Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Holy Spirit Parishioners' Newsletter of 05/27/07

Somos el Cuerpo de Cristo
Thoughts from Some Fellow Parishioners of Holy Spirit
May 27, 2007


Very Own

Two Man





“If you want peace, work for justice” Pope Paul VI

The commentary on the Blog about the Texas Pax Christi Conference emphasizes again that there is a lot of misunderstanding floating out there in the Catholic pews (and pulpits) about what peace really is (you know, the true meaning) and about the important relationship between peace and justice that has been part of the Judeo-Christian tradition for many thousands of years.

Some people seem to believe that the “peace movement” is some fringe activity that began in the misguided and drug-addled 60’s—idealistic and naïve at best, destructive and subversive at worst—and that there is nothing authentically Catholic about all that “adolescent” stuff. Nothing could be further from the truth. As Thomas Aquinas taught all those years ago, peace is not simply the absence of conflict, it is not simply tranquility, docility, and passivity—it is “the fruit of a just society” (Isaiah 32:17). As Catholics, we cannot withdraw into an isolated cocoon of false tranquility, replete with incense and fake solemnity, ignoring the disordered and unjust society outside. Such a withdrawal is not the teaching of the ancient prophets, it is not the teaching of the Church through the ages, and it is not the teaching of Christ in the Gospel.

The liturgy this past Sunday, our very special Parish feast, was even more appalling than usual. Aside from the Prayers of the Faithful foolishness (see below), we were subjected to an inane homily that contained a presentation on the “gifts of the Holy Spirit” that had the form of something from the Baltimore Catechism (you know, dull and didactic) but even got the substance wrong. “Fear of the Lord” has nothing to do with being afraid; “Piety” has nothing to do with the everyday meaning of the word “pious”; “Wisdom,” “Understanding” and “Knowledge” are all different from each other and are related in subtle ways to the virtues that are classically considered the goals in living a moral life. Please, do a serious job when talking on this topic, or just don’t bother!

The Holy Spirit continues to descend on all of us, individually, not just on the official Church.–it is the way in which the Spirit works in the world and guides the Church in the right direction. Maybe those folks speaking in ways that are not easily understood (in tongues, maybe) are just speaking the truth in a different and important way and shouldn’t be so easily dismissed.

The Duke
We prayed for John Wayne during the Prayers of the Faithful—I kid you not. Right along with praying for the soldiers, we were called to pray for a man who pretended to be a soldier in the movies but carefully avoided serving in WWII himself. Instead of praying for an end to the war in Iraq, praying for a just resolution of the immigration problem, praying for an end to the death penalty (issues supported by the American Bishops), we are praying for actors—is Bruce Willis next?

Faith, Hope, and Weapons
Late last night I read a commentary on the recent document released by the Vatican’s International Theological Commission about limbo that gave me great hope. Not so much because of what the ITC said about limbo, but because the ITC was willing to acknowledge that the magisterium can’t know everything—that there is Mystery and to try and have a black & white answer for every matter of our faith would in effect place limits on God, make God less. There are times when we have no solid answer and simply have faith and hope in God’s infinite love. It is refreshing to once again feel hope from something released by the Vatican.

However, there is nothing refreshing about one of the slides being shown before mass with the quote: “The rosary is the weapon.” According to Webster’s, a weapon is defined as “something (as a club, knife, or gun) used to injure, defeat, or destroy.” We address Mary as Hand Maid of the Lord, Gentle Woman, Quiet Light, Peaceful Dove, Queen of Peace, and Mother. How can we possibly be continuing to characterize her prayer as something used to injure, defeat or destroy?
from fellow parishioner, Michelle Pena

$$$$$ Update
Since 10/15/06:
Total below budget: $39,068.85 (last year same date: $39,501.16)
Total shortfall (including expenditures over budget): $62,152.32
Projected yearly shortfall: $164,484.40

Thoughts on the Current State of the Laity in the Church
“Young adult Catholics want to be connected, but it is a fragile bond, easily disrupted by some sudden Vatican or episcopal statement. They believe in God, Jesus Christ, and the sacraments, but Church structures affront them. They will ‘stay at a distance’ until these structures show greater inclusion of the laity and women. They will go to other churches in the meantime or they will more likely find a Catholic parish they like while ignoring the diocesan and global church in a form of ‘creeping congregationalism.’ For some, the recent scandals are ‘the last nail in the coffin.’ For most, they are simply another warning against investing time or effort in the institution. …

