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For the Sheep in Exile – Bulletin 2015-03-01

Here is Bulletin_2015-03-01.

1. No Longer Missing in Action: Winnie the Pooh can now return to a normal life. In fact, he can invite over all his friend, break out the honey pot, and have a feast. The St. Peter’s Pastoral Council has been found. This week the minutes for the February 15th meeting appeared on the St. Peter’s Website. Here are the 02 15 Pastoral Council Minutes. When there is more time, we’ll discuss some of the items and try to figure out what it all means.

2. Ecumenical Dinner: According to the bulletin:

The ecumenical dinner, prayer and reflection each Wednesday night during Lent continues. All the evening Lenten dinners will begin at Washington Baptist Church with a pot-luck dinner at 6:00 pm. Prayer, songs and reflection at 7:00 pm.

My son and I often share with each other when we find a source for worthwhile spiritual reflection and sound Catholic instruction. Recently, he recommended the Institute of Catholic Culture and specifically noted some of the lectures by Dr. William Marshner. Dr. Marshner was a convert to Catholicism, a Thomistic theologian, ethicist, and a founding professor at Christendom College in Front Royal, VA. So, this week I listened to his three-lecture series called Trent, the Reformation & the Mass.

After hearing Dr. Marshner’s account of the Reformation and what had to be done at the Council of Trent to counter the many heresies that came from the Reformation, I was left with a profound sense of dismay. It began to dawn on me just how much spiritual harm was caused by those heresies – especially to the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.

I’m not saying that all ecumenical exchanges are to be avoided. I will say, however, you might benefit more by spending your Wednesday evenings in Lent listening to one of the many audios offered by the Institute of Catholic Culture.

3. The Prayer to St. Michael: In the Pastor’s Piece our Pastor says:

Some people like to pray the prayer to St. Michael after mass and others do not. Several weeks ago Bernadette O’Heir and I talked about the way around this problem satisfying everyone (those who want to pray the prayer and those who don’t). I suggested that those who want to pray the prayer wait 20 seconds after the end of mass to let those who don’t want to pray the prayer to leave. Another option would be for people to pray the prayer silently. Fr. Murphy avoided this problem in the past by telling people not to pray the prayer at the end of mass.

What used to be a verdant and thriving spiritual garden, seemingly hidden from the rest of the world, somewhere between St. John the Baptist in Front Royal and St. John the Evangelist in Warrenton, is now becoming a desert slowly wasting away. The sheep that abide there are scratching the ground in search of nourishment.

Now the sheep who wish to pray the simple, yet powerful prayer will have to consult their watches to see if the allotted 20 seconds have passed. Those without watches will resort to saying: “One thousand one, one thousand two, one thousand three …. one thousand twenty … Ready or not, I’m going to pray … Here I come St. Michael.”

Meanwhile, in the surrounding parishes there is no referring to a watch or counting to 20 … there the shepherds (after Mass is over) lead their flocks in the prayer to St. Michael.

By the way, wouldn’t it be refreshing if our Pastor started capitalizing the word “Mass.”



Petition Update #8 and Final

1. True to His Word: It was not our intention to attend the 10:45 AM Mass at St. Peter’s today. The weather, however, dictated otherwise. Thus, my wife and I were afforded the opportunity to determine that our Pastor had kept his word concerning the changes he intended to institute as a result of the Petition.

2.  Only as He Said He Would: Father did as he said he would. He did nothing more. He can truthfully say that he made an effort to “accommodate some of their requests.” It is obvious from his choice of words in the Pastors Piece in Bulletin_2015-02-15 that he was willing to go only so far. My wife and I suspected that would be the case. That is why we asked Question 3 in Petition Update #7.

If the pewter paten were to become gold, this is how it would look.S3: We will use gold looking chalices instead of the pewter chalices that I normally use.

Q3: Will the pewter paten (bread dish) also be replaced by a gold paten?

Father avoided using the expression “sacred vessels” because that would have included the paten. Today, we saw the pewter bread dish front and center on the altar throughout the Offertory and Consecration. He was only willing to go so far and his words were fashioned to allow him to show that he would go no farther.

