Sunday, August 12, 2007

A Tribute To Another Old Friend.

A Tribute To Another Old Friend.
I grew up at Holy Spirit. For as long as I can remember, I attended mass on a weekly basis, participated in the annual fundraisers for Casa Amparo, the monthly Habitat for Humanity build dates, and many other ministries at the church. I attended religious education classes each month, Vacation Bible School for some 14 summers, walked in every walk-a-thon for our sister parish in Guajoyo, was a founding member of the Puppet Ministry, worked for the church as a sound tech for several years, and helped out at the annual Thanksgiving Dinner from when I was 5, till I was 19.

I’ve been attending school in Boston for the past 2 years, and so I only visit home a few times a year. Each time, my parents, who attend another parish now, ask me if I’d like to go back to Holy Spirit, knowing that the church and its community hold a special place in my heart. Every time, I’ve said yes, and every time, as we return home from church, I’ve been deep in thought as to what I was going to write next.

You see, every time I attend Holy Spirit, I become so disappointed that I return home and feel that I must write a letter to Fr. Louis, in hopes that I can help him see what I so miss in Holy Spirit. Time and time again, these letters receive no response. I doubt whether they are even read (though if you are interested in reading them, feel free to send an e-mail to me; my address is my first name DOT my last name at gmail DOT com).

This has been my typical experience at home… until today.

Just now, my father walked into my room and asked if I’d like to go to Holy Spirit tomorrow. Without thinking, I replied, “Not really.” Upon hearing my voice mutter this phrase, I stopped to think about why I said this and it occurred to me that when attending Holy Spirit today, I receive nothing. I am not challenged to make a difference. I am not moved by the spirituality of the parishioners. Nothing. Nothing at all.

I see a parish, devoid of all signs of life and community. Where I once saw people actively seeking ways to live their faith, I see people simply repeating prayers as if mass were a Disney Sing-a-Long. Where I once was challenged to make a difference, I hear sounds entering my ears, absent of any application to my life. Where I once saw a community that looked beyond socioeconomic lines, I now see a community which prides itself in showing the monetary wealth of its individual members instead of the moral wealth of the community as a whole.

For me, every day that goes by I feel as though another piece of my childhood is ripped away from me, as the dimming flame of Holy Spirit Parish fades into the deep, dark night. I just question whether the oil available for this lamp will be enough to outlast the darkness. I guess we can pray for a miracle.

On a related note: If what I have said deeply offends you, I ask that you take the common courtesy to talk with me directly (my e-mail address is listed above if you prefer that everyone does not see your name) instead of simply leaving anonymous comments. What I have written about is very important to me, and all I ask is for this simple favor.

-Ben Salinas


Guy Hallman said...

Ben, thanks again for another moving letter. Don't feel discouraged; none of us get a response from the Msgr. He is hardly around, which is a mixed blessing in itself.

And Ann, keep writing. I know it is hard as you have been especially vilified by the bishop through his minions because he knows that your knowledge and courage threaten his privileged position. The bishop fears you greatly. The facts that you know about Catholic history and theology and what has happened at HSP and this diocese are vital to educating the faithful.

Anonymous said...

I am so proud of you that I can't really describe how much you mean to me and to this community. I tell many, we have had the priviletge of knowing what a parish really can be and do for others. Most people have never had that experience, including Fr. Brum and his leaders. So, we know. And, we have to keep that knowledge alive. There is an old Irish ritual that the mother of the house does before she retires at night. She gently covers the embers of the fire with the ashes to keep them smoldering so that in the morning she can brush the embers off and the fire can start again. That's what we have to do. Gently cover the embers with the ashes so when the time is right again we can start the fire. We have to be careful not to let this fire go out. You add spark to my fire, Ben. You are so exceptional and have proven that with the life you lead and what you do for the unfortunate. I am proud to know you, and I learn so much from you all the time. You parents are also exceptional and have done such a great job helping all of you understand what being a Christian is all about, by their example. That is what it takes. Not shallow word, but example. Take care,and do not lose hope. The time will come again.
Ann Williams Cass

Bridget Cook said...

