Monday, February 20, 2006

Parishioners' Newsletter of 02/20/06

Somos el Cuerpo de Cristo
Thoughts from Some Fellow Parishioners of Holy Spirit—February 19, 2006

Canons to the Left of Them; Canons to the Right of Them
In his address to the Parish, the Reverend Monsignor spoke of trusting him as he does “what is good for the Parish.” In the Canon Law that he quoted there is a phrase “with the assistance of lay members of the faithful.” From the beginning, he has been approached along many different avenues, trying to bring the discussion of “what is good for the parish” to meaningful forums. All these efforts have been rebuffed—he seems to believe that his canonical authority as pastor gives him absolute power to discern what is good for the Parish, without any honest effort to listen to the parishioners.
Light travels on a two-way street in our church, or I hope it does.
Thomas Merton

Expertise and Competence
In the United States there is a deeply ingrained mistrust of experts, those who by education and experience have gained knowledge and competence. It seems paradoxical that we, as a society, are very willing to boast of and benefit from the triumphs of our democracy and our way of life yet frequently pour almost venomous contempt on the very people whose work made it all possible. This democracy and this way of life are the fruits of the labors of experts. From its very inception, the United States was built on the philosophical ideas of the Enlightenment (an intellectual movement roundly denounced by the Church, by the way—all that bad stuff about the rights of man and freedom of expression, you know) and since has grown to world dominance on the back of our science, engineering, and technology.

Expertise and competence in the Church don’t seem to fare any better—there is, within the Church, as much mistrust and even overt antagonism surrounding experts with education and experience in theology, liturgy, religious education, etc. as there is in society at large towards experts. “No pointy-headed, ivory-tower intellectual is going to tell me what do,” is an often voiced sentiment. This is particularly true when the experts’ opinions run counter to the status quo or long and comfortably held ideas and practices. All ideas, whether in science, philosophy, or theology, were once new and had to wear away the established structure before becoming accepted.

Felipe Salinas’ piece on religious education that appeared on the Blog is an example of expert opinion, honed by years of education and professional experience in the Church. His argument is compelling and needs to be taken into account. If the Parish won’t turn to parishioners whose talents and opinions have been formed from professional knowledge and experience, then to whom should it turn? One of the many tragedies of our Parish’s recent past is the squandering of human resources that has been the result of the Reverend Monsignor’s war on expertise and competence.

We refer to our parish using terms like “family” and “community of believers”. These words evoke a group of people connected together by common beliefs and values, and a group who value each other. As a parent, I am constantly reminded that each of my children is an individual wonderfully created by God, each with unique gifts, thoughts and needs. We are one family, but each individual brings differences that enrich all of us. In my family, there can be no room for taking sides or talk of who wins and who loses – I believe it must be the same for my parish.

For our parish, I think this Hasidic Tale quoted in Spiritual Literacy, edited by Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat bears repeating:
“An old Rabbi once asked his pupils how they could tell when the night had ended and day had begun.
“Could it be,” asked one of the students, “when you can see an animal in the distance and tell whether it is a sheep or dog?”
“No, “answered the Rabbi.
“Another asked, “Is it when you can look at a tree in the distance and tell whether it’s a fig tree or a peach tree?”
“No,” answered the Rabbi.
“Then when is it?” the pupils demanded.
“It is when you can look on the face of any man or woman and see that it is your sister or brother. Because if you cannot see this, it is still night.”

From fellow parishioner, Michelle Peña

$$$$$ Update
According to the Sunday Bulletins, in the past eighteen weeks parishioners have donated $23,716.56 less than the $261,000 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 eighteen week period an additional shortfall of $34,960.68 was created. This gives a total of $58,677.24 of red ink (versus budget) for the eighteen week period ending February 12th. Stretching that pattern for an entire year, the Parish would fall short by $169,512.03.

One is the Loneliest Number
Bishop Bruskewitz of the Diocese of Lincoln, Nebraska, issued a warning in April, 1995, that any Catholics in and of the Diocese of Lincoln who attained or retained membership in Call to Action (CTA) after April 15, 1996, would be excommunicated. No other bishop has taken such an action.

Bishop Bruskewitz of the Diocese of Lincoln, Nebraska, is the only United States bishop who refused to participate in the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops’ audit of clergy sex abuse.

Little Things
There are some big issues that have divided our parish, but what about some of the little things that have been lost?
“My only agenda is to do what is best for the parish”, Reverend Monsignor Louis Brum.
● How did doing away with Children’s Liturgy make our parish better?
● How did doing away with the symbolism of preparation for a family meal associated with the dressing of the altar by members of the parish before the Eucharistic meal make the parish better?
● How did the lack of understanding the role of parents in sacramental preparation and as a result publicly quizzing a child about who helped him understand what communion means and then telling him he was wrong when he answered that it was his parents, make our parish better?
● How did doing away with the symbolism of breaking of real bread for the Eucharistic meal make the parish better?
The Reverend Monsignor asks for our trust, but how can we trust him with the big issues when he provides no explanations for his decisions related to the little things that were meaningful to his parish?
A parishioner for a unified parish where all are welcome to serve our Lord.

“The first thing you can do is make sure you treat your people well, and understand that your associates are what will make you a success.”
H. Lee Scott, President and CEO of Wal Mart.

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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