Monday, September 04, 2006

Newsletter of 09/03/06

Somos el Cuerpo de Cristo
Thoughts from Some Fellow Parishioners of Holy Spirit—September 3, 2006

Professions and Oaths
A lay person who is to serve as a Lector or Extraordinary Minister of Holy Communion must … [make] a profession of faith and an oath of fidelity… Monsignor Louis Brum, to the Parish, August 24, 2006

You have done enough. Have you no sense of decency sir, at long last? Have you left no sense of decency?
Joseph Welch to Senator Joseph McCarthy, June 1954

It is clear that stymied by his inability to exclude people merely on the basis of Call to Action membership, Monsignor Brum has come up with another subterfuge to be able to deny full participation in parish life to people he doesn’t like.

Those of a certain age will remember the 1950’s with the “loyalty oaths” and the rampant persecution of people with “suspect” political views. Those events are a black mark on American history — they created divisiveness, ruined peoples’ lives and reputations, left the great American tradition of free expression in tatters, and damaged the body politic in ways from which we have not yet completely recovered.

The Body of Christ is more important than any body politic and anyone can see how damaging the Monsignor’s actions have been so far and how further damaging these recent policies will be to individuals and to the Church.

It is possible to hear what some voices will say: “If your beliefs are orthodox, then you should have no problem with a profession of faith and an oath of fidelity. It is only those who hold beliefs contrary to Church teaching and who are not faithful who would have a problem with such a profession and such an oath.”

This is not unlike those who say, “if you have nothing to hide, then you shouldn’t mind having your phones tapped without knowledge or consent.” These policies create a pernicious atmosphere. Can’t you hear in their words the clatter from the assembly of the rack and the noise of the wood being stacked at the foot of the stake? Our Church abandoned the Inquisition centuries ago and no one can be required to cooperate in what amounts to a reimposition of its tactics—whether he or she finds the texts of a particular profession or oath objectionable or not.

Make an Informed Choice
You shall know the truth, and the truth shall set you free. John 8:32

Religious Education is being restructured, and parents will be given a choice of continuing with the Family Religious Education (FRE) model of once-a-month instruction or participating in a new weekly program. The curriculum materials will no longer be from Resources for Christian Living (RCL), but will be from the Sadlier program.

Those are the facts. But more than those facts are being presented to the Parish. In his efforts to sell the changes, the Monsignor has engaged, once again, in what can be politely described as misrepresentation.

He has repeatedly said that the RCL materials are “not approved”— this is not true. This curriculum is not one of the three diocesan recommended ones, but is in no way disapproved of. In fact, the Diocese uses this very curriculum and its supporting materials in its own catechist training program [note: In the opinion of the parish staff, the Sadlier curriculum and materials are very good and would work quite well in the FRE model].

The Monsignor has also stated that our FRE program is the only one of its kind in the country—again, not true. Just try a google search of “family religious education” and you will see for yourself. The Monsignor has indicated that the FRE program which the Parish has used for over twenty years is a failure and yet presents no evidence of any credible assessment.

To those being asked to make this choice: make it an informed one.

$$$$$ Update
According to the Sunday bulletins, since 10/16/05, parishioners have donated $68,062.56 less than the $667,000 the parish budget has called for (this includes an estimate for the weekend of April 2, since no data was ever reported for that date). If the spending patterns of the last fiscal year have continued (13.4% over budget), then this gives a total of $157,406.52 of red ink (versus budget) for the period 10/16/05 to 8/27/06. Stretching that pattern for an entire year, the Parish would fall short by $177,937.81.

Dark and Dangerous
Dark and dangerous times lie ahead. Albus Dumbledore

After last week's bulletin insert, I think Dumbledore's words to Harry Potter sum things up pretty well. We seem to have entered a new witch hunt era, complete with oaths of fidelity and parishioner turned against parishioner. It is a sad state of affairs when a once unified though diverse parish family has degenerated to the point where parishioners actually believe they need to come be "bodyguards" for the pastor at a catechists’ meeting.

What can any rational adult believe would happen at a catechists’ meeting that would require bodyguards? How dysfunctional have we become that we can start using “visitor” as a derogatory term and treat others with a total lack of respect while sitting in God's house? How much further will we spiral downward as the oaths of fidelity are administered — will you get to wear a scarlet letter if you refuse to make an oath?

Thank God for the gift of wisdom in Benjamin Salinas that begs us all to stop and think for a moment before getting caught up in any kind of pack mentality. Personally, I am going to visit my children's bookshelf again for some of my favorite Dr. Seuss stories involving an elephant named Horton and lessons in unconditional love and patience.
Submitted by fellow parishioner, Michelle Peña

Adoration and the Eucharist
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, in his proclamation of the Year of the Eucharist [not the Year of Adoration].

