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Monthly Archives: January 2015

For the Sheep in Exile – Bulletin 2015-02-01

Here is Bulletin_2015-02-01. This week’s bulletin contains a rather large insert concerning the 2015 Bishop’s Lenten Appeal (BLA). All pertinent information concerning the BLA can be viewed here.

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For the Sheep in Exile – Bulletin 2015-01-25

Here is Bulletin_2015-01-25.

On June 8, 2014, our Pastor stated: “The parish that I am going to should allow me ample time to pray…”

In the interest of charity and respect for our Pastor, an ordained priest, who serves as the “priest-victim” in persona Christi at Holy Mass, the Sheep of Kephas blog will temporarily remain silent so that Father may pray and deliberate on matters now before him.

The blog will continue to provide the weekly bulletins for the Sheep in Exile.

God bless our Pastor and the Sheep of St. Peter’s.

St. Michael the Archangel, pray for us!

 

Rules and Tools for Radical Pastors #3

In the 8th grade, Sister Mary Gilbert forced me to learn how to write. I owe her a great debt. One important lesson I learned from her was how to compare and contrast. In 1961 and 1962, when I was subjected to her stern and demanding tutelage, there was more to compare about those in religious life in the early 1960s than there was to contrast. Now, however, the contrast is stark and extreme. The two pictures below illustrate what I mean.

M4L-2015-01-22

Religious at the March for Life every year. They pray and offer sacrifices. Notice the sandals and bare feet.

Every older person has his or her “back in the old days” stories. A large part of my “back in the old days” resides in a period when I was raised by Catholic religious. From 1st grade through graduation from high school, religious brothers and nuns like Sr. Mary Gilbert taught me in the Catholic schools I attended. In 1957-1958, during a period of family crisis, I was under the full time care of good and holy nuns at Parmadale, a Catholic orphanage near Cleveland. In 1962-1963, I was guided totally by the good and holy priests at St. Charles Borromeo Minor Seminary in Wickliffe, Ohio. Each of these priests and religious were dedicated to the Lord and the salvation of souls by their direct labors. My experiences provided insights into the nature of religious vocations. A strong vocation was always, always centered on the Eucharist and the imitation of Christ in all actions.

 

"Nuns on the Bus" at St. Charles Borromeo Parish November 2, 2012

“Nuns on the Bus” at St. Charles Borromeo Parish November 2, 2012

As I said, there is now a stark and extreme contrast between various religious groups and orders. On one hand we have monks like the ones in my picture from the this year’s March for Life. On the other hand we frequently encounter so-called religious groups, deeply involved with “social justicism” and politics. The “Nuns on the Bus” and the NETWORK Lobby, founded by Sr. Simone Campbell, are clear examples of the contrast that I see in the religious life today. It is not necessary here to recount all the details of how these so-called religious departed from the path followed by those religious I knew “back in the old days.”

Let me simply state, on January 22nd, I did not see a blue bus belonging to the “Nuns on the Bus” nor did I see any banner displayed that would have told me that Sr. Campbell or any of her associates were at the March. They “march” to the beat of a different drum.

You might ask, how did it come to pass that the Nuns on the Bus came to be in front of St. Charles Borromeo Parish on that morning in 2012? Many have commented on that event, but few have discussed the mechanism that made it possible. Let’s look at a small part of the chronology of events:

2012-10-12: St. Charles Advocacy Supplement — Nun from the Bus Is Coming!

“I thought that you might be interested to know that eight days from now, the keynote speaker at SALT’s advocacy conference in Fairfax will be Sister Simone Campbell, one of the “Nuns on the Bus” who toured the country last summer to advocate for government spending decisions that reflect concern for the poor and vulnerable.” (Read more …)

2012-10-29: St. Charles Advocacy DOUBLE Supplement: Nuns on the Bus at St.C & Healthcare for DREAMers

“I’m writing because I have the pleasure of inviting you to join us at St. Charles for an exciting event on the morning of Friday, November 2. You’ve probably heard of “the Nuns on the Bus” – a group of nuns who took a bus tour this summer through several states to speak out against the Ryan budget and to speak for the responsibility of the government to care for the poor. (Here is a link to a segment about them on the Bill Moyers program).

“On Nov. 2, they are planning a day trip through Virginia, stopping in Richmond and Hampton Roads at the Bon Secours sisters and other social service providers. And…they have asked to kick off the trip at St. Charles!