“One of the standard theological treatments of the laity’s place in the Church’s mission makes a sharp distinction between role and mission within the Church—the sphere, it is explained, of the ordained—and role and mission in the world—the world. I will only signal the many theological questions and problems created by drawing this distinction so sharply. My point, again, is simply descriptive: through years and years of many efforts to address the laity’s role in the Church’s mission in the world, inevitably and almost immediately the effort confronts the reality—the practical reality—stated by the 1967 Synod of Bishops on Justice in the World:

“‘While the Church is bound to give witness to justice, it recognizes that everyone who ventures to speak to people about justice must first be just in their eyes [emphasis added]. Hence we must undertake an examination of the modes of acting and of the possessions and lifestyle found within the Church herself.’” Peter Steinfels, former editor of Commonweal and former religion editor of the New York Times

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:gbrazier@rgv.rr.com


Anonymous said...


Guy Hallman said...

Yesterday while shopping at HEB a young woman collecting carts in the parking lot asked about my Bishop Pena: Fix Holy Spirit Parish Now! poster. Says she used to go there, but no more. Doesn't like it since Brum came. He has nothing to offer. Can't blame her. How many more has Brum and the bishop driven away? They should be so ashamed that they resign.

The Parish Comic said...

Re: John Wayne.
C'mon, Jerry, show some Christian compassion! They were praying for John Wayne Bobbitt. After what his wife Lorena did to him he'll never be able to become a priest!

Anonymous said...

If the reign of terror unleashed by Bishop Pena is what passes for service in the Catholic Church these days, no wonder the world is in the state it is in! His pompous ceremonies at the San Juan Basilica marking a sad milestone, 50 years of disfiguring the priesthood of the Lord Jesus Christ, were little more than exercises in self aggrandizement. They fell woefully short of true service as described in the Gospel passages time and again. The Bishop has used religion to serve himself and punish his political enemies, ignoring the true religion that pleases our God and Father. Oh, to be sure, there have been some token expressions of Christian witness. These, however, are too little and too late from a man living in bondage and servitude to an ego that far surpasses his stature. Like a pagan idol, he has rendered constant worship to it, sacrificing the good faith and loyal service of countless men and women over the years, all the while claiming to have answered a calling from on high. Reality check! I laughed out loud when I saw his interview on KMBH and I was not the least bit convinced of his sincerity. Bishop, please do not do our Church any more favors and resign today. Your "service" is damaging our credibility and compromising our mission in the Rio Grande Valley, but what the hell, you've made it this far, might as well stick around for your retirement check to be even bigger, right? You may think that people were impressed with your letter from the Holy Father congratulating you for your service, but it read like canned s_ _ t from a lawyer's office, or something overdone by speech writers from the Mutual Admiration Society. Not even the loyal army of sycophants at your beck and call believed it, did they? Do the right thing and retire early.

Anonymous said...

There is so much anger in your address to the Bishop. What power this little man has over people's emotions! The hardest task that we have right now is to come to love our enemies while keeping a close eye on them. Speak, yes, but speak with the love of Christ in your heart.
Just what exactly happened at this celebration to cause such a spew of hatred?

Anonymous said...

Hey last anonymous; read Luke and Matthew and see how Jesus addressed corrupt clergy like our bishop. What do you have to say about Jesus' way of speaking?

David Rodriguez said...

God help you all, the depiction of Monsignor Brum and the Bishop Pena blowing up our church is indicative of your stiff necked pride,lack of respect,arrogance, and hatred the tools of the devil. I forgive you for you know not what you do. Peace and Justice?

Anonymous said...

Like I said, Mr. Rodriguez. Read how Jesus treated corrupt clergy.

Anonymous said...

Mr. Rodriguez,

By your estimation, the Bishop must be possessed, for those are the qualities he brought with him and used to his advantage time and again. The only difference with this parish is that his "service" was unleashed full fury for no other reason than because he had the power to do so. Read the blog and don't judge the people because of one cartoon.

Anonymous said...

