Last night before bed, I started preparing a soup of butternut squash and red lentils for the Ignatian meditation group lunch today at our house, and finished it off before having breakfast this morning, in time to head across town to St Germans for the midweek Mass. There were a dozen of us there. It looks like I'm going to continue helping out there in the New Year, with two baptisms on the Feast of Christ's Baptism, and a wedding in February, to prepare for. It'll be the first time for me to officiate at a wedding in UK since retirement.
Regulation is now more demanding because of abuse of church wedding ceremonies for marriages of convenience. Also people with a family connection to a church can now ask to be married there, even if they don't live in the Parish. Passport and address checks are now required at an early stage in the preparation. Clergy must prove they have no criminal record before they get permission to officiate in a new diocese. Trust and credibility must be legally formalised and kept updated, consequences of ministering in a society where a priest and the people served are no longer known to each other, as was used normal in previous centuries. It means ministry is far more based on the required function than relationships between people. No matter how much effort goes into making the offer of ministry personal, it is far more likely to be transient in nature. I wonder if we've yet taken into account the impact of this on Christian spirituality as well as practice.
There were five of us for the meditation session. As the group meets most months and has done for years, it's an appreciated part of the more permanent aspect of our respective journeys in faith. The same can be said for the small core group of people in each church congregation that's responsible for maintaining services and keeping the building open. Sometimes these relationships are life-long, and without them, something of the mind and heart of Christian tradition would be lost. They often seem to be older people, simply because they are people who stayed in a place to grow up and grow old together. The group always seems to be dying out, but more often than not its membership gradually changes over the years. A small aspect of growth which often goes un-noticed.
Much of the evening I spent working on migrating CBS user account record notes one by one into a OneNote file that can be easily accessed by all who need to. It's far from being an ideal solution, as the software doesn't offer all that it would be useful for it to do, but once the migration of data is complete, it'll be easy for anyone with information to add to the common cloud based file. It's quite a dull routine task, but it requires concentration to maintain. I'll be glad to see the back of it, so that I can relax my worries about us keeping an up to date set of working information, easily accessible right back to when the business was set up, going digital in 2009.