Somos el Cuerpo de Cristo
Thoughts from Some Fellow Parishioners of Holy Spirit—September 4, 2005
When we were in school, many of us read Joseph Conrad’s short novel, The Heart of Darkness, in which the narrator, Marlow, traveled up an African river and suddenly found himself in a dark, violent, and hostile place, completely foreign to the civilized world he had left at the river’s mouth.
Last Monday’s gathering in the chapel, a so-called Eucharist Ministers’ meeting, provided a look into a very disturbing place where simple courtesy and respect for other people’s feelings and ideas can be cast aside without missing a beat. It was disheartening to see a group of fellow parishioners turn into an almost frenzied mob, shouting down people they gather with each Sunday around the Eucharistic table. The parish has become a dark place.
As shocking as the behavior of some of those gathered, many of them not Eucharistic ministers at all, but people recruited by the Pastor to fill the room, it is the Pastor’s behavior that was truly stunning. He did nothing to restore civility; he did nothing to indicate that shouting at people was inappropriate and unChristian.
On the contrary, he stepped back and allowed the mob to rule — he seemed to enjoy it all as he played to his hand-picked crowd. What a sick display of his truly odd and destructive notions of the parish and of pastoral leadership!
Opinions and Facts
There is an old saying that “everyone is entitled to their own set of opinions, but no one is entitled to their own set of facts.” Apropos of that are the odd statements the Pastor made at last Monday’s gathering concerning the group Call to Action (CTA).
When questioned as to how he could say that the CTA is opposed to Church teaching, the Pastor said that “CTA started out as a good thing but has become a bad organization.”
As anyone who wants to know can find out, the original recommendations of the first Call to Action Conference in 1976 have formed the mission of the group from that date to the present. Ninety-three percent (93%) of that first conference’s delegates were either bishops or were appointed by bishops. So, if the organization is bad and non-Catholic now, then it was bad and non-Catholic then, too.
CTA hasn’t changed, what has changed is the collection of bishops leading the Church in the United States. In 1976, the American Church was led by people committed to understanding and implementing the teachings of the Second Vatican Council on the nature and role of the Church (Lumen Gentium and Gadium et Spes). That no longer appears, in the main, to be the case (see the article below).
There are certainly people who belong to CTA who espouse positions that are contrary to current Church teaching, but no organization can be held accountable for each and every position taken by each and every one of the people that belong to it. Even the Republican Party has some seriously wacky folks in it, but no one is screaming “heresy” at the Party itself and condemning all its members as sinners.
Dynamic and Creative Leadership in the Church
"It is astounding that the same group of religious leaders who, the record in Boston and elsewhere would show, can find the language to nuance sex abuse by fellow priests, take elaborate measures over the years to hide priests, manipulate facts and betray the community at large, can find the easy answer to [other] issues..."
"One of the hallmarks of bishops appointed during the 25-year reign of John Paul II was loyalty. He wanted no questions about ordination—no questions about women or married men. He wanted functioning administrators. He wanted no questions about sexual issues."
"What he got over two decades was a cadre of bishops who understood the terms of their appointments—no questions, keep the ship steady, unshakable loyalty."
"…That is hardly the kind of profile one would write if the expectation were developing dynamic and creative leadership in an institution."
"The Vatican got everything it was seeking."
From Tom Roberts, National Catholic Reporter, August 30, 2005
The Christ Factor
I was watching television the other night and an unusual thing happened. I appreciate everyone’s right to have and voice their own opinion, whether I agree with the opinion or not—and usually, Bill O’Reilly and I are not in total agreement.
However, the other evening I could have said “Amen Bill!” Even more amazing, we were in agreement on a social justice issue. It made me realize again that at the heart of life and even faith, most of us do agree – if we could just sit and communicate, we would find that most of our disagreements are about what is on the surface and not at the heart.
Regarding social justice, I don’t think many of us can watch the coverage on Hurricane Katrina and not see that the least of our brothers desperately need our help. Many of the victims lives were already a hidden disaster because we have let “love one another” be a nice church phrase that won’t make anyone too uncomfortable, instead of the challenging call to be the Body of Christ, to be living bread that it is.
Please God, help us to feed your sheep.
From fellow parishioner, Michelle Peña
Small Stuff and Little Things
A few years ago the book Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff was very popular; even longer ago (mid 50s) there was a hit song, “Little Things Mean a Lot.” Now, popular culture isn’t the best source for a philosophy of life, but the fact that two diametrically opposed sentiments can both gain acceptance, gives pause to any notion that rejects either sentiment out of hand.
A liturgical case in point. Not too many months ago our Eucharistic table was unadorned during the liturgy of the word (a custom actually recommended by many liturgists). As the celebration moved its emphasis to the Eucharistic meal, a family from the community came forward and “dressed” the table.
This nice touch to our Sunday liturgy has been abandoned by our Pastor. It’s a small thing, don’t sweat it, right? Of course it’s a small thing, but the abandonment of the practice serves as an indication to the community that the practice was wrong and needed to be changed.
Our liturgy is full of small gestures, little things that, when taken together, not only help to create but also express the community’s collective understanding of the celebration. Inexorably, the little things are being chipped away, one by one, and so maybe little things do mean a lot after all.
Sing a New Song?
The attack on the family religious education program has backed off (for a while, at least)—but it seems as if the music is next.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Monday, September 05, 2005
Somos el Cuerpo de Cristo