Here is Bulletin_2015-11-01
It has been a “without family” and a “with family” week.
Without Family: The “without family” part is always difficult. My most beautiful and loving wife had to leave for a several days to visit her sister. That left me alone with our needy and demanding 14 lb. Maine Coon kitten. He is literally armed to the teeth, and being a polydactyl (six toes and sharp claws per foot/paw), he is capable of inflicting grave wounds and lacerations. When I say “kitten”, you must realize his father weighs in at 22 lbs. with no fat. So, this lovable terror of ours has another year to grow into maturity. I suppose it is appropriate on Halloween that I should be asking for quantities of O-negative blood to replace the several pints I lost this week. Of course, the only other resident at our expansive 1.25 acre farm is my dead horse Petition. When I went to the barn to seek relief from the unrelenting surprise attacks by the ferocious, flying fur ball, all I could get in the way of solace from Petition was a horse laugh.
With Family: On the other hand, I had the great privilege and honor to be the sponsor for my grandson on the occasion of his reception of the Sacrament of Confirmation on Monday the 26th. Bishop Loverde administered the Sacrament in the traditional form. The Latin was not foreign to my ears and it brought me back through the memory of many years to when I also was confirmed “with the chrism of salvation.” Nor was the Latin foreign to my grandson’s ears. He and his older brother regularly serve at the Mass in the Extraordinary Form – they know their Latin responses and they know what they mean. After the Confirmation it was a time for congratulations for my grandson from his six siblings (number seven sibling, also in attendance, is due in December), his parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins. Tomorrow, there will be a large gathering at our old farm house to celebrate the Confirmation and also the birthday of our two-year-old granddaughter.
My beautiful wife is home; the cat has calmed down; the children and grandchildren are coming to party; and the party will begin with a prayer of thanksgiving. I’m sure it’s pretty clear by now that a “with family” day is much better than a “without family” day.
1. Coincidence and Confusion: Our policy is to avoid discussion of political and social matters if they do not have an immediate relationship to our parish. Last week we hoisted the red warning flag because of the insert in Bulletin_2015-10-25, announcing the Foothills Forum survey. My friend Fre3d Capra did some independent research on this topic. (It’s a long yet rather humorous story why he did this research. Perhaps some day I’ll share it with you.) The result of Fre3d’s work leads us to believe that hoisting the red flag was the right thing to do. As citizens of Rappahannock County you would be best advised to do your own due diligence with regard to the Foothills Forum and some of its board members and advisers. All is not as it seems. And, in this case, we don’t think our Pastor really knows very much about the Foothills Forum and its agenda.
2. Opportunity Knocking? – Probably Not Anymore: Last week we noted Father’s item about “Pastoral Council Members Needed!” We suggested that this might be an opportunity to volunteer for one of the positions to represent the Sheep in Exile. Apparently the window of opportunity has closed. This week, the item relating to the vacancies does not appear in the bulletin.
We eagerly await the formal announcement of the new member selections and what happiness and goodness the next session of the Council will bring.
Here is Bulletin_2015-10-25
1. Coincidence and Confusion: Today, my wife and I encountered coincidence – or did we? Today, my wife and I encountered confusion – we did. In our mail box was an postcard from the Center for Survey Research – University of Virginia. It advised us that the Foothills Forum is conducting a survey. We would have disregarded the postcard had we not seen the insert from Bulletin_2015-10-25, which was announcing the same survey. Immediately, a red warning flag went up. We were confused, was this a merely a coincidence or was it part of a coordinated campaign to raise our awareness about the survey.
Of course, I checked out the Website for the Foothills-Forum. It was vanilla – it was happiness and sunshine, and it was most reassuring:
Foothills Forum is tackling the need for more fact-based, in-depth coverage of the issues we care about in Rappahannock County. We’re a nonprofit, independent group promoting community engagement, research and solutions. We invite every voice to the table.
My wife and I have learned to be most concerned when someone tells us that they “are a nonprofit, independent group promoting community engagement …” We are doubly concerned when our Pastor inserts a flyer into the bulletin “promoting community engagement.” He is still a radical pastor and a proponent of social justicism.
Our confusion grew when we went to the link pages of the Website. The Foothills-Forum is trying to promote a happy fuzzy feeling that “There’s room at the table for every voice.” For example their Links page include just about every organization in the county. It even includes the Friends of Liberty, a site you would visit if you want to encounter common sense rather than happy fuzzy feelings.
There are conflicting factors here. We confess we don’t know how to read this survey initiative. Nevertheless, we will keep the warning flag flying until someone, perhaps one of you our faithful readers, can persuade us that it is safe to remove the flag. Your input is requested.
