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Issue Date:  December 14, 2007

From the Editor's Desk

Finding our way home

We began reporting two months ago on a story coming out of the Netherlands about a group of Dutch Dominican priests and their proposed solution to the priest shortage -- to allow the laity to select leaders from their own faith communities and designate them as the official presiders at Mass. While the recommendation showed great concern for the well-being of the Catholic community, the Dominicans’ Rome-based leaders have questioned the proposed solution as beneficial to the church or in harmony with church tradition.

The story caught our eye, prompting us to ask if there is more to be learned from this fresh discussion of a familiar issue. Over the years, some of the church’s greatest thinkers and visionaries have come out of the Netherlands, inviting us to rethink our theology and our understanding of church as community.

But, of course, as a newspaper, we never really know where significant happenings within the church will occur ahead of time. Like most people, we observe and listen attentively to the voices shaping the conversation and wonder where the discussion will go. Our challenge is to use the best information we can gather to decide which stories to report. Using this as our guide and relying on the reputation of the Netherlands for emerging trends, we sent Bob McClory, a longtime freelance reporter for NCR, to investigate and report for our readers the larger context of the story. He spent a week there just prior to Thanksgiving. A short visit, certainly, but enough time to gather information we hope you find meaningful and useful as we all search for answers to the challenges facing us as church. (See story)

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Also, this week, in the midst of the Christmas shopping rush, we focus on spirituality and give lots of attention to the notion of meditation and the role of silence and stillness in our lives. While we all speak highly of these virtues and extol them as important and necessary, our actions often say otherwise. Our lives are filled to the brim, if not overflowing, with activity. We live with e-mail and junk mail, fax mail and voice mail, cell phones, text messaging, pocket pagers and handheld computers.

Yet, for all our involvement and connectedness, we often find ourselves bored and restless, uncertain of just what it is we really want. We are faced with challenges in our families, our church, the government and the world. On any given day, most of us could probably find cause for despair and or be easily overwhelmed into a sense of powerlessness.

Fortunately, our rich Christian heritage offers us a way out of the confusion: Written upon every human heart is a pathway to God. An inner voice calls us to that inner sanctuary deep within every person where we find guidance and truth.

Some years ago, I was fortunate to have the chance to study with Kale Williams, a Quaker gentleman from Chicago and long- time human rights advocate. Because of him, I began exploring the notable Quakers and their adherence to the holy center within ourselves. I took special comfort from the words of Rufus Jones: “Many times I have found my way home in the dark because my feet felt the road when my eyes could not see it. There is something in us, deeper than hands or feet, that finds the way to the Central Reality, and when we arrive we know it.”

-- Sr. Rita Larivee, SSA

National Catholic Reporter, December 14, 2007

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