Monday, April 17, 2006

Newsletter of 04/16/06

Somos el Cuerpo de Cristo
Thoughts from Some Fellow Parishioners of Holy Spirit—April 16, 2006

The Last Resort
“Over the pope, as the expression of the binding claim of ecclesiastical authority, there still stands one’s own conscience, which must be obeyed before all else, even against the requirement of ecclesiastical authority. This emphasis on the individual, whose conscience confronts him with a supreme and ultimate tribunal, is one which in the last resort is beyond the claim even of the official church.” from Joseph Ratzinger in his commentary on the Second Vatican Council’s declaration, Dignitatis Humanae.

This quote from the theologian who is now Pope Benedict XVI reiterates a very important principle of Catholic moral theology that many times gets lost in discussions on authority in the Church. Each of us is bound, above all, by our conscience—we are not bound by a blind obedience to anyone in the Church, be it Pastor, Bishop, or Pope. Even clergy and religious, who are bound by narrowly prescribed vows of obedience, have as the “supreme and ultimate tribunal” their individual conscience.

Those who think the Church is a kingdom, governed by those responsible only to God, and that every member must think as the king’s representatives tell them think, behave as the king’s representatives tell them to behave, and obey, without question, the directives of the king’s representatives, are simply wrong. There is a comforting sense of security that is gained by thinking this way, but it is the artificial security that comes from a child-like view of things. “When I was a child, my speech, my outlook, and my thoughts were all childish. When I grew up, I had finished with childish things.” (1 Corinthians 13:9-12)

Believe, Share, and Transform
Bishop Peña, in his Easter message to the Valley, describes a goal to accomplish the mission, Go and Make Disciples, that has been accepted by the Bishops of the United States. This threefold goal is “Believe, Share, and Transform.”

The pastoral message of the U.S. Bishops and Bishop Peña’s message are eloquent words that have the potential to inspire us to “transform our society.”

There is something disconcerting about the Bishop’s message, because his words are out of tune with much of what has happened to our Parish, either by the direct action of the Bishop or by his acceptance of the actions of those he has appointed. The people in the Parish who, over the past twenty-five years have been the most active and productive in carrying out Believe, Share, and Transform, are the ones who have been singled out for what can only be described as persecution. It is their dedication and work that has been demonized and dismissed, leaving Holy Spirit in a shambles and a hollow shell of what it used to be—a Parish that was actively engaged in all aspects of the Bishop’s threefold goal.

As I reflect on Holy Week and Easter, my thoughts turned to a poem I found while my father was facing cancer. The poem was very comforting to me because it helped me put his cancer into perspective. This awful disease was painful but not all-powerful. There was so much more that was beautiful and lasting that his cancer simply could not touch. This seems to be the message for me this Easter—a reminder that what we celebrate this Holy week and this Easter is boundless. Whatever the cancer may be in my life and in my faith life, my God and God’s unconditional love are bigger.

So I share the poem with you and pray that no matter how you define cancer, you receive the blessing of knowing that Easter is greater.

Cancer is so limited…
It cannot cripple love,
It cannot shatter hope,
It cannot corrode faith,
It cannot eat away peace,
It cannot destroy confidence,
It cannot kill friendship,
It cannot shut out memories,
It cannot silence courage,
It cannot invade the soul,
It cannot reduce eternal life,
It cannot quench the Spirit,
It cannot lessen the power of the Resurrection.
From fellow parishioner, Michelle Peña

Have We Been Processed Yet?
Cynicism is easy and very destructive, but sometimes it seems to be the only honest way to react to what we see and hear.

There is no evidence of any “process” by which the Parish, as a community with everyone—Pastor, parishioners, staff, etc.—participating, embarks on a path that will lead to healing and reconciliation.

The Bishop’s comments and those of our two homilists during Lent identified the problems as being animosity among parishioners and disruption of order. Therefore, they define the solution as an interior change of heart by the parishioners, particularly those who have been outspoken. Since the “problems” so identified as just symptoms of a deeper set of issues, the “solutions” have no real chance of accomplishing anything, since they do not address the underlying issues. As we have seen in the past, “reconciliation” to the Bishop and the Pastor seems to mean “reconcile yourselves to the current state of things, because we are not going to change anything that we do.”

$$$$$ Update
The Sunday Bulletin of April 9th did not have a report of the collections for the weekend of April 1st and 2nd. Using the average of the collections from 10/16/05 for that weekend, we can estimate that since 10/16/05 parishioners have donated $33,825.35 less than the $377,000 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 $50,498.76 was created.

This gives a total of $84,324.11 of red ink (versus budget) for the period 10/16/05 to 4/9/06. Stretching that pattern for an entire year, the Parish would fall short by $168,648.21.

Resurrexit, Sicut Dixit, Alleluia
“He has risen, just like He said.”
Easter is a time for certainty, for connecting ourselves with the fundamental truth of Christianity: Christ, crucified, rose from the dead—He lives! All the rest of what we believe as Christians is commentary. We know, for certain, that we have within our grasp the ultimate meaning of human existence: that death has no real power over us if we identify ourselves and our lives with Christ crucified.

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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