“They will join us for daily Mass at 9 AM, followed by a breakfast reception (fuel for their journey!), at which there will be very brief presentations by some of our social service ministries (Project Lazarus, Marymount nursing services, Borromeo Legal Project, and jail ministry), and then a response from Sister Simone Campbell (the leader of NETWORK, a national Catholic social justice lobbying organization).” (Read more …)

2012-11-01: Statement Regarding the “Nuns on the Bus” Campaign and Saint Charles Borromeo Church (Arlington)

“Today, it came to the attention of the Diocese of Arlington that one of our parishes was planning to host the ‘Nuns on the Bus’ at a parish event tomorrow, in the lead-up to next week’s elections. The diocesan Political Activity Guidelines require parishes to submit a proposal in advance and consult with our Virginia Catholic Conference with regard to any planned event involving political or public policy issues. Those required steps were not taken for this event.” (Read more …)

2012-11-02: Nuns Launch Virginia Bus Tour in Arlington

“A group of nuns critical of Republican budget plans launched a one-day bus tour of Virginia today (Friday) in Arlington.

“The advocacy group Nuns on the Bus held a reception, speaking program and press conference this morning at St. Charles Borromeo Church (3304 Washington Blvd) near Clarendon. The event was the launch of a one-day bus tour of Virginia, which includes planned stops in Richmond and Virginia Beach.” (Read more …)

The arrival of the signature blue bus at the doorstep of St. Charles Borromeo so close to the national election was no chance occurrence. The St. Charles Social Justice Advocacy network openly demonstrated its admiration and promotion of Sr. Campbell as early as October 12. The communications leading to the visit by the blue bus were already underway.

Interestingly though, according to the Diocese of Arlington, “… required steps were not taken for this event.” Obviously, there was time to take those steps, but they were not taken. Obviously again, the Diocese was not happy that a “planned event involving political or public policy issues” was to take place at a parish within the Diocese without proper and timely notification.

One would think that the pastor at St. Charles would have been very unhappy that his parish was being openly admonished by the Diocese. One would expect that he would have had a rather pointed discussion with the parish Social Justice Coordinator. Perhaps that happened, but, based on the Coordinator’s proudly displayed list of achievements on an openly viewable Linked in page:

“• Coordinated visit of Sr. Simone Campbell and the Nuns on the Bus in Nov. 2012.”

The Social Justice Coordinator retained that position at St. Charles through the reassignment of the pastor to St. Peter’s.

So, why is it that there was such strong support for Sr. Campbell and the Nuns on the Bus? I don’t really know. However, I will offer a couple of observations:

1. Our current pastor is a Spiritual Reflector for the Ignatian Volunteer Corps (IVF). Now, if you followed that link for IVF and opened the pdf document, the very first thing you would have seen is Sr. Simone Campbell, a longtime favorite of IVF.

2. As early as April 15, 2007, St. Charles Borromeo has been a strong supporter of Sr. Campbell as can be seen from this parish bulletin. That was before the time that our current Pastor was the pastor of St. Charles, but it shows that this way of thinking was well entrenched there.

While at St. Charles Borromeo, our current pastor had many tools at his disposal. The Social Justice Coordinator was not only an employee, but is also a Cursillista. Our pastor had much influence on the person filling that position because, not only was he the employer, he was (and still is) also the Spiritual Director for Cursillo in the Diocese of Arlington. Likewise, many of his parish staff were also Cursillistas.

The St. Charles Social Justice Advocacy network served as a force multiplier for mobilizing parishioners to act. The Social Justice Coordinator was able to get the word out quickly. The network was used to promote Sr. Campbell at the SALT event and for the kickoff of the one-day bus tour.

This post is not intended to criticize any individual. Rather, I am attempting to show the type of tools available to a radical pastor. These tools can be used for good. After all, the Church does have a sound teaching on social justice. My concern, however, is focused on a different point. Of the two pictures above, my wife and I prefer the first picture. Those dedicated men are the same type of religious that influenced my life “back in the old days.” They cared for me as an individual and not as part of a group. They were there to nourish my intellect and soul as well as my body. They didn’t lobby in the halls of Congress. No, the lobbied in the depths of my soul and heart.

If St. Peter’s needs a radical pastor, I believe it should be one who is radical for the salvation of souls. It should be one who works ceaselessly to feed his sheep and protect them like the pastors and religious “back in the old days.”

 

For the Sheep in Exile – Bulletin 2015-01-18

Here is Bulletin_2015-01-18.

