Monday, July 09, 2007

Holy Spirit Parishioners' Newsletter 07/09/07


Somos el Cuerpo de Cristo
Thoughts from Some Fellow Parishioners of Holy Spirit
July 9, 2007

Motu Proprio, Summorum Pontificum
As you may have seen in the secular press, Pope Benedict XVI has finally promulgated his decision making the celebration of Mass following the “Tridentine” (prior to Vatican II) form—Latin, priest with back to the people, etc—more easily allowed. Many see this decision as the first step in a process that will eventually lead to the Holy See’s disavowal of most of the renewal and reform of the Second Vatican Council. We can hope that this is not the case.

In the Motu Proprio, Benedict gives as his prime motivation the need to reach out to the disaffected in the Church (in this case, the ultra-conservative and excommunicated followers of Bishop Lefebvre). In spite of real problems with this decision, it is interesting to read Benedict’s reasoning and wonder out loud whether other disaffected folks in the Church (or a diocese, or a parish) should have the expectation of being approached and listened to in the same way by those in authority in the Church (or a diocese, or a parish). Here’s the quote:

“…Looking back over the past, to the divisions which in the course of the centuries have rent the Body of Christ, one continually has the impression that, at critical moments when divisions were coming about, not enough was done by the Church’s leaders to maintain or regain reconciliation and unity. One has the impression that omissions on the part of the Church have had their share of blame for the fact that these divisions were able to harden. This glance at the past imposes an obligation on us today: to make every effort to unable for all those who truly desire unity to remain in that unity or to attain it anew.”

One Hundred and Thirty Six
As this newsletter is in preparation, there have been 136 comments posted on Reflections of the Spirit since the June 18th anniversary. Some have been intemperate, even nasty—both ends of the spectrum of opinion in our Parish Community being unfortunately represented in those categories—and some have been heartfelt expressions of deep hurt and disappointment, and finally, some have been genuine overtures towards doing something about making our Parish better.

From my perspective (probably biased, of course), the most discouraging aspect of the on-line dialogue is the lack of “moving the discussion forward” by some of the contributors from the opposite end the spectrum from myself. By this I mean, when someone has raised a specific issue of concern about the Parish’s current state (liturgical, parish management, etc.) the responses almost never have dealt with the substance of the concern, but instead either questioned the appropriateness of any expression of concern, or launched into some unrelated complaint about the actions people have taken in the past (letter writing, signs, etc.), or engaged in the most ridiculous imputation of motives (a tactic that never is useful in a conversation). There have been instances of some engaging on particular issue(s)—most obvious being the ALLCAPS man—but these have been few and far between.

It is extremely difficult to bring about change, only slightly less difficult to even marginally modify another’s opinion, but not really that difficult to engage another person’s ideas, particularly if there is a sincere interest in doing so. from a fellow parishioner, Jerry Brazier

Enemies Can Become Friends
Celebrating July 4th this year seemed bittersweet. We are a country at war. I do love my country and am so very grateful for the freedoms we do have and the ability to participate. But I felt the tug of war inside as I sang the songs and looked at the flag. I know this is not a just war. I know my Pope has declared this to be an unjust war. I know my church teaches that this war, and really any war in our time cannot ever be a "just" war because of the innocent lives caught in the crossfire. What can we do as Catholic Americans?

Fr. John Dear gave me some hope and a starting point. We start at the Eucharist. If we really believe—as we declare and celebrate every Sunday—that the bread and wine truly become the Body and Blood of Christ and that with God all things are possible, then the next belief should be a piece of cake. We should have no problem believing that enemies can become friends and that God is present in all people. If this is true and believable, then we must start to live and speak those truths. Our lives must bear witness to those truths and we must start to rid ourselves of any hate and mistrust in our own hearts. Perhaps our starting point could be the way we relate to one another simply in our own parish. from fellow parishioner, Michelle Pena

Respect, Facts, and Opinions
When the little boy cried out, “But the Emperor has no clothes,” was he being disrespectful to the Emperor, a person who was seen in those days as a divinely chosen leader? Of course not.

The point of the fable is that the little boy made an observation of a fact that everyone else was able to see but chose to ignore—misguided respect for the person of the Emperor allowed them to live in a world of comfortable (and safe) fantasy.