2. Opportunity Knocking?: Is it time for one or two of the Sheep in Exile to answer the call of opportunity knocking. Who represents us on the Pastoral Council? All of you are getting this one day before the rest of our fellow parishioners. Some of you used to attend the 5 PM Mass and some of you are Knights. Is this your chance help turn the tide? – Just a thought … :
Pastoral Council Members Needed!
Also needed are two representatives for the Parish Pastoral Council. The Parish Pastoral Council meets four times a year and has representatives from each mass, the Knights of Columbus, and the Parish Cemetery Committee (i.e. 5 members). We need a representative from the 5 p.m. Saturday mass, and the Knights of Columbus. Please email me if you are willing to serve: email@example.com.
4. Did You Know?: Please read the article Bishop Loverde makes key appointments. You will learn that Father Paul D. Scalia will become the episcopal vicar for clergy and director of the diaconate formation program:
Father Scalia’s title will change from the bishop’s delegate for clergy to episcopal vicar for clergy. In addition, he will add the title of director of the diaconate formation program, a role that Father Ferguson had held since 2008. Bishop Loverde reinstituted the diaconate formation program in 2005 and it has been extremely successful. More than two dozen men have been ordained since 2011.
This might be a point for the Sheep in Exile to keep in mind should you want to address some of your concerns to higher authority.
5. Credit Where Credit is Due: Please read the article Healing ministry celebrates 25 years.The Arlington Catholic Herald has a good piece about our Pastor and the healing ministry in our diocese.
Often the headlines are of little consequence; sometimes the matters of greatest concern are buried in the news.
Father, please help us understand: If you read the Rappahannock News (believe me, my wife and I do), you might come to the conclusion that the religious communities in the County are confused about Catholic teaching, the teaching of the One True Church.
On one hand, Pope Francis has been all but canonized by some. Look at what the Unitarian Universalists of the Blue Ridge (UUBRidge) are doing on Sunday, October 25th:
‘CLIMATE JUSTICE’: UUBRidge’s the Rev. Russ Savage presents a sermon on “Climate Justice” at 10:30 a.m. at Hearthstone School (11576 Lee Hwy., Sperryville), based on Pope Francis’s argument that the effects of climate change fall most heavily upon the poor. For more information, email Ellen Adams at firstname.lastname@example.org.
What a comfort it is to know that the Pope has so inspired Rev. Russ Savage that he intends to extend the teachings of the encyclical “Laudato Si” to his congregation. We’re certain that other clergy in the area, including the members of the Rappahannock Clergy Association, founded by our Pastor, are all equally thrilled by the opportunity to follow the lead of Pope Francis.
On the other hand, somehow the teaching of the Church regarding homosexuality as proclaimed in the Catechism of the Catholic Church Sections 2357 – 2359 is often buried in the news. When it comes to that, the Church’s teaching does not resonate so well. For example the Rappahannock News published a letter on August 27, 2015 from the UUBRidge (UUBRidge welcomes diversity) that clearly shows the divide between the Roman Catholic Church and UUBRidge. Here are some charming quotes from that letter: (charming as in tempting: adjective, appealing to or attracting someone, even if wrong or inadvisable.)
But we know that there is work to be done and that just the fact that some things have improved does not automatically make the fear, hate and intolerance disappear. In some areas, county clerks refuse to issue marriage licenses to all couples because they object to issuing the licenses to same-sex couples. Some people still hold the antiquated belief that there is a connection between homosexuality and pedophilia. Many states do not prohibit employment discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity. Some have no hate-crime or housing-discrimination laws based on sexual identification or gender identity, and no antibullying or school laws prohibiting discrimination against students who are LGBTQ.
The Welcoming Congregation Committee of UUBRidge will work to support the LGBTQ community and join with others to bring greater justice, equity and compassion to our community.
Father, please help us understand. Isn’t there someone in the County who could proclaim the fullness of Catholic doctrine to the community, especially to the clergy in the County? Isn’t there someone who has contact with these folks who could persuade them that they are heading down a wrong path? Look at what has happened to the Boy Scouts. One or more churches proclaim and promote the LGBTQ agenda, to the point of moral jeopardy to our youth, while some from St. Peter’s are trying to maintain the concept of “morally straight” among the scouts and form a new troop where the boys will be “safe”.
Father, please help us understand. Isn’t there some official voice from St. Peter’s that could write a letter to the editor like the congregation at UUBRidge did? Isn’t there an authority on Catholic teaching at our Parish who could stand up and tell it like it is?
