Somos el Cuerpo de Cristo
Thoughts from Some Fellow Parishioners of Holy Spirit, July 24, 2005
Light A Candle
Funny how times change. Seems like just the other day that I was proclaiming the Word from the ambo with as much gusto as I could gather.
I would examine the Lector's List every month and place my name dutifully on the calendar, as well as in my Palm Pilot, so that I wouldnt miss the opportunity. Not just because I enjoyed reading to the 8:30 community, but also because it was a chance to serve without so much as a thought of what has happened in our parish after the attempted firing of all of our staff. It was giving without thinking much about the slow dissolution of so many of the ministries that we have all supported over past years. In short, it was service,.. and I loved doing it.
I was preparing to go on vacation this month and noted that the schedule never arrived at my house. I looked at the posted schedule in the sacristy, again dismayed by the absence of my name. Before last Sunday's Mass, I asked Fr. Louie Brum, "Why have I been removed from the list?" His answer was very telling; "I did not remove you from the list. I would never do that. You removed yourself from the list because you choose to associate with certain groups."
"So", I asked, "If I quit associating with these groups, can I read again?"
"No." he answered, "I would have to review your general attitude."
"So then you did remove me from the list?"
"No" Fr Louie replied. "You removed yourself."
It became very clear at this point that he was not going to take any responsibility for his telling others not to include me on the Lector's List. Once again, he acted with impunity, not telling others exactly what he was doing. I was expected to simply accept his judgment and move on quietly because, after all, "that is what Fr. Louie told me to do".
Instead, during the 8:30 Mass, I walked right passed the posted reader and read the Second Reading, then announced to all that this would be my last reading, since Fr. Louie had removed me from the Lector's List.
Others just had to know this,... not because I am important,... but because others have also been removed for some made up or actual wrongs and they too are no longer allowed to minister in our Parish. Men and woman that have dutifully served their brothers and sisters in a variety of ministerial positions within our Parish have now simply been "removed".
My son asked me why I do some of the things that I do. Why I support the workers right to Unionize? Why I stand against injustice? "Why do you even make an issue of something as small as bringing food to the Altar during the offertory? It won't change him, Dad," he repeatedly tells me. "We are under new management, just let it go."
I must say that his suggestion sometimes sounds appealing. Just let it go! I can't change the monolithic church and I can't change Fr. Louie's mind, since he now refuses to communicate with me,.. so what the hell am I doing here?
And just when I am about to pitch it all and say; "Son, you are right. I am spitting in the wind... this won't change anything," I am reminded of the man that stood before the White House with a single lit candle during the Vietnam War. He was there night after night. A reporter asked him if he thought he could change the policies of a nation simply by standing with one single candle. He laughed, holding his candle, saying, "Of course not, I do not stand here with my one candle to change the policies of a nation, I stand here with my one candle so that the policies of a nation will not change me."
I will continue to serve the way that I have been taught to serve,... by speaking truth to injustice and power. Not because I think it will actually change anyone, but so the candle that was lit from the Easter candle on the day of my Baptism will continue to burn brightly in my heart, bright enough to remember that although we are "under new management," that we will all be held accountable to a "Higher Management." I will keep my light burning to help me and others find the light within themselves.
Please, do not lose hope. Do not allow the policies of injustice to change you. Keep your light lit like a city upon a hill. I'll need your light myself.
~From a parishioner, Jose Moya
The Persecuted and the Slandered
"As long as the Church preaches an eternal salvation without involving itself in the real problems of our world, the Church is re-spected and praised and is even given privileges. But if it is faithful to its mission of pointing out the sin that puts many in misery, and if it proclaims the hope of a more just and human world, then it is persecuted and slandered and called subversive."
~Archbishop Oscar Romero in his pastoral letter of August 6th, 1977.
Loaves and Fishes
A while back, I finished reading The Blindfold's Eyes by Sr. Dianna Ortiz and her understanding of a parable keeps coming back to me. She writes that at various times she would put her Bible on its spine and let it fall open. Many times it would fall open to the parable of the loaves and fishes, which would frustrate Sr. Dianna because it was hard for her to see abundance in her life when so much had been so brutally taken away from her. After much time and prayer, she was able to draw meaning from the parable, and her interpretation is poignantly beautiful.
She identifies with those in the crowd of humble people who gave the loaves and fishes to the apostles when Jesus asked them "what do you have?" The lesson is that these humble people gave of what little they had, unselfishly gave of themselves and trusted that it would be enough for Jesus. He blessed and broke it, and the little became an overabundance. Sr. Dianna points out to herself and to us that we are called to humbly give of ourselves even if what we have is little and seems far below what is needed. If we trust, God will bless and break it, and it will be more than enough.
From fellow parishioner, Michelle Pena
The Pastor has refused to allow materials to be ordered for the family-based religious education programs. At the Pastor's directive, preparations for the latest round of the parish RCIA program have been halted. What is going on? Clearly there is something afoot that will be euphemistically called "restructuring and improving" but will in fact be a dismantling of yet another set of parish ministries.
These actions appear to part of a broader agenda of the diocesan administration, which is the suppression and destruction of the very idea that a Vatican II parish can be allowed to exist in the Diocese of Brownsville. Don't kid yourselves, this is about power, not the good of the parish, not the welfare of its parishioners, and not the building up of the Body of Christ. We know the Bishop is intent on breaking the union, but it seems he is also intent on punishing those parishes and those parishioners who dare to ask that church administrators follow the Gospel when they exercise their authority.
Prepared by RGV Parishioners for Progress and edited by Jerry Brazier. 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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Monday, July 25, 2005
Somos el Cuerpo de Cristo