In argumentation it is the height of silliness to dispute about facts—they can so easily be checked. It is also silly not to recognize that individual tastes are not subject to the same tests that facts and logic are subject to—you like peach flavored tea and I think it is just wretched.

That being said, there still can be reasonable disagreement as to how important a particular fact is when trying to come to some conclusion and there still can be reasonable disagreement as to how valid a person’s judgment is when they express a certain taste—like, the music of Chuck Berry is more accomplished than that of Beethoven (roll over, baby!)

Some indisputable facts may be seen by some as not relevant to, let’s say, a disagreement about the state of a parish, while others think these facts are of great importance. When one person’s tastes seem strange and then are imposed on others as the norm, then those being imposed upon are right to look for justification.

It is not disrespectful to point out facts and make a case for them being of importance. Here are some examples:

1) There has been only one financial report to the Parish in four years. That report was in October, 2005 and covered the fiscal year July 1, 2004 to June 30, 2005 (even that was not complete and had some minor unexplained discrepancies).

2) The Pastoral Council was chosen by a closed process, the details of which have never been divulged. The Council’s meeting times and places have never been announced, neither have agendas been published. Reports or minutes of the Council meetings have never been provided to the Parish.

3) Some parishioners have been excluded from all ministries and service in the Parish (even told they can’t help clean the church!)

Some may see these facts as of no consequence; others believe they are of great importance. Over the years this newsletter and Reflections of the Spirit have made cases for these facts representing bad decisions that greatly harm the Parish. It is difficult to see how any rational person could support these decisions, which seem to fly in the face of effective management principles and the notion that a parish is a community of people whom a pastor is to serve, not the other way around. How is it that a person who criticizes such decisions can be described as divisive and disrespectful? Remember, the Emperor really didn’t have any clothes!

$$$$$ Update
Since 10/15/06:
Total below budget: $49,601.54 (last year same date: $54,886.24)
Total shortfall (including expenditures over budget): $123,407.42
Projected yearly shortfall: $168,873.31

The Vesperine Lamps
Let’s light our lamps and pray at Wednesday’s Vespers/Compline and let the Spirit blow where it will.

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

22 comments:

Anonymous said...

Yet another excellent Somos that tells it like it is. What more can be said? Screamer, what scream you?

Anonymous said...

You wrote...
...It is not disrespectful to point out facts and make a case for them being of importance. Here are some examples:

1) There has been only one financial report to the Parish in four years. That report was in October, 2005 and covered the fiscal year July 1, 2004 to June 30, 2005 (even that was not complete and had some minor unexplained discrepancies)

THIS SEEMS TO BOTHER YOU!

2) The Pastoral Council was chosen by a closed process, the details of which have never been divulged. The Council’s meeting times and places have never been announced, neither have agendas been published. Reports or minutes of the Council meetings have never been provided to the Parish.

THIS ALSO SEEMS TO BOTHER YOU! WHY SHOULD THE MEETINGS BE ANNOUNCED,WHEN ALL YOU DO IS SHOW UP WITH SIGNS, ETC. YOU WOULD ONLY CRITIZE THE MINUTES! SOMETHING ELSE TO ADD TO THE WEB PAGE.

3) Some parishioners have been excluded from all ministries and service in the Parish (even told they can’t help clean the church!)

DO THEY REALLY DESERVE TO SERVE! FOR SOME I THINK NOT! WHY DOES SISTER WANT TO CLEAN THE CHURCH? I KNOW SOMEONE WHO NEEDS A CLEANING PERSON!

Some may see these facts as of no consequence; others believe they are of great importance. Over the years this newsletter and Reflections of the Spirit have made cases for these facts representing bad decisions that greatly harm the Parish.

I THINK THIS WEB PAGE AND ITS AUTHORS HAVE MADE SOME VERY TERRIBLE, AWFUL, HARMFUL DECISIONS THAT HAVE GREATLY HARMED INDIVIDUALS, SUCH AS OUR BISHOP, OUR PASTOR, OUR COUNCIL MEMBERS ETC.
It is difficult to see how any rational person could support these decisions, which seem to fly in the face of effective management principles and the notion that a parish is a community of people whom a pastor is to serve, not the other way around.

