Monday, December 26, 2005

Newsletter of 12/25/05

Somos el Cuerpo de Cristo
Thoughts from Some Fellow Parishioners of Holy Spirit—December 25, 2005

Un Soñador
Dark don’t lie, dreams come true
All it takes is one or two...
Townes van Zandt

Advent 1980, twenty-five years ago, was like a lot of Advents: it ended with Christmas, there were births, and there were deaths. In particular, there were six deaths within just a few days of each other at the end of November and the beginning of December that year that should give us pause. Four of those were the American church women (Sisters Maura Clarke, Ita Ford, Dorothy Kazel, and lay church worker Jean Donovan) martyred in El Salvador, and the fifth was Dorothy Day who passed quietly at the age of 83.

Dreamers all, these five women, who gave their lives to the simple proposition that the Gospel means what it says. It is stunning how authorities, the government and the Church, react so harshly, and sometimes even violently, when faced with people who propose that the link that Jesus made between justice and peace is not simply pious prattle, but a directive for how the Christian life is to be led.

The government of El Salvador murdered the churchwomen and the official Church (with the exception of Romero) turned a blind eye to the conditions that led to their deaths. The American government and the Church hierarchy were, and remain, hostile to Dorothy Day and the Catholic Worker Movement—just last week the Catholic Worker Houses showed up on the FBI watch list and have been subject to government surveillance within the past year!

In the Old Testament, Joseph’s brothers violently attacked him and left him to die because his dream seemed dangerous to them.

Oh, that sixth death in Advent 1980?
And they say I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one... John Lennon

In law school, students sometimes are presented with hypothetical cases and asked to analyze them. Let’s try one!

Suppose that a diocese had a policy that said that any parish purchase of over $5,000 needed approval from the bishop. Also suppose that a pastor wanted to purchase an item that cost $8,000. The diocesan policy would seem to require the bishop’s approval of the expenditure, right? However, consider the following scenario: The pastor got a third party to pay for the full purchase of $8,000 and then paid that party back with two $4,000 parish checks, written days apart but in two different calendar months. Since each check was under $5,000, the pastor’s reasoning was that the bishop’s approval was unnecessary.

Is the pastor’s reasoning correct, and were both the letter and the spirit of the diocesan policy followed? Or, was the purchase in violation of the policy and so, “canonically invalid”? For your assignment, write a reasoned analysis of this hypothetical case.

Live the Difference
This being the holiday movie season, my kids are caught up in Harry Potter fever. So, we have seen not just the currently released movie but have re-watched the others as well. At the end of the third movie in the series, Harry is talking with one of his mentor/professors and trying to make sense out of what has just happened. In his confusion and sadness, Harry asks “But what difference did it make?”

It is a great question for us as we end Advent and enter the Christmas season. After a time of waiting and preparation, a baby is born. The Word becomes flesh as a poor homeless baby wanting only to be loved and to find a place in our hearts.

But what difference did it make?

As events in the movie, it made all the difference in the world, and our lives are forever changed. May we live the difference? From fellow parishioner, Michelle Peña

$$$$$ Update
According to the Sunday Bulletins, in the past ten weeks parishioners have donated $17,731.71 less than the $145,000 the parish budget called for during that period. If the spending patterns of the last fiscal year have continued (13.4% over budget), then during this ten-week period an additional shortfall of $19,422.60 was created. This gives a total of $37,154.31 of red ink (versus budget) for the ten-week period ending December 18th. Stretching that pattern for an entire year, the Parish would fall short by $193,202.41.

Peace on Earth
“In the arms of Mary, He had already stirred up the world.
May all creation reap the hope born in the breath of the Nonviolent Teacher of Peace.”
Pax Christi Christmas card. From the Peace and Justice Committee of the Holy Spirit Community

Good Standing
In the spirit of the hypothetical, suppose someone was saying publicly and frequently that the Reverend Monsignor was “a priest not in good standing.” Also suppose that among that person’s reasons were that “his celebration of Mass violates many of the directives of the GIRM,” “he is a prominent member of an organization (K of C) that supports a government policy (the war in Iraq) that the Church has roundly condemned,” and “he is virtually derelict in his duties as pastor by his frequent absences from the office and the parish.”

Even if all of the reasons cited were true, none of them would rise to the level of creating a condition where the Reverend Monsignor would be “a priest not in good standing.” That phrase has very precise meaning in the Church—it describes a public sinner or a person who has formally separated himself by denying Church doctrine. Ordinary folks have neither the competence nor the authority to use such a phrase, only the Bishop or the Vatican can do that, and then only at the end of a careful, formal process.

Throwing the “priest not in good standing” phrase around would be irresponsible and slanderous, since it damages a person’s reputation in a way that would affect his ability to carry out his role in the Christian community.

Moving away from the hypothetical to the unfortunately actual situation in which many people in the Parish find themselves. The Reverend Monsignor has said publicly and frequently that certain people are “not Catholics in good standing.” He has neither the competence nor the authority to either make that judgment or to impose restrictions on people on the basis of the judgment. Only the Bishop or the Vatican can do that. His statements are just as irresponsible and slanderous as the hypothetical situation presented above. People’s reputations are being damaged and their ability to carry out their role in the Christian community is being adversely affected.

Holy Spirit Peace and Justice Committee

Affirmation Night
Monday, March 13, 2006 at 7:00 PM
More Info to Follow On Speaker and Location

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

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Kanickers said...

Re: Good Standing.
Why can't we do something about all of the Reverend Monsignor's irresponsible and slanderous acquisitions. Who do we report him to,.. the bishop? Is he aware of what Fr. Louie is saying about the parishioners that he considers to be "evil people"? Surely the bishop has heard about what he is doing and has taken corrective action. Right?
~A Parishioner

Kanickers said...

Re: Corrective Action:
Ha! Ha! Ha! Corrective Action from the Bishop against a priest that he hand-picked to clean up Holy Spirit Parish, then highly recommended for Monsigniorship to the Pope? That's the biggest joke of 2005!
~Still Laughing