Monday, March 19, 2007

Newsletter of 03/18/07

Somos el Cuerpo de Cristo
Thoughts from Some Fellow Parishioners of Holy Spirit.
March 18, 2007

Alternative History, Redux
The furor over the Deacon’s faux pas has died down and you would hope that he and the Monsignor have learned some lessons from what happened. It might be worthwhile however, once again, to speculate, in the manner of the “alternative history” genre, and think about what might have been:

There was a Sunday in a parish somewhere when a deacon made some remarks in his homily that were unfortunate and very offensive to many, if not most, of the parishioners. The pastor, who was the celebrant at that Mass, was taken aback by the remarks but on the spur of the moment, right after the homily, really didn’t know how to react.

At the end of Mass, the pastor asked everybody to sit for a moment. He then said, “Our Deacon Joe made some remarks in his homily today that I’m sure he didn’t mean to say. We all have our moments when what comes out of our mouths is not what we were thinking or trying to say—believe me if I had a dollar for every time that has happened to me, I’d be able to take that dream golf vacation this year. What was said was offensive to many of you, I know, and it offended me too. I apologize, in the name of the parish, and, I am sure, also in the name of Deacon Joe.”

But then, it is called speculative fiction, isn’t it?

The Call to Joy
“Rejoice, Jerusalem,” are the liturgy’s well-known first words on this fourth Sunday of Lent. The opening prayer develops the theme: “We are joyful in your word, our Lord Jesus Christ.”

In a season rightly regarded as one of repentance and the call to conversion, the theme of joy could seem at first anomalous. On Ash Wednesday the Matthean Gospel called both faithful and catechumens to fasting, prayer and works of charity. The color of the liturgical season is purple. Many churches today have imaginative tableaux of the cross in a desert setting or banners of purple enveloping the sanctuary, to help the congregation remember the beginning and end of the Lenten journey.

Yet the first preface of Lent unambiguously says: “Each year you [our merciful God] give us this joyful season when we prepare to celebrate the paschal mystery with mind and heart renewed.” Orthodox theologians have been particularly sensitive to the theme. Thomas Hopko, for example, a former professor and dean at St. Vladimir’s Seminary, writes in The Lenten Spring: “The church welcomes the Lenten spring with a spirit of exultation. She greets the time of repentance with the expectancy and enthusiasm of a child entering into a new and exciting experience. ... Joy is at the heart of everything in the Christian life, and Great Lent is no exception.”

The theme should puzzle us even more, for joy, like forgiveness and compassionate judgment, is not an experience with which many people today seem easily comfortable. (Ask yourself how many people you know who represent moral insight that is caring but also sure, who can speak persuasively of feeling forgiven, who radiate joy.) Tolerance, the desire not to offend, the cultivation of comfort all seem more valued and sought after. But Lent, according to the liturgy, is meant to be a season of joy.
From Leo O’Donovan, S.J. the president emeritus of Georgetown University, in the NCR, March 16, 2007

Notes from St. Dysfunctia’s
The whole flap over Night Prayer is like a scene from some absurdist play. Parishioners being told they can’t continue to use the church to pray—an edict thundered down during the very liturgical season when we are particularly called to pray—would be fodder for late night comics if it weren’t so sad.

The convoluted explanations [sic] coming from the Monsignor are just silly: “because for two weeks there was no Night Prayer, there can be Night Prayer no longer.” Where is the simple courtesy of contacting someone who participates regularly and ask them what is happening? Why not use that clever invention, the telephone, and actually talk to people you are supposed to serve?

The Basin and the Towel
We are offered on Holy Thursday not just a time to recreate the last supper, we are offered an opportunity to listen and witness again our brother Jesus’ final example of what we are to be for one another and for the world – how we are to be His Body. The following is a poem written by Michael Card that reflects on the Body of Christ.

The Basin and the Towel
In an upstairs room a parable is just about to come alive,
And while they bicker about who’s best with a painful glance He’ll silently rise,
Their Savior Servant must show them how
through the will of the water and the tenderness of the towel.
And the call is to community, the impoverished power that sets the heart free.
In humility to take the vow, that day after day
we must take up the basin and the towel.
In any ordinary place on any ordinary day,
The parable can live again, when one will kneel and one will yield,
Our Savior Servant must show us how,
through the will of the water and the tenderness of the towel.
And the call is to community, the impoverished power that sets the heart free.
In humility to take the vow, that day after day
we must take up the basin and the towel.
Day after day we must take up the basin and the towel.
From fellow parishioner, Michelle Peña

$$$$$ Update
Since 10/15/06:
Total below budget: $27,372.56 (last year same date: $30,727.39)
Total shortfall (including expenditures over budget): $72,597.17
Projected yearly shortfall: $171,593.31

A significant member of the Pastoral Council (yes, there is such a Council) was asked what the building fund money was being collected for, since the debt is paid off. This person responded, “for maintenance, like the lights [that’s working so well, don’t you know].”

If this is true, it amounts to fraud because the money is being collected under the pretext of contributing to a capital fund. Anyone who has worked for a large company or agency knows the important distinction that is made between a “capital account” and an “operating account.” It is bad business practice to use money designated for capital expenditures to pay for day to day operating costs. In the context of a parish community doing such a thing amounts to lying to the community—hardly the way a church should act.

True Meaning
What is the true meaning of forgiveness? What is the true meaning of reconciliation? What is the true meaning of peace? These “true meaning” phrases are repeated ad nauseam in homilies in the Parish but are never elaborated on. It would be revealing to hear exactly what the Monsignor believes those three things mean.

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


Anonymous said...

Can you get a less scary pix of the bish to plaster across the blog?

Anonymous said...

Re: Alternative History
Speculative fiction? According to the account that was reported to the Bishop, that's exactly how it happened! Would Louie lie?