Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Parishioners' Newsletter of 04/29/07

Somos el Cuerpo de Cristo
Thoughts from Some Fellow Parishioners of Holy Spirit
April 29, 2007

One Ringy Dingy
To the tintinnabulation that so musically wells From the bells, bells, bells, bells, Bells, bells, bells
From the jingling and the tinkling of the bells.
Edgar Allan Poe

“They’re baaack!” Those bells at the Consecration, long sent to the deepest closets of sacristies everywhere, have returned to Holy Spirit. They disappeared for a reason and have no business being used. If this is the path we are on, why stop now? Let’s have the Prayers at the Foot of the Altar and the Last Gospel and… .

Are they really just the bells that are tolling at our Parish interment?
Do not ask for whom the bell tolls, it tolls for thee. John Donne

Advice and Consent
The Pastoral Council has a lot to answer for in the role they played in denying a member of the Parish, a religious Sister, her request to be a Eucharistic Minister—a request, by the way, that the Bishop told her previously, in the presence of the pastor, would be granted by the Monsignor no later than Holy Thursday.

In the middle of all this mess, a member of the Council said that “I think you [the Sister] should be a Eucharistic Minister but haven’t told Father that, because if I opposed him, I would have to leave the parish.” This mindset is a very dangerous one for a member of the Council to have—it undermines that person’s ability to provide honest advice to the Monsignor and if honest advice cannot provided by a person, then he or she shouldn’t be serving at all, since honest advice is the very purpose of a person’s serving on the Council.

This Council was not chosen in an open manner, it does not represent a cross-section of the community, it operates in secrecy with no accountability to those it supposedly represents, and its members seem willing to abdicate any independent judgment they might possess so that the Monsignor remains pleased with each of them. This is a sad state of affairs—why not just disband this group and do away with this fiction that it is truly a council for us, the Parish?

Past, Present and Future
Part of our homily this weekend included “Jesus is in the present. He is not concerned with the past or the future.” I hope what my pastor was trying to express was that we were celebrating in our Lord’s presence, that our Lord was present with us. Part of the great wonder and celebration of Easter is the great connection of our Lord, and through Him, ourselves, to the past present and future. “Christ has died, Christ is risen, Christ will come again.” Through our rituals and readings we connect to our past, we hear the stories and promises and walk with our ancestors. Through our rituals and readings we celebrate the Word living with us and in us, and as disciples break bread together. And through our rituals and readings, we join in the promise of everlasting communion with our God, and we touch eternity. The connection of past, present, and future in our Sunday liturgy is profound mystery—in spite of the human shortcomings and not quite right lighting and sound effect experiments. from fellow parishioner, Michelle Pena

And a friendly request…
I have been rightly nicknamed a “church lady” in the past, and from personal experience can appreciate the time and energy used to prepare for liturgy. So, this request is respectfully made in the hope that someone reading this newsletter can make a difference. We have the great gift of being dedicated as a parish community to the Holy Spirit. Can we try to celebrate this great gift a little more and not hide the images that identify our special connection to the Holy Spirit? Seems like we could all benefit from at least seeing images of our namesake. It was disappointing to see the wonderful symbols of the flames and the oil for confirmation springing from the waters of baptism covered up this confirmation weekend – we missed a powerful expression of the sacrament we were celebrating, and an expression of the Holy Spirit. from fellow parishioner, Michelle Pena

Aside from the bells, this past Sunday at Holy Spirit also featured a very odd celebration of First Holy Communion. Two youngsters were unable to receive their First Communion on the ordinary day (April 22nd) and so celebrated with the 8:30 Mass community (which saw no first communicants on the 22nd, weird?).

They received only under one species, the Bread—the Cup was not offered to them. “And so He took the Cup, blessed it and gave it to His disciples…”—not applicable for those two, this week. It appears this was not an oversight by the Monsignor, but a deliberate choice on his part. What could possibly have motivated such a strange choice, so contrary to the way in which the Eucharist is ordinarily celebrated? Why deny these two young people the opportunity to celebrate the Eucharist in its full form at their first celebration?