Mr. Rodriguez,
It is very evident that you are not unaware of all the harm that Brum has done to Holy Spirit and to many of the parishioners. Please keep an open mind and heart and ask the people who have been denied their God given right to serve. Dialogue with them and you too will be disgusted, angry, disenchanted, etc.

Anonymous said...

Dear David Rodriguez.
Thank you so much for expressing your feelings about Holy Spirit Parish. I feel everyone should have the right to express his or her thoughts and feelings about their Catholic parish without fear of reprisal from their Bishop or Priest. Don’t you agree?
When you claim Holy Spirit as "your" church, how long have you been a parishioner here?
· Were you here when Bishop Pena cashed-in the Employee Retirement Fund?
· Were you here when Bishop Pena retaliated against Father Jerry for allowing employees their legal right to union representation?
· Where you here when Bishop Pena sent his security guards and diocesan staff into Holy Spirit to fire the union employees and change the locks on the church doors?
· Were you here when Bishop Pena embarrassed Catholic communities throughout the United States for his deplorable actions against his employees?
· Were you here when Bishop Pena, through a letter written by his Vicar General, was exposed for offering to provide “expert help” to other Bishops in the methods of squandering any attempts of Church employees to unionize, while he continued to claim he “walked” with Cesar Chavez?
· Were you here when several hundred Holy Spirit parishioners signed a “Letter of Petition” asking Bishop Pena to meet with them to answer for his actions, which to this day has never been addressed?
· Were you here when hundreds of Holy Spirit families migrated to other non-denominational churches or just quit going to Mass in disgust of the actions of our Bishop?
· Were you here when Father Brum removed our duly elected Parish Council.
· Were you here when Father Brum appointed his own “secret” Parish Council at Holy Spirit?
· Were you here when Father Brum fired our Peace and Justice Director and discontinued our Peace and Justice Program?
· Were you here when Father Brum fired our long-time Music Director?
· Were you here when Father Brum humiliated Sister Moira and publicly slandered her on so many occasions?
· Were you here when Father Brum removed parishioners from ministries because they expressed concern over some of his actions at Holy Spirit?
· Were you here when our long-time staff finally got so disgusted with Father Brum’s ability to run the parish that they all quit?
· Were you here the numerous times that parishioners asked and were refused to meet with Father Brum to attempt to restore peace to the parish?
· Were you here the numerous times Father Brum and his “secret” Parish Council have refused to provide an accounting of our parish finances?
· Were you here when Father Brum declared that specific parishioners were "not in good standing" with the Catholic Church because they questioned some of his actions and methods?
· Were you here when Father Brum squandered our long-standing Night Prayer Service and Vatican II Classes?
· Were you here when Father Brum totally destroyed our Religious Education Program?
· Were you here when Father Brum suggested that parents “home school” their children in Religious Education and promised to support them with religious educational materials that have yet to be provided?
· Were you here when Bishop Pena declared the alleged actions of Sister Moira to be groundless and instructed Father Brum to reinstate her to ministry, which he then “torpedoed”?
So David, when you speak of the tools of the devil; “stiff-necked pride”, “lack of respect”, “arrogance” and “hatred”, of whom are you speaking? Those few of us that have had the guts to speak truth to power? Maybe it is time you removed your blinders!
May the peace of the Lord be with you!


