Somos el Cuerpo de Cristo
Thoughts from Some Fellow Parishioners of Holy Spirit—September 18, 2005
Peace and Justice—a Gospel Mandate
At the last Peace and Justice Commission meeting (now DBA as Outreach Ministries), it was disheartening to realize that of the thirty-five Life Issues identified by parishioners at Parish Alive only a handful have the potential of being addressed at Holy Spirit, given the poisoned atmosphere that the Pastor has not only allowed to develop, but seems to be actually encouraging.
Members of this parish are being forbidden to practice their Christian faith within their Eucharistic community. “The Eucharist is the center of our lives” is not a pious phrase for Sunday.
All the games people play now; Every night and every day now; Never meaning what they say now; Never saying what they mean. Joe South
The Pastor has said he doesn’t have time to “play games” with people who are seeking to inform him of their concerns. Games are entertainments and diversions that are deliberately given an artificial importance by observers and participants.
Parishioners meeting in vigil each Sunday, the over 270 parishioners who have signed a letter to the Pastor and the hundreds of parishioners who silently wonder how all this stuff could have happened to our parish are not seeking entertainment and diversion, but simply seek to exercise their “right and freedom to cooperate in building up the Body of Christ” (Canon #208, Code of Canon Law).
It is both amusing and troubling to hear the Pastor say that he is upset over “secret meetings” being held, when he himself has dismantled each and every avenue for formal, open discussion in the parish. He has given his ear to some of the most distorted and mean spirited notions (expressed in camera, of course) but has shut that ear to the voices of those pleading for rational discussion—he has even admitted that he no longer opens letters from “certain people.” So much for being the pastor of us all.
Where Two or Three Are Gathered
“When I am down and, oh my soul, so weary, when troubles come and my heart burdened be; then, I am still and wait here in the silence, until you come and sit a while with me.
“You raise me up, so I can stand on mountains, you raise me up, to walk on stormy seas. “I am strong, when I am on your shoulders; you raise me up to more than I can be.”(recorded by Josh Groban, 2002 Universal Music Publishing)
The words are even more inspiring when accompanied by orchestration, but that is not really my point. I think the “you” in this song can be identified in many different ways. Certainly “you” can be God as in “Footprints in the Sand.”
But I think the “you” can also be the people around us—our community, our extended church family. We all have our own relationship with God, but we are drawn to celebrate together at mass not only to receive the body and blood of Christ but to also share in the living presence of God when two or more are gathered.
When we can come and sit awhile with each other, we can raise each other up. Regardless of the form our liturgy takes, together we can walk on stormy seas and be more. From fellow parishioner, Michelle Peña.
Two, Four, Six, Eight—Who Do We Appreciate?
In his book, A People Adrift: The Crisis of the Roman Catholic Church in America, Peter Steinfels (at one time senior religion correspondent for the New York Times and editor of Commonweal) has the following to say about the priests of the future:
“There will always be vastly different ways of being a priest. A man whose manner is unprepossessing may galvanize loyalty and change lives; a charismatic personality may turn our, over time, to be a façade. But the priests of the future, beyond the holiness that all Christians strive for, will need three things.
“First, they will need a theological capacity to render the sacraments, the Word of God, and the joys and sufferings of everyday life meaningful. They will have to do this in their preaching, in their public prayer and responsibility for the liturgy, in their concern with catechesis and sacramental preparation and they will have to do this across ethnic lines and increasingly to a well-educated socially assimilated Catholic populations.
“Second, priests will need a capacity to animate and guide others in leadership roles. They may well deputize others to take care of the strictly administrative worries … but they will have to be able to organize and inspire people, to identify and reinforce the gifts of staff and parishioners, and to sustain them spiritually.
“Third, priests will have to become accountable. Revelations about priests’ sexual misdeeds and bishops’ failures to act decisively against offenders stimulated a great deal of talk about ‘accountability’ and ‘checks and balances’ in the church—formal mechanisms giving representatives of the laity and clergy a significant role in making or reviewing decisions now reserved to the bishop and his appointees….a wider sense of accountability is needed to ensure a priestly leadership striving to achieve and maintain excellence….” (p. 338)
We all can appreciate how difficult it is for anyone to be perfect, or even close to perfect. And we are always appreciative of the efforts people make to strive towards an ideal. As we read in the quote, there are vastly different ways of being a priest, but it is very difficult to be appreciative when the priest we must deal with does not seem to be even striving towards any of the ideal behavior Steinfels speaks of.
At the “Priest Appreciation Dinner” in our parish this Sunday, Bishop Peña said, “if you want a better priest, pray for the one you have.” That is good advice, and we should take it, but it does not mean that we are appreciative of the current state of pastoral leadership at Holy Spirit.
En La Mesa de Dios
I went to Mass at another parish this weekend and while the respite from the sometimes disheartening atmosphere in our parish was welcome, it was still sad to be at a different “table of the Lord” than the one of the community within which I try to live out the Gospel each week.
As the song with the phrase “en la mesa de Dios” was being sung, I thought of an incident in our own parish this past week.
At a funeral for one of our poorest parishioners, the Pastor, just before Communion, told the congregation that “if you have not received the Sacrament of Reconciliation recently, you should not receive Communion.”
God only knows what the Pastor’s motivation for saying such a thing was, but what he said, aside from being insensitive and inappropriate to the occasion, is completely contrary to Church teaching.
So much for a “theological capacity” to render the sacraments meaningfully. From a parishioner.
Prepared by RGV Parishioners for Progress and edited by Jerry Brazier. You are welcome to copy this and pass it on to fellow parishioners. 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 mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org
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