Father, please help us understand. Isn’t there a shepherd for the sheep, that includes all the souls of the County, who is willing to make a stand, even if it isn’t popular?
Often the headlines are of little consequence; sometimes the matters of greatest concern are buried in the news. Father, please help us understand why our Catholic teachings have to be buried as well.
Here is Bulletin_2015-10-18
This week we are on Fact No. 1 “Adjusted for inflation, the federal minimum wage peaked in 1968.” If Father remains true to form, over the next four weeks we will be involuntarily exposed to:
Fact No. 2 Nearly half (48.2%) of the 3 million hourly workers who were at or below the federal minimum in 2014 were ages 16 to 24.
Fact No. 3 Twenty-nine states, plus the District of Columbia and nearly two dozen cities and counties, have set their own higher minimums.
Fact No. 4 About 20.6 million people (or 30% of all hourly, non-self-employed workers 18 and older) are “near-minimum-wage” workers.
Fact No. 5 The restaurant/food service industry is the single biggest employer of near-minimum-wage workers.
Why? Why? Why? Why go to the Pew Research Center? What’s the point of going to the secular world, when we can go to one of our Church’s great repositories of faith? Why not go to the Catechism of the Catholic Church and have us read the following?
2434 A just wage is the legitimate fruit of work. To refuse or withhold it can be a grave injustice.220 In determining fair pay both the needs and the contributions of each person must be taken into account. “Remuneration for work should guarantee man the opportunity to provide a dignified livelihood for himself and his family on the material, social, cultural and spiritual level, taking into account the role and the productivity of each, the state of the business, and the common good.”221 Agreement between the parties is not sufficient to justify morally the amount to be received in wages.
Why must we look to our government for solutions? Why can’t we just proclaim the truths of our Catholic teachings and live in accord with what we proclaim? What is there outside of the Church that can compare with the teaching of Jesus Christ? Father, we would do much better to proclaim the Gospel rather than political opinions of the times. We would do much better to show the world what we Catholics have, rather than to tell the Catholics of St. Peter’s what a poverty the world has. There is, after all, a difference between a government imposed minimum wage and a just wage. That is what you should be telling your flock.
2. On My Honor: We wish we had the time to go into detail on this following point. Unfortunately, we do not. Last week, in our post For the Sheep in Exile – 2015-10-11, we briefly mentioned the difficulties encountered within the ranks of the Boy Scouts of America organization here in Rappahannock County. The points we were trying to make there, didn’t afford us the opportunity to discuss the valiant effort by one St. Peter’s parishioner to bring about a peaceful solution to these difficulties. That courageous soul, apparently motivated by a lifelong dedication to the original goals of Scouting, was quoted by our local paper concerning a statement about “conscience”. My wife and I understand that statement and agree with it. At least one individual in the community was not so understanding and took issue with the statement by means of a letter to the editor of the Rappahannock News.
Without going into painful detail, that person made an error in historical research, ascribing a quote to Justice Scalia (Employment Division v. Smith (1994)), which was actually (and originally) made in a Supreme Court ruling (Reynolds v. United States, 98 U.S. (8 Otto.) 145 (1878)) more than a hundred years earlier dealing with the Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter Day Saints. It was both a political and religious slam against a good person. My wife recommended that I write a letter to the editor rebutting the ill-advised critic of our fellow parishioner. I believe there is no real profit in that course of action. Even Fre3d Capra is smarter than this critic. His public humiliation would not serve the Lord.
Instead, let us here in our parish, pay tribute to a fellow parishioner who is doing his best to live the Scout Oath and his Catholic faith. Meanwhile, the churches of Rappahannock County are moving farther and farther away from each other. The long-held beliefs of our country are being trampled under foot. We, as Catholics and the sheep of St. Peter’s, more and more will be confronted with the same questions concerning “conscience” that our fellow parishioner has encountered. Let us pray for the grace to sustain us through these coming times of trial and hardship and let us pray for each other and encourage each other. We are the Church Militant!
Here is Bulletin_2015-10-11.
Double Elimination Cornhole Tourney: There is a deeply entrenched fear in my heart. It haunts me in my dreams. It causes me to think that in some way I am becoming Fre3d Capra. —– Has my mind so atrophied, has it become so besotted with worldly concerns that the only item I can find of interest in St. Peter’s bulletin is a story about a “Double Elimination Cornhole Tourney” or “Bed, Bath and Beyond BINGO” at the Scrabble School Senior Center? —– As I enter into my Autumn years, is this what will be of greatest importance to Fre3d and me? That thought almost makes assisted suicide look attractive. (Please, don’t take that last statement seriously.)
