Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Wanted: Rituals for leaving the church

Fr. Michael Kerper from the August 27, 2005 In Good Faith column of the Portsmouth Herald.
... ancient rituals, which have immense symbolic richness, make it abundantly clear that a person has become a full-fledged member of a specific community of faith. In a sense, the person is "marked" or "branded" as a permanent member.

What about the impermanent member, he asks.
Today not everyone initiated into a religion wants to continue his or her membership. How, then, does a sincere person get out?

So we need an exit ritual.
Take the Roman Catholic Church.

Please!? No, sorry, a ritual cannot be that simple.
During the past 25 years, the church has vastly enriched its process of initiation, at least for adults. But perhaps the time has come to direct some creative energy in the opposite direction. In short, the Catholic Church, indeed all churches, would benefit from "rites of de-initiation," the reversal of the traditional rites of initiation.

Here's my first draft:
Rite of Christian De-initiation for Adults (proposed): At the beginning of the Saturday evening Mass, the departing parishioner leads the entrance procession; the theme from "Branded" is played. At the altar, the departing parishioner climbs the steps, if any, to the altar, faces the assembled congregation, extends the right arm and waves. The presider joins the parishioner before the altar. The presider holds out his hand and the parishioner surrenders any remaining weekly envelopes. The now ex-parishioner then leaves; during this recessional, the assembly extends right arms and waves while "Na Na Hey Hey Kiss Him Good Bye" is played.

(via Ut Unum Sint)


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