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For the Sheep in Exile – Bulletin 2015-09-27

We finally made our connection. Here is Bulletin_2015-09-27

With the exception of the St. Augustine Reflection Group, everything else noted in the bulletin is happening elsewhere. It is quiet these days at St. Peter’s – very quiet.

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Missed Connections

1. Missed Connections: The U.S. Navy and my work have afforded me the opportunity to travel frequently. Even with years of experience, occasionally I miss a connection. Although I am initially upset by the prospect of having to reschedule flights and miss appointments, almost always I encounter things I wouldn’t have even noticed if I had made the scheduled connection. It was that way once in Frankfurt, Germany. While waiting in the queue to book a new flight, I found myself standing directly behind Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan. We exchanged greetings. He was a quite congenial man. It may have been a missed connection, but it was, nonetheless, a pleasant encounter by two strangers temporarily stranded in a foreign land.

Today, I missed a connection and I am unable to bring you Bulletin 2015-09-27. I will try again tomorrow. Meanwhile, let’s consider this time that we have had to meet each other during our mutual exile from St. Peter’s as a pleasant encounter by strangers temporarily stranded in a foreign land.

2. September 25, 1909: Today is another opportunity to say “Happy birthday, Mom!” As Mom requested we will celebrate with a Rob Roy, her drink of choice, and salute her and her Scottish heritage. The drink is distinguished from a Manhattan by substituting rye with scotch. This evening we find that we don’t have quite enough scotch so there will be just a bit of rye from Copper Fox. My Mom used to tell me about the fun she had when she lived in New York City, so the addition of rye will not be inappropriate.

My Mom was a convert, she, along with my Dad, ensured that I attended only Catholic schools and learn about my faith. When I was in the Navy and had fallen away from the Church, she encouraged me to pray the Rosary. She inspired my wife to convert. I’m convinced her prayers made the difference in our lives. So, if tonight I speak of scotch and rye, it is not for worldly or lowly reasons, it is because this is our way of saying: “We love you and miss you, Mom. Here’s to you!”

3. Stranded in a Foreign Land: This blog usually speaks to our particular situation at St. Peter Catholic Church. Tonight, however, I must confess that I am distressed and feel once more that I have missed a connection and am stranded in a foreign land. The visit of our Holy Father to America has raised the shrill cry of those who hate the Church. It has brought about commentary of every different type, both from without and within. Lately, even those who have been staunch defenders of Church and its teachings are having difficulty finding mutual agreement. Solid Catholics who used to support one another now seem to be diverging in their views about what is happening in the hierarchy of the Church. Quite frankly, my wife and I see confusion among the ranks – the level of trust has fallen.

What is happening to the Church in America is not at all unlike what has happened in our own dear parish. It is divisive and it is debilitating. We find it harder to function at the spiritual level because our emotions have come to dominate our thinking – that is confusion of the worst kind.

Perhaps it is time to draw back a bit and let the Holy Spirit take over. This evening as my wife and I prayed the Liturgy of the Hours, the words of Psalm 46 came to speak to us:

The Lord of hosts is with us:
the God of Jacob is our stronghold.

The waters of a river give joy to God’s city,
the holy place where the Most High dwells.
God is within, it cannot be shaken;
God will help it at the dawning of the day.
Nations are in tumult, kingdoms are shaken:
he lifts his voice, the earth shrinks away.

Even with twelve years of Catholic education and many more years of reading and study, I tend to forget that it’s God Who is in charge. My opinions and ideas are of little matter. Likewise, so are the ideas and opinions of those in the media and even in the clergy. At our very best we only stand as disciples. We are not the Master. So in this time of tumult when kingdoms are shaken, perhaps we should seek refuge in the simple Truth, Christ Jesus, and call to mind the words of St. Paul to the Romans:

May God, the source of all patience and encouragement, enable you to live in perfect harmony with one another according to the spirit of Christ Jesus, so that with one heart and voice you may glorify God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.
In the end, there is nothing more than that – glorifying God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.
4. P.S. from my Wife: Why is it that when you want to stop at St. Peter’s, after work at 3:40 on a Friday, and want to talk to the Lord and make a Spiritual Communion that the doors are locked?

