Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Newsletter of 08/07/05

Somos el Cuerpo de Cristo
Thoughts from Some Fellow Parishioners of Holy Spirit—August 7, 2005

Optimists Live Longer
I started reading from the works of Sr. Joan Chittister, a Benedictine, since the election of our Pope to learn more about St. Benedict and the Rule of Benedict. Here are a few thoughts to consider:

“The whole notion that the spiritual life is some kind of constant that can be easily achieved and faithfully kept is a sign of spiritual immaturity. Either we change the way we look at life and God as we grow or we shrivel into some kind of religious cutouts left over from the era before us.

“Ideas change us. In calling for more reading and silence, … (St.) Benedict is, then, clearly calling for change, not invariability. The spiritual life is a process of growth, not a checklist of religious activities.”

And because we cannot ever stop hoping: “Never accept as darkness anything that, with a little effort—a slight change of mind, a touch of humor—can become light. Or as Loretta LaRoche puts it, ‘Optimists live longer. Pessimists are more accurate, but optimists live longer.’ ”(Listen with the Heart, Sr. Joan Chittister).
From fellow parishioner, Michelle Peña

Proud To Be A Catholic
In 1881, the Knights of Columbus was founded as a Catholic fraternal benefit society. It not only would assist widows and orphans of deceased members through its life insurance program, but also would boost members' sense of pride in their Catholic religion, then frequently challenged in the anti-Catholic climate of 19th century America (from These Men They Call Knights, pub-lished by the Supreme Council of the K of C).

In his sermon this week, the Pastor talked about the large crowds and the liturgical events at a gathering of the Knights of Columbus that “made [him] proud to be a Catholic.”

It is not the 19th century any longer and the virulent anti-Catholicism that put barriers to economic participation in American society for Catholic men has long past. What also has passed is the “bunker mentality” that saw the Church as an army at war with the Protestants and the Jews and the modern world in general. The Second Vatican Council put that image to rest in its two documents on the Church (Lumen Gentium and Gadium et Spes).

Better to be proud of those who witness the Gospel message and live out their commitment to Christ in very difficult circumstances while under great criticism. We have a parish community with such people—let’s be proud to be in community with them. Is our Pastor proud to be a Catholic when his parishioners follow Jesus’ command “Put up your swords” and publicly protest a war that John Paul II also condemned? Is our Pastor proud to be a Catholic when his parishioners bring rice and beans for the poor to the altar each Sunday? Is our Pastor proud to be a Catholic when he is in Chicago, but not when he is in the midst of the Holy Spirit parish community?

Cliché, Part Two
Cliché. n. a timeworn idea or expression;
a trite or stereotyped phrase.

“Church teachings never change.”
We reject the abominable philosophy of human rights, especially freedom of religion, conscience, and the press and the equality of all human beings. Pope Pius VI in 1791.

There are many people who take the position that the current teachings of the Church (the magisterium) have always been what they are today, and will always be the same in the future. Even a cursory look at history shows that such a position is untenable. The above quote from Pius VI provides a few examples of the scores of Church teachings that have changed over the centuries. The Church’s official teachings on usury, slavery, war, the Jews, capital punishment, biblical scholarship, science (physics, biology, psychology, etc.), democratic government, the role of women (in society or in the Church), workers’ rights, and so forth, are all different than they used to be (sometimes even involving a 180º shift).

That may be true, some say, but today’s teachings are the right ones and will never change. If that’s correct, when was the magic day on which the then current teachings became the unchangeably correct ones? There was no such day, of course. Each collection of Church teachings represents the advice of the Church at that time for the faithful of that time. We hope it is the best advice available based on a deep understanding of the Scriptures, Tradition, and the contemporary world (with its science and culture). It is difficult however, from our current perspective, to see what understandings led to Pius VI’s teachings, for example, or led to past Church teachings on slavery or the Jews.

It must be true that some parts of the current magisterium will, in the future, be changed (since that has always been the case). Which ones? That is the difficult question, and the answer is: we don’t know. What then is a poor soul supposed to do when faced with moral and ethical decisions or with issues of faith? Make a decision as an adult Catholic Christian, with an informed conscience and a commitment, as Paul tells us “to Christ and Christ crucified.” Anything less reduces the moral life to obedience, not choice, and robs it of merit. Anything less turns us into children who are, at root, not responsible for their lives. Anything less allows us to limit our Christianity to formulas and so compartmentalize our life into the religious part and the rest of it.

La Toma
In a recent, highly-acclaimed documentary film, The Take, Avi Lewis and Naomi Klein take viewers inside the lives of ordinary visionaries, as they reclaim their work, their dignity and their democracy.

In the wake of Argentina’s spectacular economic collapse in 2001, Latin America’s most prosperous middle class found itself in a ghost town of abandoned factories and mass unemployment. In suburban Buenos Aires, thirty unemployed auto-parts workers walked into their idle factory (built with the help of their tax money), rolled out sleeping mats and refused to leave. All they wanted was to re-start the silent machines. But this simple act —La Toma (The Take)—had the power to turn the globalization debate on its head.

If you get a chance, catch this film, and even if you don’t, reflect on the responsibility we all have towards what really belongs, not to some bureaucracy, but to us. Can we sit by and watch what is ours and what is important to us turn into an idle, abandoned ghost town? Or, should we entertain the possibility of La Toma?

See you at the Sunday night vigil—8:00 pm.

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: gbrazier@rgv.rr.com.

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