Mass of Ordination & First Mass of Thanksgiving Mass as Deacon: Yesterday (Saturday) was the the Mass of Ordination as Deacon for Robert (Bob) Edward Benyo and today was his First Mass of Thanksgiving as Deacon. This is truly a joyous day for St. Peter Catholic Church! We pray in thanksgiving and we pray in support of our new Deacon.

Deacon Benyo had many messages for us in his beautiful and instructive homily and in his message of thanks at the end of Mass. One very strong message was to attend the March for Life. That was a call to action we should take to heart.

Analysis and Commentary:

1. Get on the bus!! March for Life – Our bulletin asks us to “Get on the bus!!” I won’t be on the bus. That’s because I work across the street from the Smithsonian and will be able to join the March by simply walking from my place of employment. This will be my first opportunity to be at the March in over six years. Hopefully, I will see some of you there.

The March has been conducted annually since January 22, 1974. Roe v. Wade still stands, but so do we. Yes, despite the difficulties, trials,  temporary setbacks, and temptation to become discouraged and leave the field of battle, we continue to stand. In the end, we know that our prayers will be answered. My family strongly supports American Life League in this battle for Life. Perhaps the article A Positive Year Leads to a Bright Future will help you understand why praying daily and making the sacrifice and getting on the bus is so important:

It goes without saying that 2014 has been a year of blessings for American Life League in many ways. I will note just a few of the highlights, and I thankfully begin with our devastating blows against the largest abortion promoter in the nation—Planned Parenthood. In 2014, at least two dozen Planned Parenthood facilities serving 19 states closed. We praise God for that and we thank all the grassroots pro-life Americans who collaborated with us to make this happen. As many people know, ALL provides the tools but it takes hard work and dedication from our coworkers to make the really big victories come about.

By getting on the bus or by making your own way downtown Thursday, you become one of those “grassroots pro-life Americans.” This is an act of social and spiritual justice. Lives are saved and souls are saved by your witness to Jesus Christ, the the Way, the Truth, and the Life.

2. Proposed Augustian reflection Group: Included in Bulletin_2014-12-28 was a flyer entitled: Saint Augustine: Opportunities for Spiritual Reflection. The flyer was again distributed with Bulletin_2015-01-11 last week. In our post For the Sheep in Exile – Bulletin 2014-12-28 we commented:

“As I said, I’m not sure I understand everything I know 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.”

The reason we bring this topic up again is because the same John Kiser, who will be joining our Pastor as part of the Augustian reflection group, recently had a lengthy article in the Rappahannock News entitled Abd el-Kader’s jihad of compassion and courage. In reviewing the life and virtues of Abd el-Kader, Mr. Kiser wants us to know that:

“… it is important more than ever to know about the Islam of a great human being who was a Muslim and an Arab: Emir Abd el-Kader al Jazairy, the 19th-century military leader, peacemaker, reconciler, holy man, philosopher and statesman whose conduct, on and off the battlefield, remains an ever more relevant model of courage, compassion and chivalry.”

The position taken by Mr. Kiser with regard to the longstanding tension between Islam and Christianity is understandable when we learn that Mr. Kiser and Abd el-Kader Education Project, Inc. (AEP), Inc., in conjunction with Tamar Miller and Ellie Pierce, have developed a case study of Emir Abd el-Kader. This case study is intended to serve as a pilot for possible further development of historical cases. You can read about this at The Pluralism Project at Harvard University.

I find it difficult to describe all of Christianity by looking at the life of only one person who calls himself a Christian. Likewise, I do not find it easy to characterize all of Islam by what can be found in the single case study of one Muslim. Perhaps Abd el-Kader was all that John Kiser has found him to be. Yet, I can look back at my Portuguese heritage and know that the majority of the Iberian Peninsula was conquered by the Moors and that my Catholic ancestors suffered under their rule.

As Dr. Warren H. Carroll, the founder of Christendom College, said in Isabel of Spain: The Catholic Queen:

The Moors had no shadow of right to be in Spain at all, to say nothing of mastering and ruling all of it. They meant their conquest to doom the Christian faith there, as it had been doomed for the vast majority of the people in the other countries the Muslims had conquered.

My ancestors rejected the rule of Islam and the destruction of the Church. It was at the peril of their lives that the Catholic Faithful in Al Andalus, as the Moors renamed the conquered territory, fought the Reconquista. This fight was the longest crusade in Europe, for 700 years (539 years in Portugal). They fought that good fight to have the right to practice the Faith in freedom.