3. Continued Minimalism: Father continues to give the least that he can. The Sheep plead for nourishment and sustenance and they receive so little in answer to their plea. The minimalism continues. My wife and I can now see, that for all intents and purposes, the Petition is a dead topic. The death of the Petition is accompanied by the death of the hopes of a full third of the Parish that had signed the Petition. And is there any reason to wonder why the numbers of the Sheep in Exile continue to grow?

My wife and I will continue to speak about the minimalism that has infected St. Peter’s, but no longer in the context of the Petition. That would be like beating a dead horse.


Rules and Tools for Radical Pastors #4 – Update

In the Rules for Radical Pastors #4 we discussed “spiritual toxins in the vestibule” and how they relate to RULE 2 of the Rules for Radical Pastors. We noted that the origin of some material presented in the The Little Black Book was questionable. We concluded by saying that,  “…at St. Peter’s we have been presented, on numerous occasions, the Pastor’s ‘vision‘ of where we are going, and we are slowly but surely ‘moving toward it.’
In some respects we have already arrived. That is, if “arrival” means being like other dioceses scattered throughout the country where the “vision” of the dissenters has become the norm; where that “vision” is all that is available to the average Catholic in the pew.
Why do we say we have arrived? As we have explained in our analysis of what is happening to St. Peter’s, we have often drawn comparisons with what we experienced in the Diocese of Boise. We have done that because, the Diocese of Boise, under its past bishop, was demonstrably a “liberal” diocese riddled with dissent and ties stretching back to to the sexual abuse scandal in California and Cardinal Mahony. In some documented cases we can show that certain practices and teaching in the Diocese of Boise were heterodox rather than orthodox. We anticipate and pray that the situation there will change under newly installed Bishop Peter F. Christensen.
This week, my wife and I were affirmed in at least some of our suspicions that St. Peter’s is rapidly becoming just like Boise. That affirmation came in the form of an email from a friend back in Idaho who is still having to undergo the travails of heterodoxy and modernism. Following are slightly edited extracts from our friend’s email:
Very interesting as we also had the Little Blue Book and now the Black one. I agree with the trepidation when seeing [Bishop] Ken Untener’s name.  I also felt that the Advent (Book) [The Little Blue Book] was probably innocuous. I had not really looked at the Black one until this morning after reading your email.  Much stronger on the S J [social justice] theme. 
Right side of the page not as bad as the left side put together by Sr. Ayotte IHM [The Congregation of the Sisters, Servants of the Immaculate Heart of Mary] (the IHMs really were on the forefront of the modern sisters). I was taught by them from Gr. 1-8 and that was in the years when Nuns were great. Full habit and I have very fond memories of my time with the IHMs. What happened to their order was so sad.  I don’t even think there are very many of them left…have not looked into that but recall lots of reports in the Wanderer concerning their times and tribulations.
Also, besides CCHD and CRS I see reference to UNICEF in the LBB [The Little Black Book].  Have not read it thoroughly but think the left side is worse than the right. 
I agree, why not get some ‘good stuff’ out there.  Also, is there some big push to get this little booklet out there?  Whose idea?
After all these years, seems someone must be behind this. There is a plethora of available and more suitable material.
The spiritual reading materials we are offered as we enter St. Peters, the “spiritual toxins in the vestibule”, signal that we are now being shown the Pastor’s “vision.” In that sense, we have already arrived at a place more closely resembling Boise than Arlington.
Toto, I’ve a feeling we’re not in Arlington anymore. 

For the Sheep in Exile – Bulletin 2015-02-22

Here is Bulletin_2015-02-22.

1. Rappahannock Clergy Association (RCA): Our Pastor asks that parishioners:

“Please return the Rappahannock Clergy Association/Community Needs Assessment by March 15. You can mail it to the office or drop off the form in the box at the door of the church. If you misplaced the survey you can also pick up ;another one at the door of the church.”

Please refer to the post For the Sheep in Exile – Bulletin 2015-02-08 Supplement for our comments concerning the RCA.

Based on available news reports, the RCA appears to be a relatively new organization and my wife and I still haven’t figured out if our Pastor is a member of the RCA or not. Considering that there is now a call from him for folks to turn in the assessments, one might suspect that there hasn’t been an overwhelming response to the request to return the assessment.