I AM A RATIONAL PERSON AND I AGREE WITH OUR BISHOP AND OUR PASTOR. I BELIEVE A PARISH IS A COMMUNITY OF PEOPLE, BUT WHEN SOME OF THE COMMUNITY CHOOSES TO GO A DIFFERENT WAY, THEN CONSEQUENCES NEED TO BE PUT IN ORDER. HOW CAN OUR PASTOR SERVE THE PEOPLE WHO RIDICULE, SLANDER, AND SAY LIES ABOUT HIM? I KNOW I COULDN'T!

How is it that a person who criticizes such decisions can be described as divisive and disrespectful?

BECAUSE THAT IS EXACTLY WHAT PEOPLE ARE THAT USE THE MASS AND OUR BISHOP AND PASTOR FOR PROTESTING PURPOSES. THIS IS CERTAINLY DIVISIVE AND DISRESPECTFUL AND SHOWS TO OTHER BAD MORALS AND VALUES.

Remember, the Emperor really didn’t have any clothes!

MAYBE THIS SHOULD BE THE STORY OF THE PRINCE AND THE PAUPER. I GUESS THE QUESTION IS: WHO IS THE PRINCE AND WHO IS THE PAUPER?

Anonymous said...

Ah, yes the screamer:
I AM A RATIONAL PERSON AND I AGREE WITH OUR BISHOP AND OUR PASTOR.
Nuff said!

Anonymous said...

Talk about the blind, deaf and dumb leading the blind, deaf, and dumb:
I AM A RATIONAL PERSON AND I AGREE WITH OUR BISHOP AND OUR PASTOR.
But we are making no progress here. The screamer has nothing more to add other than the above line that says it all for him. At some point he needs to be cut off to prevent this blog from deteriorating to name calling and empty claims of "I'm right; you're wrong!"

Anonymous said...

You Wrote:
Talk about the blind, deaf and dumb leading the blind, deaf, and dumb:
I AM A RATIONAL PERSON AND I AGREE WITH OUR BISHOP AND OUR PASTOR.

YOU HAVE YOUR OPINIONS BLASTED ALL OVER THIS WEB PAGE, CAN'T I HAVE MINE. IT IS LIKE ANYTHING ELSE IN LIFE, SOME LIKE SOME DON'T LIKE. GOD MADE US ALL DIFFERENT. THANKS BE TO HIM.
But we are making no progress here. The screamer has nothing more to add other than the above line that says it all for him. At some point he needs to be cut off to prevent this blog from deteriorating to name calling and empty claims of "I'm right; you're wrong!"
YOU ARE GOING TO CUT ME OFF BECAUSE I AM DETERIORATING THIS BLOG PAGE, EXCUSE ME BUT LOOK WHO IS SLANDERING, ETC. THE NAMES OF OUR LEADERS IN OUR CHURCH, OUR DIOCESE. I AM NOT RIGHT AND I NEVER CLAIM TO BE RIGHT, AND I NEVER SAID YOU WERE WRONG, I SAID THAT THERE WAS SLANDER, DISRESPECT, ETC. FROM A CERTAIN GROUP AT HS, TELL ME I AM WRONG HERE. AND IF YOU THINK I AM, THEN LOOK OVER THE HISTORY OF THIS WEB PAGE AND FIND THE TRUTH.
I AM NOT A SCREAMER, I LOVE TO WRITE IN CAPITAL LETTERS. ARE YOU MISJUDING ME ALSO. I GUESS YOU ARE. I WILL BE AT EVENING PRAYER, AND I AM HAPPY IT WILL RUN BY THE CHURCH NOT BY A SELECT FEW. BUT I WILL PRAY FOR YOU AND CONTINUE TO PRAY FOR YOUR CONVERSION.

7/11/2007 7:32 AM

A REAL rational person said...

Screamer and all:
I AM A RATIONAL PERSON AND I AGREE WITH OUR BISHOP AND OUR PASTOR.
I came upon this site through a progressive social justice site. Let me say that anyone who puts their faith in a religion is not a rational person by definition. Not to put you down, just don't claim to be rational or logical or any of these terms if you are religious. Notice how your Pope reiterated that only Catholics have the truth! What a fool! At least the proponents of this site are trying to put forward the Jesus who was a social and political reformer whose words are not followed by "Christians" to this day. Christians should at least follow Jesus and not some damn pope, bishop or ignorant pastor.

