Somos el Cuerpo de Cristo
Thoughts from Some Fellow Parishioners of Holy Spirit
December 23, 2007
A Christmas Sermon (with comments)
He brought light out of darknesse, not out of a lesser light; he can bring thy Summer out of Winter, though thou have no Spring; though in the wayes of fortune, or understanding, or conscience, thou have been benighted till now, wintred and frozen, clouded and eclypsed, damped and benummed, smothered and stupefied till now, now God comes to thee, not as in the dawning of the day, not as in the bud of the spring, but as the Sun at noon to illustrate all shadowes, as the sheaves in harvest, to fill all penuries, all occasions invite his mercies, and all times are his seasons.
from a sermon of John Donne (Poet and Anglican priest), preached at St. Paul’s Cathedral, Christmas Day, 1624.
“This [post] raises another question for me: How many of us, in church, have ever heard a sermon that is a poem? (I don’t mean quotes from Hallmark or “Footprints.”) I’m not that fond of Donne, but I do wish we had more poetry in our preaching, more sensitivity to the beauty of words, better craftsmanship in use of their rhythms, and attention to how they fall on the ear.”
from Rita Ferrone, dotCommonweal, 12/22/07
“No, I have never heard a Catholic priest make up a poem for a sermon, recite a poem for a sermon, or refer to literature in any way. References to non-Catholic traditions seem mostly limited to football. Ouch! I’m such a grouch today; I’ve now begun to annoy myself.”
from Jean Raber, dotCommonweal, 12/22/07
A Christmas Poem
Christ climbed down
from His bare Tree
and ran away to where
no Bing Crosby carollers
groaned of a tight Christmas
and where no Radio City angels
thru a winter wonderland
into a jinglebell heaven
daily at 8:30
with Midnight Mass matinees
Christ climbed down
from His bare Tree
and softly stole away into
some anonymous Mary’s womb again
where in the darkest night
of everybody’s anonymous soul
He awaits again
the very craziest of
from Christ Climbed Down, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, ca. 1955
The Dynamics of Reform
“Some people argue that we’re going to sit at a table with these people and they’re going to voluntarily give their power away. I think it is a complete fantasy; it will never happen.” Presidential candidate, John Edwards (in reference to reforming health care)
Those who care about and are working for reform in the Catholic Church would do well to keep John Edwards’ comment in mind. The Church is a human institution, and those in authority who view that as the same as having power will never voluntarily give away what they perceive is their power. Real change can never be completely amicable. “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.”
John Edwards is talking about insurance companies, drug companies, etc. Who are those that instead of exercising authority in the Church, instead wield power? To reform the Church, the very notion of what the Church is must be re-thought so that conversations around a table will not have to be about power at all.
“I know what you mean about being repulsed by the church when you have only the Mechanical-Jansenist Catholic to judge it by. I think that the reason such Catholics are so repulsive is that they don’t really have faith but a kind of false certainty. They operate by the slide rule and the Church for them is not the body of Christ but the poor man’s insurance system. It’s never hard for them to believe because actually they never think about it. Faith has to take in all the other possibilities it can.” Flannery O’Connor in a letter to a friend, in the collection, The Habit of Being (1979)
Chain of Sorrow
You can gaze out the window get mad and get madder,
Throw your hands in the air, say “What does it matter?”
But it don't do no good to get angry, so help me I know.
For a heart stained in anger grows weak and grows bitter.
You become your own prisoner as you watch yourself sit there wrapped up in a trap of your very own chain of sorrow.
from Bruised Orange, John Prine
This is the first Christmas away from Holy Spirit in a very long time and I find myself thinking about how that makes me feel. Angry? Bitter? Sorrowful? All of those, to some extent, but none with the sharp edge of even a few months ago—I won’t be my own prisoner.
Those responsible for the dismantling of the Parish, the Bishop and the Monsignor, have much to account for, and believing as I do in “what goes around, comes around,” I am certain there will be some justice, some day, for this community. But bruises heal, at least somewhat, and new Christmases bring new kinds of Christmases. No chain of sorrow, not anymore—Merry Christmas to the Holy Spirit community, especially those in exile.
from a parishioner, Jerry Brazier
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.