The marks of the occupation remain in language, architecture, and place names in the former Al Andalus. OnFatimaGre town was even named in honor of Fatimah bint Mohammed, the favored daughter of Mohammed. Through God’s plan and a beautiful sense of justice, it was to that town that the Virgin Mary appeared to three humble children and brought her message of hope and love in the form of her Immaculate Heart, underscored by an urgent call for prayer and sacrifice.

Perhaps study of a man like Abd el-Kader has its merits. But, as for me, I will view the history of Christianity and Islam through the perspective of my ancestors in the Reconquista and the message of hope brought by the Blessed Virgin Mary to the town of Fatima.

Our Lady of Fatima, Pray for us!

3. Setbacks, Discouragement, and Time: Earlier in this post, we mentioned the many years since that have passed since Roe v. Wade and the number of innocents who have died. Yet, we see the “grassroots pro-life Americans” and organizations like American Life League, Human Life International, and the Lepanto Institute that daily continue the fight for Life. Despite the individual sacrifices and hardships that these good people endure, they continue the fight.

Likewise, we look to the past and see the inspiration offered by our Catholic heritage filled with the heroes who fought the Reconquista against the Jihad in Spain from 711-1492. And if that year “1492” is significant for the Americas, the year 1917 is significant to the Catholic Faith and the quest for freedom in the “modern” world.

Recently, some of us at St. Peter’s have encountered criticism, setbacks, and discouragement. So, as I ponder all that I have written above, I come to recognize that God’s plan leading up to Fatima took centuries of occupation and heroic faith. In my own life, I must learn to have increased patience and continue on despite the setbacks.

Rules and Tools for the Church Militant #2

What does a wife of 42 years do to remind her husband to stay on topic, especially when the topic is Jesus Christ and His Holy Church? The answer is quite simple. She makes sure that a copy of the Fulton Sheen Complete Audio Library is sitting under the tree on Christmas morning and it has your name on it. And so she did. And so I have finally stumbled upon a way to approach some of what needs to be said about our present circumstances at St. Peter’s.

Before we return to our series of discussions on Rules and Tools for Radical Pastors, there needs to be some preparation made to ensure that we know how to process the information that we will encounter. I call that information “traffic.” This “traffic” will be voluminous, diverse, disparate, and complex. That is why I alluded to the the rules and tools that are available to the Church Militant to aid in acquiring, collating, organizing, and interpreting the “traffic.”

Today, we will take a brief look at Rule No. 3 for the Church Militant – Develop the Proper Perspective.

If the topic is Jesus Christ and Holy Mother Church, and we are going to discuss how the Church in general and our Parish in particular is influenced by the current Tidal Wave of Change brought about by what I have called “social-justicism,” then we should have some idea of where social justice fits into Church teaching. In other words, we must have a “proper perspective” on social justice. Without calling upon the wisdom of every Catholic author who has spoken on social justice, let us merely point to two sources.

The first source is highly authoritative and elegantly brief, the Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC). Specifically, I call your attention to the CCC, Part Three – Life in Christ, Section One, Man’s Vocation Life in the Spirit, Chapter Two, The Human Communion. In a very, very tiny nutshell, it comes down to three important principles:

  • Respect for the human person,
  • Equality and differences among men, and
  • Human solidarity

That is the simple part, it is the part that went right. But, as we all can plainly see, something has gone wrong. It would take a much longer reading of the CCC and other works to understand how such important principles as those proclaimed in the CCC often go wrong when they are put into practice.

That leads me to my opening paragraph and Rule No. 3. The Venerable Fulton Sheen was a master at delving into the very heart of the truth and showing to us the things we should have seen, but never saw; the things we should have known, but never knew.

Bishop Sheen was able to use his daily Holy Hour and Rule No. 3 to develop a proper perspective of what has happened in the Church. In his sermon from a retreat for priests, First the Spiritual, then Take Action, Bishop Sheen asserts that, since Vatican II, Holy Mother Church has become divided into two churches, each living at the extremes in an antipodal way. In 28 minutes, he manages to unravel problems that have bothered me for over 25 years. Neither extreme can exist separately and truly be called the Church. The two must be brought together in each Catholic heart. Importantly, though, the Spiritual must come first – it is Christ’s call to “Come!” Once we have been fortified and edified by His grace and love, then we can share that same grace and love with the world that so needs Him and we can follow His command to “Go!”

And this is how Rule No. 3 leads us to a proper perspective on what has gone wrong with “social-justicism.” Many have “gone” on their “mission” without being fully prepared to receive the command to “Go!”