We all know that the sacrament is received, even if only under one species, but “let’s get real” here—reception of both species has been the norm for decades virtually everywhere. How can the Monsignor decide that his idiosyncrasies are now the norm? What about the youngsters, aren’t they “good enough” to share the Cup?

$$$$$ Update
Since 10/15/06:
Total below budget: $30,837.84 (last year same date: $29,639.70)
Total shortfall (including expenditures over budget): $85,221.12
Projected yearly shortfall: $158,267.79.

Blacksburg is a small town, almost quaint—it sits on a plateau between the Blue Ridge and the Allegheny Mountains in Southwest Virginia and is the home, as most of us learned a few weeks ago, to Virginia Tech. My wife and I lived there with our children for several years and worked on the Tech campus. It’s a beautiful place with a real sense of community and seeing the town and the campus so horribly in the national news was very sad for us. All those young people gunned down—all that potential and promise snuffed out so violently and so swiftly! Prayers for the families, friends and colleagues of the survivors came very easily.

I was disappointed after Mass at Holy Spirit on April 22nd, the first Sunday after the tragedy at Tech, that the Prayers of the Faithful in our Parish did not contain any prayer related to that tragedy. Instead, the petitions were a repetition of the “old favorites,” which hardly ever vary: pray for the clergy (Lord knows they need it), pray for “true peace” (whatever that is), etc. What a strange view of the Parish community this sort of decision by the Monsignor is indicative of. Pious platitudes with no connection to real events involving real people with real concerns are just drivel. It seems to me that turning our intercessions into such platitudes (particularly in this instance) is indicative of a real “tin ear” as to what affects the community or maybe just of a conscious, self-centered callousness. from fellow parishioner, Jerry Brazier

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.


Old Enough to Know Better said...

Here is one for the masses (no pun intended)

What Gives with the state of Mass at Holy Spirit?

I recently attended a Sunday mass at Holy Spirit and felt like I was attending a magic show instead of the Celebration of Eucharist.

I am old enough o know that when I enter the church, we are the Body of Christ and that the mass is the celebration of that knowledge.

Instead, during this past Sunday's mass, a magic show was performed where the house lights had to be dimmed and bells had to announce that the bread and wine had just transformed into the body and blood of Christ right before my very eyes.

Whoever dreamed up these childish behaviors, please stop. You are removing the true meaning of Eucharist by these actions. We - You and me - are the body of Christ and we all should be able to share ourselves with everyone around the altar instead of being put in the dark and waiting for some bells to announce that the Lord has entered the building.

This Is just not the way it is. Mass is not a magic act, it is the celebration that unites all to the Lord. Please go ask a theologian about these child-like tactics and let me have the true celebration of Eucharist back.

Signed, Old Enough to Know Better and Young Enough to Complain.

Anonymous said...

I was very surprised that the Bishop didn't allow our Monsignor to keep his rose on the alter during the Confirmation Mass. He has let Louie get away with everything else...

Anonymous said...

The author of the newsletter was very kind, not to mention that at least one of the young people receiving first Communion at the 8:30 Mass seemed to have no idea what to do with the host. I say this, not to be critical of the youngster, but of whatever training - or lack thereof - was given. When Martha and Elfida were in charge of sacramental preparation this would never have happened - at least not with children of the age of the ones Sunday. But no, Martha and Elfida had to be replaced by people who thought they knew better and could do better. How obviously wrong they were.

Anonymous said...

Don't even get me started on our Religious Education program at Holy Spirit. I had 2 kids attending those "so called" religious education classes. About all my kids learned was how to color religious pictures without going outside of the lines. To say it was a disaster would be putting it mildly. Oh for the days of Martha and Elfida! Who were the real loosers here? The kids at Holy Spirit!

Anonymous said...

Positive change is on its way to Holy Spirit Parish. Remain Faithful.

Your Brother in Christ.

