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
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 firstname.lastname@example.org