Monday, May 14, 2007

Parishioners' Newsletter of 05/13/07

Somos el Cuerpo de Cristo
Thoughts from Some Fellow Parishioners of Holy Spirit
May 13, 2007

Take a Stand
In its issue of May 7, 2007, America magazine published a collection of Advice for College Grads. Here is one:

“I have lived a pretty standard-brand existence, even in a monastery. As the country struggled with political corruption during Watergate, as the church struggled reform and resistance, as one society drowned in affluence and others sank further into poverty—I went blithely on, basically unaware, even uninterested. I said my prayers, did my work, went to church. It was all good work, all well-meaning and right-hearted. But it was also safe, secure, satisfying and totally self-centered. I fed the poor but didn’t ask why they didn’t do it for themselves. I visited the sick but never thought about universal medical insurance. I buried the dead who came back from Vietnam but never questioned the war. I never visited prisoners and never ever wondered why almost all of them were African-Americans—and poor.

“All of that was someone else’s responsibility". Then, one day, I read this story:

Once upon a time a warlord rampaged through the countryside, ravaging, and killing as he went. Word spread quickly from village to village and the peasants fled for their lives. As he strode into the last of the villages, the warlord said with a smirk, ‘The village is empty, I presume?’

‘Well, yes, my Lord,’ his lieutenant answered. ‘Except, that is, for one monk who refuses to leave.’

The warlord was furious. ‘Bring that monk to me immediately,’ he roared. So they dragged the old monastic to the square. ‘Do you know who I am?’ The warlord shrieked. ‘I am he who can run you through with a sword without even batting an eye!’

‘And do you know who I am?’ The old monastic said, looking him straight in the eye. ‘I am she who can let you run me through with a sword—without even batting an eye.’

“At that moment, I realized there was a power in powerlessness, too. I learned that that there are none of us too weak to resist injustice. I learned that there is a difference between ‘goodness’ and holiness. And so, in a world reeking with goodness but short on justice, for all our sakes, I wish you holiness.” Sister Joan Chittister, O.S.B.

Affirmation Night, the 23rd edition, was a great evening. The speaker, Dave Robinson of Pax Christi/USA and one of our country’s most prominent peace activists, was terrific, but an extremely powerful part of the evening was the chronicle of 25 years of Peace and Justice in our Valley that preceded Dave’s talk.

Valley Interfaith, the sanctuary movement, Cesar Chavez and the UFW, the Birthing Center, Comfort House, Hope Clinic—all work that the Diocese of Brownsville played an important part in starting and/or sustaining under Bishop Fitzpatrick. The role that parishioners of Holy Spirit have played in many of these and other activities has been quite significant—the Parish should be proud of this history.

Under the two most recent bishops there has been a retreat from the Diocese’s participation in Peace and Justice activities, aside from pious statements now and then in the newspaper and diocesan publications. More disappointing has been the overt prevention of Catholic’s participating in many Peace and Justice efforts within the context of their own parish and diocesan community. We are still called to be holy and resist injustice, though—just as Sister Joan has said—even if we might feel powerless at times.

The Bishop Clock
In the next two years, 29 American bishops will be at least 75 years old, the official retirement age. Our Bishop is one of these. Counting vacancies, there will be at least 36 new bishops named in the next two years—this will have a huge impact on the American Church.

By George (Not Quite)
A prominent member of the Parish’s K of C council circulated an e-mail not long ago that contained material that was purportedly from the comedian George Carlin. Here are some excerpts:

“I think owning a gun doesn’t make you a killer, it makes you a smart American.” “I believe if you don’t like the way things are here, go back to where you came from and change your own country!” “I think the cops have every right to shoot your sorry rear if you’re running from them.” “I dislike those people standing in the intersections trying to sell me stuff or trying to guilt me into making ‘donations’ to their cause.”

First of all, the material is not from George Carlin—there is a disclaimer on his website to that effect.

Secondly, the tone of these remarks would be offensive in almost any setting, even one of “good ol’ redneck boys.”