2. Prayers before and after Mass: Perhaps it was a mistake. Perhaps it was intended. Whichever, my copy of this week’s bulletin contained a card with prayers to be said by altar boys before and after Mass. In the 1950’s, Sister always reminded us to come well before Mass and pray. We were asked to pray as this prayer card says, “…that I may serve You reverently and so give You praise and glory…” Sister also encouraged us to stay after Mass and pray. We were asked to pray as this prayer cards says, “…Thank You for the opportunity of serving at Your altar.”

Sister also said that prayers before and after Mass were not just for altar boys – they were for all who attend Mass.

It made sense then and it still makes sense today. So, my wife and I come to Mass early – it’s time to prepare for the unfolding of the great mysteries. And she and I stay after Mass – it’s time to pray the Prayer to St. Michael and other prayers acknowledging our great thanksgiving for all that we have received.

With regard to the St. Michael prayers, our Pastor has indicated that “some parishioners” had approached him to say they didn’t know what to do and some felt trapped in the pew while it was being said. If “some parishioners” feel trapped, perhaps it is because they didn’t have Sr. Mary Gemma or Sr. Mary Lucienne in their lives.

3. Missing in Action?: Sometimes it is necessary for my wife and I to become very serious and intellectual in the way that we approach particular problems discussed in this blog. So it is with the Parish Pastoral Council. It has been weeks since we have heard any mention of the body commissioned to provide our Pastor with good counsel. To quote from a slightly altered version of a highly academic, philosophical consideration posed by Winnie the Pooh:

Think, think. Think. 
I believe when a question becomes this sticky, 
I should ask my very good friend... Pastoral Council. 
[Echoing] Pastoral Council. 
Are you here? 
Are you there? 
Are you... anywhere?

Perhaps when the snows melt and Spring arrives we shall hear from the Pastoral Council again.

Rules and Tools for Radical Pastors #4

According to the Rev. Gordon E. Simmons in his article Rules for Radical Pastors, you must provide a vision:

RULE 2: Build an organization by presenting a vision of where you are going and moving toward it.

How is that done in a parish? One answer is indoctrination using subtly nuanced handouts and devotional materials. Through conscious selection of pamphlets and handouts, and by deliberately emphasizing particular topics in homilies, a pastor can control the “message” and present a specific “vision.” This is a technique that can lead to good ends. Alternatively, this technique can be employed to impose “spiritual blinders” on the flock – they will no longer see the broader view of all that is Catholic. When used by a radical pastor, this technique can lead to serious distortions in understanding .

In our post For the Sheep in Exile – Bulletin 2014-11-30, we talked about “spiritual toxins in the vestibule.” Specifically, we discussed The Little Blue Book, which first appeared in St. Peter’s vestibule on Thanksgiving Day last year. Our Pastor highly recommended it and he also recommend its author, the now deceased Bishop Ken Untener. After doing our homework, we said in response:

A quick look-up in Wikipedia informs us that:

In 1980, Untener was named the fourth Bishop of Saginaw. His consecration to the episcopacy immediately became embroiled in controversy, however, as area Catholics filed complaints with the Vatican about a recent workshop on sexuality Untener authorized at St. John’s Seminary. Detractors of the workshop claimed it promoted lewdness and promiscuity.

Your research on Bishop Untener will show you that controversy is only the beginning, there are also problems with his views on birth control, liturgy, and more. Bishop Untener was a dissenter to Church teaching. A quick reading of The Little Blue Book does not reveal any immediate threat to the soul, but it raises the question: Aren’t there more reputable authors producing Advent and Christmas Season reflections from which to chose?

Is a pattern emerging here? Why is our Pastor selecting materials from an array of dissenters? Where is he leading us? In the words of one our fellow parishioners:

“Taking into account the above referenced evidence, what assurance do we have that this publication would be theologically, morally, and ethically consistent with the Magisterium of the Church? Further, what kind of shepherd would offer such tainted food to his sheep?”

There is a vast reservoir of knowledge and spiritual wisdom that resides in our Parish. St. Peter’s has many faithful Catholics, who are painfully aware of what is happening here. My wife and I are humbled by the work they have done over the years to assist past pastors in building this faith-filled Parish. We are honored that they correspond with us and confide in us.

