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The Case of Gospel Beer

Case of Gospel Beer

1) Introduction

About a month ago, I attended my first meeting of the "CPP" for the Saint-Michel-de-Sillery Parish (CPP as in the "Parish Pastoral Committee"). Basically, 8 people (including 2 Priests) sat around a table and talked for 2 hours. From what I understand, the CPP has no real authority (no resolutions are adopted, the agenda is fixed ahead of time, etc.). In fact, I think they even mentioned that the very existence of CPPs was currently in bureaucratic limbo, because of the changing structural fads coming from the Diocese.

Come to think of it, I guess we could have put a large case of beer smack in the middle of the table, and all gotten drunk for one hour and fifty minutes. Then, during the last ten minutes of the meeting, we could have hidden the case of beer and the empty bottles, read through the agenda and declared "Mission Accomplished!"

2) A few excerpts from our meeting, if my memory is not mistaken

I don't remember much from those two hours of discussions, apart from:

- The Parish Priest started with a "little homily" in which he said how angry he was at "The Church", because "The Church" was "chasing people away". I had to ask him: "Excuse me, Mr. curé, but which official Church documents are you referring to? What official teachings of the Church are 'chasing people away'?" He changed the topic of the conversation.

- We adopted the minutes of the previous meeting. All I remember is the line that proudly stated 40 or so couples had married in the Parish recently. The next line said two couples out of those 40 had, because of their religious beliefs, decided to remain chaste before marriage. I remember being quite surprised at the expression "their beliefs" and not "our beliefs"!

- One of the main issues to be discussed was: "What could we do with all the different Parish movements, as a kind of "team-building exercise"? I naively stuck my hand up and suggested gathering them for some workshops on the Catechism of the Catholic Church. The crowd gasped in horror! One woman almost screamed: "If we start teaching them Catholic doctrine, everybody will run away!" The chairman added that the CPP was not in charge of the education of the Faith. Unfortunately, I didn't have the presence of mind of saying: "But isn't the CPP in charge of all the catechesis courses for the schoolchildren and all the Marriage preparation sessions for adults? If we're not responsible for the education of the Faith, who is?"

3) My suggestion for the next meeting

At the next meeting of the CPP (tomorrow evening, 2005-Nov-03), I'll pray that God gives me the grace to make the following suggestion:

"Since apparently we could just put a case of beer in the middle of the table and get drunk for the next hour and fifty minutes, why don't we put a case of "Gospel Beer" on the table instead, and "get drunk with the teachings of Christ" for ten minutes at the beginning of this meeting? After ten minutes, we could just hide the case of "Gospel Beer" in one of the lockers, and pretend nothing ever happened!

Let's get drunk with the idea that God really does exist, that God really did found the Catholic Church, and that God really told the first Pope and the first Bishops: "Who hears you, hears Me, and who rejects you, rejects Me"! Let's forget all social conventions, all of our inhibitions, and brainstorm what we would do if the teachings of the Church were actually true!"

4) Conclusion

As far as I'm concerned, when I'm "drunk with Gospel Beer", I see Diocesan Demolition Derbies everywhere!

5) Epilogue

Yesterday, I walked into the CPP meeting-room at 06h58 PM, after getting an e-mail from one of the CPP members saying: "Regarding your morning e-mail, I confirm you that our meeting is at 7:00pm. See you this evening."

What follows is an overview of what was said during the next 5 minutes or so (Please note that, as all judges know, men are not very good tape recorders. To hear the other side of the story, please see the contact information here below):

Ms. Breton: [speaking only to me, so as the others wouldn't hear] Did you get invited? You are not welcome here!

Stefan: As you know, I was here for the previous meeting, and nobody hinted that I should not come to the next, on the contrary. Moreover, I was invited by a member of the CPP, François Labrecque.

Ms. Breton: François doesn't speak for the CPP. Everybody in this room discussed your case, and they said that if you stay, they all leave.

Stefan: Fine! Just give me something in writing. This is a committee after all, with resolutions, and voting, and minutes, etc.

I walked over to the actual meeting table and sat down. I just wanted some kind of piece of paper, some sort of formal process, a vote, anything. Especially since "everybody" said they didn't want me! Then I noticed one of the persons present was Louis-Armand Côté, an good collegue of mine (he is an interpreter too).

Stefan: What? You don't want me to be here?

Louis-A.: I never said I didn't want you to be in the CPP.

Stefan: [To Ms. Breton, in a loud voice]: Liar!

Ms. Breton: [quite miffed]: Louis-A. is not formally a member of the CPP, and I didn't say "everybody in this room", but "all the members of the executive committee".

Stefan: OK, so who are the members of this executive committee?

Nobody answered. I repeated I was not debating their right to kick me out. I was just frustrated because nobody ever told me not to show up, on the contrary. I would have gladly stayed home!

Mr. Guillmette: OK, we're sorry, we should have told you.

Stefan: No problem. Just start the meeting, propose a resolution to refuse my presence, and vote. Then I'll happily go away. We have to respect some kind of formal procedure for this kind of action.

Mr. Guillmette: We don't need to. The decision has already been taken.

Stefan: Fine! Can I get a copy of the paper trail of that decision?

Mr. Guillmette: We don't do things that way. We're not accountable to anybody.

I very distinctly remember hearing that, and nobody around the table corrected him. So, seeing I wasn't making any progress, I got up and left. All in all, everything was quite civilized and diplomatic, except when I shouted "Liar!"

In conclusion, before throwing the first stone at the CPP, remember I can be quite a pain in the neck when I'm under the impression that my Mother the Catholic Church is under attack. Personally, if I were stuck with a guy like me, I would throw myself out too!

Contact information:

CPP: l'abbé Michel Fortin, curé; M. Yves Guillmette, Président; Mme Carole Breton, agente de pastorale; etc.
Presbytère St-Michel De Sillery
1600, rue du Cardinal-Persico
Sillery, Québec
G1T 1H3
fabricsm "at sign" mediom.qc.ca

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