Anonymous said...

The screamer is the typical follower who never questions anything. He doesn't need to know where his money is going to or how the parish is doing finacially. He doesn't need to know who makes the decisions, how the decisions are made, and when and where the decisions were made. In other words, whatever good or bad decisions were made, he is OK with it.

The Parish is a like a corporation and the parishoners are the shareholders. The shareholders need to know what the board of directors and the chief financial officer are doing to avoid another ENRON collapse.

So what is wrong with getting a financial report on a yearly basis? What is wrong with attending parish council meetings? Don't you think partishoners have a stake in what is occuring at the parish? We need transparency so that the council and the pastor make decisions that are beneficial to the entire parish and not just a select few. What is so wrong with that? Unless, of course, if something is being hidden or the books are being cooked. We don't know do we, unless we have complete transparency. And that starts from the top.

You are OK with how things are going and that is just fine. Well, I am not fine with that. I certainly do not want to show up at meetings of either the financial committee or parish council waving signs or disrupting anyhting. All I want is to know what is going on. Don't I have that right? You wrongly believe that anyone who is in disagreement with the going ons at the parish are sign wavers and the like. Well, not all of us are. We are parishoners just like you but ones who want answers.

Gerald Brazier said...

I have hardly ever contributed to the blog, figuring the newsletter is probably enough of my voice, but I must object to the entry calling for ALLCAPS (better designation than screamer, I think) to be denied access to the blog. As the "employee who has seen it all" has said several times, this blog provides an opportunity for discussion and dialogue that the parish has yet to provide to anyone. This is the only forum at this time and as long as we aren't profane, don't incite violence, and try as much as possible to limit criticisms to the things people do and say, not the people themselves, then everyone should be heard.

The original posting by ALLCAPS on this thread contained responses to three issues: 1) lack of financial reporting, 2) the Pastoral Council's mode of operating, and 3) the exclusion of people from ministry.

It is clear that ALLCAPS is not bothered by the lack of financial reporting. In this day and age, in the society in which we all lead our lives, this position is an extremely unusual one to take--the default for (almost!) everyone is transparency, so it would seem that someone arguing for closed books really has to make a strong case. There is no evidence that parish funds are being mismanaged, but there is no evidence all is proper, either. I have lived in probably ten parishes and have never seen one that did not make detailed annual financial reports (some even made quarterly ones). It is just a good management practice.

As I read ALLCAPS' response on the Pastoral Council issue, I see a genuine concern expressed that an open conduct of Council business would (1) be disrupted and (2) would leave decisions open to criticism. Certainly, ways would have to be found to prevent disruption and in the current poisoned atmosphere maybe open meetings are not possible. But what is possible are agendas, mechanisms for folks to bring concerns/proposals to the Council, and reports of Council meetings. Everyone in a position of leadership has to accept the fact that they will be criticized--it comes with the territory. The intensity and harshness of some current criticism is as much a product of the lack of opportunity to be heard as anything else. There are no established forums and when that happens, people get angry.

On the exclusion from ministries, ALLCAPS' response seems to say that serving in the parish is a privilege that must be earned. I personally do not look at the parish community that way--if a person has the talent for a ministry, that person is worthy to serve. From my reading of the Gospels and St. Paul, there cannot be litmus tests and loyalty oaths to belonging and participating in the Christian community. [By the way, the person denied the opportunity to help clean the church is our sister in Christ, but not a religious sister]

Anonymous said...

to g.b.
I NEVER MENTIONED A RELIGIOUS SISTER, DID I?
SAME OLD, SAME OLD.
FROM: ALLCAPS

Anonymous said...

Please deny ALLCAPS access to the blog for his/her postings. I have clung to this blog since its inception and have often looked upon it as a sign of hope. ALLCAPS doesn't even make any sense at times and I find the entries disturbing. Please consider not posting his/her responses in the future. If he/she so violently disagrees with those who contribute to this blog then perhaps he/she should do just as suggested that we do; go away.

Anonymous said...