Thirdly, it is hard to imagine a collection of remarks more out of tune with the teachings of our Church than these. Our bishops have written repeatedly on immigration, poverty, gun violence, etc. It seems that a member of the K of C, such a prominent Catholic organization, would be better informed on Catholic teachings and not pass on such offensive drivel posing as humor.

Bring Us To Life
A great deal of my experience at church and what I read in the paper about my church leaves me with a wistful feeling—we just aren’t quite getting it. I hear emphasis on words like sacrifice, watch the Vatican circle the wagons, see spotlights and can’t help but feel that the focus is misplaced. We are in the Easter season, a season of life. And this season of life grows into Pentecost, a natural progression of a love and life so powerful that it becomes like a river overflowing its banks and bringing new life to everything it touches. There are so many dimensions to the Eucharist, dimensions the spotlight seems to miss. How powerful that our brother Jesus chose bread and wine, common items that sustain life. Common items that now become Jesus and sustain us, as we too become His living body. Certainly the sacrifice on the cross is key, but we cannot just stay fixed at the foot of the cross, fixed in our focus on His death. To do so would be to ignore what resurrection is all about—life. A new life that is to be lived. Lived in moments of quiet and in moments receiving sustenance, but also lived out there in the middle of it all. Pentecost is coming and with it the call to leave the upper room. Come Holy Spirit and renew us, bring us to life. from fellow parishioner, Michelle Pena

$$$$$ Update
Since 10/15/06:
Total below budget: $34,102.14 (last year same date: $33,852.01)
Total shortfall (including expenditures over budget): $58,267.80
Projected yearly shortfall: $160,107.90

Days of Bells and Roses
Someone asked about the origin of the custom of ringing bells at the Consecration. From my understanding, the custom began in the Middle Ages when the Eucharistic Prayer was not only in a language virtually no one knew but was also spoken by the celebrant in a quiet voice, with his back to the people and frequently at an altar that was at a great distance from the people. The bells were rung for the same reason bells are almost always rung: to alert people, who would otherwise not know, that something was happening that they needed to pay attention to (think doorbells, funeral bells, and bicycle bells). Since the Eucharistic prayer is now in the vernacular and is loudly proclaimed so all can hear and understand, there is no longer any practical reason for ringing the bells.

There was also an inquiry about the almost omnipresent rose on the altar. Leaving aside the fact that arbitrary symbolism is no symbolism at all, the directives of the Church are clear: no flowers on the surface of the altar—no exceptions! You can look it up; it’s in the GIRM.

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...

YES, This years Affirmation Night was another BIG hit. Incredible to me how much of the Peace and Justice efforts in the Valley were rooted within the Diocese of Brownsville and Holy Spirit parish... that is, until our latest bishop and pastor came along. What a wonderful history they have now totally destroyed! “Forgive them Father for they know not what the hell they are doing”!

Guy Hallman said...

Another great newsletter!
Yes, the Gran Pubah or whatever he is of the KoC should be ashamed to be passing on that totally unChristian crap. Yet the Pastor makes him one of his closest while denying a Nun in Very Good Standing, winner of a prestigious award from her order, permission to return to her role as Eucharistic Minister, even though the bishop told him to do so.

Speaking of which, when the bishop was here last the rose was gone from the altar. Word has it that the bishop, who doesn't do much good, at least tries to get his wayward priests to follow a few basic rules and told Msgr. Brum to remove the rose. But as soon as the bishop left the rose was back, again in total defiance of the bishop. This priest totally dismisses the bishop and gets away with it. How humiliating for the bishop.

Anonymous said...

Oh,.. was someone wondering why the Knights at Holy Spirit were such a farce? Just look at the junk that their Grand Pubah leader sends out. Even George Carlin doesn't claim it! What a shining example he is for all of us.

Anonymous said...

Re: Bells and Roses.
The directives of the Catholic Church are clear: NO FLOWERS ON THE SURFACE OF THE ALTER! NO EXCEPTIONS!
Maybe the man just can't read. He is a priest for God's sake; surely he is not intentionally going against the instructions of his Church! Has anyone notified the Bishop of this?

