My friend Paul came to visit this morning and we spent a fun hour and a half or so at the Higgins Armory Museum. If you have not been to the Armory put it high on your Worcester bucket list because the place is awesome. We toured the exhibits of very scary weapons – maces, morning stars, broad swords, throwing swords, etc. – from all over the world and checked out the armor. We also got to see a demonstration where a museum guy (with help from his “squire”) put on a full suit of armor. One of the questions he was asked was how heavy was the suit. It was around 60 lbs or so – I forget – but he pointed out that this is lighter than the gear worn by a modern infantryman. The real problem with plate armor was that you would get hot and sweat in it when exerting yourself and then when things calmed down there was a good chance you could get hypothermia within the hour. No thanks!
The museum hosts many cool events – one that I recall seeing advertised was called Malt & Mayhem – it was a whiskey tasting with weapon demonstrations for entertainment. We decided the museum, which is available to rent for private events, would be a cool place to have a bachelor party (it would be hard to top my own very enjoyable party, though – paintball followed by a barbecue with my friends). We also got to talking about mission parishes. We have a gigantic Cathedral with 1500 or so families, many of whom live in the immediate area as well as a good number who live in outlying areas. Paul asked if the Cathedral might ever spawn a mission parish or several. It is an interesting question, and there are a lot of things in play when discussing this. Our church is one big family, and people love coming together to the mothership for worship and activities. I think that if we were to have mission parishes in a place like Spencer or Hopkinton, to name a few places where we have concentrations of parishioners it could become a divisive thing; it is nice that we all worship together on Sundays, and people look forward to coming to Worcester to see their friends on Sunday. We would also need clergy with lay professions to take on these missions (as well as to help us get a bit closer to the protestant ideal of 1 pastor to 100 families – you do the math 🙂 ).
That being said – we do have several very small churches in outlying areas that do not have full-time clergy and could be said to be on the decline. These churches could easily become mission parishes, with our Cathedral as the mother parish, with missionary clergy (rather than the hard-working and long-suffering retired priests who attend to them on Sundays) firing up the community, evangelizing and getting things going. Fr. Dean and I generally end up taking care of many of the day-in, day-out pastoral needs of these communities – funerals, house blessings, and so forth – so in that sense there is already some missionary activity taking place, but there is the potential for much more. These were some of the thoughts Paul and I exchanged as we toured the museum. We both remarked on the intricacy of the design of the armor as well as the effort involved in getting dressed in it. Imagine that kind of creativity, hard work and time dedication put towards spreading the gospel!