Somos el Cuerpo de Cristo
Thoughts from Some Fellow Parishioners of Holy Spirit
August 19, 2007
In one of the readings for this weekend we heard about the prophet Jeremiah who was cast into a deep cistern, sinking into the mud, because some people thought he was demoralizing the soldiers and all the people by the words he spoke.
Prophets are not men or women who foretell the future, but instead are people who tell the truth to those in the present, and tell what the future will hold for them if they ignore that truth. People don’t like to hear that they have to change how they live so as to bring their lives in line with the truth—tellers of those kinds of truths are always criticized, ostracized, demonized, and tossed into whatever cisterns are conveniently available.
In the Gospel, Jesus tells us something very similar—“do you think I came to establish peace…? No, rather division… I have come to set the earth on fire and how I wish it were already blazing.” Christ’s message is not a tranquil one and it will be divisive, in that the status quo is meant to be shaken by His message.
Who are the prophetic voices, right now, in our lifetime, that speak the uncomfortable truths? Look to see whom authority and society at large vilify and seek to silence, and you will probably have the answer.
The Future Leaders of Tomorrow
We are seeing, in the Church these days, the proliferation of events for youth, like World Youth Day, Youth 2000, etc. Here are some remarks about such activities from Father Andrew Greeley a prominent sociologist of American Catholicism (and sometime novelist):
The Catholic Church really doesn't believe in evaluation research; Perhaps it is just as well that it is does not because most evaluation research shows that interventions like World Youth Day really don’t work, There's a lot of activity and enthusiasm and that seems to be enough to make the Day a success without the need to ask whether anyone's life or behavior has changed. One needs before and after data. What were the young people doing and believing, say, a month before the Day and then a month after. The risk in such research is that it often finds no long-term impact at all, despite all the work and energy expended. One would want to know for example what the participants thought about "hooking up," pre-marital cohabitation, birth control, fertility experiments, as well as frequency of prayer, church attendance and volunteer service. I would imagine that the organizers of World Youth Day would be horrified at the suggestion that such matters need to be addressed.
from a contribution on dotCommonweal, 8/14/07.
“The utmost reverence in adoration to Our Lord is kneeling during the most sacred moments of our Eucharist Banquet—when the Mystery of the Eucharist takes place.” from our Parish Sunday Bulletin each week
This bulletin entry comes in a section headlined “Directive of our Catholic Faith from the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops” and certainly leaves the impression that this quote comes from the General Instruction on the Roman Missal (GIRM) and represents some statement about our Catholic faith from the American Bishops and maybe even the Vatican. This impression is false. The quote is nowhere in the GIRM and appears to be the opinion of whoever puts together the bulletin. People can have opinions and even express them, but to imply that those opinions are “directives of our Catholic Faith” is dishonest.
In the GIRM (paragraph 43) we have the directives for the universal Church on the postures during Mass:
"The faithful should stand from the beginning of the Entrance chant, or while the priest approaches the altar, until the end of the Collect; for the Alleluia chant before the Gospel; while the Gospel itself is proclaimed; during the Profession of Faith and the Prayer of the Faithful; from the invitation, Orate, fraters (Pray, brethren), before the prayer over the offerings until the end of Mass, except at the places indicated below."
"They should, however, sit while the readings before the Gospel and the responsorial Psalm are proclaimed and for the homily and while the Preparation of the Gifts at the Offertory is taking place; and, as circumstances allow, they may sit or kneel while the period of sacred silence after Communion is observed."
What follows in the text of the GIRM is an exception made for the United States, which requires kneeling during the Eucharistic Prayer. If the quote in our bulletin were really a “directive of our Catholic faith” then it would appear that only the Church in the United States knows and practices “the utmost reverence….” That is complete nonsense, of course. What is misleading and dishonest about the bulletin quote is that it implies that standing during the Eucharistic Prayer is inherently disrespectful, which it is not, since it is the standard posture the GIRM sets for the universal Church. The American bishops want us to kneel, but that is an arbitrary decision on their part and does not represent some fundamentally superior way to celebrate the Eucharist.
True to Our Word
Our Pope’s experience of teaching certainly has helped him provoke thought and discussion. Even our own Monitor has received letters sharing rather passionate views about “the one true church”. It is an interesting challenge for all of us who love our church, because an honest love can acknowledge failings and still love – isn’t that the unconditional love our God has for us? We must honestly admit that just because “I say so” doesn’t cut it. It is hard to defend your church and its teaching when the news for the day doesn’t just carry the Pope’s words, but also a report on the latest sex abuse scandal settlement clearly witnessing that the Church has done far too little too late. Our Pope’s words still hang in the air as we pass the anniversary of Hiroshima and Nagasaki and the damning silence of our Church refusing to be a voice of nonviolence speaks volumes. Is it really possible for the one true Church to bless bombs and approve of the death and destruction they bring?
We know in our hearts that if we are to be a true church, the words have to be backed up by the lives of the members of the body – all of us from pews to the Pope. The reality is that saying so should be unnecessary. The world should be able to see and feel our faith and our love. The world needs to hear not the words of the Pope, but the words of Jesus brought to life by the church. Only then we can be true.
from fellow parishioner, Michelle Peña
“… [Pope Benedict’s directive on extended access to the old Tridentine Rite] assumes that requests from the laity will usually be handled at the parish level, and that any refusal to grant the old liturgy can be circumvented. If ‘some group of lay faithful...does not obtain what it requests from the pastor’ it may go over his head to the bishop, who is ‘earnestly requested to grant their desire.’ But ‘if he cannot provide for this kind of celebration,’ all is not lost. ‘Let the matter be referred to the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei,’ which evidently will make the arrangements. On what other issue does the laity have this much clout in a church that is not a democracy?” Peter Jeffrey in Commonweal, 8/17/07.
Indeed, Mr. Jeffrey, on what other issue can “some group of the lay faithful [who] does not obtain what it requests from the pastor” anticipate a different outcome when approaching the bishop or even the Vatican?
Total below budget: $66,253.68 (last year same date: $68,168.92)
Total shortfall (including expenditures over budget): $151,713.12
Projected yearly shortfall: $179,297.32
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 mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org