Monday, January 22, 2007

Newsletter of 01/21/07

Somos el Cuerpo de Cristo
Thoughts from Some Fellow Parishioners of Holy Spirit—January 21, 2007

The Diocese of Brownsville is launching, during this Lent, an effort at promoting evangelization. It is based on a program developed by the Paulist Fathers ( and is called Disciples in Mission. Everyone is encouraged to familiarize themselves with this program. Here is a quote:
“While some Catholics believe that faith is a private matter, and is best kept to themselves, the Church teaches that ‘the lay faithful…have the vocation and mission of proclaiming the Gospel.’ Since lay people ‘are fully part of this work of the Church [they] should feel called and encouraged to proclaim the Good News of the Kingdom.’ Catholics are prepared to share their faith through the sacraments and by the work of the Holy Spirit in them. As Catholics meet Christ through the sacraments, prayer, and Scripture, they develop a ‘burning desire to invite others to encounter the One whom [they] have encountered’ and this ‘is the start of the evangelizing mission to which the whole Church is called’ (John Paul II, The Church in America, no. 66, 68).”

~from Disciples in Mission—An Evangelization Experience
The most powerful tool of evangelization is the witness given by people living out the Gospel in a vibrant parish community. Others are then drawn by the example of that witness. In the materials the diocese is providing, one of the first questions asked is whether people consider their parish a “welcoming community.” It is difficult to answer that question affirmatively at Holy Spirit these days and given the Monsignor’s suppression of those who have sought to “proclaim the Good News of the Kingdom” as an integral part of their own parish life, it is difficult to see how the lofty goals of this program have much chance of success unless there is a real metanoia, a change of heart, by the Monsignor.

Andrew Greeley
Father Andrew Greeley, sociologist and author, was recently awarded, by the editorial board of America (the Jesuit weekly) the Campion Award for his contributions to Christian letters. Here is part of his remarks on that occasion:
“There are perhaps five major themes to emerge from [my work in sociology]:

● Catholic schools are an enormous asset to the church, especially in a time of traumatic change.

● For the most part, priests who are happy in their work and would marry if they could are likely to stay in the priesthood.

● The birth control encyclical, Humanae Vitae, did not work. As a result Catholics tend to be Catholics on their own terms. I am told they cannot do that. My point is that they do, because the leadership has lost its credibility. (Sorry about that.)

● Despite all that has happened (most recently the sexual abuse scandals) in the last four decades, it is proving difficult to drive Catholics out of the church.

● The sacramental imagination, as badly enacted as it is, still holds most Catholics in the church.

It is fair to say that these themes have been greeted with ridicule and then silence. So it goes.”

Respect Life Sunday
Each Respect Life Sunday seems to inspire more sadness in me – ironic since it is supposed to be a celebration. I come home with a heavy heart because of how much we have missed the point. Yes, we want abortion to end and can draw inspiration from the psalms for our church’s stance regarding abortion—esp. the moving passages assuring us that our God will not abandon us, even if a mother forsake her child, and the beautiful image that our God knows us from knitting us together in our mother’s womb. But this is just a small piece. To really get at the heart of respect for life, we need to go back to the beginning—to creation. Not only do we believe that everything comes from God, we also teach and that God looked at everything he had made and found it was very good. This is what we are supposed to be celebrating—that with God we treasure all of creation, all of life.

Our church was filled with red roses this Sunday, but those roses shouldn’t be there just for the unborn. The roses should be there for the migrant, the poor, the forgotten, the elderly, the lonely, those we disagree with, those without healthcare, those without education, the victims of violence, the prisoner on death row, the victims of war, the victims of physical and sexual abuse, the earth itself—the roses should be there for all of God’s creation. It will be the year of favor announced in our readings when our church fully accepts its role as God’s anointed voice for all of life, and speaks and acts in celebration of all God’s creation. from fellow parishioner, Michelle Peña

Liturgical Notes
The appearance of the chalice veil at Mass this Sunday was certainly strange. Most people under the age of forty have probably never seen its use before. In the old days, the priest brought the veiled chalice with him in the entrance procession and put it on the altar, to be uncovered at the offertory. This practice seems to have its origins in contamination concerns since the pall (the small square of stiffened linen) was always placed on top of the chalice during Mass. This Sunday’s use of the pall and veil didn’t follow any of the old rituals and so seemed to be included to make some sort of nostalgic point. What’s next? A triumphant return of the biretta (not the pistol, but a square cap with three or four ridges or peaks, sometimes surmounted by a tuft)?