I do not own a computer,I do not have money in the bank, or a beautiful house and a new car, I do have the means as some of the people who do attend HS but what I have is a loving family. Right now, I am using a friend's computer and I want a chance to say my story.
During these past three years, my family and I have gone through a crisis. At times, I had no money to put food on the table for my children or clothes on their back.
I did not know where to turn to. I approached Fr. Louie and he was so kind to us. He came to my small shack of a home invested with bugs and talked to my family. First he provided spiritual food for all of us. He told us how important it is to go to church and be with God. He then took me to HEB and purchased food for my family. He used his own money and made sure we had everything. He continues to see us as a family and provides time for prayer and sharing. He has done so much for us that I can not thank him enough. It is people like me who see the goodness and kindness in our pastor. Since all of this, we are regular church goers, I was able to find a job and I can now provide a bit more for my family. How can I reject this man who has helped us so much? I think there are more people like me out there who have benefited from the spiritual works of our pastor. I owe to God a great deal and I am grateful for what Fr. Louie has done for us.

Anonymous said...

In response to the last anonymous:
I do not agree that we should deny ALLCAPS his/her opinion. This person has every right. Sometimes we don't like to hear two sides of a story and obvious it is bothering this last anon.
I think all people should have the same rights. Are we trying to eliminate those who are difference from us? Let us think about this.
Sometimes a good challenge is healthy.

Anonymous said...

To Anonymous 7/12/2007 9:15 AM
I am so happy to hear what Fr. Louie has done for you and your family during your time of need and I am happy to learn that Fr. Louie has shown such compassion to one of his parishioners.
My objection to Fr. Louie has been that he has EXCLUDED many of the parishioners from participating in the various ministries of the parish. This was done solely because we have questioned some of his methods. This retaliation against parishioners has even gone so far as to declare us to be "not in good standing with the Catholic Church".
I think you will agree that this type of activity is totally unbecoming of a Catholic priest and that these activities should have been corrected long ago.
Because you have so vividly been exposed to Fr. Louie’s compassionate side, I compel you to discuss these actions with Fr. Louie to see if you might convince him to show that same sign of compassion towards those of us who only want to serve our church.

Anonymous said...

Dear Anon. who was helped by Fr. Louie: In a country I know lived a man named Pablo Escobar. In his city the common folk loved him because he was generous, loving and kind to them. People were ready to die for him.
To others Pablo was a ruthless drug dealer who brutally killed many and ended his life on the run, finally gunned down by the police.
Now, I am not saying that Fr. Louie is like Pablo Escobar. What I am saying is that you must judge the whole person by his composite actions not only by the kind things he does for you. If you are able to do that, see beyond your own experience, that is a measure of spritual maturity.

Anonymous said...

If Fr. Louie is such a model priest, why can't he follow the model of Christ by allowing everyone to the table? Besides, a real Catholic priest doesn't lie.

Anonymous said...

I have witnessed some of the events that took place at HS. I have seen and heard different people talking and the only people talking are those holding the signs, wearing the red, etc. You have all EXCLUDED yourselves. Fr. Louie is a holy man and a real priest. Even Jesus got angry at those in the temple. Give to C what belongs to C and give to God what belongs to God.

Anonymous said...

The question remains, why can't he follow Christ's example of inclusively? And, why does he have to lie? Neither is representative of a Catholic priest.

Latin whisperer. said...

All I can say to that is:
Stultus est sicut stultus facit.

Anonymous said...

"Stultus est sicut stultus facit".
I must agree. Why can't we make sure our priests are given proper training, then insure that they use that training to set examples of Christ's teachings. Isn't that why they were called?

Anonymous said...

...The question remains, why can't he follow Christ's example of inclusively? And, why does he have to lie? Neither is representative of a Catholic priest.

7/13/2007 7:19 PM

My question is: Why can't you follow Christ's example of people kind, caring and loving? Why do you have to protest? Neither is representative of a Catholic Christian. If the shoe fits, wear it.

latin whisperer said...

Catholics don't protest?
Qualem blennum!
Oh: and we are kind, caring and loving.

Anonymous said...

Oh NO, that Sister is coming back to the Valley. She should stay in Providence, Rhode Island. What do those east coast people know about us in the valley. More trouble, more protests, more dirt being stirred up.
From: J.J.R.