Monday, January 24, 2005

Newsletter of 01/23/05

Thoughts from Fellow Parishioners of Holy Spirit.

It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends on his not understanding it. Upton Sinclair

Affermation Night:
“Affirmation Night, sponsored by the parish Peace and Justice Commission, recognizes and ‘affirms’ those individuals and non-profit organizations in the Valley that are committed to works of peace and justice.”

The Pastor had the above sentence stricken from later copies of the parish bulletin inserts, publicizing Affirmation Night. This was a petty action, revealing more of our Pastor’s misunderstanding and mishandling of the parish than he realizes. The sentence describes the purpose of Affirmation Night.

Does our Pastor object to the parish’s affirmation of those committed to works of peace and justice?
Does our Pastor object to the parish’s espousal of the Church’s teachings on peace and justice?
Does our Pastor have a logically or theologically based argument that refutes these teachings?
Does our Pastor honestly believe that affirming the work of such groups as Mujeres Unidas, Comfort House and the El Milagro Clinic is inappropriate for a Catholic parish?

Or,... was this simply peevishness, an arrogant display of his personal dislike for those putting on the activity? Our Pastor will not attend this Affirmation Night, just as he opted out of last year’s, but seems very willing to judge its value, nonetheless.
¡Basta, Padre—Enough!

Affirmation Night—the Final One for the Parish
On Saturday, January 29th, at 7:00 pm, in the church, Holy Spirit will sponsor the last of its aforementioned Affirmation Nights. This activity, besides affirming the work for peace and justice in the Valley, has brought many outstanding speakers to us, including Sister Helen Prejean, author of Dead Man Walking.

This year’s speaker is Sister Dianna Ortiz. An Ursuline nun, Sister Dianna, while ministering in a retreat center in Guatemala was abducted, tortured and raped. She will speak of the shattering effects of torture on her life, her long slow journey toward healing, and her efforts to bring her perpetrators to justice.

Sister Dianna will be introduced by Jennifer Harbury, who is the widow of Efrain Bamaca Velasquez, a Mayan resistance leader assassinated in Guatemala by high level military officials. Upon learning of her husband's secret imprisonment and torture, she carried out an international campaign which revealed the CIA's involvement in her husband's murder.

Bishop Thomas J. Gumbleton, from the Archdiocese of Detroit, Michigan, in reflecting on the Baptism of our Lord, highlights the particular way in which Jesus was called to minister and bring justice. In fulfilling Isaiah, Jesus was not to cry out and raise his voice in proclamations in the street. In the Hebrew text, the words for calling out in the streets would mean calling people to arms. Instead, Jesus was to minister with gentleness, compassion and nurturing. Jesus was not to break the bruised reed, but care for it, heal it and bring it back to life. In short, Jesus was to be a “servant-king”,.. not another military king to unite Israel.

This call to be a servant and to be people of gentleness and compassion is also our calling through our baptism. It is the way Jesus, through us, is to bring the promised peace and justice to the world.

Pope John Paul II
As we begin the next four-year chapter in the history of our country, the following words from Pope John Paul II, in his peace day statement from Jan. 1, 2005, seem especially timely:

“To attain the good of peace, there must be a clear and conscious acknowledgment that violence is an unacceptable evil and that it never solves problems. Violence is a lie. It goes against the truth of our faith, the truth of our humanity, the truth about Jesus. Violence destroys what it claims to defend, the dignity, the life, the freedom of human beings. What is needed is a great effort to form consciences…to goodness, to nonviolence, to love.”

The Church in the Desert:
We are coming upon the Lenten time, the time for metanoia, a deep and fundamental conversion. As José Moya reminded us in the last newsletter, we cannot allow the desert to defeat us, but instead we need to take this time to look deep into ourselves and our community. Let’s rediscover the fundamental values of our parish, and then take what actions are necessary to implement them.

A Catholic Bill of Rights in the 1983 Code of Canon Law
According to well known canonist, Fr. James Coriden, the list of rights and responsibilities found in the 1983 Code of Canon Law possess constitutional status, and could be said to be a "Bill of Rights" for Catholics. He says: "...the contextual situation of these canons shows them to be of foundational significance. To call them constitutional is not an exaggeration. The rights stated in the code ... are concerned with matters basic to human dignity and to the meaning of church membership" [below is a selection from these rights; the references in parentheses are to the applicable canon]

1. The fundamental equality of all Christians based on baptism, and equality and dignity in action; the right and freedom to cooperate in building up the Body of Christ (c.208)
3. The right to petition, that is, to make known to pastors one’s needs (especially spiritual) and one’s hopes (c 212 #2)
4. The right to recommend: the right to advise pastors regarding the good of the church, and to participate in public opinion and informing the faithful (c.212#3)
8. The right to association: the right to found and direct associations with charitable purposes and as an expression of Christian vocation. (c.215)
9. The right to assembly: the right to hold meetings for the same purpose as to associate. (c.215)
10. The right to promote the apostolate and to one’s own proper initiative in apostolic work, based on the right to participate in the church’s mission. (c.216)
12. Academic freedom: the right to research and to publication (c.218)
16.The right to vindicate one’s rights in church court and to defend one’s rights in church court (c.221 #1) with equity and in accordance with law (c.221 #2)
18. The right to legality regarding sanctions, that is, the right to expect the church to impose sanctions only in accordance with law (c.221 #3)
From: A Challenge: Making the Rights Real. J. A. Coriden pp 7-29.

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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