Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Parishioners' Newsletter 08/19/07

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

Vox Populi
“… [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?

$$$$$ Update
Since 10/15/06:
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:gbrazier@rgv.rr.com


Ann Williams Cass said...

It's interesting, Jerry... The Diocese of GreenBay, WI, did a study 15 years ago that showed there was no relation to religious education classes and how adults live out their faith. In fact, people who went to Catholic schools scored lower than parish based CCD programs, who scored lower than those who had home teaching. Interesting, really. The church does not do a good job in evaluating its effectiveness of measuring its success. We know that from the church in the Valley. The Valley has more problems with poverty than it had 20 years ago. At least Bishop Fitzpatrick had the humility to shed tears over that. It is worse to be blind and think you can see!

Ann Williams Cass said...

Another problem with the posture statement is that the Eucharistic Prayer is a time for thanksgiving, the definition of Eucharist in Greek, not a time for adoration. It also is not a time to turn the lights off and put a light just on the altar. That is theater dramatics and needs to stop. We are celebrating as well who we are as the Body of Christ. How can you do that in the dark when you cannot see each other? And, sometimes when you sit on the front row you cannot see the bread and wine on the altar before the institution narrative either because of the rose. That is another reason it needs to be removed. It blocks our witness. Those who wrote the GIRM knew what they were saying.

Anonymous said...

So the truth is finally told about all this "stand, sit or kneel" stuff. Thanks for your research and setting the story straight with truth, Mr. Brazier.

Anonymous said...

Dear Ann and all,
It is not about educating the faithful. It is about power, and it is a pathetic shadow of the power that bishops and clergy once held during the appropriately labelled dark ages of the Church. Oh, how some long for that simple, blind time. May it never return; may we instead resume our temporarily sidetracked search for the Light.

Anonymous said...

Now can you please clarify the use of the words "My Lord & my God" during the consecration. I am a floater now due to the crisis at HSP, but I've noticed that many priests allow these words to be said during the consecration. Is this correct or incorrect? And if it is incorrect why is it being allowed? The valley churches are the only ones where I hear this. This is not a common practice anywhere else. Thanks for your wonderful explanation of the directive regarding our posture during Mass. Thoroughly enjoyed it.

Anonymous said...

Well, if the church was not built like a theater maybe we wouldn't see the difference...

Gerald Brazier said...

For whoever is interested, from The St. Andrew Daily Missal (1949, p. 551:

"Let us look to the Body and the Blood of our Lord, which the priest successively presents for our adoration saying each time secretly: 'My Lord and my God' (Indulgence, 7 years)"

Even in the old days, when this "ejaculaion" was encouraged, it was to be said "secretly," that is silently. Why people say it out loud, interrupting and disturbing the Eucharistic Prayer, is something they would have to asked.

Anonymous said...

Don't they realize how distracting their verbal outbursts are during the most sacred part of the Mass? Are they afraid that God will not hear them if they just say it silently to themselves?

Anonymous said...

With so many parables having Jesus condemn public displays of piety while encouraging private devotion, I guess these people simply do not read the gospels.

Ann Williams Cass said...

Well, you are right, there is not to be any "My Lord and My God" spoken.
Now, JJR, the space is not like a theater, it is designed so people can be around the Table. It is designed after a national award winning church in Alberquerque,NM. It was approved by the Director of the Office of Worship for the US Catholic Conference of Bishops in Washington who said it was a wonderful design that would take our community well into the future. It is not shaped as a bowling alley, as Fr. Maher use to say regarding that shape. It is shaped to engage people with each other. Obviously you were not here when we did the catechesis on the shape and design of the building. And, it still has nothing to do with turning the lights on and off at a particular part of the Mass. Sometimes when we are not able to travel and study we have no idea what is happening across the world. It's the same with church buildings, their shape changes as we get more in touch with what it is that we do in the building. The building is designed to accomodate what we do, not the other way around. Anyway, I am sure that the powers to be threw out all the books we made that explain each and every detail of the building. If you are interested, leave your address with kanickers and I will send you a copy so you will understand that it is not a theater. I don't think I have ever even been in a theater shaped like our building, amphitheaters yes, theaters, no.

