Monday, February 21, 2005

Newsletter of 02/20/05

Somos el Cuerpo de Cristo
Thoughts from Some Fellow Parishioners of Holy Spirit—February 20, 2005

Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus. (Phil 2:5)

The Beatitudes, Continued
“We just received a very extraordinary compliment from Jesus today. ‘You are the salt of the earth. You are the light of the world.’ That's an extraordinary thing for Jesus to say to us especially when we remember he is the one who is called the light of the world. Now he's saying that is who we are, the light of the world. It's definitely a compliment. Jesus is saying we are like him. We are to take his place.

“And of course it's also a challenge to be salt and light for the world. To be salt means to preserve something good and wholesome, and to be light means to drive away the darkness and enable people to live in openness and joy. …

“In the second lesson, [Paul] … said that what he had come to do was to preach Christ, a crucified Christ. ‘That's the power,’ he said, ‘of my message.’ Preaching a crucified Christ. We have to get the full meaning of that. Paul was saying, I'm preaching someone who was willing to let himself be tortured, even killed rather than to torture or to kill another. That is who Jesus is. It is the greatest act of love that we see manifest anywhere at any time when Jesus is nailed to the cross, being executed, but he still reaches out in forgiveness and love. That is the whole message of Jesus, which lead Paul to say, ‘I am preaching a crucified Christ.’ We have to let that really sink in. We can never retaliate; we can never use violence, not if we're going to follow Jesus. That is so very different than what our world tells us.” from Bishop Thomas Gumbleton’s (Detroit) sermon on February 6th.

disingenuous, adj. not frank; insincere; covertly guileful; crafty.

In 1985, the Diocese of Brownsville began to require each parish to have a Parish (or Pastoral Council). In the ensuing twenty years this requirement has not always been followed; in fact, some parishes and some pastors have never had a working council. At the recently concluded Diocesan Synod, the requirement was reiterated, and a committee was established to develop guidelines for the development of pastoral councils. Would you interpret the Synod’s actions to mean that all councils currently in place, and operating under the 1985 directives, are now null and void and are to be replaced by interim councils which would operate under no guidelines? Probably not.

Yet this is exactly the public position taken by our Pastor. His remarks to the parish were disingenuous (see above), in that he implied that the Diocese was requiring an interim council be named, replacing the already established council. Given the fact that our Parish Council has been inactive for nearly six months, a more honest stance would have been to say that he is not comfortable with either the structure of the current council or the personnel serving (or both) and he wanted to start fresh.

The tactic that the Pastor chose, taken together with the many unanswered questions about the selection process and the vagueness about the council’s structure and function, have created an unease and lack of trust. This is not a good start to reestablishing the mechanism by which “Christ's faithful … give their help in fostering pastoral action.” (Canon Law Code 536.1)

Thin Ice
“Listening to my children’s Shrek soundtrack CD was an unlikely source, but there it was, a concise description of Lent:
The ice we skate, is getting pretty thin,
The water’s getting warm, so you might as well swim.
Greg Camp

“Lent is a chance to take some time to take a good honest look at our faith lives. Maybe we have just been skating along not really paying attention to what is happening underneath the surface. Lent is not just about identifying what in our lives makes us feel remorse or regret, and then to keep skating. Lent is about repentance and conversion. And repentance is about seeing the thin ice and being open to God’s invitation to change. If we let God convert us—everything changes. We can’t just skate along anymore, we have to take the plunge and swim.

“Pretty heavy stuff from a kid’s CD, but then God speaks not only through the gospels on Sunday, but also through the gospel of our lived experiences. We might not all be schooled theologians, but we all gain wisdom from the theology present in the school of life.

“Just a small reflection about our own parish:
Changes and circumstances have many of us feeling like we are on thin ice. And the desire to skate off and leave can be very powerful. Perhaps the following anonymous quote can offer a balancing voice: ‘If not us, who? If not here, where? If not now, when? If not for the kingdom, why?’” from a Parishioner.

inconsistent, adj. failing to keep to the same principles, course of action, etc.; changeable.
On the State Capitol grounds in Austin there is a stone slab with the Ten Commandments inscribed. This slab has been politically controversial for some time and is the object of a lawsuit now in federal court.

Father Louis Brum, of the Holy Spirit Church of McAllen … said the Ten Commandments were for all people, and should be able to remain on the grounds they have been located on for the past 40-plus years. “The Ten Commandments serve a tremendous purpose to remind us of the values and standards of life,” Brum said. “It does not endorse a specific religion, and is without any preference.” The UTPA Pan American, February 10th, page 12.

Leaving aside his interpretation of the establishment clause of the Constitution, our Pastor’s decision to speak publicly, identified as our pastor, on a controversial political issue is odd, given the adamancy with which he has refused parishioners the right to do the same—that is, to speak publicly, as parishioners, on issues which have political implications and are related to Church teaching. Such behavior is inconsistent (see above). The irony is that the issue the Pastor has chosen to speak about is not really related to the Gospel or to religion at all, but is about religiosity, the affectation or show of religious feeling.

It is difficult to reconcile the silencing of our parish’s “prophetic voice” on the Gospel issues of our time—war, poverty, social injustice, “the seamless garment” of life, etc.—with the Pastor’s taking to himself the right to speak publicly, as pastor, on a purely political, constitutional issue with no Gospel significance.

Prepared by RGV Parishioners for Progress and edited by Jerry Brazier. Copy this, and pass it on to fellow parishioners, either by e-mail or paper. If you want an opportunity for prayerful discussion of these and other issues about the parish or have any other comments, please contact us at

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