Somos el Cuerpo de Cristo
Thoughts from Some Fellow Parishioners of Holy Spirit—December 10, 2006
There is a gap, a void, that to leave unfilled would be simply wrong. This gap, this lacuna, is the sound of a voice that speaks the social justice teachings of our Catholic Church. We do not hear the sound of that voice from the pulpit of Holy Spirit Parish and we do not hear the sound of that voice in any of the activities of the Parish. That official silence is a scandal that cannot go uncorrected.
If the Monsignor and those close to him not only will not be the voice of those teachings but persist in forbidding any voice of those teachings in the Parish to be heard, then someone has to be the voice, whether the Monsignor and those close to him like it or not.
A group of parishioners passed out an information sheet after Mass this past Sunday. This sheet was a publication of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and spoke about the current situation in Darfur, the famine and the genocide, and called for international action. The bishops’ authority was the Gospel and the long tradition of the Church’s social justice teaching. The Monsignor and some of those close to him went ballistic.
You might argue that since those handing out the sheets had not sought permission that they were out of line. They need a pastor’s permission for such things—follow the procedures, follow protocol, don’t be disruptive and disrespectful, just ask ahead of time. Well, in a world of rational people where adults take the responsibility of responding to others with honesty, sincerity and respect, all of that might make sense. Our Parish is not such a world right now. There are scores, if not hundreds, of parishioners, past and present, who are still waiting (sometimes for years) for the courtesy of a response from the Monsignor on some request. His typical “song and dance” is to say, “I’ll get back to you on that,” and then deafening silence or after a long delay, a curt refusal with the only reason given that he doesn’t want to do what has been requested, and since he is in charge, no other reason is required.
In such an atmosphere, the lacuna of silence has to be filled, permission or not—“If they keep quiet, the stones will cry out.” Luke 19:40.
Don’t believe for a moment that this information sheet from the Bishops would ever have been approved for dissemination or inclusion in the bulletin; as was noted on the Blog, one of the Monsignor’s closest aides said, “This [the information sheet] is not for Holy Spirit.”
Come, let us reason together. Lyndon Johnson
There is no reasoning with these people. The Monsignor, overheard after the 8:30 Mass on Sunday.
The Monsignor has not sat down and “reasoned together” with anyone in this Parish in his entire time with us. He has bombastically pronounced and contemptuously dismissed, but he has never engaged in any honest dialogue. The only reason he ever gives is that he has the authority to do what he wants and he will. So be quiet.
It appears that when he sees that such an appeal to authority is not convincing, he concludes that “these people” are being unreasonable. Those who have taught or those who are in the business of persuading other people know that appeals to authority are never convincing and ultimately undermine the effectiveness (and the authority) of those who make those appeals. “Do it because I said so,” might suffice with very young children, but not with anyone else. Even that fatally flawed President from Texas knew that much.
A Story for Christmas
I recently was at a presentation and heard the following story. It seems especially appropriate for Advent and the beginning of our church year. An event happened a few years ago at the Special Olympics in Seattle that brought home the message that the small and seemingly most helpless know the way to salvation—just like the helpless infant who came to the manger.
At the final race at the Seattle Special Olympics, nine runners enthusiastically took their places to cheers from the crowd—each runner was excited and ready to do their best to cross the finish line first. The race started and the cheering of the crowd and determination of the runners grew. As the runners entered the last stretch, one boy lost his balance, fell and began to cry. Each of the other eight runners heard his cry and stopped to turn around and see what had happened. Seeing their friend on the ground, they walked back to him and as a group helped him to his feet. Then all nine children linked arms and walked the rest of the race and across the finish line together.
My hope is that the Christ Child once again opens our hearts to help each other when we are down and that we can link arms and walk across the finish line into the Kingdom together.
from fellow parishioner, Michelle Peña
“To be a Catholic is a challenge.” Bishop Serratelli of Paterson, NJ, Chair of US Bishops’ Doctrine Committee
Bishop Serratelli’s remark was in the context of the reiteration by the Bishops’ Conference of current Church teachings and was meant to imply that following those teachings is difficult and that being a Catholic was therefore challenging.
It appears that Bishop Serratelli is being unintentionally ironic—it is challenging being a Catholic these days, not because the teachings of the Gospel are difficult to follow (they are, of course) but because in so many circumstances, in so many parishes, living a vibrant, Catholic life is well nigh impossible.
The wretched liturgies, the dismal preaching, the complete focus on personal piety and devotions to the exclusion of any true Gospel witness and building up of a Eucharistic Community, all make hanging on seem increasing pointless.
Why stay in this Parish? Why stay in this Church that not only allows but fosters what has become of Holy Spirit? For me, Sunday Mass at Holy Spirit has become not just a dull, boring, amateurish “presentation” of a Eucharistic celebration, but has become almost the antithesis of what such a celebration should be—it is like the old comic book character, a “bizarro” Mass, that borders on the sacrilegious because it is so far from what it should be.
Yes, Bishop Serratelli, it is tough being a Catholic these days.
from fellow parishioner, Jerry Brazier
Total below budget: $19,144.94 (last year same date: $9,898.03)
Total shortfall (including expenditures over budget): $34,683.02
Projected yearly shortfall: $225,439.63
At a current session of the Supreme Court, hearing a case that questioned whether assigning students to school on the basis of race to achieve racial diversity was “reverse discrimination,” several justices said that “racial diversity is a good thing, you just cannot use race as factor in achieving it.” Kind of like, “peace and justice are good things, but we cannot allow any activities [in the parish] that actually promote peace and justice.”
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