Somos el Cuerpo de Cristo
Thoughts from Some Fellow Parishioners of Holy Spirit—June 11, 2006
The sharing of stories by folks at the monthly fellowship this weekend—stories that spoke of the power of the Holy Spirit community in their own lives and the lives of their families—was celebration enough, given the current state of the Parish.
Spiritual guide and Catholic priest Father Anthony de Mello, SJ, integrated Eastern and Western traditions. His wisdom on dealing with change: “Acceptance and resignation are not identical,” Balzac once said. “Those who resort to self-resignation are the unfortunate people who consummate their misfortune.”
“Acceptance is quite different. I accept the reality but try to change what can be changed. If the reality can't be changed, then I use the misfortune in order to grow. Remember the Serenity Prayer: ‘God grant me the serenity to change the things I can, the courage to accept the things I can't, and the wisdom to know the difference.’
“The resigner shrugs his shoulders and says, ‘That's the way the ball bounces.’ This is a form of denial, avoidance. Don't go around it, under it, over it, or avoid it by denial, dulling the pain with alcohol, drugs, or useless activity. What's needed is more like grieving. One must ‘lean into the pain’ while getting on with life.” from Praying Naked, Frances Stroud, SJ, Image Books.
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 $46,654.20 less than the $493,000 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 $112,691.04 of red ink (versus budget) for the period 10/16/05 to 6/4/06. Stretching that pattern for an entire year, the Parish would fall short by $172,351.00.
June 2006 has been designated Torture Awareness Month by Torture Abolition and Survivor Support Coalition International. The month will culminate on June 26th with the 9th Annual United Nations International Day in Support of Torture Victims and Survivors. We are a church that teaches that all life is sacred and to be treated with dignity and love. As believers we cannot turn our backs or hide our heads in the sand when the topic of torture arises. Torture exists, it is happening in more than 150 nations. In our news and media we hear discussions seeking to convince us that certain people deserve to be tortured, that torture is how we can keep ourselves safe. Our faith leaves no room for that kind of rhetoric. Jesus was very clear—love your neighbor as yourself and love your enemies.
Make an effort this month to find out more. These websites are good places to start: http://www.tassc.org/ and http://www.tortureawareness.org/. Every Sunday we celebrate the Eucharist and resurrection, perhaps during our prayers we can remember that our Lord was also a victim of torture and offer a prayer of remembrance for all the other victims of torture. We can participate in vigil activities on June 26th and we can pray these words from Joan Chittister’s Prayer for World Peace: “We ask, O God, for the grace to be our best selves. We ask for the vision to be builders of the human community rather than its destroyers. We ask for the love it takes to bequeath to the children of the
world to come more than the failures of our own making. This we ask through Jesus, the one without vengeance in his heart. This we ask forever and ever. Amen.” from fellow parishioner, Michelle Peña
Having It Both Ways
Once again we hear the drumbeats that the financial difficulties of the Parish are being caused by those “protesters who told everyone not to contribute.”
At the same time we keep hearing that those who are dissatisfied with the Parish under the leadership (sic) of the Monsignor are extremely small in number when compared to those who just love what is going on. How is it possible that such a small, insignificant number of people can have such a huge impact on the financial state of the Parish? It really isn’t possible to have it both ways.
Could it be that the sad financial state of the Parish is due to a very widespread disappointment with the general state of the Parish? After all, a mere handful of people (sometimes described as “six or seven,” and at other times as “nine or ten”) withholding contributions couldn’t be the cause of a potential deficit of over $100,000 this year. Even if the disenchanted include at least the fifty red-clad folks from last Sunday, the poor collections cannot be laid at their doorstep. The sense that the Parish is simply not worth supporting under the current state of affairs must be very prevalent. Maybe folks think that lifeless liturgies with vacuous sermons aren’t inspiring enough to open their wallets. Maybe folks think that the general ineptitude of the management of the Parish is a situation within which contributing would be a case of “throwing good money after bad.”
A Parish isn’t a commercial enterprise, and parishioners aren’t customers, but parishioners aren’t subjects either who can be ordered to support something that they feel is not fulfilling their needs. People are voting with their wallets and with their feet—in big numbers.
Any manager or CEO who created such a mess of an enterprise would have been removed ages ago—the bosses or the board would not stand by and allow the death spiral to continue. But the Parish is not a commercial enterprise—does that mean it doesn’t matter to those in charge whether it fails or not?
The first two Sundays after Pentecost are really very odd feasts: they celebrate doctrines rather than events or people. The Trinity and the Real Presence are central to Catholicism, certainly, but you would never really know why that is true or what these doctrines really are all about if all you had to rely on where the observations from Holy Spirit’s pulpit over the last two years. If the Trinity is central to our faith, let’s hear more than the old nostrum “three persons in one God” when we grapple with the doctrine’s significance for our lives. If the Eucharist really is “the center of our lives,” let’s hear something more profound than sterile formulations of transubstantiation. Such formulations reduce the Eucharistic celebration to some sort of magic act in which the whole point is the production of a sacred object.
It's from our reciprocal love and, in particular, from the concern we have for those in need that we will be recognized as true disciples of Christ (Jn 13:35; Mt 25:31-46). This is the criterion on the basis of which the authenticity of our Eucharistic celebrations will be confirmed. (Pope John Paul II). Wouldn’t presenting our youth with those ideas be a better way to pass on Catholic traditions than encouraging them to participate in a procession?
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 email@example.com.
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