Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Newsletter of 11/26/06

Somos el Cuerpo de Cristo
Thoughts from Some Fellow Parishioners of Holy Spirit—November 26, 2006

L’Affaire Thanksgiving
The whole business about the Monsignor’s decision to shut down the 20 year old Parish tradition of hosting a parishioner prepared and served dinner on Thanksgiving Day for all comers has been talked about on the Blog for many days now. Those commenting all agree that the Parish has suffered a great loss and that the decision was…how can it be said, stupid.

In the aftermath, a question arises: why was such a decision made in the first place? It is always problematic to speculate about people’s motives, but this situation cries out for some sort of explanation.

First, the stated reason, “we want people to be home with their families on Thanksgiving,” doesn’t pass the laugh test. Those involved with the decision (the Pastoral Council and the Monsignor) have, in the main, never attended or worked at the dinner over the years and so the fact that it was on Thanksgiving itself really would not impact them personally. If people chose to contribute their time and effort on the holiday, why decide for them what is best for them?

Second, an unstated reason is that the traditional dinner, unattended by the Monsignor (who has always been gone from the Parish over Thanksgiving), was such an obviously good thing for those participating and for those it served that it had to be suppressed, since nothing from the “old days” could possibly be given a stamp of approval. Every vestige of the activities and spirit of the Parish prior to June, 2003, has to be wiped out, and even vilified (observe what is happening in the religious education program), no matter how much intrinsic merit those activities might have. The Thanksgiving Dinner Affair is just one more skirmish in the battle to dismantle the Parish, to “purify” it—for whom, the dramatically dwindling numbers of people in the pews?

“To be a Catholic is a challenge.” Bishop Serratelli of Paterson, NJ, Chair of US Bishops’ Doctrine Committee

The US Bishops met recently and produced several documents.
Here is some commentary:

“… [T]he bishops aren’t terribly persuasive or clear when they talk about sex, and they tend to want to talk about sex a lot. To be sure, they say lots of lovely and lofty things about marital love, about how it completes people and cooperates with God’s plan and fills married lives with joy and happiness. You can want not to have children, say the bishops; you just can’t do anything ‘unnatural’ about it. It’s a strange concept, like not wanting to die of heart disease while not doing anything ‘unnatural’ about it….

“ It’s either be open to having kids or married sex is no more significant than an encounter with a prostitute. Such a view of marriage and sexuality and sexual intimacy can only have been written by people straining mightily to fit the mysteries, fullness and candidly human pleasure of sex into a schema that violently divides the human person into unrecognizable parts. There’s a reason 96 percent of Catholics have ignored the birth control teaching for decades. We doubt the new[est] document will significantly change that percentage.

“So it is with gays. Here again, church authorities try to fit together two wildly diverging themes. They go something like this: Homosexuals are ‘objectively disordered’ (that’s about as bad as it humanly gets, in our understanding of things), but we love them and want them to be members of our community….

“The next paragraph in the document, by the way, begins, ‘Sad to say, there are many persons with a homosexual inclination who feel alienated from the church.’ You can’t make this stuff up.

“It is difficult to figure out how to approach these documents. They are products of some realm so removed from the real lives of the faithful one has to wonder why any group of busy men administering a church would bother. They ignore science, human experience and the groups they attempt to characterize. The documents are not only embarrassing but insulting and degrading to those the bishops are charged to lead. The saddest thing is that the valuable insights the bishops have into the deficiencies and influences of the wider culture get buried.”
from an editorial in the National Catholic Reporter, 11/24/06

Youth: Our Future Leaders of Tomorrow
The redundant and garbled title of this article is a phrase we hear from the Monsignor frequently. Does he really understand what it takes to educate young people in the faith?

On holidays these past twelve months, the Parish has been instructed by our youth—Adam Moya last Christmas and Ben Salinas this Thanksgiving. Leaving aside the circumstances and focusing on their messages, we can’t help but be impressed by the depth of their understanding of the Gospel, the Eucharist, and the Church as the Body of Christ. A lot of that understanding must certainly have been caught (or taught) from within their families, but both of these young people are the products of the Holy Spirit Religious Education Program of years past. Some may see their ideas and actions as evidence that the program was a failure; others may see thoughtful young adults truly engaged with the fundamentals of Catholicism (which aren’t memorized prayers and catechism answers, or even “feel good” messages that “Jesus loves me”).

We can only hope that the latest version of the Parish’s youth program doesn’t completely abdicate its responsibility to engage young people seriously with Catholicism. Don’t sell young people short by selling fundamentalist style “Jesus Camps” as authentic models of Catholic Christianity.

Stand Up and Sing
This nit-picking nonsense about criticizing people who stand and sing the “Great Amen” is one more example of the ignorance and blind hostility of some folks in our Parish. To have the Monsignor haul out the sacred GIRM is hypocritical at best—he who persists in the explicitly prohibited rose on the altar knows full well the complete text of the GIRM on postures and knows that his decision to impose kneeling is his choice, since exceptions are explicitly allowed (“some other good reason”).

Standing throughout the Eucharistic Prayer is the world-wide standard—so are we to believe that the U.S. is the only nation that really understands what the Eucharistic Prayer is about? Again, nonsense.

Leave people alone as they stand up and sing!

$$$$$ Update
Since 10/15/06:
Total below budget: $15,810.01
(last year same date: $9,463.97*)

Total shortfall (including expenditures over budget): $27,463.57
Projected yearly shortfall: $238,017.61
* not getting better, is it?

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:gbrazier@rgv.rr.com

1 comment:

Guy Hallman said...

The inane antics of the bishops (especially our currupt one) show that the Catholic Church is in an epoch of crisis; what we are living now will be the stuff of the teaching of Catholic history in the future. How the Church emerges from this period will be interesting; perhaps some of us will be recognized as having had positive involvement.

But, even the bishops are not all bad. On their web site the very first item from the Nov. meeting is a statement on Iraq, although you would never know that from the Sunday masses in our diocese. All talk of the various wars raging in our world has been replaced in our petitions during mass with a vague prayer for "peace" and "support the troops".

Getting back to the bishops' statement on Iraq, they reiterate that the Holy See and Bishops' Conf. have "repeatedly expressed grave moral concerns about military intervention in Iraq." As a Catholic in the USA, how do these "grave moral conerns" affect you? A good question for reflection. If you support the war might you be unworthy to receive Christ in the Eucharist? (Another document from that Conf. worthy of comment)