This is Part 2 of a fifteen-part series called “The Vision of an Ideal Parish” based on an article by Dr. Peter Williamson published in 2016. This series is intended to return us to our original Faith Forward Vision.

I like dipping bread in oil. It’s yummy! Especially if the bread is fresh and the oil has some seasoning in it. So, it struck me the other day: our parish should be like bread dipped in oil. Sure, I know that sounds kind of weird, but let me explain.

Bread is made with wheat and water. Wheat itself goes through the process of maturing, dying, falling, and sprouting. The farmer harvests the grains of wheat and takes it to the miller. The miller grinds the wheat into flour. The flour is then mixed with water to make dough. The dough is placed in the oven and the bread (yes, unleavened) is baked. Oil, too, like bread, is made from individual olives. The olives are gathered and pressed to produce the oil. In both cases it takes hundreds and thousands of individual pieces to produce one piece of bread or ounce of oil.

So it is with our parish. You see our parish is made up of 7,500 souls. Each of us are like the grains of wheat. We ourselves must go through a process of maturing, dying to self, and rising to new life. Each of us, as we experience the pressures and anxieties of daily life, are “ground” into refined people. Then, passing through the waters of baptism, we are united to one another as the one Body of Christ, the Church. Then we were confirmed by oil literally being placed on our foreheads. Our confirmation has anointed us all in the Holy Spirit. Thus, we are one body in Christ and temples of the Holy Spirit. In other words, we are like bread dipped in oil. Ta-da!

Okay, so this was just a long way for me to make a simple point: an ideal parish is Christological.

Bread and oil are images of the body of Christ. Jesus himself is the grain of wheat that falls to the ground and dies so that it can bear much fruit (John 12:24). Like the life cycle of wheat, Jesus himself became man, lived as one of us, suffered on our behalf, died, was buried and rose. We, his disciples, imitate both his life and his suffering. Just as wheat goes through violence to become flour for bread, we too, as his disciples, share in his sufferings which unite us as one body.

Still more, Jesus was also anointed by the Holy Spirit. After he was baptized in the Jordan the Holy Spirit descended upon him in the form of a dove. In fact, Jesus’ entire ministry was a collaboration with the Holy Spirit (CCC 485).

So what does it mean for our parish to be Christological? It means that each of us must imitate Jesus Christ in his life, death, and resurrection. Then, washed in the waters of baptism and united in through the anointing of the Holy Spirit, we are formed into one body: our parish…like bread dipped in oil.

Father Jarrod Lies, Pastor