Anonymous said...

Let me make sure I understand this…

We have the leader of the Knights of Columbus at Holy Spirit parish publicly sending out anti-Catholic e-mails that go against many of the teachings of the Catholic Church that remains the Gran Pubah of the Knights of Columbus and continues to be in full acceptance by his pastor as a Minister of the Eucharist…

While on the other hand, we have a nationally recognized Nun of a Religious Order who years ago stood up a few minutes early at Mass (before the Great Amen) in protest of a well deserving pastor, who continues to deny her to be reinstated as a Eucharistic Minister, even after our Bishop reviewed her case and instructed him that she should be!

Somehow, I feel there MUST be more to this story… Can anyone help me understand?

Church Employee Who Has Seen It All said...

I will venture a try: The woman religious is not reinstated because the pastor does not will it, period. He is obviously another puppet on a string, a yes man like many others in the clergy, who publicly take the fall for the Bishop's bad policies and decisions, and are rewarded handsomely in private. How can you not understand that after all you have been through? Remember the infamous, "I don't have the authority to interfere in the pastor's decisions, under canon law." The bishop used that as a lame excuse to not intervene to remedy the situation he created. The pastors take the blame and they put up because they are getting something else in return. The Italian mafia has nothing on these characters. It would not surprise me if they were to rise up on that last day to condemn these peddlers of religion who only helped themselves at the expense of people's souls.

Anonymous said...

Let us not forget that this was the very same pastor that so rudely removed her from her long held position as Director of our much respected Holy Spirit Peace and Justice Committee.
And why, exactly, was she removed? Well, I guess he just didn't like her looks! Or, maybe it was because he 'heard' from one of his 'cronies' that she might be a 'convicted felon'. Totally untrue, but what is true is that she 'stands-up' for peace and injustice wherever found, as every good Catholic should, and has now become the victim of same!
All at the hands of her beloved Church!

Anonymous said...

With leaders like this, is it any wonder parishioners are fleeing from the Catholic Church like crazy? Just go to the colonias to see if you can find even a 'memory' of a Catholic priest there... Monsignor Louie wouldn't know a colonia if he stumbled upon one! Last time our Bishop visited one was during his childhood days in Robstown. Christ is crying over what His Church has become!

Anonymous said...

How right you are Church Employee Who Has Seen It All. Sounds like you have first hand knowledge of the ways of our bishop.

Anonymous said...

I think what we have here is an ineffectual bishop totally humiliated by bad priests like Louey. How the priests must laugh at the bishop behind his back. What a wimp the bishop is.

Anonymous said...

Who is going to save our church?
Not our bishops. Not our priests. It is up to YOU, the people.
You have the minds, the eyes, and the ears to save our Church. Your mission is to see that our priests act like priests and our bishops act like bishops.
This is YOUR responsibility!
... Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen before the Knights of Columbus, June 1972

Anonymous said...

And I am sure the Knights believe that they are doing what Sheen wanted and have saved the Church through priests like Louey and bishops like Rey del Mundo.

Anonymous said...

If it is up to us, the people, to save the church, the first thing we must do is take upon ourselves the duties that the priests are not fulfilling.
Granted that Louis will not allow us to participate in ministry, we must still do what God calls us to do and ignore what His impotent priests proclaim with all their great pomposity. Feed the hungry, visit the prisoner, share with the poor. And during the Mass, while the priest is consecrating the Eucharist, say the words along with him. Share in the Consecration in order to better share in the life and death of Christ.

Anonymous said...

I am afraid you are preaching to a group of parishioners that think arriving 15 minutes late and leaving right after Communion totally fulfills their responsibility as Catholics.
Certainly you don't expect any of them to feed the hungry, visit the sick or share their worldly goods with the poor? That's not being a good Catholic, is it?

Anonymous said...

