Somos el Cuerpo de Cristo
Thoughts from Some Fellow Parishioners of Holy Spirit—January 8, 2006
Yes, You Can; No, You Kant
Act as if the maxim of your action were to become, through your will, a universal law of nature. Immanuel Kant’s Categorical Imperative.
The 18th century philosopher is giving advice about what to do when faced with moral or ethical decisions. His categorical imperative tells us to consider the implications of our own actions setting a universal standard. That is, think about what would happen if our choice became how everything would work, for everyone, all the time. Note that this isn’t the Golden Rule, how we would like to be treated, but a maxim requiring the taking into account of more than self-interest.
Under the guidance of the categorical imperative, it seems that Adam Moya’s usurping the pulpit on Christmas Eve creates an unstable and undesirable situation for the parish community. Can anyone with a theological point to make have the right to make that point, from the pulpit, during Mass?
But, if we like Kant’s advice then, as we make judgments about whether a certain action is appropriate or not, we should apply it across the board, to all parties. In particular, the Reverend Monsignor’s public dismissal of Adam Moya from church during Mass on January 1st, when the young man was not disruptive but simply doing his job of making sure the choir’s microphones were working properly, does not seem to meet the categorical imperative test very well. That is, can anyone (priest or not) who has personal issues with someone be allowed to disrupt Mass, publicly humiliate that person, dismiss them from church, simply because he thought that person might do something inappropriate?
The Reverend Monsignor, by attacking Adam Moya the way he did during the Eucharistic celebration, with no apparent reason other than paranoia driven by animus, put in place a “universal law of nature” that created a very dangerous atmosphere, within which escalation of emotions could very easily get out of control. When Adam’s father, José Moya, approached later during that same Mass, the Reverend Monsignor should not have been surprised at what his own decision had wrought.
Note: None of the above should be read as a criticism of the content of Adam Moya’s remarks—they reflected solid Eucharistic theology.
Speaking of acting responsibly, the Collegiate Tribunal’s decision on the validity of the UFW contract begins with a lengthy discussion on how important it is for the bishop to be able to exercise authority over a pastor’s decisions, so that the “resources of the parish are not put at risk,” because they belong, not to pastor, but to the parish. It is a powerful presentation of an important principle that everyone should read carefully. Particularly, the Reverend Monsignor and Bishop Peña should read it carefully.
In spite of the fact that the total amount of the money involved in the potential parish contribution to the UFW pension fund was less than 2% of the parish budget and in no way put the parish at any financial risk (remember the days when we were solvent?), in spite of the fact that the parish, through its duly constituted Parish Council and Finance Committee, approved the expenditure, and in spite of the fact that the diocesan administration was unable to produce a single document indicating that all expenditures over $5,000 needed prior approval, the Tribunal ruled that Father Jerry acted irresponsibly and put the parish resources at risk.
Where is the Bishop’s concern for the current state of the Parish, financial or otherwise? The Reverend Monsignor has put the resources of the Parish at risk by his irresponsibility—he has squandered our money and he has squandered our talents. Who is going to call him to task? Is it really within his “ordinary” authority to behave so irresponsibly?
In the Heart of Our Community
Like so many of us, I spend time reflecting on our parish family and struggle with the questions, “What happened?” “How did we get here?” and “Why?” On good days, I realize that these past three years are part of the journey of growing in faith. On bad days, I just feel shell-shocked and sad. My most sad thought – where is the love?
There are many things I love about my Church. I love the sacraments, traditions and rituals. I love the depth. I love that our prayer is not only to be on our knees but through our actions. I love that ours is both a personal and communal faith. I love that all my life I have been invited to be an active participant, encouraged to find my calling, my way to minister. And I love that my church is universal – that it has room for everyone. And, at its best, I love that my church celebrates everyone as a treasured child of God.
So how did we become so divided? I know the answer is complex, but I do have hope. Hope that we can all reach into the heart of our community and realize how much we all share. We share and love the same Church, the same faith – our differences are in the ways we choose to express that faith and in the different ways we each answer our call. There are many gifts, many parts, but one body. Reaching into the heart, we can stop debating about the method and just be grateful for the gift of a young man with an active and living faith searching for his way to be true to the gospel. I have hope because I know that in the heart of our community, there is love. From fellow parishioner, Michelle Peña
According to the Sunday Bulletins, in the past twelve weeks parishioners have donated $16,907.13 less than the $174,000 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 twelve week period an additional shortfall of $23,307.12 was created. This gives a total of $40,214.25 of red ink (versus budget) for the twelve week period ending January 1st. Stretching that pattern for an entire year, the Parish would fall short by $174,261.75.
Welcoming the Stranger Among Us
This is National Migration Week (Jan. 9-15). We offer the following reflections from the US Catholic Bishop's 2005 Statement, Welcoming the Stranger Among Us: Unity in Diversity.
“The presence of so many different cultures and religions in so many different parts of the United States has challenged us as a Church to a profound conversion so that we truly become a sacrament of unity. The Church supports the human rights of all people and offers them pastoral care, education and social services, no matter what the circumstances of entry into this country, and it works for the respect of the human dignity of all—especially those who find themselves in desperate circumstances.”
From the Peace and Justice Committee of the Holy Spirit Community
In testifying before the Collegiate Tribunal, Father Bob Maher said that unions have no place in the Church because the work is sacred ministry, not a for-profit business. Then shouldn’t the Church hold itself to higher standards than those set for mere businesses?
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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