Somos el Cuerpo de Cristo
Thoughts from Some Fellow Parishioners of Holy Spirit
January 20, 2008
True of Many?
I met a gal wondering exactly what God wanted of her.
She realized one thing for sure:
that in order to keep her faith she had to leave.
Not leave the Church, but leave the inside of the church,
Leave Church official, go out the church door leaving behind clericalism and arrogance and hierarchical exclusiveness,
to begin a refreshing search in the wider Christian community
where she might find God in new places.
Though Church official cannot be reformed from the outside,
and maybe not even from the inside,
it is sad, though understandable, to see such loving agents of reform,
just simply leave.
Sad, because, it makes happy the anti-agents of reform,
those seeking a smaller purer church, (contrary to Jesus’ call);
Sad because they are our family.
But our sadness is overcome by Joy.
Joy in knowing their departure speaks the Truth of Jesus’ Call;
Joy in knowing that their departure is a true sign of the end of times for the outdated and un-Christ-like form of church;
Joy in knowing that they will grow and prosper outside fake hierarchical boundaries; and
Joy in knowing that this is the Will of the Holy Spirit.
from John Churchman, poet and bereavement counselor
New Year’s Wishes vs. New Year’s Resolutions
In his column of January 11th, Bishop Peña presented a “top 10” list for the New Year. This was a list of wishes—outcomes that we should pray for and goals to be achieved. It is an impressive list that touches on virtually every social issue in our nation and our world: abortion, the death penalty, building strong families, peace and war, violence, justice in employment, poverty and hunger, economic inequality, the environment, immigration and the border wall, globalization, racism and prejudice. It reads, in the main, like a set of concerns of the nutty, left-wing peace and justice crowd. Of course, that is not surprising, since the nutty, left-wing peace and justice crowd takes up these concerns from the teachings of the Gospel and the longstanding social teachings of the Church—which are presumably the same sources that the Bishop draws upon.
The Bishop himself makes it very clear that this is not a list of resolutions; that is, specific things he is going to do or even specific things he is exhorting Valley Catholics to do. The question is why did he not present a set of his own resolutions (or propose some for us)? If these are important goals (important enough to pray for), then they should be important enough to generate, as the bureaucrats like to say, “action plans.” Of course, making a dent, even a tiny one, in many of these concerns is problematic, but as some leader once said, “every great journey begins with one small step.” How difficult would it have been for the Bishop to inaugurate a diocesan office of social justice that could inspire and organize the work of lay people, working at the grassroots level with fellow parishioners?
The Bishop’s track record in this area is consistent: fine words and no works. It is even more disturbing when you reflect on the fact that he has permitted (and possibly encouraged) the ostracizing and public vilification by a pastor of his own parishioners for trying to organize peace and justice efforts in the context of their own parish community. Bishop Peña has not prevented the dismantling of Holy Spirit’s social justice work, work he lavishly praised in February of 2003, so even though his “wishes” are well articulated, some cynicism about his willingness to actually do anything to support their fulfillment seems justified.
Let’s make our own resolutions on these important issues, let’s make common cause with those of like mind, and wait for (work for?) the day when our Eucharistic communities will be environments within which we can carry out the mandates of the Gospel.
Parishes and Families
“Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.” Leo Tolstoy, Anna Karenina, Chapter 1, first line
The parish as a family is a metaphor we are all familiar with and when all is well in a parish, we take comfort in the metaphor and it seems apt. When the edges of parish life start to fray and we continue to cling to the “parish as family” metaphor, we can get ourselves into a difficult position.
A parish is not the same sort of society as the family and neither is the Church. The family is a natural society, “the end of which is the human fulfillment which husband and wife achieve by conjugal union and the rearing to maturity of the children born to them (John McKenzie, Authority in the Church, p. 9).” Authority in a family is dominative (paternal) and is directed to the maturation of the children. The parish is not a natural society and authority in a parish is not paternal. The parish differs from all other kinds of societies (po-litical, familial, contractual) in its ends and its means—both to be found only in the Gospel and New Testament. Metaphors can only go so far and pushing them beyond a certain point can be destructive.
My daughter Anna was so excited when she figured out that she would be celebrating her birthday on Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. So to honor the gift of her wonderful enthusiasm, a quote from him and another great peacemaker, Gandhi, as we hope to start a new year for peace, peace for our world and for our children.
“The old law of an eye for an eye leaves everybody blind. Violence is immoral because it seeks to humiliate the opponent rather than win his or her understanding; it seeks to annihilate rather than to convert. Violence is immoral because it thrives on hatred rather than love. It destroys community and makes brotherhood and sisterhood impossible. It leaves society in monologue rather than dialogue. Violence ends by defeating itself. It creates bitterness in the survivors and brutality in the destroyers.” Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
“But I maintain that far more undreamt of and seemingly impossible discoveries will be made in the field of nonviolence … My optimism rests on my belief in the infinite possibilities of the individual to develop nonviolence. The more you develop it in your own being, the more infectious it becomes until it overwhelms your surroundings and by and by might sweep the world … When the practice of nonviolence becomes universal, God will reign on earth as God does in heaven.” Ghandi
from fellow parishioner, Michelle Peña
Come To The Cabaret
What is the fascination with sponsoring performances by artists who are physically challenged in some way? Isn’t the point of art the art itself, not the personal story of the artist? People were initially drawn to Ray Charles (or George Shearing, for the really old amongst us) by the music, nothing else. Has the sanctuary of Holy Spirit become a carnival midway?
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 http://firstname.lastname@example.org.