Monday, April 02, 2007

Parishioners' Newsletter of 04/01/07

Somos el Cuerpo de Cristo
Thoughts from Some Fellow Parishioners of Holy Spirit
April 1, 2007


Palm Sunday, Part I
Forgive my cynicism, but having been hijacked by the KC’s, my mood is not the greatest. I hope that 8:30am Mass was an isolated event for this weekend, and that Palm Sunday was actually experienced in some way at the rest of our weekend services. What saddens me the most is that I am not even surprised that one of the higher points of the Church’s liturgical year was shoved aside for the recognition of an exclusive group. How pitiful that our expectations have sunk so low, and this event just seems like par for the course. Our service should have started with a reading placing us with our Lord’s entry into Jerusalem and the story of the crowds gathering in excitement and shouting “Hosanna!” Then we read the passion story, and our whole focus and liturgical mood should shift, this entry is bitter-sweet, because we know where the journey into Jerusalem ends – at the cross. Instead we journeyed through a KC procession, ah well …

So, at the start of this Holy Week, I find myself in the dark garden praying with my brother, Jesus. Praying to keep focused on the coming dawn and trying to hold on to hope. My thanks to Benny Arfele, who gave me a copy of a beautiful prayer that seems especially appropriate this week for Holy Thursday and beyond to Easter rising.

Let Me Be Bread - by Jeanette Martino Land
Turn me outside in and upside down, Lord.
Pummel and purify me; Yeast and ferment me,
Shape me into a loaf of bread
That can be blessed, broken, and shared –
So others may taste the goodness of Your Love
Risen
And baked in me.
Easter blessings, from fellow parishioner, Michelle Pena

Palm Sunday, Part II
“…[Jesus said to his disciples,] the kings of the Gentiles lord it over them and those in authority over them are addressed as ‘Benefactors’; but among you it shall not be so. Rather, let the greatest among you be as the youngest, and the leader as the servant. For who is greater: the one seated at table or the one who serves? Is it not the one seated at table? I am among you as the one who serves.” from the Gospel for Palm Sunday

So much of the Palm Sunday liturgy is about the unique person of Jesus, “who did not think divinity was something to grasped at, but emptied himself and took the form of a slave.” The passage from the Gospel quoted above brings out an important consequence of the In-carnation for the Church: leaders in the Church are not to be as leaders in civil society, lording it over people, but are to be like the lowliest servant-slave. This must be a very difficult lesson for many Church leaders, since they so rarely act as if they’ve learned it.

“ …the Church must stop encouraging the belief that the clergy are superior in spirit to the laity, for that is a direct cause of abuses of power within the Church. Some priests take great pride in making parishioners feel like lost children, … arranging themselves as the only way to get closer to God. This attitude keeps many people away from the true mission of Jesus.”
Father José Domblin at an international conference of theologians in Caracas, December 2006

Palm Sunday, Part III
“His disciples realized what was about to happen, and they asked, ‘Lord, shall we strike with a sword?’ And one of them struck the high priest’s servant and cut off his right ear. But Jesus said in reply, ‘Stop, no more of this!’” from the Gospel for Palm Sunday

A teacher of playwriting once said, “if you bring a cannon on stage in the first act, by the third act you better fire it off.” Does that mean that if a sword is brought into church, then it is expected that it will be drawn at some time during Mass?

Some disclaimers before I continue: I grew up in a military family, with my father, brother and brother-in-law all career military officers with wartime service in WWII, Korea, and Vietnam counted amongst them; secondly, my father was a member of the Knights of Columbus for as long as I can remember (no plumed hat or a sword, though).

Despite that background, I found the display put on by the Knights at Mass on Sunday offensive, distracting, and just plain silly.

Silly, because of the faux nature of it all. As a kid I remember being thrilled by the passing of the troops in review, the sounding of retreat on post each day, etc. These were serious people engaged in serious business—putting their lives in danger to protect others. Sunday’s display smacked of little boys playing dress up. I consider many things that the Knights do to be serious and worthwhile, as I know my dad did, but I also recall that gospel admonition not to be a show-off about doing good works.