Helping the Poor, what a novel idea! Thousands of dollars have been raised to send youth from our parish to a bible camp while another worthwhile ministry dies. For several years, youth from Holy Spirit joined youth from several other denominations doing our Lords work of helping the poor and needy through the Mission Service Project. But not this year! Instead of teaching our youth what it means to be Jesus on Earth, we are sending them to a spiritual boot camp. What a shame. Our leaders are missing the meaning of what it takes to be a true Catholic and that means our youth are going to suffer an unrepairable faith formation. To think that future deacons are leading the charge on this camp, just confirms how much our church is in trouble. Sign Me, Praying for our Youth.

An Old Timer said...

Novel idea, indeed! Maybe our Pope got a taste of reality this week in Brazil. Attendance to see him was only about one-tenth of what was expected. So much for the largest Catholic country in the world. Catholics everywhere are now being taken over by denominations that act, talk and walk the walk! Just look at the exodus to other churches within our very own parish due to poor representation of Christ’s teaching.. Open your eyes Catholic leaders!

Church Employee Who Has Seen It All said...

I cannot believe that even your former pastor, Rev. Frank, would agree with the anonymous blogger before me that the laity ought to recite the words of consecration along with the priest, would he? I mean, did he allow that when he was there? Even if he did, what authority had he to do so? If we are going to quote the GIRM regarding flowers and ridiculize the use of consecration bells, how can this be okay? There is a difference between the universal priesthood of all believers and the ordained orders of deacon, priest and bishop. Or didn't Fr. Frank receive this sacrament of holy orders to serve the faithful? Is he a layman? Of course not! That is a bit too much and no wonder there is conflict at your parish if everyone wants to be the priest! That is not biblical nor faithful to the practice of the primitive Church, which other contributors to this blog keep insisting is/was the focus of what used to be Holy Spirit parish. Read Justin Martyr's account of what the Eucharist was like in the early years of the Church and you will see that a presider was always key to the celebration, it was not a free for all where everyone consecrated the Eucharist, no matter how important that may make you feel in today's celebrations. Novelties such as everyone reciting the words of institution are not faithful to the practice of the early Church. Was this done at Holy Spirit before the hostile takeover?

Anonymous said...

So you HAVEN'T seen it all? I KNEW it!

Church Employee Who Has Seen It All said...

Seen it all with regards to the hierarchy's less than pastoral treatment of the faithful, YES. That is what I have always meant by my blogger name. Liturgical experimentation and feel good theology, NO!

Remember I am not from your parish and only recently came upon your website, so that is why I asked if this was done before, when Fr. Frank was there. I guess it was and that explains a lot to me now. I understand more where you are coming from. I don't agree with it, but I understand it more.

chayo vaello said...

Chayo Says,

To the church employee who has seen it all.

Fr. Jerry is one of the finest priest ever. He believes in the gospels and the teachings of the church. He is a true servant of Christ. He feeds the hungry and takes care of the poor. He is a good human being with all the trappings that all of us have .

But he is a priest first and formost. He would never allow or has ever allowed anyone to disrespect the mass. We were never allowed to say the prayers during the consecration of the Eurcharist. Whomever wrote that was mistaked and sadly makes us look like we are trying to be priest ourselves. Remember everyone who leaves a comment speaks only for himself or herself.

Father forgive them as you forgive us. We are here to love You as You love us. We have forgot that.
All we want is to be able to wordship in our parish as we have always done and to be part of our parish by being allowed to minister in whatever way we can. Is that so wrong?

C.E.W.H.S.I.A. said...

Thank you Chayo, for clarifying this. I didn't believe it to be true when I first read it.