If you have the 28 minutes to spare, take that time to listen to Bishop Sheen, so that you can share in his perspective and understand Social Justice as Holy Mother Church would want you to understand.

Meanwhile, I have many, many more hours to spend listening to a most treasured Christmas gift.

For the Sheep in Exile – Bulletin 2015-01-11

Here is Bulletin_2015-01-11.

What if ÷÷÷÷÷÷: On November 11, we posted What if ÷÷÷÷÷÷? that discussed some concerns about the potential for growing divisions within St. Peter’s. This week my wife and I encountered one of the manifestations of the type of divisions (÷) that threaten the Parish. It came in a unexpected way and in the very worst place possible. The incident caught us off guard, but our angels were on guard, as always, and helped us to hold our tongues and to pray. This incident was so very disturbing that we immediately shared it with many of you who read the Sheep of Kephas. — You responded. So many of you, replied with words that helped us to put this matter into its rightful context. And you stepped forward with ideas on ways to solve this particular problem of division within St. Peter’s.

Soon after hearing from you, I made this comment to my wife and I will make it to you now. I am so blessed that my father and his father before him were Catholic. I am so blessed that my mother became Catholic because my father was Catholic. I am so blessed that my wife encountered the grace, with the help of my mother’s prayers, to become Catholic. I am so blessed that I was baptized Catholic and am a member of St. Peter’s along with each and every one of you. – Let us pray and work to heal these divisions at St. Peter’s.

Sinners: The lines for Saturday Confession at St. John the Baptist are always long. What a joy! Surrounded by stained glass windows, my mind is refreshed with the wonders of the Catholic Church and Her saints. The Nativity scene, reminds me that Christmas is more than just one day. We wait in line with sinners, each one examining their conscience and knowing that there really can be forgiveness for their failures. And, is it wrong for me to find some sense of joy in also being one of these sinners seeking forgiveness? My wife and I are thankful for the long lines and the time for reflection.

Prayer to St. Michael: My wife and I take this opportunity to say that we were very incomplete in explaining all the reasons why one would want to say the the St. Michael Prayer after each Mass here at St. Peter’s. In our post Prayer to St. Michael we gave several reasons, but we didn’t tell you about the Human Life International’s (HLI) St. Michael Prayer Campaign. The purpose of the campaign is “to promote praying the St. Michael prayer after every Mass. This grassroots campaign is designed to encourage the laity to pray for St. Michael’s intercession for the conversion of abortionists.”

Consider also that in May of 2013, ” … Pope Francis was joined by Pope emeritus Benedict XVI in the gardens for a ceremony during which the Holy Father blessed a statue of St Michael Archangel, at the same time consecrating the Vatican to the Archangel’s protection.” Here are some important words from the Vatican Radio report:

“Michael struggles to restore divine justice and defends the People of God from his enemies, above all by the enemy par excellence, the devil. And St. Michael wins because in him, there is He God who acts. This sculpture reminds us then that evil is overcome, the accuser is unmasked, his head crushed, because salvation was accomplished once and for all in the blood of Christ. Though the devil always tries to disfigure the face of the Archangel and that of humanity, God is stronger, it is His victory and His salvation that is offered to all men. We are not alone on the journey or in the trials of life, we are accompanied and supported by the Angels of God, who offer, so to speak, their wings to help us overcome so many dangers, in order to fly high compared to those realities that can weigh down our lives or drag us down. In consecrating Vatican City State to St. Michael the Archangel, I ask him to defend us from the evil one and banish him. “

Finally, Colin B. Donovan, STL, speaking of the St. Michael prayer in an article for EWTN, discussed the 1994 request by St. John-Paul the Great to take up saying the St. Michael prayer and when it should be said:

This request could certainly be answered by individuals or small groups, such as prayer groups. However, it is even more appropriate if the People of God are united in fulfilling this request. The one time when this can be done is when “everyone” is gathered for the Sacred Liturgy.

In light of the liturgical norms, it becomes problematic, however, if the whole assembly, led by the celebrant, prays it in apparent continuation of the liturgical action just completed. Once the celebrant processes out, though, the Mass is clearly ended. It is no more contradictory for the assembly to join in the Prayer to St. Michael, then it is to break up and depart, as either action is now distinct from the Mass. In the same way, the rosary said immediately before Mass by the faithful, but not incorporated into its beginning, does not contravene the distinction between liturgy and devotion.

