Monday, August 26, 2013

St. Callistus. . .

There was a reason why this name was not spoken aloud!
On the plaza of the future Christ Cathedral, 3,000 chairs and 7,000 water bottles awaited the faithful. On Saturday, before Mass welcomed families from St. Callistus Church to their new home, an organizer said into the microphone: "Those sitting in the sun will get more blessings from God."

With those words, the LA TIMES announced that work is coming to completion in the transformation of the old Crystal Cathedral into a real one, the church home of the 1.2 million Orange County Roman Catholics.  Interestingly, the remnants of the Crystal Cathedral folk are moving to the old St. Callistus parish property to rent space there.

One author has listed photos with the silly names people choose for churches.  You can read it here.  Personally, I am not amused by the ridiculous names chosen for churches today.  Fluffy Lamb of Jesus Living Fellowship of Happy People.  Bleeck.  Okay I made that one up.  But I did not make up "The Tribe" or "New Tribe" or "Rhythm" -- these are names chosen for new mission congregations.  Or do you prefer "The Alley" -- also an actual congregational name in Lutheran use.  I tolerate "Victory in Jesus" but it is pushing the limit.  Ditto for "Amazing Grace Lutheran Church".  Worse is "Love Lutheran Church" (usually a name describing what is severely lacking in a parish and therefore always suspect in my book).  My own parish was hardly original (how many million "Grace" this or that denominational name congregations exist???).

I applaud the names of saints as names for congregations.  I believe that this is one way in which we are regularly reminded that the Church was there before us.  We did not invent it and dare not treat it as if it were our personal possession.  The best we can do is to pass it on faithfully to those yet to come.  St. Athanasius Lutheran Church or St. Ignatius Lutheran Church...  Good choices!  It gives you an opportunity to witness the faith when you explain the name.

I also applaud the specialized terms of Christian theology when used appropriately as the names of congregations.  The Lutheran Church of the Resurrection, or Incarnation or Atonement. . .  All good names.  Even Epiphany! 

Names that are chosen because this is what we want to be are always poor choices.  Names that are trendy will be out of step a few years down the road (will somebody raise a question 20 years from now about why they named their Lutheran Church "The Tribe"?).  The same disaffection I have for the name mess for our children I have toward many of the names that people choose for congregations.  It seems nothing brings out the goofiness in a mom or dad more than when they decide to name their daughter "L'tria" or their little boy "DayVonn" (actual names from my acquaintance).  Maybe it is the drugs or the euphoria of having a child.  If that is your inclination, sober up, wait a day, and then pick a name.  The same for congregations.  Don't let the emotional weakness of the moment let you choose a name that will wear poorly and make people wonder what sacramental weed you were smokin when you had that meeting.

St. Callistus.  A good name.

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