Monday, December 13, 2004

Newsletter of 12/12/04

Thoughts from Fellow Parishioners of Holy Spirit.

Some Thoughts for Advent.
We all know that our culture has commercialized Christmas, but has the commercial spirit also crept into our faith life? Is our advent wreath just another decoration? Are we more concerned with making sure all the gestures, candles and vessels look correct, than what they mean?

Two thousand years ago, the Christ child came—but not to a perfectly appointed temple. He came to a humble manger. He came to a man and woman who had nothing but hearts full of love and trust in the will of God.

After our advent season of preparation, the Christ child will come again. This Christmas the Christ child will come once again to the manger of humble hearts—hearts with love and trust in God: O Come, O Come, Emmanuel. From a parishioner.

If You Want Peach, Work for Just Ice.
The foolishness of relying on the spell checker to do proofreading was brought home a few weeks ago, as the phrase heading up this section managed to slip into a draft of some comments on "peace and justice". The word processing software didn't know what was supposed to be there, and so allowed the properly spelled, but meaningless, phrase to past muster.

But even if the words are spelled right, the phrase from Pope Paul VI, "If you want peace, work for justice," still passes through the minds of many, even Catholics, as a misunderstood or consciously rejected proposition, and ends up garbled in our conversations within the Church and when we present ourselves to the world at large.

The sermon offered to the parish on the weekend of December 5th, presented a view of peace, justice, and the relation between the two, that is not only at odds with Paul VI's, but appears to be at odds with that familiar ''job description of a Christian," the Sermon on the Mount.

Peace is not the same as tranquility and tranquility is not the goal we seek—we seek the peace that is the fruit of a just society. The Apostle Paul, Francis of Assisi, Catherine of Siena, the Prophets of Israel, even Jesus Himself were harsh, public critics of the established religious institutions—they did not stand by in quiescent tranquility, valuing unity with authority above all else, but spoke out against what they thought was wrong. Their comments were not complaining or whining.

Sometimes philosophical and theological differences have little significance on our day to day lives as Christians, but other times, such differences matter. When the very nature of the parish community, its ministries, and its liturgy are impacted, then the differences matter.

An Advent Parable
This Advent, just learn to wait. It's one of life's greatest lessons.

The ancients tell the story of a greathearted soul who ran through the streets of the city crying, "Power, greed and corruption. Power, greed and corruption." For a time at least, the attention of the people seemed to be riveted on this single-minded openhearted person for whom all of life had become focused in one great question.

But then everyone went back to work, only slightly hearing, some downright annoyed. Still, however, the cries continued. Finally, one day, a child stepped in front of the wailing figure on a cold and stormy night. "Elder," the child said, "don't you realize that no one is listening to you?"
"Of course I do, my child," the elder answered. "Then why do you shout?" the child insisted, incredulous. "If nothing is changing, your efforts are useless." "Oh no, dear child, these efforts are never useless," the elder said. "You see, I do not shout simply to change them. I shout so they cannot change me."

That is the fruit of Advent. That is the secret of waiting. It is ourselves we must teach to listen. It is we who must wait again for new life, like all of those before us who waited for the "fullness of time." Sister Joan Chittister , OSB, contemporary spiritual writer.

Congratulations to Sister Moira.
A distinguished national award was presented at Mass on December 12th to Moira Kenny, RSM, who was honored by her community, the Sisters of Mercy, for her work in peace and justice. Sister Moira, among many other things, is the Chair of the Holy Spirit Peace and Justice Commission. Scores of people joined in a social after the ceremony—the Pastor couldn't make it.

An Update.
From a fax sent by the Diocese as a weekly update:

Canonical Judges to Assess Contract Validity.
Three ecclesiastical judges with doctorates in Canon Law were scheduled to be in the Diocese of Brownsville next week to assess an internal matter of the Church, the canonical validity of a contract entered into on May 23, 2002 between Holy Spirit Parish in McAllen and the United Farm Workers Union. However, one of the judges has taken ill and the process will be rescheduled.

The judges will be here as part of a Diocesan Collegiate Court [Tribunal] to review the case. All have written and lectured extensively on matters of Canon Law issues.

What is not part of this weekly update is that the Bishop has failed to inform the litigants in the Holy Spirit workers case of the existence of this Tribunal, much less its scheduling, as required by the mediation settlement. This weekly update appeared only a few hours after questions about such a Tribunal were raised with the Pastor.

In answering these questions, our Pastor indicated that it was at his instigation that the validity of the contract is being reviewed. Additionally, he stated that he dislikes the UFW and agrees with our Vicar General that parish employees don't need unions. His solution: have priests take courses in administration.

So, even though the long established teaching of the Church supports the right of workers to organize, such a teaching does not apply to the Church itself! It is clear that the diocese doesn't want unions or see a need for them, but shouldn't the parish employees be able to decide for themselves whether they do or not? This is the teaching of the Church and is the heart of American labor law.

Some Suggestions.
Everybody have a wonderful Christmas—deeply spiritual and loads of fun. Remember, in your prayers and in your generosity, the poor and needy or our community.

Prepared by RGV Parishioners for Progress and edited by Jerry Brazier. If you want an opportunity for prayerful discussion of these or other issues concerning our parish, please contact us at If you would like to have your comments or correspondence posted on Reflections of the Spirit, please e-mail your post to, with an inclusion of "Holy Spirit" in your title line.

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