16 June 2012

Cheerleaders, Coaches & Groupies

A thought from the world of sport came to mind.  The Personal Ordinariates are now a bit like football clubs or teams (depending on where one lives in the world)...

There is the Owner: in this case Pope Benedict
There is the Coach: in our case the Ordinary

And in the world of sport the Coach always has gathered around him principal coaches (Msgr. Burnham, by way of example) and other coaching staff (the priests, deacons, and religious of the Ordinariates).

I am happy to expand this further for another venue, but for now I will keep it brief.  No sport can have success without supporters.  In the USA there is a tradition of "Cheerleaders" who form a team of their own employed to encourage the fans during matches or games.  Without the analogous "Cheerleaders" the Ordinariates will not stir up the base of support.  Cheerleaders aren't gatekeepers.  I repeat, Cheerleaders are not gate keepers.  They bring a particular expertise (i.e., cheering), and by sharing that expertise build enthusiasm among fans and those who may not be fans... yet.

In some parts of the Ordinariates there are Cheerleaders working hard.  In some parts, the Cheerleaders have shown up ready to work and feel they have been sent home, unwanted, dejected.  Wake up, Coach!  You need all the cheerleaders you can get.  They are 'self-winding', motivated, committed.  They do not represent a burden to a coach but rather are agents of motivation the coach needs to have a winning season.
Leaders need to be as open and transparent as a sport team in the locker room talking to the Press while they disrobe, shower, celebrate, lament....  the Press and consequently the supporters participate in all of that.  This is a key metaphor, I suggest.

Sometimes groupies gather round a coach, a player, a team who take the mindset that they were their first and they must determine who has access to the Coach and the players.  At this point, enter Stage Left, the Robot warning, "Danger, Will Robinson, Danger!"

In Texas at the Texas A&M University, they have a cheerleading tradition called the Yell-leader.  This is a male cheerleader who does yeoman's work with the cheerleading squad and in stirring up the fans in support for their team.  I would have gladly been such a Yell-leader from the inside.  But as it is, I am not invited to the dance... oops, mixing my metaphors... a very Galveston Islander sort of thing to do, where we say things like "Well, that's just spilt milk under the bridge." So forgive the mixing of metaphors and images... would that I could avoid it, but it is a bit like telling an Italian not to use his hands when speaking. ;-)

And so from my Hermitage of Ste. Anne, I try to do what the Lord and Our Lady bid me to do.  Encouragement is the constant goal.  Sometimes it takes the form of a stiff kick in the seat of the pants.  But encouragement is the goal.  While it is the work of the Apostles that is, the bishops and ordinaries, to be the Sons of Encouragement like St. Barnabas, it is also a valuable part of the laity's participation in the apostolic mission according to their competencies.  I'm still looking for my team to support, and thank the Lord I may be near to finding it.

A final note (and image): it is a spiritual mistake for those at the top to expect the laity to be engaged only in the sort of encouragement of which they approve, to be Yes-men with rubber stamps with which to give their constant assent.  It will never happen, and it will give you dis-ease.  Be the constant Encourager from the top.  It is from the ground up that the Church organically grows no matter which portion of it we speak.  When the rain of encouragement falls upon the earth, the laity that is, then bright new growth arises as God gives the growth.  It is not necessary to be so worried and secretive, afraid of what might grow in the garden.  God is content to let wheat and tares to grow up together... to be sifted later at the harvest. 

And that last image, that last word & lesson, is the wisest word of all from Team Owner and Master Coach, Jesus Christ.

+Laudetur Jesus Christus.