Somos el Cuerpo de Cristo
Thoughts from Some Fellow Parishioners of Holy Spirit
April 2, 2006
“Fight they will, we are certain. And they may win some, lose some and even come to some acceptable compromise in others. In the end, however, as has occurred in nearly every other step they’ve taken along the agonizing path of this scandal, the bishops will be left with the same fundamental problem: a lack of trust and credibility within the Catholic community and in the wider culture. There will remain the overwhelming perception that their apologies and words of concern are for show and that what they most deeply care about is protecting their own positions and maintaining the institutional status quo….
“The community is exhausted. We are tired of hearing about sex abuse; tired of writing about it; tired of not knowing what the next disclosure will bring; tired of apologies that mean little.
“The answer lies not in some magic wish that it all go away and that the community once again become a crowd of compliant Catholics. The answer lies in what we all know, the faith that we profess, the sacramental life that sustains us."
From the editorial of March 31st, 2006, in the National Catholic Reporter.
Two Incidents: Evidence of Progress in Reconciliation?
At a recent Mass in the Parish, a minister of Holy Communion, after the “Body of Christ—Amen” dialogue, did not give the Host to a communicant. After the communicant took the Host from the minister’s hand and returned to the pews, the minister followed the communicant to the back of church, abandoning the distribution task, and asked the communicant whether the Host had been consumed. This is decidedly odd, but since the communicant is one of those removed from ministry (being “a Catholic not in good standing,” you understand!), maybe this action is a reflection of a persistent antagonism that borders on the fanatical on the part of some in the Parish. The “reconciliation process” seems to need a little work.
The reaching out towards people that the Bishop has called for needs to modeled from the very top, from the most visible members of our community. One such member, in snubbing a young person from the Parish in a very public way at a local coffee shop, does not seem to understand that.
Those Wascally Wabbits
At my house we have added two new members to our zoo—4 week old rabbits. Each will fit in the palm of your hand and they are adorably cute. They have brought an interesting dynamic to our house. Everyone changes around the rabbits. The rough and tumble play has toned down in the room with the rabbits and my two teen boys become gentle giants holding and caring for these two little dependent fur balls. In short, they bring out some of our best instincts—to be aware of another of God’s creatures, respect and provide for its needs, cheerfully clean up after accidents and offer gentle love. And the rabbits offer the gift of simple cuddly joy.
As we move through Lent and closer to Holy Week, these little rabbits teach me about the love of our Lord. He gave us an example of the humble give and take of our relationships as He not only washed his disciple’s feet, but also accepted the care from the woman who washed his feet. Part of the Lenten message is learning to participate in the exchange of caring and receiving. Lent calls out our best instincts – to be aware of and care for one another. Lent also calls us to be open to receive from one another and to receive the gift of Easter.
From fellow parishioner, Michelle Peña
The Incarnation and The Church
“The object of the various testimonies in the New Testament is not an ethereal ‘heavenly being,’ sojourning on earth in human guise, but the concrete person Jesus of Nazareth. This then is the one and only basis for an authentic Christology.”
From Edward Schillebeeckx, in Jesus: An Experiment in Christology (1981).
The Incarnation means that Jesus is a human being. But the same is true about the Church. We always hear, “the Church is a human institution,” but many times people take that to be commentary on the Church’s failings, which are attributed to the human beings who make it up. In that view, it isn’t the Church itself which is human, just the people who belong to it—the Church is divine, not human and divine. To talk this way is to deny the Incarnation, since the Church is the Body of Christ. We must not forget that the Church is a truly human institution, not a “heavenly” one in masquerade, and is bound by the same principles that guide any human enterprise.
According to the Sunday Bulletins, since 10/16/05 parishioners have donated $33,398.08 less than the $348,000 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 $46,614.24 was created. This gives a total of $80,012.32 of red ink (versus budget) for the period 10/16/05 to 3/26/06. Stretching that pattern for an entire year, the Parish would fall short by $173,360.03.
Pray, Pay and Obey
Money matters, and it is very important that the Parish generate the income needed to sustain its work. In 1985, the Parish decided to become a “stewardship” parish, foregoing all major fundraising (raffles, auctions, carnivals, etc.) and relying instead on the commitment of steady donation from the entire parish community. For eighteen years this was extremely successful, both in supporting the ministries of the Parish and in building the new church. The past three years have seen this stewardship model start to fail and now we hear of proposals to reinstitute major fundraising efforts in conjunction with the 25th anniversary celebration this summer.
Big fundraising is a big task and takes the energy and enthusiasm of lots of people to make it successful—energy and enthusiasm that ends up being directed, not to ministry, but to the financial support of someone else’s ministry. It’s like in the old days, when lay people raised the money so Father and Sister could do the work. This is a different vision of Church and Parish than the one upon which Holy Spirit was built—it is one that creates a false dichotomy between lay and clerical, between sacred and secular, that belies the mystery of the Incarnation lived out in the Church.
We seem to drifting inexorably towards reestablishing Pray, Pay, and Obey as the appropriate model for parish life (certainly the Obey part is on the march).
The annual Stations of the Cross through the streets of downtown McAllen, sponsored by the Holy Spirit Peace and Justice Committee, will be held on Good Friday, April 14th. It begins at 12 noon at Archer Park—bring water and comfortable shoes and witness to our participation in the Passion of Christ in today’s world.
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 mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org
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