Sunday, May 29, 2005

Newsletter of May 29, 2005

Somos el Cuerpo de Cristo
Thoughts from Some Fellow Parishioners of Holy Spirit—May 29, 2005

On Matters Vigilant
The absurdity of parishioners being ordered, under threat of losing their jobs, not to gather on the grounds of their parish to pray with their fellow parishioners (see the Blog) rivals any satire that The Daily Show with John Stewart or Alice in Wonderland presents. Is there anyone who isn’t at least entertaining the possibility that there are a few screws loose somewhere?

Is it the vigil itself that is the problem? If so, the Pastor should confront those participating, and tell them to leave. He has no right in Canon Law to do this, as James Coriden points out in the journal, The Jurist, but at least the “problem” would be faced directly and openly with those involved. “You can’t pray on church property” does have a strange ring to it, doesn’t it?

Is it the participation of employees that is the problem? What employees do on their own time cannot be cause for dismissal, particularly if it is something other parishioners are free to do.
It’s a logical mess!

The Sunday Obligation
When we were kids, we were taught that missing Mass on Sunday was the worst thing a Catholic could do. We now find that the obligation that a pastor has to celebrate the Eucharist with his parishioners is not so fundamental that it cannot be set aside time and time again. Not simply in emergencies but as a matter of course—e.g., the 10:30 Sunday Mass has been assigned to a visiting priest because our Pastor “has to rest between Masses.” This is on top of the repeated absences that have characterized the Pastor’s behavior over the nearly 18 months since he has arrived.

Not only does this cost the parish ($25 stipend each time), but it demonstrates a lack of commitment to our community. The Pastor seems to have many other priorities—what they are is not at all obvious, but what they are not is very clear. E.g., in his discussion with the Peñas, he indicated that the concerns of 273 parishioners are not “a high priority.” Let’s see: social justice, disaffected parishioners, the religious education program, celebrating the Eucharist with the community, spending money wisely—none of these are priorities. What are his priorities, anyway?

Bread for the World
Bread for the World (BFW) seeks justice for hungry people by seeking to impact policies related to hunger and development.

BFW's 54,000 members contact their senators and representatives about legislation that affects hungry people in the United States and worldwide. They do not provide direct relief or development assistance. Rather, they focus on using the power we have as citizens in a democracy to support policies that address the root causes of hunger and poverty.

BFW has been generously supported by more than 45 denominations and church agencies - Roman Catholic, mainline Protestant, Evangelical, Pentecostal and Orthodox. Its board of directors includes grassroots leaders, members of Congress, and leaders of churches and charities. “We welcome and treasure this rich diversity of theological traditions. The good news of Jesus Christ moves us to create new visions and possibilities for our global family.” (see

Thousands of local churches and community groups support BFW’s efforts by writing letters to Congress and making financial gifts to the organization. Bread for the World groups across the country meet locally to pray, study and take action; members meet with their representatives in Congress, organize telephone trees, win media coverage and reach out to new churches.

Is there anyone in the Holy Spirit community who is surprised that our Pastor has decided that Holy Spirit will no longer be affiliated with Bread for the World? Apparently, because it is a “bad organization that gives money to foreign countries” [wrong on both counts]. This information [sic] is from a priest friend at a seminary in Baltimore. It doesn't matter to the Pastor that the United States Catholic Conference and the National Catholic Charities Office are both represented on the Board of BFW.

Sad irony that such news comes down during the week of Corpus Christ, the Feast of the Bread.

Corpus Christi
“How beautiful will be the day when all the baptized understand that their work, their job, is a priestly work, that just as I celebrate the Eucharist at this altar, so each carpenter celebrates the Eucharist at his workbench, and each metalworker, each professional, each doctor with the scalpel, the market woman at her stand, are performing a priestly office!”Archbishop Oscar Romero, in The Violence of Love

“If our food and drink is the Lord himself, the important thing is that sharing this food makes us ‘pass over’ into what we receive, so that everywhere we carry him with whom we are dead, buried, and raised to life.” St. Leo the Great

“Through the food the Lord has given us, we become members of his flesh and of his bones, we are mixed into that flesh, and he has kneaded his body with ours.” St. John Chrysostom

“The bread and wine are the body and blood of Christ. If you receive worthily, you are what you have received. You become, that is, the body of Christ.” St. Augustine

Be the Change
Being a mom, this story struck a chord:
“When my daughter was small she got the dubious part of the Bethlehem star in a Christmas play. After her first rehearsal she burst through the door with her costume, a five pointed star lined in shiny gold tinsel designed to drape over her like a sandwich board. “What exactly will you be doing in the play?” I asked her. “I just stand there and shine,” she told me. I’ve never forgotten that response. Sue Monk Kidd, in When the Heart Waits.

That seems to sum up what we are called to do. To be willing to accept the role of instrument—no matter how small or dubious it might be—and let God shine through us. Our presence and the example of our striving to live the gospel do make a difference and begin to bring about change. We are called not only to recognize what needs to be changed and wait for someone else to do it—we are called to shine. Or as Gandhi has said, “Be the change.” from fellow parishioner, Michelle Peña

June 18th is coming, June 18th is coming.

Remember: Food, not Flowers.

Bishop Thomas Gumbleton of Detroit will be in the Valley on June 23rd at St. John the Baptist in San Juan—details later.

See you at the Sunday night vigil (June 5, 2005)—8:00 pm in front of the church.

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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