For the Sheep in Exile – Bulletin 2015-09-20

Here is Bulletin_2015-09-20

It was 24 hours ago and 2,000 miles away. I had the pleasure of dining with two of the most gracious and interesting ladies. The dinner was exquisite and the company was without compare. The conversation ranged from the making of salsa and plum pie all the way to a discussion centered on our beautiful Catholic Faith. There were moments when we expressed our concerns about the Diocese of Boise and at least one parish in the Diocese of Arlington. Yet in the end, we saw the work of the Holy Spirit and we felt the bonds of friendship and faith. My thanks to both of my dinner companions. You will always be in our prayers.

Comments and Commentary

1. Vacation’s Over: It appears that our Pastor has returned from his time away from St. Peter’s. There is a back channel story concerning Masses at St. Peter’s and St. John the Baptist last weekend that can be viewed as ironic, humorous, or distressing depending on where and when you attended Mass. To those who shared your experiences with us via email, this period of exile has its moments. Let’s pray that someday soon we can all meet again at an 8:30 Mass at St. Peter’s when we have returned to the “status quo ante.”

2. In the Spirit of Pope Francis: On the plane today I read the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) article Vatican Disputes White House Guest List for Papal Visit with great interest. Among those on White House guest list was “Sister Simone Campbell, executive director of Network, a self-described “Catholic social justice lobby” in Washington.” According to the WSJ:

“In 2012, the Vatican’s doctrinal office cited ties to Network as one of its reasons for ordering an overhaul of the Leadership Council of Women Religious [LCWR], an umbrella group that claims about 1,500 leaders of religious orders, representing 80% of U.S. nuns. That decision drew wide protests in the U.S. The overhaul ended in April, having effected few substantive changes.”

“The Vatican had cited Network in connection to the LCWR’s failure to promote Catholic Church teaching against abortion and euthanasia.”

In Bulletin 2015-09-20, Father asks us to: “Keep the Pope in your prayers as he visits the United States and the World
Meeting of Families.” Father added:

“As Bishop Loverde stated, “unlike notable worldly offices or positions, the Pope’s authority does not come from any earthly power. His message is Christ’s message, which may or not be in sync with popular opinion. The Pope speaks the ‘rock-solid’ faith of Peter, upon which the Church is built. Listen to our Pope with an open heart.”

Consider what the Vatican thinks about the Pope having to dine with Sr. Campbell. Her organization Network, while it promotes President Obama’s views on social justicism, has failed “to promote Catholic Church teaching against abortion and euthanasia.” After you have considered that, think back to our post Rules and Tools for Radical Pastors #3. In that post we showed how St. Charles Borromeo Parish, under the leadership of our current Pastor, supported Sr. Campbell and the Nuns on the Bus. That same post also noted:

“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 …)”

So often these days, the media and those with a social agenda counter to the teaching of the Church use the phrase “In the Spirit of Pope Francis” to support their particular positions. Let me use this opportunity to note that on one hand our Pastor can speak about the “Pope’s authority” and it divine origin and yet he has flaunted the authority of the Vatican when it comes to supporting a dissenting nun. A person whom the Vatican deems unworthy to be on the guest list to dine with the Pope.

There is a lesson here for our Pastor – a lesson clearly “in the Spirit of Pope Francis.” He should read his own words and he should read the words of the Vatican and abide by them when it comes to Papal authority and the authority of his Bishop. Likewise, he should seriously consider whom he invites to visit our Parish and what type of literature he distributes to his sheep.

For the Sheep in Exile – 2015-09-13

Here is Bulletin_2015-09-13.

Analysis and Commentary:

1. Vacation Again, Again?!: There will be Communion Services on 14, 16, 17 and 18 September. (My apologies on two points from last week. First, I said August but meant September. Next, the bulletin listed Monday the 7th as a Communion Service, but there was actually a Mass.) It appears that our Pastor is again on vacation or possibly retreat. The bulletin provides no explanation. It is unclear whether Father will be here for Masses on Saturday the 12th or Sunday the 13th. Why is it that Father is not communicating with his flock?

It must be said that these frequent absences have afforded Deacon Benyo the opportunity to develop some beautifully spiritual and instructional themes in his homilies. We are thankful for his ordination and growth in his vocation.

warning2. Warning Flag: My time this weekend is very limited and I won’t be able to to do justice to the research needed to unravel the item about the International Day of Prayer For Peace. Yet, many of you do your own research and it doesn’t take you long to figure out the true nature of some news items. So let’s take a quick look at the item.

