Somos el Cuerpo de Cristo
Thoughts from Some Fellow Parishioners of Holy Spirit—March 4, 2007
Ab Esse, Ad Posse
“… [there is a] negative presupposition that we Catholics have deep in our psyches is the notion, as it is frequently expressed: “The Catholic Church is not a democracy! And that means that it never was, and can never be a democracy!” That is a deep, deep presupposition that we all have been immersed in from the very beginning of our Catholic lives, and our forbearers’ lives for centuries. The problem with this presupposition is simply this: It is not true!
“There is today a growing enthusiasm on the part of some, usually more conservative, Catholics for the reintroduction of Latin. I personally am all for it, so long as we learn to understand it. So, as my contribution to your growing knowledge of Latin, let me add another helpful Latin phrase here: Ab esse, ad posse, “If it happened, it’s possible.” Its pertinence here is that in fact there have been many ele-ments of democracy in the history of the Catholic Church. So, when someone claims that the Catholic Church cannot be democratic, the first response is: Ab esse, ad posse. In fact it was democratic; there-fore it can be democratic! … [it is a] fact that there have been many democratic elements in the history of the Catholic Church.”
from the introduction to Democracy in the Early, Medieval, and American Catholic Church, a lecture by Leonard Swidler, Ph.D., S.T.L. (arcc-catholic-rights.net/lenten_2.htm)
Dark Ages: 19/42 = 45.2%
There is some revisionist history going around these days indicating that maybe the Dark Ages weren’t so dark after all and that those who originally portrayed that period in history that way had an agenda to highlight the positive impact of secularism on Europe (see www.commonwealmagazine.org/blog/post/index/819/Those-Awful-Dark-Ages) Ah scholars, who have the time to muse about such things!
While distracted during a Sunday homily, you might take the opportunity to muse on the “darkness” of our parish sanctuary. Or you might just take the word of someone who has, and think about the fact that 19 of the 42 recessed lights in the ceiling are burnt out (that’s 45.2%)—it’s dark folks!
Now, of course, there are those who would see all of this metaphorically as a commentary on the “darkness” that has descended on the Parish in the last 3+ years. Leaving that aside, as a simple matter of lack of care for our worship space, this is a disgraceful abdication of responsibility by the administration of the Parish. The trees get trimmed while the sanctuary remains dark.
Life-Blood of the Body
Just a few Sundays ago, we heard once again Paul’s analogy of the church as the Body of Christ as he gave advice to early communities seeking balance. As our knowledge of science grows, the power of his analogy grows. We know that Paul is right. The church is a body made of many parts and each part is necessary for the body to func-tion properly. We also know that each part of the body is connected to all the other parts by the bloodstream. The bloodstream allows an exchange between all the parts and this exchange brings life. This exchange provides a connection and a chance for all the parts to function together more fully.
We have an opportunity to participate in a life giving exchange for our own Body of Christ. On March 17th, there will be a Lay Congress in Weslaco. This is not a protest or a day to just sit and complain. It is a day set aside for a free exchange of ideas and a needed infusion of life-blood into the church in the Rio Grande Valley. Our church body is out of balance, with many parts not able to function and other parts trying to carry the whole load. As Paul points out, the head cannot say to the feet—I don’t need you. The body will fail when this happens. We are all connected—whether we like it or not—and so we must all work together to bring healing and balance.
from fellow parishioner, Michelle Peña
Total below budget: $27,372.56 (last year same date: $28,473.33)
Total shortfall (including expenditures over budget): $66,217.76
Projected yearly shortfall: $172,166.18
In correspondence with a parishioner, the Bishop indicated that he makes his decisions after prayer and discernment, without regard to public opinion.
In one sense, his comment is laudable, but in another sense, it is quite at odds with the theology of the Church laid out by Vatican II and incorporated into the 1983 Code of Canon Law. It is also a comment that simply isn’t true—without the criticism in the public forum of the Deacon’s unfortunate remarks about clergy sex abuse, it is doubtful that the Deacon would have been disciplined (recall that the Monsignor was not offended and that he did not see the need to ask the Deacon for an apology).
In Canon Law, the causes for which a pastor can be removed legitimately from his parish include: “Loss of a good reputation among upright and responsible parishioners or an aversion to the pastor which it appears will not cease in a brief time.” (Canon 1741.3)
Now, how in heaven’s name could such a determination ever be made if the opinion of the public (the people in the pews) was not taken into account? We know that the Bishop does pay attention to accounts in the press that put the Diocese and the Church in a bad light, but we also know that he effectively ignores internal expressions of concern and opinion by folks who seek some change or seek some redress. Trying to get a hearing and effective action by working quietly behind the scenes is agonizingly slow and virtually always pointless.
The Bishop listens when there is public outcry, but doesn’t listen to quiet voices of the faithful with legitimate concerns. Go figure!
“…Only Extraordinary Ministers assigned to serve at that Mass are asked to come around the Altar during the Sign of Peace. It is the main Celebrant’s responsibility to select additional Extraordinary Ministers of the Eucharist if needed.” from a notice that has been inserted ad nauseam in the Sunday Bulletin for over a year.
The Monsignor got his knickers in a twist a few weeks ago when it was reported to him that “certain people” had served as Eucharistic Ministers at a wedding in the parish (“teacher, teacher, while you were out of the room, Johnny was bad!”). Aside from the fact that the report named the wrong persons (one of whom wasn’t even at the wedding), the Monsignor’s reaction, which led to some real unpleasantness a few days later, was completely over the top.
What is humorous is that the celebrant at the wedding followed the parish directives (see above) to the letter. There were none of the “chosen” (or is it anointed) folks at the wedding to serve as Eucharist Ministers, so the celebrant selected two people, from among those present, to serve. All quite proper, according to the Sunday Bulletin.
Eventually, when you try to control everything with petty rules, you get “hoisted on your own petard.”
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 oppor-tunity for prayerful discussion of these and other issues about the parish or have any other comments, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.