RRJ said...

It is sure good that we have Ann around to explain these things that bishops and priests do not know or appreciate. A bowling alley? Really, Fr. Maher; have you ever bowled? A theatre, JJR? That is a new one, but I see your point with all the theatrics going on there now.

Anonymous said...

I don't really care who approved the design of the building. I still think that it is not a place of worship for me and I find it very distracting the way it is set up. Like I said, I would pay to see a play performed there. And to Ann, is that all you have to do with your time is critize. After all, we do have others who are just as talented and well-read on the matters of the church.

Gerard Vaello said...

Maybe the reason you don't appreciate the design of our church was because you were not there when all of us (the whole community) were given the opportunity to provide our input and voice on its design. We can all be thankful that we didn’t end up with some short-lived priest's idea of what we should build with OUR money!

Also, there may indeed be others in the diocese that are as knowledgeable as Ann in Church teachings and regulations, however, they all seem to be too afraid to speak out when things are done contrary to Church teachings. Maybe they have all learned that they could either be fired or transferred to a parish in the boondocks. History is the best teacher.

Thank God that Ann and the other employees do not have to live under those threats anymore and they can now speak freely.
Gerard Vaello

Guy Hallman said...

To tell you the truth I am not a big fan of the building myself. Yes you are right, Anon 10:37am, it is distracting. The parish went through considerable stress after it was built. I remember back sections being roped off and ushers instructed to usher people to the front even if it meant splitting up families (yes, I saw this happen and took an usher to task over it). I remember how quickly it became apparent that the building was too small. I remember the horrid acoustics which had Fr. Jerry proclaiming that if it was not solved very soon we would return to the parish hall. I remember Chayo scolding us for sitting on the edge of one of the saint's nooks because the church was packed, yes PACKED to the rafters. I still do not like the fact that you cannot get from the front of the church to the sacristy side without going all the way around the back (which was often so packed as to be impossible) or making the brief and run across the front in full view of the congregation. I remember coming very close to leaving the parish because of how the building was distracting from our ability to worship.

But then people spoke and Fr. Jerry and the staff listened. Slowly the fixable problems got worked out in a matter of months and the problems in design that may not have a reasonable fix did not seem important anymore and people accomodated on all sides. We went back to realizing that the building is the least important aspect of the community.

Such a far cry from today. We have many problems as a parish but no one on the "inside", least of all that worthless pastor, gives a damn about fixing them. [Joke: how many HSP staff does it take to change a light bulb? Answer: Apparently more than we have now!] Yeah, they can't even change a light bulb anymore! Now with the parish in such a sorry state I am glad that I never really liked the building!

As far as Chayo, I learned to love her; she was doing her job and did it well.

Now as far as Ann, as Gerard says, if there is someone in this parish who knows more about the Church and our parish specifically let him or her speak, for we wish to hear it! She is not criticizing, only educating. Yes, at first Ann got on my nerves. I thought she was arrogant, but then I realized she just knew stuff and was not afraid to correct people when needed, priests and bishops included. Anon 10:37a, If you are new here give Ann time. She opened my eyes to many things. For example, I credit her for my finally seeing the light on the death penalty and church opposition to it.

Ann Williams Cass said...

