Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Newsletter of 03/20/06

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

Before Charity, Justice First
“Promoting justice is a fundamental role of the church. The Old Testament, for example, is full of examples. I cannot see any room for doubt about the importance of justice as a major concern of the church.

“In fact, I would say, ‘Before charity, justice first.’ If you have not given me what I deserve, and then you give me alms and expect me to say thank you, that’s a form of injustice.

“We can’t make such water-tight distinctions in real life. One of the greatest expressions of charity for the laity, in fact, is to go into the struggle for justice. I have been preaching this to our people, trying to help them understand that working for the common good is the apostolate of the laity…. “Any attempt to separate these two things—charity and justice—as if one is for the state and other is for the church is unrealistic. Concern for justice opens up a wide range of channels for positive interaction between church and state.”
From Archbishop John Onaiyekan of Abuja, Nigeria, the elected president of both the Nigerian bishops’ conference and the Symposium of Episcopal Conferences of Africa and Madagascar.

In the
National Catholic Reporter, 3/10/06.
In this article, one of Africa’s most prominent bishops has a taken a position that is in the mainstream of Catholic teaching. It is, however, diametrically opposed to the one taken by our Pastor. Not only has the Reverend Monsignor expressed a contrary position and has taken strong action to curtail the Parish’s justice activities, but he has overtly punished those who have had the temerity to question his thinking and the actions that have flowed from it. More than any other issue in the Parish, these actions of the Pastor have set in motion a spiral of very unfortunate actions and reactions. It is time to step back and allow those who think as Archbishop Onaiyekan to have a place in Holy Spirit’s ministry once again.

Thoughts on collaboration—something our Bishop has asked for.
“…[the American Catholic parish] has nary a clue what to do with gifted lay women, who enjoy neither the status nor the protection of the ordained priesthood, but who are called upon increasingly to play the role of mediator between competing factions within the parish and to organize and lead whatever spiritual enrichment or social outreach programs the parish offers. Despite the predictable charges that they foment ‘radical feminism’ and watered-down catechesis, the Judy Nices [religious educator in Kenmore, NY] of the Catholic world seem its best hope for preserving continuity, at the parish level, with the historic Christian practices of hospitality, personal and communal prayer, theological education, and spiritual formation.

“By the early 1990s there were more lay people in graduate theology programs than there were young men studying for the priesthood, and most of those lay students were women. Although these two sets of Catholic ministers will likely be working side by side in the coming years, the church has done little to introduce them to one another during their years of formal training, and even less to break open and reshape clerical culture in such a way as to make room for and welcome such collaboration with lay women as the will of God and a grace to the church.”
From a book review by R. Scott Appleby, Professor of History at Notre Dame, in
Commonweal, 3/17/97.
[Discovered by Googling the phrase “Post Vatican II Parish”]

Holy Darkness
There is an honesty and humanity in the season of Lent that has always touched me. I feel a deep connection to Good Friday because it is a day filled with all the highs and lows of the human condition. If I immerse myself in Lent, I can feel the truly redemptive power of being broken, the beauty of humility. Even though we might be tempted to skip the hard stuff, to turn away when faith becomes uncomfortable or even starts to hurt – by turning away we miss a great treasure. There is a grace that can only be experienced in the times of darkness. Lent reminds us there are times when we must simply be the seed. Alone and in the dark, waiting for the Creator’s touch to bring forth the miracle of growth. Lent reminds us that there is a holy darkness, a blessed night that we must embrace before we can truly experience the dawn.
rom fellow parishioner, Michelle Peña

$$$$$ Update
According to the Sunday Bulletins, since 10/16/05 parishioners have donated $30,727.39 less than the $319,000 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 same period an additional shortfall of $42,729.72 was created. This gives a total of $73,457.11 of red ink (versus budget) for the period 10/16/05 to 3/12/06. Stretching that pattern for an entire year, the Parish would fall short by $173,525.90.

Authority and Power
Power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Lord Acton
Lord Acton was one of the wealthiest men of his time and probably the most prominent Catholic layperson of the mid 19th century, but his famous comment was not, as most of us probably think, about secular government and politics but, instead, was about the Papacy and the Pope of his time, Pius IX.
Our Bishop described the situation in the Parish as a “power struggle.” This is an unfortunate phrase and at its root cannot be correct because there is no “power” in the Church, if by power it is meant the imposition of one’s will on another. As John McKenzie in Authority in the Church says, “… [such a use of power] is in direct opposition to the sayings of Jesus in which this form of self-assertion is forbidden formally and explicitly. Power is not a substitute for apostolic leadership. Power is not even an inferior way of achieving that end.” There is authority in the Church, it is one of the gifts that Paul talks about in Corinthians, and every member of the Body of Christ is concerned that the authority be exercised properly, but no one in the Church has power over another person in the Church. To describe our situation as a “power struggle” is to have a view of the nature of the Church that appears to be at odds with Lumen Gentium and Gaudium et Spes, the great constitutions of Vatican II.

The Stealth Process
Is a process with no stated goal, no metrics of success, and no visible activity, other than passive listening, really a process? Our Bishop speaks of healing and reconciliation, but seems to really want just two things: acceptance of the status quo in the direction and management of the Parish and silence. If the underlying issues that have plagued the Parish since June, 2003, are not addressed in an organized way, then “making nice” will not accomplish anything in the long term.

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: gbrazier@rgv.rr.com

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