In support of Mr. David Rodriguez’s comments, the focus is not against you, but those of all struggles with the Principalities, with the powers, with the present darkness, & with the evil spirits. By your* (*those that support this website, those that mock Jesus Christ during the celebration of the Holy Mass from the center front row, those that belong to Call to Action and Holy Spirit Peace and Justice/Pax Christi) actions, you have harvest the fruits not of the Holy Spirit, but that of one that St. Michael the Archangel pushed below (Satan and all evil spirits). Yes, it is true that Mr. David Rodriguez wasn’t there when part of this transpired and neither was I. I know I was sent to this parish by the Holy Spirit as part of my spiritual formation and for other reasons not known to me as I continue to humbly serve with the LOVE & TRUST our Lord commands.
When your* actions mock the bare foundation of the Holy Mass, I ask (in prayer) is it that they don’t hear the words of Jesus any longer as to know the TRUTH because Satan has a grasp on their hearts so much as to direct them to inspire such self-centered acts or is it as simply put…they don’t know? I continue to pray. One thing for sure, I am new to this PARISH but I am NOT new to the one true Faith, the only one true Church, and the one true God. I TRUST in God & in Jesus, I listen to the Holy Spirit, and I believe in the intercessory strength of our Mother the Blessed Virgin Mary, all the Saints, and all the holy Angels. You* on the other hand have forgotten why JESUS was nailed, suffered, and died on the cross. Plus you* are not opened to message of mercy as He presents himself now in the DIVINE IMAGE, but rather you instill confusion in people’s mind to the validity of the translation of SAINT Faustina’s Diary. For the sake of His Sorrowful Passion, have mercy on us and on the whole world.” “Oh Blood and Water which gushed forth from the heart of Jesus, as a fount of mercy, I trust in you.”
So, what’s next, well as before, you* will take this message and with darken hearts extract content, turn it and AMPLIFY a wrong message. Plus only you* know if it will make it to the main page of your* website. We continue to pray for your* souls and our salvation, all for the Glory of God. St. Michael the Archangel, defend us in battle, be our protection against the wickedness and snares of the devil; May God rebuke him, we humbly pray; and do thou, O Prince of the heavenly host, by the power of God, thrust into hell Satan and all evil spirits who wonder through the world for the ruin of souls. Amen.
“Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!”
An unworthy humble servant friend of Jesus,
José Agapito Gámez

Church Employee Who Has Seen It All said...

Mr. Gamez and Mr. Rodriguez:

I hear what you are saying. I am not from this parish yet I know that a great harm was done to it for no reason other than it was possible to be done. I do not agree with 100% of the content of this blog but please understand that everyone is allowed to contribute. Believe me if you won't believe your fellow parishioners. Often I have written statements seeking clarification, once I jumped to conclusions and judged an innocent woman, but through it all my voice WAS HEARD through this blog. That is what these people, your fellow parishioners and our brothers and sisters in Christ, are asking for: a chance to be heard in person by the people who wronged them. That is the first step toward sincere dialogue which can lead to the Truth. To my knowledge, they have not been granted that courtesy of being heard, and these are the people who founded the parish for Christ's sake! Do you think you or the Bishop or I are loved more by God because we do not espouse these people's convictions 100%? I for one do not think so. Even the heathen pagans who do not know the One True God are still loved by Him who created them! It is to everyone's advantage to believe that there is more that unites us than there is that separates us. I will give you some examples:

I am a devotee of the Divine Mercy and I didn't appreciate the way this devotion, sanctioned by the Universal Church for our spiritual benefit, was mocked on this blog. I spoke up. I was not silenced! Devotions abound and I don't mock those devotions that I am not a devotee of. But that does not mean God loves me less because I am not a follower of every devotion out there. I believe that if these parishioners had a more open mind and heart to the Divine Mercy message, they would not mock it. But that does not mean Satan is controlling them! In all things, Mr. Gamez and Mr. Rodriguez, moderation. Another example: On this blog someone wrote criticizing the way the celebrant bows at the words of the Creed, "by the power of the Holy Spirit, He was born of the Virgin Mary, and became man." I responded that the General Instruction on the Roman Missal indicates one should bow the head at these words, and at Christmas and on the Annunciation, a full genuflection on one knee, to show our gratitude and love to Jesus for coming down to earth to save us, for exalting a lowly Jewish maiden above all women, and for sharing our human condition. I wrote this because the GIRM was quoted for protesting a red rose on the altar and I said it is hypocritical to quote the rule book for some things and not for others. But the point is, my opinion, once again, was heard! And no one died because of it, no minions of hell came swarming to attack me. I also pray the Saint Michael the Archangel prayer after every Mass, I love our Blessed Mother and thank God every day for giving us His own Mother to be our model and guide and help us grow in holiness like Jesus, our Lord and Savior. I advocate life for all, from the unborn to the infirmed to the condemned and to victims of war, even the Arabs and muslims, I am not pro choice as Sister Moira has been quoted in Valley newspapers, I am not a tree hugging, sign carrying protester, flaming liberal or whatever other label you assign this group. I don't like the way they mock certain traditions of the Church and so in many respects I am probably more aligned to your way of religious expression. But I still support their right to redress because the next time, it could be my parish that is put through the hell that this parish has been put through. Do know this, Jesus taught us that God is a Spirit and His sons and daughters are to worship Him in spirit and in truth. You are naive to think that you are doing the clergy, the heirarchy or Our Lord Himself a service when you call your fellow parishioners demon possessed because they speak truth to power. Our Lord Jesus did the very same and earned the hatred of the religious authorities of His day. You ought to ask their forgiveness because they gave you a chance to express yourself on their blog, I can only assume out of Christian charity since you only have part of the story. Know the facts, pray for clergy who are human and make mistakes, and pray that together we can be credible witnesses to the Gospel of Christ, not the distorted gospel of prosperity or gospel of power and might that some of today's clergy seem to espouse. Pray that the priesthood of the Lord be sanctified in all of its members. They hold Him in their hands every day and yet they won't extend their hands in dialogue and friendship. I don't know how else to put it for you to understand that no one deserves the treatment that this parish has been given. If you are new there, pray that the Lord guides you to be a part of the solution and not a party of the elite. Maybe these people would stop snickering or gesturing at Mass (which I also don't agree with) if someone would talk to them!!! Enough said.