Of course it is not wrong to want to participate in the life of the Church with more than our collection plate offering. That is what our leaders keep telling us. That is what that quote from Archbishop Fulton Sheen implies: we are responsible for holding the priests and bishops accountable. Unfortunately for us, the same participation of the faithful that led to the growth of the Church as we know it today also had the undesirable consequence of creating a need for more and more clergy to minister sacramentally to the growing masses, which some have seen as a golden opportunity. They claim to have received a calling from on high, yet they are deceived. There are bad marriages, bad professions and bad priestly and religious vocations that were never ordained of God. They all have a common trait: the person is unhappy and cannot stand to see anyone else be happy. Sound familiar? If this is what you are faced with, I suggest you find that Achille's heel that makes your pastor unhappy and help him in charity to deal with it so that he can be at peace and not have a problem with letting you serve your parish as you once did.

Anonymous said...

This one's Achille's heels are many! But you are correct in that he needs our prayers and understanding so he is able to find God's peace within himself! Likewise for Raymundo.

Paul Gabriel said...

In reply that Dave Robinson's talk was "terrific" I sent him the following msg:
I attended the Affirmation Night event on 12 May 2007
in McAllen, Texas on behalf of my wife, who works with
Children's Defense Fund, one the organizations affirmed,
as she was unable to attend. I did not have an
opportunity to speak with you after the event.
While I agree with much of what you said regarding
our (US) current war in Iraq, need for dialog with Iran,
and non-violence, (I put Max Grubb's "endless end this war"
bumper sticker on my truck) I thought some of your comments
were not appropriate, unnecessary, and perhaps mis-statements
that should have, and could have, been avoided at an
interfaith event.

After hearing your talk, I visited the paxchristiusa
website, and it appears to me that that your .org takes a
pro-Palestinian position, as I had suspected from listening
to your rhetoric. I disagree with paxchristi
in that regard, and although you (& your .org) have the
right to take that position, I think that it should not
color or bias some of the remarks you made at the
interfaith event.

Early in your talk, you made biblical references to
the Holy Land at the time of Jesus calling it
"Palestine." You did that at least three times, and
that struck me as odd and a mis-statement on many levels,
the most basic perhaps being that the New Testament never
uses the term "Palestine" but refers to the land as
Israel or Judea. It appeared to me that your use of
"Palestine" in that context was to deny that the Jews have
any claim to the land (which I understand is the reason
the Romans coined that name), and that the current Palestinian
Authority relates back to biblical times, which I understand
is untrue, a mis-statement or at best a half-truth.
Even wikipedia says that the Romans appointed Herod King
of Judea. To the biblical extent that Herod was concerned
about Jesus' claim to kingship, the Romans, as you know,
referred to Jesus as "Jesus Nazarenus Rex Judaeorum."

I was more concerned & offended by your attempt to
explain what I heard you refer to as "Jewish Law" and
events supposedly occurring in Jewish courts. While your
comment regarding "turn the other cheek" referred to a
backhanded slap may be correct, I found your comments
about debtors and their treatment in Jewish courts to
be both derogatory and untrue, certainly in the context
of Law of Moses / Torah_text regarding the treatment
of debtors and the poor. Even if your Christian
theology asserts that "The_Way" is superior, I do not think
that philosophy should be asserted at an interfaith event.
I think that your debtor references were not true, and to the
extent that a certain event may have happened as you say,
I think they would have been in violation of Jewish law,
rather than an example of Jewish law. Later in your talk,
you derided President of Iran somewhat for attempting to
discuss Jesus / Christianity with you, and sitting in
your audience the other night, I had the same sense
regarding your discussion of Jewish law. I would hope
that you could discuss non-violence in a Christian context
without making direct or inferred derogatory remarks
about other religions. I request that you provide me with
the source for your comments regarding debtors and Jewish
courts. Jesus respected Jewish law during his lifetime,
see, eg Matt 5:17-19 (& I know that the church figured out
its own theology around that, so no need for you to try
to explain it to me ((I spent several years in a
Catholic seminary)) ref "fulfill...until all things have
taken place" | the English translations of the Greek codex
are already spin_doctored ref a more pure interlinear
translation of the Greek).

