Charting our Course; Shaping the Future
By the Rt. Rev. Mark J. Lawrence (From the Diocesan Website)
One of the better descriptions of the Church I’ve read over the years comes from a character in J. F. Powers’ novel, Wheat that Springeth Green. Powers, a semi-reclusive Catholic writer known primarily for his short stories, has given us a helpful analogy for understanding the Church—he pictures her as a big old ship. As one character tells another in the story:
“This is a big old ship, Bill. She creaks, she rolls, and at times she makes you want to throw up. But she gets where she’s going. Always has, always will, until the end of time. With or without you.”
I thought of that description of the church some time ago when I read an article in the newspaper of a cruise ship returning to New York from a vacation in the Bahamas. It seems the ship encountered a storm at sea. One disturbed passenger was quoted as saying, “We were going back and forth, up and down. And then, ‘Boom!’” The cruise ship, Norwegian Dawn was hit by a freak 70-foot wave. Reaching as high as deck ten, the wave smashed windows, flooded cabins, and sent furniture flying across rooms. One passenger complained, “Why would you go through a storm? Can’t they see it coming? I’m trying not to be angry.” The captain of the ship wasn’t quoted in the story so there’s no way of knowing whether the storm was foreseen, unavoidable, or underestimated. This much I know as a crewman on the Ship of Faith: there are times you can see a storm approaching, you can even warn others on board it is coming, but there’s no way to avoid the storm if the course charted and the storm’s trajectory are aligned.