Each week, the fax machine spits out another one-page bulletin called the "Diocesan News."
Copies of the weekly diocesan bulletin used to be mailed out. It was a few pages long, with articles from various contributors around the diocese. But since the Diocese is scraping the bottom of the cash barrel these days, this exciting new low-cost format was adopted. Each church can make its own copies (or even just post one copy in the parish hall, to save on toner cost.)
The one-page bulletin has information on the goings on around the diocese. There are concerts, gatherings to raise awareness about various social issues, study groups about various social issues, peace rallies, committee meetings, and the names of people who died this week.
It's kind of depressing.
I guess what bothers me most about the Diocesan News is what's NOT on it: i.e. means of grace.
Free music concerts are a good thing, sure. And, to be fair, in the midst of all the peace and social justice gatherings that the same fifty people all go to, and the committee meetings that I am extremely grateful not to be part of, there is the occasional offering of a retreat day or prayer gathering. That's a step in the right direction.
But, if I'm an ordinary baptised believer, or mostly a believer, sort of, at least on my good days, what help is there for me to, you know, actually grow in my faith? Not to grow in my awareness of all the ways the world is screwed up by the Evil Establishment (you know, Them). Not to grow in my hopelessness that an already tiny and struggling diocese is shrinking as funerals surpass baptisms week after week after week.
To grow in my faith. To learn how to follow Jesus better than I am now.
Is there any place I can go to encounter the Word of God, living and active? Is there anything that will lead me to an encounter with God? Is there any remedy available for my sin-sick soul? Is there any guide who can help me try to stay faithful in the confusing muddle of work and school and daily life in a pagan world?
In other words, what's out there that will tear down and rebuild my heart? Where can I find training in how to live as a saint?
Because just a handful of saints, just a few hearts that have been deeply grasped by grace and set afire with divine love, will do more to bring justice and healing to Japan than twenty thousand discussion groups.
The problem is not a lack of awareness. The problem is a lack of conversion.