Well guys, I have been called many things over the years, but this is the first time I have been called arrogant. I am confident, strong, a woman leader. If arrogant is defined as feeling superior over others, I honestly do not see myself like that. But, I am confident in areas that I have spent a life time studying. I think if I were a male leader, people would call me competent, strong, confident, etc. Oh well...if I have ever offended you with what you saw as arrogance I do apologize, sincerely apologize, and I will reflect seriously on your accusation that I am arrogant.
If people did not like the design of the church, they needed to come to the town hall meetings that we had to discuss the design and art. Everyone was invited, everyone had a voice. We voted on most all things. And, this is not the church I would have built. I would have built a different design. This is a design we compromised on after four years of townhall discussions. If you don't speak up at the time, the time is gone. What can I say? We did have problems in the beginning, that is for sure. Fr. Jerry, the architect, and I traveled to the same design church in Alberquerque and the community there did not have the problems our community did. We were behind schedule and people were anxious to get into the new building. We probably, in retrospect, should have spent time introducing people to the building before we moved in. We did give tours the week before to explain things and hand out booklets, but few took us up on it. People were upset about the location of the cross, although mostly because they thought in other churches they were genuflecting to the cross when they entered a church. Many did not realize that we don't genuflect on entering a church any more and we were always genuflecting to the Presence of Jesus in the tabernacle that sat behind the main altar. We never genuflected to a cross. The only time we do that is on Good Friday.
The lights... we had a challenging architect who did not want to listen to the voices of the interior design committee. That's what happened first with the sound. We were not consulted on the lights, or the fact that the church does not have a crawl space. However, the lights have been replaced with cheap lights over the years. Our maintenance man felt the problem was they were melting because of the heat. Could be, but why have some of them NEVER burned out? Sometimes the light board gets re-programed if someone sets something down on it or if a lightning storm causes the power to go off. It has to be programed from the get-go. That has happened about three times since 1998. The theater lights are to be brought up very slowly in an AC roomed. The technicians were taught to do that. The new people who came in to use the light board even before I left did their own thing, you want to talk about arrogance? They will pop if they are brought up fast. Now someone installed fans because they felt they were too hot and could see smoke when they were on. There was no smoke. With spotlights you see dust particles, not smoke. Go fishing. Have you ever seen fans in a spot light well? OK, now there are fans, the sound has to be re-adjusted. The background noise of the fans is horrific. We paid to have an accoustical engineer, the closest one is in Dallas, come and fix the sound. This now is a major change and the sound needs to be fixed. And, they need to use the monitors with the choir. Sometimes at the 8:30 mass the keyboard is so loud it is over-bearing. And, I offered to come and help in any way I was needed. I offered to come and do music ministry free of charge for any funeral. I have yet to be called. I gave Hilda instructions on how to access the copyright websites for reporting. They have yet to report any usage. I know because I continue to get emails telling me we are out of compliance with our license and have not reported the songs that have been used. And, I offered to help Jose with that and he, or whoever is in charge, has not taken me up on that. Now you are criticizing me for not helping?
And...I am employed now and actually was employed before I left the parish job.
I have been offered many jobs in many parishes since I have left Holy Spirit Parish last year. I was offered jobs in the secular world besides. I was offered many jobs at other parishes before I left Holy Spirit Parish and after I left. And, I am employed now as the Executive Director of a non-profit organization that works with very, very poor people. It is wonderful and I enjoy it and it is a ministry I hope I can continue until I die. I have been asked by different priests and have facilitated, workshops throughout the diocese since last September.
Martha Sanchez is a certified Director of Religious Education. She also received a national award as a DRE by the Catholic Religious Education Association for her development of the vacation bible school program. This was awarded to her in Los Angeles at the national meeting. Elfida was a certified Youth Minister. She and Martha both completed their studies for these positions and both continued in their education after they became certified. I did not do their work. We worked as a team and I was their supervisor, but they were pretty much self-directing and I did not micro-manage. They both had a tough job. It is not easy working in a parish. They should be proud of the hard work and time put into their ministry. Working at a parish for us was a 7 day a week, usually 10-12 hour days. And, negative comments like those who wrote to this blog are just coming out of ignorance. We were a model parish in liturgy, religious education and social justice. That's a fact. We worked hard at helping people. People would come to us as their last resort many, many times. So, please identify yourself if you and your family walked into the office and were greeted by an arrogant Ann Cass. I would like to hear you out and apologize to you to your face. Otherwise I find your criticism unfounded.

Ann Williams Cass said...

PS... Let's discuss other things, please, than Ann Cass, ok? I am not the problem or the solution. I am history!

Ann Williams Cass said...

I learned tonight that indeed the Bishop did change the boundaries of Holy Spirit Parish in favor of St. Joseph Parish in Edinburg to build a new parish. I asked Fr. Brum about that two years ago and he denied it. Isn't it sad that we were never informed that our boundaries were changed, nor was it presented in the Diocesan newsletter. It's this kind of stupid secrecy that leads to suspicions and lack of trust. When will we have transparency from the clerical leaders of this church?