Thus, the St. Michael prayer, said by the Faithful after the priest processes out is to be considered a devotion and not a part of the Mass. As with any prayer, the intention rests in the heart of the person reciting the prayer. There are so many worthwhile reasons to consecrate St. Peter’s to the protection of St. Michael just as the Pope and the Pope Emeritus consecrated the Vatican to the Archangel’s protection.

St. Michael the Archangel – Pray for us.

 

Analysis and Commentary: Today’s bulletin is mostly a rerun. One very small item does stand out:

2015 CONTRIBUTION ENVELOPES
Please pick up your 2015 contribution
envelopes on the table in the vestibule.

By my count this morning there were 27 boxes of contribution envelopes remaining to be picked up. As I have noted on at least one occasion, my wife and I contribute to several Catholic causes, and even to other parishes, but until we can be sure that our contribution will not find its way into some unworthy use, we do not donate directly to St. Peter’s. (By the way I have picked up my box.)

The fact that so many boxes remain to be picked up raises some questions. Are there that many families that have moved or have been out of town for the last several weeks? Do some people in the Parish have concerns similar to ours? Or is it that the Sheep in Exile simply are not here to pick up there boxes?

It is not the position of the Sheep of Kephas blog to recommend that parishioners withhold their support to St. Peter’s. That is a personal matter. It is the position of this blog to assent to the teaching of the Church. That would include the precepts of the Church, which include the precept “To contribute to the support of the Church.”

 

 

 

Rules and Tools for the Church Militant

We are still in the Christmas Season – Merry Christmas!

Some locally based efforts of the Church Militant, e.g. American Life League (ALL), Reform CCHD Now (RCN), and the Lepanto Institute, have been very successful in thwarting Planned Parenthood and some works of the Catholic Campaign for Human Development that are, at best, ill-advised. Perhaps you have read some of the ALL or RCN reports. In the case of RCN, you know that after each report there was a defiant backlash and heavy-handed criticism of the reports by the ones who were exposed. The one thing you never saw as part of the backlash, however, was a successful refutation of the factual case presented by RCN.

American Life League, RCN, and the Lepanto Institute rely on means and methods that have served the Church Militant for two millennia. Among them are prayer, zeal for the Lord and His Church, and the knowledge that they stand under the banner and standard of Christ the King. Additionally, they have developed a specific set of rules and tools to aid in their research and analysis that are not based on power or deception. Rather, they are based on adherence to Truth and logic.

For the present, there is no advantage in describing the rules and tools, means and methods used by the local Church Militant. What might be worthwhile, though, is that, as my wife and I proceed in our discussion of Rules and Tools for Radical Pastors, we begin to share with you some of the information we have uncovered that will help to frame our discussion.

For a starter, we recommend that you read three documents because there is much to be learned from them. One document was authored by our Pastor when he was at his last parish. And the other two are official Diocesan documents.

St. Charles Borromeo – St-Charles-Pastoral-Council-Charter

Diocese of Arlington Priest’s Policy Manual

A Pastoral Letter on Consultation in the Parish

The first document shows us that that St. Charles Borromeo had a charter for its Pastoral Council very soon after Fr. Grinnell arrived, but we at St. Peter’s still have no charter nor do we have specific information describing how our Pastor intends to run the Council. Does that raise questions in your mind? It does in mine.

The second document tells us a great deal about what is required of the priests in the Diocese as they perform their pastoral duties. It also includes some statements about the constitution of a pastoral council in each parish. The document points directly to the a pastoral letter as the guide for what a pastoral council should be. Our late Bishop Keating authored that pastoral on “Consultation in the Parish.” In the letter he provided his thinking related to other pastoral matters. Interestingly, he describes how he wrestled with the question of how the laity fits into this picture.

Don’t read these document hoping to find a “smoking gun” or an immediate “gotcha.” Rather, we would recommend that you read them with the intention of arming yourself with essential background knowledge. In that way, we the sheep of St. Peter’s and we the Church Militant can conduct our campaign to return to the “status quo ante” employing the tools of Truth and logic and abiding by the rules of Christian charity.

Having said that, we must keep in mind that there will be times when confrontation, or at least face-to-face meetings with our Pastor of members of the Diocesan hierarchy, will be required. A good example of potential confrontation is the upcoming presentation of the Petition to our Pastor. Take time now to prepare for that meeting through reading appropriate Church documents and by reflective prayer.

And what if the Pastor says “No” to the Petition? Remember, in simple terms, our Pastor took away what we had. We are only asking for a return of what was rightly ours. Perhaps it will be up to the Bishop to explain why that is not a justified request.