Anonymous said...

Mr. Gamez and Mr. Rodriguez: It is quite evident that you are new to Holy Spirit. Holy Spirit was my home for 16 years. I chose to leave rather than to continue to witness the deterioration of a very vibrant, Vatican II church. It is at Holy Spirit that I came to believe that God is loving and not the "hell, fire and damnation" God that I had heard all of my life. It is at Holy Spirit that I was welcomed with open arms. It was when Brum came that I was no longer "worthy" to serve in my ministry.
If you want to get down to brass tacks, you should know that it was MY money that built that church, not Louis Brum's money or the bishop's money. This was my home before Louis Brum came and decided to clean house. The parishioners (whom you don't really know) are MY family. I pray every day that I can come to forgive him for what he did to my home and my family. I don't expect you two to understand since you probably have not ever been violated as my family and I have. Pray for us and open your hearts. Dialoge with us. With Christ in your hearts you too will see the injustice.

Guy Hallman said...

Very well said employee who has seen it all. It is important to remember that all of those rightly protesting the injustices wrought by the church hierarchy do not think or act the same. Some may snicker; some may not accept those optional beliefs of the church, such as various apparitions. But they ALL deserve their place at the table as long as they follow the creed we recite at mass. And they all do that as well as any Catholics that Brum likes. So, Mr. Gamez and others who currently have Brum's ear, it is your duty to make inclusion happen. Jesus is watching you.

Gerard Vaello said...

The evil that continues at Holy Spirit is NOT the fault of our Bishop. It is also NOT the fault of our current pastor.

The real fault lies squarely in the hands of those parishioners that have silently stood by, closed their eyes and have allowed their Bishop and their pastor to get away with what they have done!

Our Church was built by people that had the convictions to STAND-UP for Christ’s teachings. Many, many of them died for their convections!

You are fooling yourself into thinking that you are a Christian (follower of Christ) if you do not have the conviction to do the same. This may be YOUR opportunity to prove yourself to HIM… To let HIM know that you have read, understand and try to practice what HE preached!

Anyone that pretends not to see evil that is being done or, that continues to remain silent when they do see it, is making a mockery of the teachings of Our Lord.

Anonymous said...

Church employee who has seen it all-Where in the world did you ever read in the paper, what paper?, that Sr. Moira was pro-choice? I have never heard her say that, publicly or among friends. You need to clarify that or that is libel.

Richard Flores said...

Mr. Gamez and Mr. Rodriguez: I read with interest your commentary and I feel that I must say a few words.

Both of your letters show total disdain for the parishoners who are voicing their concerns to the powers to be (with not very much sucess I may add). Why are they doing it? I am sure the both of you know the reasons especially if you have actively been reading the blog. Just read some of the letters to this blog and you can get a very good sample of the struggles that some parishoners have been going through.

Why are you so upset? Is it because they worship and think differently than you? Is that a sin? Are they relegated to hell because they do not meet your standards of what constitutes being a "good Catholic"? Let me tell you that they are all God fearing and some of the best people you would ever want to be associated with.