This past Saturday, one of them emailed us and said, “Well Father Grinnell did it again.” Yes, Father followed on his action of providing “spiritual toxins in the vestibule” for Advent in the form of The Little Blue Book. Now, he has presented us with The Little Black Book, a book of Lenten meditations.

When my wife and I made our assessment after reviewing the Advent meditations, we said, “A quick reading of The Little Blue Book does not reveal any immediate threat to the soul…”. The person who delivered the news to us had already done a great deal of homework by reviewing the contents of The Little Black Book and performing associated research. Unfortunately, the results of this review showed that these Lenten meditations in The Little Black Book were not quite so harmless.

Following are some comments made by the reviewer. Please keep in mind that these comments were hastily written and are not a smooth draft.

The Inspiration: The first comment deals with the primary author and inspiration for the meditations:

Bishop Kenneth Untener of Saginaw, Michigan was the most notorious dissident Bishop in Michigan. At one time he was the rector of St. John’s Seminary in Plymouth, Michigan. St. John’s Seminary is one of the Seminary covered in Michael Rose’s book “Goodbye Good Men”. Bishop Untener is referred to four times in that same book. The Seminary eventually closed but under Untener there were allegations of homosexual activity. Bishop Untener also signed a letter in protest to Pope John Paul’s proclamation that there will never be female priests. Throughout the 1980’s and 1990’s Orthodox Catholics were well aware of how bad Untener was.

Now we have his Lenten Devotional being recommend to us by our pastor.

CCHD & CRS: The second comment is framed in the context of revelations made by Reform CCHD Now, the American Life League, and other credible reporting entities. They exposed abuses noted in the distribution of the contribution made by many well-meaning Catholics:

If you are able to pick one up [The Little Black Book] you will immediately see that it is nothing more that a strong push for social justice through all the left-wing groups like CRS and CCHD.

Liberation Theology: The third comment comes from background knowledge of the statements and writings of Cardinal Ratzinger (Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI) and St. John Paul the Great concerning the Theology of Liberation (e.g. Instruction on Certain Aspects of the “Theology of Liberation”):

I was really upset by the two people that were praised in the booklet, Cardinal Giacomo Lercaro and Father Rutilio Grande, both being proponents of Liberation Theology. Because Bishop Untener included these individuals in the booklet as being people we Catholics should look up to make me believe Untener himself was in favor of Liberation Theology.

In a broader context, we must ask, “Does The Little Black Book come close to being on the mark of actually being “Lenten” in character. If we refer to the Catechism of the Catholic Church, we learn this about the character of Lent:

1438 The seasons and days of penance in the course of the liturgical year (Lent, and each Friday in memory of the death of the Lord) are intense moments of the Church’s penitential practice.36 These times are particularly appropriate for spiritual exercises, penitential liturgies, pilgrimages as signs of penance, voluntary self-denial such as fasting and almsgiving, and fraternal sharing (charitable and missionary works).

Even as the Church instructs us about “charitable” works (this certainly includes social justice), we are also reminded of “missionary” work. The emphasis is on the spiritual without denying the need for the social. The spiritual comes first. The Little Black Book loses sight of that emphasis.

What we see here is not just a selection of material for Lenten meditation that has poorly placed its emphasis. What we have here is another example of the pattern of a what appears to be a deliberate attempt to “Build an organization by presenting a vision of where you are going and moving toward it.” This “organization” will lean towards the “social” and away from the “spiritual”. This “organization” would be St. Peter’s.

So, at St. Peter’s we have been presented, on numerous occasions, the Pastor’s “vision” of where we are going, and we are slowly but surely “moving toward it.

At St. Peter’s, RULE 2 of the rules for radical pastors is now in play.

Petition Update #7

1. Penance: As I noted in the post Pilgrims of Lent – Meditations, “… just last night I received a mild admonishment from my son.” One of my daughters also indicated that my “tone” in the post Petition Update #6 had possibly been less than appropriate. This morning, the reading in the Liturgy of the Hours was from Ephisians 4:29-32. In those verses I heard the mild and respectful admonishment from my son and daughter reverberating in the words of St. Paul:

“Let no evil speech proceed from your mouth; but that which is good, to the edification of faith, that it may administer grace to the hearers. And grieve not the holy Spirit of God: whereby you are sealed unto the day of redemption.”