Anonymous said...

I have heard NOTHING about the boundaries of our parish being changed and portions given to St Joseph Parish in Edinburg.
Who changed our parish boundaries, when were they changed and why were they changed?
There has been nothing about any of this in our Sunday Bulletin or, on the Diocesan Web page.

Does anyone have more information?

Dioc. Insider said...

Yes, the boundaries have been changed. What's more, HSP is to close in the future when a new parish to the northwest is established solving the problem of the building and the parishioners once and for all.

Anonymous said...

Oh... and just where are you getting your information dioc. insider?
And what happens to the "old" St. Joseph parish facilities in downtown Edinburg and the "old" parish facilities at Holy Spirit? They guanna sell em off?

Dioc. Insider said...

Not decided yet. Will let you know; if you are nice and behave yourself!

Ann Williams Cass said...

And for those who think the liturgy is more in line with universal church norms since this mess started:
1. There was no Kyrie at today's Mass and Alvin used the Confiteor. Fr. Brum went right into the Gloria without the Lord, have mercy which Form A calls for.
2. The collection is being placed under the Altar. The new GIRM is clear, it should not be placed there. (We used to place it under the credence table.)
3. Immediately during the fraction rite hosts were brought from the Tabernacle and comingled with the hosts consecrated at that Mass. A BIG NO-NO!
Other observations:
1. No rose on the altar-GOOD!
2. Intention book on the altar-BAD!
3. Lights were turned off during the Eucharistic Prayer and the spotlight was on the altar-VERY BAD! If one wanted to emphasize the Eucharistic Prayer with lights, if anything, they should come on brighter! Quit playing around and doing theatrics, please. It is not prayerful.
4. Would someone please tell Fr. Brum that he continues to use a plural form incorrectly for "Lord?" He consistantly says, "Lords" instead of "Lord." And, he needs to be told that Jesus takes away the "SIN" of the world, NOT "the SINNERS." If that were the case we would all be gone!
5. I found the picture on the screen during the Eucharistic Prayer distracting and offensive. Albeit, that is personal. Obviously some find it otherwise.

Anonymous said...

well I have been meaning to write about night prayer but just did not have a chance...Wow! the whole group showed up at the first night, then a few dropped off, then a few others dropped off and now the group is doing prayer outside while we are on the inside. This does not make any sense. Where is your sense of community and community prayer. Like others have said and are still saying..."if it does not go your way then there is no way.." Why can't you humble yourself and join the rest of the group? You are just causing more and more division-why don't you start your own parish and do what you want!

Chayo said...

Dear Anonymous

Subject night prayer:

First of all we were doing nite prayer for the last 12 years or so. So my question to you is where were you?

Why could you not joined us then or now? Why did night prayer, which we have done for so many years have to change? It is not even in the church bulletin. Our way? I think not. It was FR. Louie's way or no way.

Nite prayer as we have done it for so many years has been life giving to many of us and others who have joined us in the past. It is an hour of singing, reading scripture,and prayers of intention for those in need and it was for a full hour. An hour which means alot to me.

Humble ourselves? Is that what you have done by asking us to leave? Is that what being humble means to you? Who is creating the division?

God's grace to you,

Guy said...

Good answer to anonymous, Chayo. Although it would be nice to "converse" with someone who had a name.

Brum's "night prayer" is a joke: 10 minutes of some canned babbling. Like you say, why don't "they" join us for a full hour of some real fellowship?

Ann Cass said...

10 Minutes, Guy? It's more like 6 minutes, I've timed it. Prayer? Well, it does come right off the internet...but never have I ever experienced night prayer like that! It is sad. But, what can we say?
-ann williams cass

Older and Wiser @ HSP said...

Beware the Greeks bearing gifts, or "diocesan insiders" sharing company secrets. Do not forget the past or you will be bound to repeat it. Were they not all diocesan insiders who showed up that fateful day to begin the process that wrecked our parish? There is one among them who is so cunning and serpentine that you will be caught in a web of lies if you listen to him. His name is synonymous with Legion, that is why I don't trust that post from diocesan insider because it may be him.