And tell me what have they done to incur your wrath. All they want is to be included and have a seat at the table next to you at one of those secret parish council meetings. I'm sure you have no problem in talking to Brum. You don't think they should have the same oppourtunity as you to communicate with him?

This is not the "progressive Catholics" versus the "fundamentalists/conservatives/traditionalists Catholics". But rather it is their fight for inclusion.

If you want to pray the rosary, you are more than welcome to do so. If you want to be a member of the Knights or Catholic Daughters, that is great. If Adoration is something you prefer, so be it. Everybody is free to minister and worship as they see fit. Don't you think everybody should be welcomed with open arms to his table or do you feel it is selectively reserved for only those who are there by invitation only.

I trust that you can see our position and hopefully we can have a church that is truly a Vatican II Parish where everybody is welcome, even those with differing views. Christ does not discriminate but it appears that is not the case at Holy Spirit.


Gerard Vaello said...

As much as Monsignor Brum has slandered Sister Moira, she surely doesn't need any more.
I have known Sister Moira for YEARS and have NEVER heard or even read that she has declared herself to be pro-choice.
This is how rumors get started! Please retract your statement Church Employee That Has Seen It All!

Church Employee Who Has Seen It All said...

Mr. Vaello, I have never met Sister Moira and could not single her out from a group. I believe you that she is as you say. I do not believe one person or group to be superior to another, that is precisely why I like this blog! There is space for discussion and exchange of ideas. That said, let me explain my comment in my address to Mr. Gamez and Mr. Rodriguez. I read in a local paper a couple of years ago, I believe it was the Harlingen Valley Morning Star, a letter to the editor from Sister Moira, where she complained about the forming of a diocesan pro life committee. Specifically, her critical piece took issue with the fact that this committee would be, in her opinion, too one sided, focusing on abortion and not including witnessing to the Church's teaching on capital punishment, poverty, arms control, etc. She said she hoped no collections revenue would be used for this group since it would not have the support of everyone in the diocese. Sister Moira made the distinction between pro abortion and pro choice like any Planned Parenthood spokesperson would have. The way she explained it, pro choice is not to be in favor of abortion, only to give the woman the choice. That is where I first heard of Sister Moira, and I do not know what libel or slander she has been subjected to at your parish. This was public, a letter she submitted to the newspaper, for everyone to read. It is neither libel nor slander nor gossip.

Let us not hide behind weasle words and catch phrases. When the "choice" offered to women is to take an innocent unborn human life which cannot defend itself, pro choice is the same as pro abortion. Let us not reduce this fundamental life issue to semantics and call a spade a spade. Recalling what the late Holy Father had to say on this very subject, Pope John Paul II said that the pursuit of health, education, equitable distribution of resources (your basic peace and justice issues) is false and illusory if the fundamental right to life of all persons is not upheld first. That is the point I was trying to make to Mr. Gamez and Mr. Rodrigez. I uphold this teaching of the Church as I am sure they do and that does not preclude us from joining hands with you at Holy Spirit, all of you, including Sister Moira, and denouncing the harm that has been done to your parish. There is more that unites us than separates us.

Sister Moira said...

To set the record straight:
The article referred to by the Church Worker Who Has Seen It All is four or five years old.

To the best of my recollection, I do not remember saying anything that could be misconstrued to indicate that I am pro-choice, let alone pro-abortion.

I am pro-life, from conception to natural death. This means that I am opposed to abortion, to war, to the death penalty, to hunger, to nuclear weapons, and to poverty and its causes.

Yes, I opposed the diocesan pro-life committee as their literature was directed only at abortion - it was not inclusive of all aspects of life.

We are all called to be pro-life - not just "anti" select single issues.
Sister Moira

Church Employee Who Has Seen It All said...

Yet that is how your letter to the editor represented you. Perhaps it was edited by the newspaper, they are known to do that. Thank you, Sister Moira, for clarifying, and know that I was trying to make a point to Mr. Gamez and Mr. Rodriguez for their assigning labels to the people of Holy Spirit Parish who created this blog and contribute to it, you included. If you read it in the context of my letter, you will see what I meant. I certainly did not intend to add to whatever else Mr. Vaello was referring to, rather, to underscore the unity that should be our hallmark as witnesses of the same Gospel despite our differences in religious expression. Please accept my sincere regret and apologies if I offended you or anyone who knows you.