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!
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 firstname.lastname@example.org