TV Notes
The decision made by the General Manager of the Valley PBS TV station, Monsignor Pedro Briseño, not to air the documentary film, The Hand of God, has been written about in the newspapers and discussed on the internet. We know KMBH provided three different explanations for why the show did not run: one of those was not true (the feed was available), another was not an explanation at all and was accompanied by a nearly hysterical attack on the local press, and the third was that the Monsignor wanted to review the program before showing it. Only that third reason survives scrutiny but leaves us scratching our heads? What would possess those in charge of the station to engage in suppressing this film and so contribute to the public’s perception that the Church wants to cover up the abuse scandal? Why do those entrusted with a public television license think they can engage in this sort of censorship?

$$$$$ Update
Since 10/15/06:
Total below budget: $17,364.68 (last year same date: $18,244.20)
Total shortfall (including expenditures over budget): $44,556.32
Projected yearly shortfall: $165,494.90

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


An Old Timer said...

The most powerful tool of evangelization is the witness given by people living out the Gospel in a vibrant parish community. Others are then drawn by the example of that witness.

I remember many years ago when Holy Spirit consisted of just a few parishioners meeting in a school cafeteria. Father Guss told us all that if we each truly lived by what Jesus taught, that we would not have enough room to hold all of the parishioners that would want to join our parish.

Holy Spirit was once that kind of parish... with parishioners standing in line wanting to join our community.

Evangelize? Don't make me laugh!

Church Employee Who's Seen It All said...

The evangelization program of the diocese is doomed to fail for it is not in keeping with the mind and heart of Christ. It is not grounded in love of neighbor, rather, it has as its source love of self for it is an exercise in self aggrandizement on the part of the diocesan administration. It seeks not to welcome but to classify into castes. The director, Luis Zuniga, wouldn't know what evangelization is if it should bite him in the rump. The man combines useless church trivia with catch phrases and passes it off as knowledge in his insipid presentations that are less and less attended each time.

Recall how the synod was initiated at a time of great turmoil in the diocese when priests were actively calling for the ouster of Monsignor Ivan Rovira over financial mismanagement. The synod provided a convenient smokescreen to 1. ensure the bishop's continued presence and 2. grant the serfs something new to occupy their minds and hearts for a while. Most priests vowed to not go along with the synod or its recommendations because they saw it for what it was: smoke and mirrors while the status quo remained unchanged. Fast forward to the present day: the word at many parishes is one of discontent. There is no follow up to the disciples in mission program. It sounds very beautiful and inspiring on paper, but actions are what will get us to heaven if they are done in faith, not pretty business plans. The diocesan administration is out of touch with the common folk who continue to hemorage into fundamentalist churches where at least they feel welcome and appreciated.

Anonymous said...

Evangelization at Holy Spirit?
Yea, right. Invite everyone in to experience Father Louie's masses and homilies every Sunday. That will really win 'em over!

Gerald Brazier said...

More on Evangelization
There is an interesting discussion of a program called "Intentional Disciples," which has a lot of the flavor of "Disciples in Mission," at the following blog url:

Patrick said...

About 3 years ago I dropped into a black hole – four months of absolute terror. I wanted to end my life, but somehow [Holy Spirit], I reached out to a friend who took me to hospital. I had three visits [hospital] in four months – I actually thought I was in hell. I imagine I was going through some sort of metamorphosis [mental, physical & spiritual]. I had been seeing a therapist [1994] on a regular basis, up until this point in time. I actually thought I would be locked away – but the hospital staff was very supportive [I had no control over my process]. I was released from hospital 16th September 1994, but my fear, pain & shame had only subsided a little. I remember this particular morning waking up [home] & my process would start up again [fear, pain, & shame]. No one could help me, not even my therapist [I was terrified]. I asked Jesus Christ to have mercy on me & forgive me my sins. Slowly, all my fear has dissipated & I believe Jesus delivered me from my “psychological prison.” I am a practicing Catholic & the Holy Spirit is my friend & strength; every day since then has been a joy & blessing. I deserve to go to hell for the life I have led, but Jesus through His sacrifice on the cross, delivered me from my inequities. John 3: 8, John 15: 26, are verses I can relate to, organically. He’s a real person who is with me all the time. I have so much joy & peace in my life, today, after a childhood spent in orphanages [England & Australia]. Fear, pain, & shame, are no longer my constant companions. I just wanted to share my experience with you [Luke 8: 16 – 17].

Peace Be With You