by Fr. Bruno Renaud (English translation by Rebel Girl)
There is a time to continue in the mold, and there is a time to break molds, to create a rupture. The Catholic parish, for example. The parish was a political and civil organizational model at the time of the Roman Empire. The diocese too. In a huge anonymous society such as the one we have, especially in the city, its tranformation is vital. The Christian community has felt this for fifty years in our indigenous and latino continent. It feels that the large triumphalist demonstrations of faith, huge parishes, luxurious churches, priests who aim to give orders, are not so appropriate for today.
Christians today remember that the organizational model of the early Church was not centered on the church or the priest, but the home -- a place for modest groups to meet who wanted to cultivate faith in a fraternal way, reading the word of God intensely, practicing active solidarity and community. Its protagonists: simply the baptized. They experienced excitement and joy. For centuries, this Church steadfastly proclaimed its boundary in the face of "normal" features of any religion. "We have no church, no priesthood, no altar, no sacrifice, no images!" It wasn't a sad reality, but a burning conviction: "Christianity isn't a religion," said the followers of Jesus, but a "way". The way of Jesus, then, isn't a religion in the classic sense of the word. Soon one will have to recall it in the necessary dialogue with the great religious traditions, starting with Islam.
How things have changed! Throughout the centuries, because of this long cohabitation between faith and politics, the space filled up with churches, priests (by no means proposed by Jesus), images ... Today, in the countries of Western Europe they don't know what to do with hundreds and hundreds of vast empty churches.
This weekend, the 5th National Conference of Christian Communities, or of the Basic Ecclesial Communities (BCCs), which is the same thing, takes place in Barquisimeto. The Church is reborn on more refined bases!