A meeting of Eucharistic Ministers about two weeks ago didn’t end with people being shouted down, nor did it explicitly contain a reiteration of exclusive policies (though there was no rejection of them either), so it was probably an improvement over last year’s meeting, which contained a whole lot of both.

What it did contain was a very odd identification (by the Monsignor and in an instructional video) of the sacrament of the Eucharist and the pious practice of Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament. Adoration is not the Eucharist — the Eucharist is not a rite whose purpose is to create a thing to be adored; it is a ritual meal that is a sacramental celebration of our being bound to Christ, His death and resurrection, and to each other.

Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament is not an ancient practice—the first appearance was in the thirteenth century (according to the Catholic Encyclopedia, hardly a boiling cauldron of “liberal” thought). The practice is long-standing, but is not rooted in apostolic or even patristic times. Like many other practices that have grown up over the years in the Church, Adoration satisfies many people’s religious needs, but is not a fundamental part of the Church’s life. A person can be a devout Catholic and follower of the Gospel and never make a visit to the Blessed Sacrament.

In the only Gospel account of judgment (Matthew 25:31-46), it is our recognition of Jesus in other people and how we then respond to those people that will be the criteria upon which we will be judged. Recognizing Jesus inside a monstrance doesn’t get any mention in that Gospel scenario.

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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Anonymous said...

It amazes me how a Catholic priest can be so bold in his attempt to exclude parishioners that don't agree with him. It also amazes me that he has actually convinced some of our parishioners that his actions are in teaching with the Catholic Church! Go figure!

Anonymous said...

The sad part is, just look at all the dedicated talent that we have lost. Why? For his own personal gain.

A Parishioner said...

Re: Religious Education Program
Why are we changing our Religious Education Program anyway? Our old one is so good and has served our needs for many years. Does Martha Sanchez agree with this change or is this just something that Father Louis is trying to force on us? Why change something that is working so well and not broken?

Anonymous said...

Re: Religious Ed
Welcome to Fr Louie's Holy Spirit!

The Bean Counter said...

Re: $$$$ Update
Two Sundays ago, Fr. Guss inserted an Annual Parish Financial Report in the Sunday Bulletin at Our Lady of Sorrows. He also mailed a copy of this Financial Report to every one of his registered parishioners.
Last Sunday, there was an insert in their Bulletin about the Code of Cannon Law that calls attention to the fact that administrators of the parish must give an accounting to the faithful concerning their offerings.
I guess I was out of town the week that Fr. Louie inserted Holy Spirit’s annual Financial Report in our Bulletin,… and I guess the one sent to me in the mail slipped by me, too! Darn!

The Bean Counter said...

More $$$$ Update:
Not only did Fr. Guss insert his Annual Parish Financial Report in the bulletin and mail them to all his parishioners, he has also published the last six (6) years of Annual Financial Reports for Our Lady of Sorrows Parish on their Web page!
One additional note: Collections at Our Lady of Sorrows totaled $1,084,283.40 for the year, which was the LARGEST revenue in the financial history of their parish! They now also have over one million dollars in savings, in the bank!
Our Lady of Sorrows is in a dying area of McAllen. Not at all like the explosive-growth area of Holy Spirit parish. Only the parish elite now know, but I don't think our collections (including the fancy Gala) are even half that of Our Lady of Sorrows! Can anybody else see the writing on the wall?

Anonymous said...

You can always tell the confidence placed in a pastor by the size of the collections. Collections at Holy Spirit are in the dirt. HELLO!

Anonymous said...

Yes, and attendance at a parish located in one of the most explosive growth areas in the United States, is DOWN! Welcome to Fr. Louie's Holy Spirit!

Anonymous said...

Remember how it used to be 3 years ago? If you did not come 5 minutes early for mass you stood. Ann would ask parishioners to squeeze together, and still people were 3 deep all around the back with a knot of 50 or so in the back doorway. And that was before all the new neighborhoods to the north and west. Back then I always wondered why the building was not made bigger. Someone must have forseen Fr. Brum and the great scattering of the flock he would do. Bishop? And some say we must learn to live with the "new" bad parish.

Mark Peña said...

Let us continue to pray for our fellow parishioners who have chosen to blindly obey instead of use the minds God has given them. Jesus calls each of us to love one another as he loves us. Therefore, we pray that our neighbors and friends will open their eyes and hearts to God's love and reject the desires of some to distort the Church into one that ignores and alienates instead of calling all to share in God's banquet of Love and Peace.
Your Fellow Parishioner