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For the Sheep in Exile – Bulletin 2015-01-04

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Here in America, we celebrate the Solemnity of the Epiphany of the Lord today. The readings and Gospel are most beautiful and most profound. Among the revelations manifested are the insights into the hearts of men confronted by mystery of the Nativity. Great hearts, open to the Truth, bring gifts most precious. Little hearts, full of self, bring jealousy and death. Holy Mother Church gives us much to ponder this day concerning what is in our own hearts.

Analysis and Commentary: Today’s bulletin brings good tidings and many reasons for prayer for others.

Deacon Retreat, Mass of Ordination & First Mass of Thanksgiving Mass as Deacon: Sometimes, items and flyers in the Sunday bulletin bring joyful and uplifting news. The flyer announcing the Mass of Ordination & First Mass of Thanksgiving as Deacon for Robert (Bob) Edward Benyo in this week’s bulletin brings some of the best news that a parish like St. Peter Catholic Church can have.

Please take the time this week to do as Father Grinnell requests. Pray for Bob as he prepares for his Ordination to the Sacred Order of Deacons at his Deacon Retreat. Though some of us might not be able to attend the Ordination, consider the invitation extended in the flyer, especially the invitation to Bob’s First Mass of Thanksgiving as Deacon:

With joy and gratitude,
Robert Edward Benyo
Invites you to join with him as he serves at the Altar
For his First Mass of Thanksgiving as Deacon
Sunday, January 18,2015
St. Peter Catholic Church
Washington, VA 22747
at 10:45 am.
A brief reception in Assembly Hall following the Mass

Pastor’s Piece – Skiing in Colorado: This item should be of special interest to the Sheep in Exile. There will be no need to drive the many extra miles to attend Mass at some other parish this coming weekend. You will also have an opportunity to attend daily Mass here at St. Peter’s on Thursday and Friday.

I will go on a week’s ski trip to Colorado (January 5-12). Wish me luck that I don’t break a leg! That will mean that we will cancel the 8:30am masses on Monday and Wednesday (January 5 and 7). The rest of the daily and weekend masses will be done by Fr. Paul Dudzinski whom you all know.

My wife and I do not intend to wish Father luck so that he doesn’t break a leg. Instead, we intend to pray for his safety and protection.

Personal Commentary: My wife and I made the passage twice across a foggy, rainy, and sometimes treacherous Chester Gap last evening to attend Mass at St. John the Baptist. As we were traveling, we engaged in our recurring conversation about why we travel the extra 20.6 miles each way, week after week. Certainly, if we only made the three-mile trip from our house to St. Peter’s, we would be safer and we would save a full hour of our time. Yet, the Sheep in Exile know why we make the trip. They know why they also make the sacrifice. For my wife and I, our sacrifice is a type of Palanca.

What is Palanca? In the Cursillo Movement, we use the Spanish word “palanca (lever)” to designate the spiritual force represented by voluntary prayers and sacrifices which are done individually or in community with the aim of obtaining the grace of conversion. That is our goal – we are seeking a conversion. Sometimes, I use the wrong words or say something about our Pastor in a way that is too harsh. I must remind myself that he is a Priest, acting “in persona Christi” at each and every Mass. If we have criticisms, we also offer palanca. We seek to build up through assent and, at the same time, to counter dissent.

A Fourth Magi: There are several stories about a “Fourth Magi.” The stories posit the existence of another man, a Magi, in addition to the three we know so well – a “Fourth Magi” who made it to Bethlehem at a much later time. I have my own story about a Fourth Magi. He was a priest, newly ordained, and he truly wanted to find the God-Man, the Christ. He set out on his journey to find the One, and he intended to bring him a worthy gift. So, this Magi-Priest started heading West, but he was not well trained in celestial navigation. He somehow managed to lose sight of the Star and to stray from his course. That is why he continued too far West and passed by Bethlehem.

Not recognizing his mistake, he continued on to several unfamiliar lands. But, he couldn’t find the goal of his quest in any of them, so he ventured further West to another foreign place that seemed altogether “modern” and appealing. There, he was somewhat dismayed because the “modern” scriptures that he studied there were not so clear about the identity of this Christ or where he could be found. This caused questioning in the Magi-Priest’s heart, and it influenced him to do less in his daily duties – he found that he could only give the minimum of what was his to give on the Altar. This caused distress for the flock that had been placed in his care.

The Fourth Magi knew that his fellow man was in need and he sincerely wanted to do the “right thing” for all society. So, he set about doing as he thought the Christ would do. Being fully absorbed in this endeavor, his quest to bring a worthy gift to that same Christ was delayed because it no longer held the urgency that it once had. To do the “right thing” became more important and it required tools that he could use to increase his ability to repair the broken society that surrounded him. Thus, he found teachers claiming that, they too, wanted to do the “right thing”. Unfortunately, our Magi had fallen in with false teachers who had never searched for the God-man. Among them was st. saul who taught that the ends justify the means. These new teachers and their teachings greatly distracted him, and his original quest was becoming but a very dim memory.

The Magi-Priest, however, was not and is not alone. There were many in his flock who had seen that the Fourth Magi had lost his way. In their concern for him, they resolved to pray and make sacrifices. They know in their hearts, that if they continue to pray; if they continue to point in the proper direction that, some day, the Fourth Magi will turn around from his course toward the West. He will turn around and proceed “ad orientem – to the East” and he will find his way to Bethlehem. And that would truly be a worthy gift.

If the pewter paten were to become gold this is how it would look.

If only the pewter paten were to turn into gold, this is how it would look.

 

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