Here is Bulletin_2014-12-28.
1. Christmas: Christmas is not just one day. For Holy Mother Church, Christmas is a season:
The liturgical season of Christmas begins with the vigil Masses on Christmas Eve and concludes on the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord. During this season, we celebrate the birth of Christ into our world and into our hearts, and reflect on the gift of salvation that is born with him…including the fact that he was born to die for us.
For my wife and I, this has been a joyous time. Unlike the period of separation while we were living in Idaho, this year we had many opportunities to spend uninterrupted and unhurried time together with each of the members of our family. We intend to make sure that every day during this Christmas Season is a time to “celebrate the birth of Christ into our world and into our hearts…”
2. Christmas Greetings for the Sheep in Exile: My wife asked me to make particular mention of how happy she was to share Christmas greetings with some of our friends after the 8:30AM Mass today as St. John the Baptist. She values these new friendships, especially because they are centered on the Church and our shared Faith. Her only regret is that there is the constant reminder that we can not exchange Christmas greetings outside the doors of our own St. Peter’s instead of at St. John’s.
3. An Apology: To those same folks we greeted at St. John’s and to my wife, let me extend a sincere apology. I should not have brought up the topic that I did at that time and place. It detracted from the moment and the place where we were. I think that you understand how much I look forward to the day that I can retire this blog and we can all just enjoy the opportunity to worship the Lord together in our own Parish.
Analysis and Commentary:
1. The Solemnity of Mary, the Holy Mother of God: At the 5:ooPM Mass yesterday, it appeared that our Pastor had a slight lapse of memory. When giving the final announcements, he had difficulty recalling what was the occasion for the Masses on Wednesday, December 31st and January 1st. He first said “Christmas Eve” and then stammered and stuttered as he looked to the congregation for some help. Some of us attempted to let him know it would be the Solemnity of Mary, the Holy Mother of God.
When I had the opportunity to review Bulletin 2014-12-28, I realized that Father’s lapse in memory extended beyond the experience last evening. Here is what the bulletin says:
NEW YEAR’S MASS SCHEDULES
Like last year, we will have a regular Sunday schedule for the New Year’s Mass schedule: i.e. 5 pm mass on New Year’s Eve., and 8:30 am and 10:45 am Masses on New Year’s Day.
There should be no confusion between the secular New Year’s celebration and what we as Roman Catholics celebrate on the Octave Day of Christmas. According to the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops Website:
In addition to Sunday, the days to be observed as holy days of obligation in the Latin Rite dioceses of the United States of America, in conformity with canon 1246, are as follows:
January 1, the solemnity of Mary, Mother of God
Should our Pastor have trouble remembering that, I would recommend that he refer to the St. Peter Catholic Church calendar entry for Thursday, January 1, 2015. There he will find the words, “Mary, the Holy Mother of God.” Interestingly, just below the name of the parish, St. Peter Catholic Church, there is the name Rev. Horace H. Grinnell, Pastor.
2. Proposed Augustian reflection Group: Included in this week’s bulletin was a flyer entitled: Saint Augustine: Opportunities for Spiritual Reflection.
The proposed Augustian reflection group is an initiative of Father Tuck Grinnell and John Kiser. John has been reading selections of Augustine’s teachings collected in St Augustine of Hippo (Skylight Paths, 2010) edited by Dr. Joseph Kelley and was struck by their relevance today. Dr. Kelly teaches theology at Merrimack, an Augustinian Catholic college in North Andover, Mass. and is the Director of Merrimack’s Center for Jewish Christian Muslim Relations (and may be enticed to visit Rappahannock one day).
Of course, this is intriguing. The prospect of learning about a Doctor of the Church and early Church Father is a wonderful opportunity. It raises many interesting questions in my mind concerning where the discussions might lead. However, I have not been living in Rappahannock County long enough, nor have I been a member of St. Peter Catholic Church long enough to understand everything I have learned by reading our Pastor’s flyer.
So, my first question concerns Merrimack College and its Center for Jewish Christian Muslim Relations. Well, funding is always a good place to start. I learned the following from the Form 990-PF submitted to the IRS by the The William & Mary Greve Foundation, Inc. for 2013. According to that document, Merrimack College was granted $85,450 “In continuing support of the Center for the Study of Jewish-Christian-Muslim Relations and programs to expand the mission of promoting tolerance and interfaith understanding.”
My next question follows from the first, who is Dr. Joseph Kelley. The Website for Merrimack College confirms that Dr. Joseph Kelley, indeed, teaches at that institution and is an Associate Professor in Religious and Theological Studies and Director of the Center for the Study of Jewish-Christian-Muslim Relations.
As you well know, my wife and are still new to St. Peter’s and we have not met all in the Parish. The way the flyer reads you would expect that John Kiser is a member of St. Peter Parish or is a long-time friend of the Pastor. I only have an old edition of the Parish directory, and I don’t find John Kiser listed therein. Interestingly, though, I took a closer look at the Form 990-PF for The William & Mary Greve Foundation and found that there is a John W. Kiser III of Sperryville, VA listed as the “Chairman, Director” in Part VIII – List of Officers, Directors, Trustees and Foundation Managers.
Based on the above, it is possible that the John Kiser mentioned in the flyer and John W. Kiser III might be one and the same person. That might explain why our Pastor could say “[Dr. Kelley] … may be enticed to visit Rappahannock one day). That would be understandable considering the funding from the Greve Foundation.
This has opened up many, many more questions and lines of pursuit for me. As I said, I’m not sure I understand everything I understand about what was presented in the flyer. A brief excursion through several information sources suggest that there are political aspects to this as well, but my wife and I have to do our homework.
Nevertheless, the prospects for this new Augustian reflection group are quite intriguing. Perhaps it might even be worth the time to sit in on these sessions and see where they lead. Meanwhile, I will continue to research my questions and, hopefully, will have some more to say about this in Rules and Tools for Radical Pastors.