God is surely good, and will forgive all these people whenever they realize the truth of the futility of these searches and come/get back and stay with the most simple and very sound truths of the unchangeable God who is not served by such wild goose chasings.

However, one may still ask oneself some basic questions about the man’s inherent desire for variety and for change, which God Himself put in man and for which they say: “change is the only constant of the human nature”, and again, “variety is the spice of life”! So then, it is God Himself who put the need, or indeed hunger, for variety and for change in the human nature; and it is inevitable that all men will keep looking for it and trying to find and to enjoy it in all things human! So, there will be no need to deny it or to argue out the need for it – even in relation with finding God and worshipping Him, whether He Himself is constant or not!

It is in regard of this fundamental fact that I as a person, would usually not be offended or get angry that ANYBODY, even some previously known mature and seemingly knowledgeable Catholic person is reported to have left the church for any of these wild goose chases! The truth of it is that as of that given time, such a person may be in dire need of such a variety and one just does not need to worry about it. If one however gets the chance to chat with such a person, one will need to explore with such one, the fundamental questions in the first paragraph of this discussion. Even if that person does not discover the futility of those faith excursions, at such a time, it would still not matter that it was so.

It is for the reason of this inherent need by man for change and for variety, that is put in himself by the very God who created us, that I am excited to discover what happened to us in one major Catholic Church quite recently. As we will all know in the Church, there are always materially rich and poor (parish) churches – in terms of numbers, money and quality of the worshippers there! This is such that but for the vows or solemn promises of the evangelical counsels for the Catholic priests and religious, no religious minister will ordinarily accept to go to these poor and extremely poor parishes! So, one day, we were in this rich and privileged Catholic Church to learn that it (the parish priest there) had decided to “twin” itself/himself and the parish with the parish priest and church of one really poor parish! On that day, and without prior information to the parishioners, he had gone to celebrate mass for this materially poorer parish while the parish priest of that poor parish had come to celebrate the main mass of this materially rich parish. This younger priest also used the occasion to appeal to this rich parish people to help him materially and otherwise, in building the material structures needed in his poor parish. He was the one who explained to these rich parishioners that his parish had been twined with their parish and that the two parish priests were having an exchange of their main Sunday mass celebrations in both parishes for that day. The other features of this twinning plan were also explained and explored by the parishioners on that day – shared Easter Monday community “meet me in Galilee” excursions and carnivals between the parishes, wider collaborations in the exchange services between the parish priests and their curate(s) or assistant parish priest(s) as the case may be, many openings for the laity for more avenues of lay apostolates, individual and corporate, as well as for exchanges and variety between them! The list is innumerable!

Moreover, this younger parish priest from this smaller and poorer parish had his very exciting, yet valid/correct, ways of exploring the scriptural readings of the day and of applying them to our Catholic Christian lives and apostolates, compared with and different from those of the PP of this big parish and his curate! The variety that this was for the parishioners on that day was clearly palpable on the faces and excitement of all the parishioners for that day! The meaning of this for me on that day and thereafter, of course, is that even though mother church must continue in her duty to preserve the norms of organization, the truths and methods of the church as conferred on her by the Christ, and the officers of the church – priests, people of the consecrated religious lives and fully lay people – are able and allowed to provide these forms of variation compatible with God and His religion that are immutable and will never change truly, in substance and in truth; because He is the same yesterday, today, tomorrow and forever!

How I wish that our different parish priests and such others in management authorities of our parishes, apostolates and other units of the apostolic life would learn from this episode, the “liturgical take-away” culture that I experienced in another Catholic church not too long ago and also discussed in this Independent Newspaper! In that way, we will be able to service this man’s inherent desire with variety, yet maintain the constancy of God and his worship. May this culture of allowable variety in the church spread like wild fire, percolate and last; for the glory of God, the stability in oneness and faith of the church and the spiritual satisfaction of all in it through the same Christ our Lord. Amen.

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