So, I went to Confession this morning. I offer my sincere apologies to whomever I might have hurt with my words.

2. Thank You: You will find that the Pastor’s Piece in Bulletin_2015-02-15 provides the official decision by our pastor concerning the Petition. There are thanks to be given:

  • Thank you to Ben Shealy for organizing the petition effort;
  • Thank you to all who signed of the petition;
  • Thank you to all those who were able to attend the petition meeting and contribute; and
  • Thank you to our Pastor for providing a public answer to our request.

Special thanks should be given to our Pastor for publishing a clear statement of what occurred at the meeting and for providing the specifics details of his decision. Father’s account of the meeting captures the pertinent details and it is important that all parishioners are aware of what occurred and what was decided.

3. Questions: Father’s response leads my wife and me to ask a host of questions. Below, we will pose some of those questions in the simplest form and most respectful tone possible:

S1: “The petition (which was signed by 33 parish families) requested that I “reinstate one Sunday Mass as previously celebrated” at St. Peter’s. At the meeting on the 24th, I asked what aspects of the mass as Fr. Murphy celebrated it that they were talking about. I made a list of what people told me about the mass as celebrated in the past and I am sure that we can accommodate some of their requests.”

Q1: Why was it necessary to disregard the fundamental and central concern the petition presented in the phrase “as previously celebrated“? Why immediately break it down into individual “aspects” when the petition addressed a much larger concern – an entirety in substance, not just a pro forma set of acts?

S2: “These are some of the changes that we will make.”

Q2: Will there be more changes?

S3: We will use gold looking chalices instead of the pewter chalices that I normally use.

Q3: Will the pewter paten (bread dish) also be replaced by a gold paten?

S4: “We will use more Greek (e.g. Kyrie Eleison) and Latin (e.g. Agnes Dei) in the mass. We will use more incense in the mass (especially during the Easter season and Solemnities).”

Q4: Would it not be more preferable to capitalize the word Mass?

S5: Some requests, we will not do. I will not eliminate the option for people to receive Communion under both species.

Q5: Why is this needed? How does this help to “reinstate one Sunday Mass as previously celebrated“?

S6: The servers will continue to bow instead of genuflect.

Q6: How does this help to “reinstate one Sunday Mass as previously celebrated“? What was the impact on the altar boys when they were made to bow instead of genuflect? Did that contradict and undermine the teaching that their parents had given them?

S7: I will not limit the use of the Eucharistic Prayers (using only 4 of the options instead of all 10 options for Eucharistic Prayers in the Roman Missal).

Q7: Why would that be an inconvenience for one Mass out of three, especially when those who have their own missals would be able to follow along with you?

4. The View from 2,000 Miles Away: At this time, what St. Peter’s is undergoing is an exception in the Diocese of Arlington. Nearly 2,000 miles away, in the Diocese of Boise, the current experience at St. Peter’s is the norm. Let us share a few lines from a friend in Idaho, who was thankful for one Sunday Mass that was a departure from that norm: (We have slightly edited the text for purposes of privacy)

The exceptional things for our Mass on Sunday (by exceptional I mean what is usually NOT done here)
1.No Altar Girls.  2 well trained servers and I don’t know the family but they are very well behaved and seem pretty ‘orthodox’.
2. Father wearing an AMICE (never seen here).
3. NO guitar.  That probably just happened but….my preference for Mass.  The music selections were much better than usual with correct Gloria, Mass responses.
4.  A BIGGIE:  Eucharistic Prayer #1  (never hear that—always, or almost always they use #2).  IMO #1 ought to be used EVERY Sunday at least and on Holy Days.  I would like it every day!
5.   Just the VERY reverent offering of the Holy Mass by Fr. X AND he doesn’t look around etc. etc.  Keeps his eyes down like they do for Latin Mass and etc. 
6.  Excellent sermon.
We pray for all priests. We pray for our Pastor. At St. Peter’s, we pray for “Sunday Mass as previously celebrated”. For all those in Idaho, we pray that every Mass be like the one our friend described to us.

For the Sheep in Exile – Bulletin 2015-02-15

Here is Bulletin_2015-02-15.

We will have comments on the “Pastor’s Piece” on page four in post Petition Update #7.