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

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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.

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