Anonymous said...

Oh, Bishop! You are so silly. You have been promising us that for over three years now. I'll believe it when I see it!
Your Sister in Christ.

Anonymous said...

Going to church at Holy Spirit these days is like going to the theater. Let's see, we have colorful advertisements before mass to announce breakfasts and bingos. There is blaring music upon entering the church and then later you can't understand what the speakers are saying. The choir appears to practice on the spot. There are new songs that no one knows how to sing or those songs that we are familiar with are sung at tempos so slow no one can sing along. We are given directions as to how we need to act during the show, I mean mass. What irks me the most is the dimming of lights during the consecration. Are they trying to say the show is about to begin? The lights and the bicycle bells have become such a distraction to me that I can't concentrate on why I am there. After communion at least 1/3 to 1/2 of the congregation leave. Just like at the movies, no one wants to stay for the endless trivia of names. What will be next? Admission? Popcorn during the homily? How I long for the masses that were meaningful; where community were there for each other; where you could understand clearly the readers, priests and deacons, know what the Gospel message was and be able to apply it to our lives; where Eucharist was a celebration and you felt united with the church community. Hopefully, all this theatrical mishmash will go away and our mass will return to its simple form so when one enters the church they'll know that they are in a church and not the local movie theater.

Anonymous said...

I had the same feeling about the prayers of the faithful not having mentioned the tragic events at Virginia Tech. Why was it not mentioned? Was it because the people in charge do not care of what is happening in the world? When we had Wednesday night prayer, outside of course, and it was time for the prayer petitions, prayers for the victims and their families was the first prayer to be mentioned (and more than once). That Sunday, when the time came to "Ask in silence for any other intentions, I whispered "For the victims at Virginia Tech". I wish I would have had the courage to speak it out loud so the whole congregation could have heard. I still pray for those victims and all other victims of events that are happening each day. Debbie

Anonymous said...

Could somebody tell me, (I'm having trouble seeing in the dim light) is Fr. Louis still going up on his tip-toes during the consecration to make it look like it is rising to heaven? All these cheap theatrical tricks don't add any dignity to his performance. Instead it makes it seem like one more re-run.

Anonymous said...

I no longer attend mass at Holy Spirit, but am turned off by what I hear of Louis and his theatrics. I admire those who have the strength to continue to worship there, but as for myself, I need to be spiritually fed and Louis just doesn't cut the mustard.

Anonymous said...

What are we supposed to do? First they bend during the creed (I never knew we were supposed to), then the deacon chastises the guy who says "My Lord and my God". The priest who said Mass this past Saturday said those very words. Now I'm really confused. As for the choir, well what can I say. I no longer feel the holy spirit when I hear the music (it's music from OLS) and find it very hard to follow them. Still, I will not leave my church!

Anonymous said...

What troubles me is that many ideas from Baptist fundamentalist theology are being introduced into our parish and I'm assuming into our youth groups. The LEFT BEHIND series is being promoted even though that was officially criticized by the US Council of Bishops. Shunning is being promoted which is a practice of some, though not all Jehovah's Witnesses. Now please don't misunderstand,I respect the right of these other religious groups to believe and worship as they wish; however, the current leadership of this church doesn't seem to be knowledgeable about the basic tenets of the Catholic Church. They are knowledgeable of the practices of the pre-Vatican Church. As someone who came from "up north," I hope that the Bishop investigates what is going on theologically with this priest and with the Deacon candidates and other parish leaders. Only the rituals are Catholic; the thinking and preaching are definitely not Catholic. If I, a person with no background in theology except for the Scripture classes I have taken at various parishes can tell, I think others should be able to tell. Those who can't tell are being misled that this is our Catholic faith. Bishop, do you want this to be your legacy? I think not. Bring in a Catholic priest, please....

A Faithful Catholic said...

