Somos el Cuerpo de Cristo
Thoughts from Some Fellow Parishioners of Holy Spirit—June 25, 2006
The Young and War
“If the two soldiers [Kristian Menchaca and Thomas Tucker] had one thing in common, it was their determination to join the Army and fight in Iraq, believing it to be the right thing to do. …‛I'm going to defend my country,’ Private Tucker said in the telephone message. ‘Be proud of me.’ ” from the New York Times, 6/21/06.
“Young men go to war. Sometimes because they have to, sometimes because they want to. Always because they feel they are supposed to. This comes from the sad, layered stories of life, which over the centuries have seen courage confused with picking up arms, and cowardice confused with laying them down.” from Mitch Albom in Five People You Meet in Heaven.
My friend, you would not tell with such high zest
To children ardent for some desperate glory,
The old Lie: Dulce et decorum est
Pro patria mori. Wilfred Owen, poet, killed in WWI
In one of the letters to the NCR concerning the events in Kansas City [see previous newsletters], there were comments like “Well, how does it feel when the shoe is pinching your foot? For years we [the conservatives] were persecuted—get over it!” These comments are very reminiscent of what was heard after the infamous “Eucharistic Ministers” meeting in our own Parish: “Father Jerry hassled and punished us, now it’s our turn.”
Aside from the astounding lack of Christian charity, these comments are not even remotely related to facts. It is doubtful that there were massive firings of workers, open ostracizing, demonizing, and banishment of individual parishioners, etc. in Kansas City in the late 1960’s or in Holy Spirit Parish in its first 22 years. Were some folks uncomfortable in Kansas City and at Holy Spirit with the implementation of Vatican II reforms? Sure.
What is important to understand is that there is no symmetry between the current reimposition of pre-Vatican II practices and governance that is so widespread in the Church and the original implementation of the reforms. The reforms of the Council were the result of generations of solid scholarship on liturgy, ecclesiology, etc., and every change was rooted in that scholarship. They were not motivated by nostalgia for a vague “golden age” when everything was comfortable and well-ordered, either. Vatican II was a challenge to engage the modern world, not run from it.
The Church of the late 1950’s was not a “golden age,” and anyone who seriously thinks we should return to that sort of Church either did not experience it as even a teenager (anyone under 60 years old), or has simply accepted as fact the misrepresentations of the current ultraconservative crazies who have latched onto the Church as just another battleground in their culture wars.
“…[Fabian] Bruskewitz [Bishop of Lincoln, Nebraska] loves to shock, and shock he has in the past. The largest, of course, came with his 1996 wholesale excommunication of Catholics who belonged to a laundry list of organizations, most notably Call to Action. …The most interesting speculation to come of the mass excommunication was whether the three bishops, or hundreds of priests or thousands of laypeople outside of Lincoln who were members of Call to Action at the time were also excommunicated. Or were they only excommunicated if they traveled through Lincoln?
“None of that was ever resolved, nor were the questions about what excommunication meant if people simply didn’t accept it. Many didn’t. They kept living their lives, kept thinking, kept questioning, kept praying and going to Mass and Communion. They found community, even if it was inconvenient, and their lives go on….
“Still, the suffering he can impose on people conditioned to believe a bishop is to be obeyed no matter what can be considerable. That is shameful and unnecessary.
“The consolation, of course, is that the term limits imposed by Rome will work in this case to the benefit of the church. He will be 71 in September and slowly but surely closing in on the mandatory retirement age of 75. Ultimately, he will be a tiny footnote in the history of the U.S. church. And long after, Call to Action and a host of other lay groups and the thinking and debate and ministry they have provoked and nourished will continue to be a major part of the conversation in this resilient community.” from an NCR editorial, 6/16/06.
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 and the reported amounts for the other weekends, we can estimate that since 10/16/05 parishioners have donated $49,446.38 less than the $522,000 the parish budget called for during that period. If the spending patterns of the last fiscal year have continued (13.4% over budget), then this gives a total of $119,385.74 of red ink (versus budget) for the period 10/16/05 to 6/18/06. Stretching that pattern for an entire year, the Parish would fall short by $172,446.06.
A Texas Bishop’s Recollections and Observations
“After my predecessor died in September 1979, I was elected administrator [of the Amarillo Diocese]. Upon being notified, Archbishop Jean Jadot, apostolic delegate, instructed me to send him the names and addresses of every priest in the diocese, of a representative number of deacons and religious women, and of 100 laypeople. He said he would consult them and instructed me to do the same. He would compare the results of my consultation with his, check the names of candidates submitted by the consultees and by the bishops of Texas, and make his recommendation to Rome.
“It was a heady experience for me and for the clergy, religious and laity who had been energized by the implementation Vatican II. The church defined and understood as the body of Christ, the people of God, gave us a feeling of family, a sense of belonging.
“In the 18 years I served as administrator and bishop under Pope John Paul II, however, I witnessed the gradual abandonment of the practice of consulting parish priests, religious and laity in the selection of bishops.
“ Is it possible that while our Holy Father of blessed memory was becoming a wonderful, charismatic figure during his pastoral visits outside the Vatican, others at the center were reconstructing church governance along the lines of the pre-Vatican II hierarchical model? That we are now in a restoration mode rather than the renewal mode seems to indicate that.
“Small wonder that many on the parish level feel alienated and that the divide between them and the hierarchy continues to widen.”
(Bishop emeritus) Leroy T. Matthiesen of Amarillo, Texas, in a letter to the NCR, 6/16/06.
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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