Distracting, because all that milling around, taking off and putting on of plumed hats, etc. had nothing, repeat nothing, to do with one of the Church’s most important Sunday liturgies. As one little kid asked a few years ago, “are the pirates going to be at church today?”

And, most importantly, offensive, because a militaristic display, which is what this was, has absolutely no place within the context of a Eucharistic celebration. Read the Gospel, folks, on this very Sunday Jesus said, “Stop, no more of this!” A sword brought into Church is meant to be drawn there, or it should never be brought in at all. It is a perversion of the fundamental meaning of the Incarnation (see Paul to Philippians from Palm Sunday) to have these kinds of displays.

You don’t think it was just some elaborate April Fools’ joke, do you?
from Jerry Brazier, a fellow parishioner

$$$$$ Update
Since 10/15/06:
Total below budget: $31,922.21 (last year same date: $33,398.08)
Total shortfall (including expenditures over budget): $78,563.45
Projected yearly shortfall: $170,162.31

Après Moi
“Après moi, le deluge, [After me, the flood]”
Louis XV, almost the last King of France

There are persistent rumors that up to twenty pastors will be reassigned with the diocesan personnel changes in June. This is in a diocese of only sixty-seven parishes and it would mean that nearly 30% of the parishes would have a new pastor soon. This is a startling number of changes, particularly given the fact that the bishop is fac-ing retirement in less than three years.

There is a chance that Holy Spirit will be among those twenty changes, but it is important to keep the long view and to keep perspective. No pastor is in place forever and eventually, if not this June, then some other June, the Parish will have a new pastor. When that day comes, there will be enough embers left within the shell of Holy Spirit Parish to gently blow them, once again, into that blazing fire that we all know is possible.

Soon after King Louis, France was deluged by a flood from which it took generations to recover. It won’t take the Parish that long.

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 gbrazier@rgv.rr.com.

5 comments:

Anonymous said...

According to Grand Knight Tom Oaks, a Catholic male must be "Patriotic" to be a Knight of Columbus. Does this mean you must be American, vote Republican, be anti-immigrant and support George Bush and the war in Iraq? I guess I don't qualify.

By the way, have you noticed our Prayers to the Faithful includes praying for the Holy Spirit to grant our soldiers the courage to protect the lives of others. Hundreds of thousands of men, women and children have already lost their lives as a result of this immoral and unjust war that was initiated based on a lie of WMDs. Maybe we should instead pray for an immediate end to the war, the killing and the safe return of all our soldiers. After all, God did say "Thou Shall not Kill," and Jesus asked us to love our enemies. I don't remember he said unless they are Iraqis or Muslims.

B. W. Andrews said...

Just why is it that our Knights feel that they must flash their fancy plumed hats right at the Concentration? Do they not realize how distracting that is right at the very moment that we are all trying to concentrate on uniting ourselves with our Savior? In my book, this shows very poor taste and very little consideration for fellow parishioners.

Anonymous said...

re "Anonymous"

Does God's call for us to "love our enemies" include the Bishop and Msgr Louis?

Or are the self righteous exempt?

Anonymous (also)

Anonymous said...

To Anonymous #2:
Do not ever doubt that the people who are displeased with Louis Brum love him. That is why we want him to do what is right. That is why we pray for him; just as we do for our children when they stray.

Anonymous said...

To anonymous #2: I don't know. Why don't you tell us if the self righteous are exempt. I don't recall one instance in the past 3 1/2 years when anyone who was displeased with Fr. Brum's choice of words or actions even condemned him. We may have asked that he be relieved of duties at Holy Spirit, we may have asked that he be corrected for what he said or did, but if you would like or need proof of the actual words written, you can look back to the letters written asking the Bishop for change. These are not contemptuos letters & they don't insult Fr. L. I agree with the last contributor...Love(1 Cor 13) is the reason why so many of us continue to pray for him.