Dear last Anon:
You are so right. And THEY tell the progressives to find another church! Those who want the fundamentalist religious experience should find one of those churches which are so abundant in the valley, taking faithful away from the bumbling Catholic Church. But in the case of Holy Spirit they are taking the building, too, and unwary faithful who don't know what Catholic teaching is. I agree, I am not criticizing other religions, but let's be knowledgeable and then honest about our religion. The Catholic Church has a set of beliefs that one must follow to be a Catholic in Good Standing. The progressives follow them; too many of Louie's sycophants don't.
Bishop, we know you read this; what are you going to do about the straying from Catholic teaching that is happening at HSP?

Anonymous said...

God's teaching was once alive and well at Holy Spirit parish, all according to Church teachings and regulations! It was a parish “alive” with God’s love! You could “feel” His presence there! That is, until Bishop Peña sent Father Louie there. That’s when things started to go to hell in a hand basket. I've known some pretty worthless priests in my day, but Father Louie takes the prize as the absolute worst on God's green earth. Bishop Peña could not have found a better choice for someone to be assigned to Holy Spirit to totally destroy our parish. And do we all remember why all this has happened? Simply because of an act of revenge on the part of our Bishop against four church workers that joined a union to protect their retirement benefits. How silly! Let this be a lesson to us all! Just look at all that this one sinful act has destroyed!

Anonymous said...

Now I know why the Catholic Church is such a promoter of "forgiveness." So that our Church leaders can commit sins of this magnitude, then expect everyone to automatically forgive them. No reconciliation. No, "please forgive me." No, "let’s fix this wrong that I have created.” “If you can’t forgive me, this whole thing is YOUR fault!” What a joke!

Anonymous said...

What on earth are you people drinking???? There's pure hatred written here.
Shame on you.

The Old Timer said...

Yes, the situation at Holy Spirit has indeed been one that has created a lot of hatred. The sad thing is, it should never have happened in the first place. It was a grave mistake on the part of our bishop. Everyone is human and everyone is entitled to be forgiven for their mistakes, but when there is no admission of wrongdoing, no forgiveness asked and there is no attempt to correct the wrong that has been done, the hurt and hatred continues to grow. This situation at Holy Spirit has been going on for FOUR YEARS! Can you, by any stretch of the imagination, say that the bishop or father louie have acted in good faith according to HIS teachings? They should both be on their knees begging for forgiveness from all of the HUNDREDS of parishioners that have left the Church because of their actions. The really sad thing is that the injustice still continues today! This is NOT the kind of Church that I want to serve! But what do we do? Leave like the hundreds of others? No, that's not the answer either. For me, I plan to stay and fight to correct the injustice and to regain the Church that HE established for us. One unchristian bishop and one unchristian priest do not a church make! Our only mistake was that we allowed it to happen!

Anonymous said...

The bells, the bells! They are not even bells! I have just experienced the "bells," and the sad thing is that the parish is using some synthesized bell ring tone that sounds more like Ma Bell than it does the bells that used to ring at Mass when I was a youngster during pre-Vatican times! If the bells at consecration were the authentic bells, it wouldn't be so bad. However, these bells are more like a cell phone going off during the Consecration. Whoever chose these "bells" has probably never heard real ones before at Mass. Sad! Do people even know what the bells signify? I doubt it.

Please editor, explain what they were supposed to signify and why they were done away with in the first place! And lastly, why would this parish be bringing this practice back? Any ideas?

Anonymous said...

Why is there a red rose on the altar at this Parish? How can a rose that has been taken from its source of life, the rose bush, symbolize LIFE or respect for LIFE? In the early Christian community, the red rose signified the passion of the Christ. Isn't the Eucharistic banquet enough for true Catholics? The Eucharistic Table does not need adornment. It needs the simplicity of the Last Supper. It needs the authenticiy of the Last Supper. Why must a rose and several layers of cloth be added to our altar? The wood of the altar (just like the wood of the cross) is being disrespected by a mis-guided Sacristan who does not understand the power and the beauty of the altar without the makeshift covers and without the rose that takes away from the Eucharistic celebration that nurtures us all.

Blessings to all.