Somos el Cuerpo de Cristo
Thoughts from Some Fellow Parishioners of Holy Spirit.
October 30, 2005
Center of Our Lives, Part One
Sister Rita Burley, superior general of the Handmaids of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and a former president of the International Union of Superiors General, the main umbrella group for women religious, was an official “Synod Auditor” at the recently concluded Bishop’s Synod on the Eucharist held at the Vatican.
Here are a few of the comments she made to the assembled bishops: Eucharist and work for justice are inseparable and Communion with Christ in the Eucharist implies accepting the moral responsibility to work with him, in collaboration with others, to transform unjust structures and mentalities into strategies and plans which further the true nature of God’s love for our human family.
These ideas are part of the heart of a theology of the Eucharist that makes the oft-heard phrase (at Holy Spirit, anyway) that “the Eucharist is the center of our lives” a statement with some real meaning, rather than a platitude.
It is clear that the Pastor rejects such a theology of the Eucharist, since he stands so strongly against any efforts to “work with [Christ], in collaboration with others, to transform unjust structures.” What does the Pastor mean when he says “the Eucharist is the center of our lives"?
We know what Sister Rita Burley thinks, we know what the sacramental theologians who guided the Vatican Council thought, we know what Archbishop Romero thought when he said that our lives are our Eucharist, but what does our Pastor think?
The week of October 17th saw two different events at two different Catholic parishes in the area, both related to Church’s teachings on the sanctity of life, but as different from each other as night is from day.
At one of the events (held at Holy Spirit), the Rev. Tadeusz Pacholczyk, Ph.D., of The National Catholic Bioethics Center in Philadelphia, spoke to a large crowd of medical professionals and others about end-of-life issues. It was a big deal: the Bishop concelebrated a Mass, there was a dinner, and Father Pacholczyk gave his view of the Church’s teaching in an hour-long presentation. His views are actually at odds, on some points, with the directives of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops to medical professionals, by the way.
At the other event (held at St. John the Baptist in San Juan), a handful of people heard the personal stories of some families whose relatives had been victims of capital crimes. The speakers are part of The Journey of Hope, an effort to bring reconciliation and forgiveness into the lives of those shattered by violent crime—not by retaliation, but by reaching out to those who killed their loved ones and by working for an end to the death penalty.
This presentation was a direct manifestation of the Church’s teaching on the death penalty, particularly as articulated by Pope John Paul II: “I renew the appeal … to end the death penalty, which is both cruel and unnecessary.” (January 27, 1999).
Under our current Bishop there has never been, in our Diocese, the kind of affirmation of the Church’s teaching on the death penalty that we saw put forth for the presentation on end-of-life issues, a presentation that did not accurately represent current Church teaching.
It is not surprising that our Pastor didn’t attend the Journey of Hope presentation, given that he had the monthly Prayer of the Faithful about the death penalty struck from the 12:30 Mass last week (that’s the one that prays for those executed, prays for those whom they killed and their families, and prays for the end of the death penalty). Too controversial, and divisive—oh, that awkward teaching of the Church, let’s just be quiet about it!
Center of Our Lives, Part Two
Insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different outcome.
The recently concluded Bishop’s Synod on the Eucharist was much anticipated by many groups within the Church—some were looking for a crackdown on supposed “liturgical abuses” while others were looking for some change on priestly celibacy. From all reports, the synod eventually focused its discussion on the lack of access to the Eucharist, which has been created by the shortage of priests. At the end of the day, no changes of any substance were recommended—the Church will continue to restrict the priesthood to men who profess to be celibate, for example.
On the liturgical side, one of the few recommendations was a desire to move the Kiss of Peace away from the Communion Rite to some point prior to the Eucharistic Prayer—a bold move bound to effect profound change in the life of the Church. We can’t do anything about the priest shortage, but let’s get all this “expression of community” away from Communion time!
By the way, there was no change in the current ban on having flowers on the altar table.
Money, Honey Update
According to the Sunday Bulletin, in the past two weeks parishioners have donated $5,814.96 less than the $29,000 the parish budget called for during that period. If the spending patterns of the last fiscal year have continued (13.4% over budget—St. Vincent DePaul income and expenses excepted), then during this two-week period an additional shortfall of $3,884.52 was created.
This gives a total of $9,699.48 of red ink (versus budget) for the two-week period ending October 23rd. Stretching that pattern for an entire year, the Parish would fall short by $252,186.38.
Center of Our Lives, Part Three (Revised)
The original version of this part of the newsletter was based on inaccurate information—apologies all around. Here is a revision.
It seems the Pastor was not in the parish for Saturday’s 5:30 Eucharistic Celebration this weekend—a substitute priest was arranged for, but he didn’t show up. A communion service was held instead. Even though the Pastor cannot be blamed for someone else’s mistakes, as Harry Truman used to say, “the buck stops here.”
A priest’s fundamental responsibility and, indeed, the very purpose for which he has been ordained, is to celebrate the Eucharist with his parish community. Is there no one to hold this person accountable for these kinds of failures? The efforts that parishioners have made to meet with the Bishop to address issues within the parish have been rebuffed, so it appears that the Bishop himself believes that this is how a parish should be run. Again, who is accountable to whom?
Pope John Paul II spoke of the priesthood and the episcopacy as “servant-leadership.” In this concept it is the Church who is to be served, and as the Vatican Council has taught us, we are the Church. Who is being served at Holy Spirit right now by the administrative incompetence, the fiscal mismanagement, and the sloppy, vacuous, and now missing Eucharistic Celebrations?
Something is off-center.
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 email@example.com.
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