Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Christology Data Gathering

We discussed Christology in class today: the study of the nature and identity of Jesus Christ. It is basically addressing the question that Jesus asked of his own Apostles, "Who do you say that I am?" (Mark 8:29)
How we answer that question is absolutely pivotal in shaping the rest of content of what we believe, the character of our worship, guiding our actions, and even the depth of our relationship with God.
Christology becomes an issue because we find in the one person, Jesus Christ, the hypostatic union of two natures: Human and Divine. All of our efforts to articlate who Jesus is will place, even if only slightly, into a "high" or "low" Christology.
Part of the function of the Magisterium (teaching authority) of the Church has been to establish the boundaries of orthodoxy (right belief). This means setting brackets, if you will, along the Christological spectrum. Beyond the brackets of orthodoxy we find heresy - an alternative, and false belief about the nature & identity of Jesus.

Your Assignment is to study your local parish for this coming weekend (and this past weekend) and try to create a "snapshot" of the operative Christology in the parish. You will do this in four ways:

I. Creed - What is expressly taught about who Jesus is? You will find this in the homily, in the Pastor's message in the bulletin, and in any religious formation classes the parish offers. You might also want to ask this question, "who is Jesus?" of a few people.

II. Liturgy & Sacraments - How does the parish engage in the worship of Jesus and how does it present the sacraments as encounters with Jesus? This you will find through astute observation in a few areas:

A. What is the "feel" of the Church before mass? What is going on in the fifteen minutes or so before mass begins? What are the Hymns sung at Church? What is the content, what are they about?

B. How many altar servers and other lay ministers (lectors, ushers, extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion) are there? What is their decorum? How are they dressed? How active are they in the mass?

C. What prayers are used? It would be unreasonable to write down each one in its entirety, but identify some of the key phrases that are used. What is the general tone of the language of the prayers?

D. What is the environment like? Describe, or even sketch the layout of the Church. Where is the tabernacle? Where do you find statues or images of Jesus, Mary, or the Saints? What is the "feel" or style of those statues or images? Describe any prominent stained glass, banners, or seasonal decorations. Finally, describe the vestment of the priest.

III. Morality - What is the parish attitude toward sin? Are there explicit references to it during the mass - particularly the penitential right at the beginning? What about during the homily or in the bulletin? Are pro-life or other issues addressed? Is the confessional in a prominent location? How often is confession available? What percentage of people would you estimate make use of confession on a regular basis?

IV. Prayer - What opportunities does the parish offer for private or group prayer outside of Sunday mass? Is weekday mass celebrated regularly? Is there an adoration chapel? If so, is it widely known or used as such? Do people pray the rosary or other prayers before or after mass? Does the priest offer suggestions for personal or private prayer?

Remember, this is the data gathering portion of the assignment. I am not yet asking you to draw any conclusions, though if they begin to emerge, please jot them down to incorporate later.

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