Otherwise, I have been against war in Iraq, and I think we
should attempt to have a dialog with Iran. I think Hamas,
et al should stop their missile and suicide terrorist attacks
against Israel. Without even looking for current news,
NPR reported this week that Palestinians fired eight
rockets into Israel in an attempt to sideline current
Palestinian_faction infighting in Gaza. See also, Reuters
16 May 2007 15:23 GMT. ("Factional [Palestinian]fighting since
Friday has killed at least 40 Palestinians. While Gaza battles
raged, militants have fired rockets at southern Israel,
causing injuries"). And I saw reported the following day
that Israel *responded* militarily to that missile attack.
I think peace talks will proceed when Palestinian initiated
terror stops.

If you'd like to return to return to McAllen
to have a meaningful discussion of Israeli / Palestinian
issues, I'm sure that could be arranged with the local

I ask that you please be sensitive to the above-referenced
issues, certainly at interfaith events, if not in your daily

Guy Hallman said...

Dear Paul,
Bravo! We certainly need a real dialogue on Israeli-Palestinian issues in this country. I hope we can get one going in the valley. People of these United States are woefully ignorant of that conflict and have some outlandish ideas of it, such as using it to hasten the Second Coming of Jesus! But we stray from the object of this blog. Let's pursue this dialogue through the local Pax Christi, the Rabbi, and the Mosque in Edinburg, okay?

Anonymous said...

Who Has Seen it All advises us to help our pastor deal with his "Achilles heel". Like we have not tried everything already!

Anonymous said...

Church Employee whsia:
Obviously I didn't explain my suggestion of reciting the Eucharistic prayers well or else you and Chayo also would not have misunderstood and emotionally over-reacted so drastically. I never stated that in saying the prayers we were taking over the consecration. If that were the case why would we need to say them "with" someone else, although various eminent church theologians have stated that the laity participation is a vital part of the consecration. In making your assorted aspersions against Fr. Jerry you seem to assume that all this was either at his direction or at least with his permission.
Why do we need anyone's direction or permission to say prayers? Are the ordained so close to Godliness that only they are allowed to say or even think certain words? I'm afraid that makes you seem very intimidated and almost subservient to the Church hierarchy. Is it possible that you think that God loves them better because of their ordination? Certainly I know that they tend to think so but that does not make it true. All I meant was that the words are beautiful and truly make a connection with God's purpose and Christ's fulfillment and if it makes you feel better to just kneel there and listen to the words by all means do so. It's kind of like never singing a beautiful song even when you're all alone because somebody told you that you have an inferior voice. Peace be with you.

C.E.W.H.S.I.A. said...

Sorry anonymous, no eminent theologian will ever convince me of what you propose. Your example is lacking: a beautiful song, the inspiration of a created being, will never compare to the beauty of the uncreated God manifested in the Lord Jesus Christ, who comes to us after the words of institution in Holy Communion. This was His doing, I am just grateful He did it.

Second, your perception that I am an emotional person given to overreaction is baseless.

Third, you merely stated your opinion, Chayo reminded me of that, and in the process I learned more of Holy Spirit parish, so this interaction was not at all unfruitful. Why, you even came back to respond once again. How wonderful when people are welcome to dialogue. That is what this blog says over and over, don't you agree?

I don't think that Chayo Vaello was putting Father Jerry on a pedestal. Her recollection of his ministry gave me a sense of fraternal love of the flock for their shepherd. There is nothing wrong with loving our pastors! That said, I am not given to extremes in either direction. I don't deify the clergy because their sacrament of orders is a sacrament of service. We are all called to be messengers of the Gospel but the ordained have a greater responsibility. What I see here is that they have forgotten the greater responsibility aspect and concentrated more on the perks of the job aspect, which is most unfortunate. But I won't belittle Christ's sacrament of orders because of it, I will instead pray that the clergy return to their first fervor and in so doing, inspire the laity to do the same.

Assorted aspersions? I didn't think Fr. Jerry capable of such liturgical abuse, that was precisely my bewilderment. Peace be with me? Really? First be at peace with your Church, ordained imperfect clergy and all, if you want your gift of peace to be perceived as genuine by me.