Dear Ben,

Although the last four years have been some of the most difficult to bear, there are instances, experiences, relationships, and even memories from a better time, that shine through the darkness.

You have been that light so many times through your unselfish acts for those in need and the love and compassion you have for those who have been hurt by this church.

Just recently, I was reminded of the great division that exists in our church, and all the feelings of hurt and rejection came back in full force—so much so that I’ve been questioning even staying involved in our Catholic faith. Not because I don’t believe in our church, but because the intolerance shown to those of us who are “progressive.”

Then, I was blessed-one again-to read your latest gift to those of us who read this Blog. I am reminded that “community” exists even without all the “trappings” of the church. Your words brought about not only memories of a better time, but were a reminder of the strong and vibrant community that we’ve created despite the ugliness that we face from the institutional church. Thank you for being so faithful to the lessons we learned about what it is to live our Catholic faith. I wish that all of those who were raised in this parish could remember what it really means to be Catholic.

Although we don’t have an opportunity to see you often, you and your family are such a blessing. Thank you for being so faithful to the lessons we learned about what it is to live our Catholic faith.

As Ann said in her response to your post, we need to cover the embers of what we had so that we can someday “start the fire”. I will do my best not to let the fire go out. Thank you, Ben, for helping me rekindle what I almost lost.

You suggest that we can pray for a miracle, but perhaps we’re meant to be a miracle to each other. You have been one for me.

Sister Moira said...

Thank you so much for your inspiring words. What is so sad is how the pastor and bishop continue to ignore the cries of our youth - youth who cry over the destruction of our parish and who are then turned away from our church, and some even from our Catholic faith. That should weigh so heavily on Fr. Brum's and the bishop's conscience.
Thanks, Ben, for sticking to the true meaning of our faith - a faith that must show itself in action. You are truly an example of that.
God bless,
Sister Moira

Chayo said...

Another Sunday at Holy Spirit. I listened to the homily today and thought hmmmmmm sin? Just what is my sin?

is it a sin to want to be part of this parish that I still care about? Is it a sin that all I want to do is to be of serve to this parish? Is it my sin or someone elses for not allowing me to serve this community?

Just wondering since sin played such a big part of the homily?

Anonymous said...


It was very courageous of you to ask people to e-mail directly to you, I hope you haven't been swamped by the pornography of cruelty which is the usual response to a justified challenge around here.

Ben, this is your challenge, probably your greatest opportunity to test your courage, your resolve, and your absolute refusal to give up. The situation in our poor polluted, unchristian, unkind, devious, conniving, lying, cheating church is horrible. And usually the question boils down to, do I stay or do I go? And there are many people who would gladly invite you (in a subtly violent way) to get out, and indeed sometimes you have to get out and rest and rejuvenate and replenish. But this church, in this time, needs you desparately. Do not fear to hope.


Ben Salinas said...

I have not actually received any comments by e-mail (I have, however, started to get more spam suggesting that I "Give money to the Lord" by laundering money from Sierra Leone, though I expect this is just a coincidence)

I was a it unsure of putting my e-mail address up as well, however it is much harder to say cruel things when you have to put your name next to them (and attach your e-mail address to them).

Of course, everyone could just be worried that I'll sell their e-mail addresses to the devil; can you imagine the spam you would get on that list?

Felipe said...

To Ben:

Touché, my son, touché!


Anonymous said...

To Ben:

Touché, my son, touché!


8/23/2007 8:44 PM


Another Angry Parishioner said...

Dear angry parishioner,
I know the feeling. Louie has destroyed our parish. And, yes, Ben is very much like his father; but you must give his mother credit, too. They have raised very good, Catholic kids.

Anonymous said...

And don't forget to give the HSP of old credit for Ben, too. He was raised right when the parish was run right. Now our kids are being shown that emotion rules and protestant evangelical ways are just fine for the Catholic church.