International Day of Prayer For Peace
September 20

Join Unity in the Community at Holy Family Catholic Church on Sunday, September 20 from 3 to 6 p.m. for the International Day of Prayer and Peace. Unity in the Community is hosting an interfaith event to mark the International Day of Prayer for Peace, with the theme of “Sharing Our Sacred Journeys Toward Peace.” Please bring a dish to share at the fellowship supper following the service. Participants are also invited to contribute non-perishable items for the food pantries at ACTS and Northern Virginia Family Service (SERVE). Holy Family Catholic Church is located at 14160 Ferndale Rd., Woodbridge, VA

Notes for Consideration:

  1. We have added links for all the named organizations to save you time in your research.
  2. The pastor of Holy Family Catholic Church is Fr. Gerry Creedon, a long-time social justicism associate of our Pastor.
  3. Our Pastor and Fr. Creedon were very active in Virginians Organized for Interfaith Community Engagement (VOICE). VOICE is directly associated with the Industrial Areas Foundation (IAF), founded by Saul Alinsky.
  4. Unity in the Community is very familiar with Fr. Creedon and VOICE. Please see Unity in the Community, General Membership Meeting, 6:30 P.M., Sunday, June 17, 2012 for details.
  5. Our best guess is that the event to take place at Holy Family on September 20th will be more about social justicism than about sincere prayer for peace. What a great opportunity to recruit the unwary.
  6. Click on the links, explore, take notes, draw diagrams associating people and places and see what you find. We think a warning flag is in order.

For the Sheep in Exile – Bulletin 2015-09-06

Here is Bulletin_2015-09-06

Production problems seem to have beset the preparation of this week’s bulletin at the St. Peter office. There are alignment glitches and folding problems. The online edition at the St. Peter’s Website will probably be better than what we have posted here. The official version hasn’t been posted yet, but they do a good job of getting it right online.

Does anyone remember when parish bulletins were mimeographed?

Analysis and Commentary:

1. What no Myth #11?: Unhappy, unhappy, unhappy! We made it to  Myth #10: Government housing programs strain budgets last week, but this week nothing. Well, I guess I can count it a spiritual benefit when I have to refrain from an extra helping of popcorn to celebrate the 11th and final myth – Myth #11: Fighting homelessness is expensive. Self-mortification, when offered up with a proper intention, is a sanctifying act. So, no Myth #11 popcorn party for me!

2. Stewardship Reflections: Page three of this week’s bulletin features a “Stewardship Reflection” on James 2:5. One could almost think that it is replacing our forsaken homelessness myths. The best we can determine is that this series of reflections has been used by dioceses throughout the country. Apparently, the reflections follow the cycle of readings. They last appeared in 2012.

3. Vacation Again?!: There will be Communion Services on 7, 9, 10, and 11 August. Normally, that indicates that our Pastor is on vacation or possibly retreat.

4. Our Modernist World or an Alternative Catholic Experience: Perhaps my wife and I have been too hard on Idaho. We certainly had reason to complain about the liturgical and doctrinal abuses we witnessed there. Yet, if we look at Virginia, we find a wide array of dissident “catholics” who want to use the name “catholic” but aren’t willing to abide by all the teachings of the Church. As a solution to their dilemma they have created an “Alternative Catholic Experience.” The try to act somewhat like real Catholics, but they describe their “churches” as being a:

“Lay-led Intentional Eucharistic Community celebrating over 40 years of commitment to living out the gospel emphasizing peace & social justice, lively liturgies, education, and care for one another.”

or as a “parish” that :

” … welcomes all, regardless of race, national origin, marital status, sexual orientation, political beliefs, or economic status. Come and join us anytime.”

The reason we say we have been too hard on Idaho is because in a listing of organizations claiming the “Alternative Catholic Experience” there are four such entities in Virginia, but there are none listed for Idaho.

So, if you have the time to do some homework, go look into:

NOVA CATHOLIC COMMUNITY – Arlington

ST. ANDREW THE APOSTLE PARISH – Cassanova

ST. ANTHONY OF PADUA AMERICAN NATIONAL CATHOLIC CHURCH – Centreville

HOLY TRINITY PARISH – Herndon

Our preliminary research suggests that at least one of these may be of interest to us here at St. Peter’s. If the research pans out, we will have a separate post.