August 2002

Congregation of Holy Cross 

Southern Province

Volume 13, No. 8
All these stories are true!!  Some of them actually happened.

At the beginning of the month, Father Joe Tomei and Father John Korcsmar attended the state-wide Texas Industrial Areas Foundation (I.A.F.) clergy caucus that we held in Austin. This is in preparation for the September 8 state-wide accountability session in Austin.

Ernie Cortes, Jr. did most of the presentation. He starting talking about the dominant culture athat we live in. We are formed and dominated by a culture of consumerism, individualism. Like the Grand Inquisitor in the Brothers Karamozov proposed, we have a society that is driven by wants; like the crowds of the early Roman Empire, we have our bread and circus. We are entertained by the mass media. Advertising tells us what we need and want. We live in a market culture in which we are all homogenized into consumers. Even in our churches, our social services often reduce people to "clients," not brothers and sisters in Christ. Our prayer life, even in church, tends to be individualistic.

Monica Helwig, a theologian, says that we have succumbed to the temptations Jesus faced in the desert. We will "turn bread into stones" and provide food and human services to the needy, but we see them as clients and people "to be taken care of," rather than persons we want to know. Similar to Jesus' temptation to dramatic miracles ("Jump from the parapet of the Temple so that God can save you.") we have churches that attract large congregations to beautiful, entertaining liturgies--disconnected from our daily lives and a sense of genuine community. The temptation to worship Satan is the temptation to be accepted and approved by "the powers that be," especially popular opinion and the state.

Contrary to the temptation and the dominant culture, the Gospel presents a different vision. We are a people of the covenant.

Yahweh gathered a people together who were burdened. They were burdened by the oppression of the Egyptians. The Hebrew word for burden also is the word for tolerance. Part of their own oppression was their own tolerance and acceptance of their own suffering. When they were in the desert, their were overwhelmed by the challenges. They turned to Moses and demanded that he take care of them and provide for them. Despite the oppression of hard work, few resources, and even the murder of their own firstborn, the Hebrews still found life in Egypt attractive. In the desert they often accused Moses: "Why did you bring us out into the desert to die? At least in Egypt we had meat, onions, leeks, and garlic." The Lord then tells Moses to gather leaders and share some of His Spirit with them. When the leaders collaborated together, the people could meet the challenges and provide plenty for their own needs.

We are a covenanted community. We are in relationship with God by being in relationship with each other. We are called to strengthen the bonds of community, especially by strengthening the hand of the poor.

Our novice in Peru, Luis Antonio, went to Puno for his pastoral month.  He taught religious in the Chucuito Schoo.  Now it is back to the novitiate!!