As we write this, there is a Synod of Bishops underway in Rome. Go, read for yourself what is happening. Check out Church Militant, The Wanderer, LES FEMMES – THE TRUTH, or some of the other links on this site. Matters of great importance are being discussed and not one of them has made a reference to a “Double Elimination Cornhole Tourney” or “Bed, Bath and Beyond BINGO”. But, if you had gone to Mass this morning at St. John the Baptist, you would have heard about the Synod.
In some ways Rappahannock County is a microcosm of the world and a reflection of the discussions at the Synod. Consider this brief synopsis of a lengthy story in this week’s Rappahannock news:
Scouting units divide to address gay leadership issue
A group of Boy Scout and Cub Scout parents in the troop chartered these last 25 years by Washington’s Trinity Episcopal Church have applied to create a new scout troop affiliated with Reynolds Memorial Baptist Church in Sperryville. The reason: Disagreement with the Boy Scouts of America’s decision earlier this year to lift its long-standing blanket ban on scout leaders who are openly gay.
My father was a Scout. He actually met Sir Robert Baden-Powell. My father helped me to memorize the Scout Oath and to live it:
On my honor I will do my best
To do my duty to God and my country
and to obey the Scout Law;
To help other people at all times;
To keep myself physically strong,
mentally awake, and morally straight.
My son was a Cub Scout. He was the last of the line that started with my Dad. My grandsons will not be Boy Scouts. So, I guess along with Fre3d and me, all we have left is a “Double Elimination Cornhole Tourney” or “Bed, Bath and Beyond BINGO”.
Even if our Pastor does not mention the Synod or ask for prayers for orthodox outcomes, you, the good and faithful parishioners of St. Peter’s, even if you are in exile, I know you will pray that God’s Will will carry the day at the Synod. Meanwhile, “I will do my best to do my duty to God …”
My wife is both loving and unselfish. For example, recently she cashed in many of her frequent flyer miles so that I could have both the print copy and online version of the Wall Street Journal (WSJ). She could have put those miles toward an iPad for herself.
Her present to me has made it possible to find articles like Conservative Catholics in U.S. Greet Pope Francis With Unease which was published on September 22. Please read it closely and you will learn many of the reasons why my wife and I looked forward to our return to the Diocese of Arlington after six years in Idaho. Consider:
“Since its establishment in 1974, the diocese has become a magnet for conservative priests and laypeople. It is the diocese where former Senator Rick Santorum and Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia attend church; Justice Scalia’s son, Paul, is a priest who advises the bishop on the assignment of priests to parishes.”
Although I would prefer the word “orthodox” to “conservative” the article still makes the point – the Diocese of Arlington is a place where we can feel at home in our faith
For nearly two years now our friends back in Idaho Falls have not had the opportunity to attend the Mass in the Extraordinary Form, but here in our diocese:
“Nineteen percent of the parishes in Arlington regularly offer the traditional Latin Mass—the highest proportion of any diocese in the country, according to Kenneth Wolfe, a writer for the popular traditionalist website Rorate Caeli.”
As you read the WSJ article you can’t fail to see why we longed to return. The author also captured a glimpse of why many of St. Peter’s Sheep in Exile are spending more of their Sundays at St. John the Baptist:
“During his homily, the Rev. Jerome W. Fasano drew a biting contrast between the heavy media coverage of a lion killed by an American hunter in Zimbabwe and what he characterized as indifference to a series of videos showing Planned Parenthood employees discussing the pricing of tissue from aborted fetuses for the use of medical research.”
“‘Where is the outrage?’ the priest asked. ‘What’s wrong with the world? What’s wrong with our country?'”
The Sheep in Exile are able to go to St. John’s and other nearby parishes to be fed and actually be nourished.
After reading that excerpt from Fr. Fasano’s homily, it might be worthwhile for me to relate for you two chance encounters I’ve had over the last week.
The first encounter was a rather strange affair. I had a short talk with my old friend Fre3d Capra. As usual, I walked away wondering how he manages to survive in the real world. He makes me remember what I told my children prior to watching a Godzilla movie: “Godzilla is real – everything else is fake.” Just remember “Fre3d is real – everything else is fake.”
Fre3d does his fair share for St. Peter’s. Often he takes care of the grounds and does some of the maintenance for the church building. He informed me that he has had several complaints about strange sounds in the main nave. I asked whereabouts in the nave. He replied, “Near the pulpit and from the speakers in the sound system.”
Being rather interested, I asked, “What kind of sounds?”
He answered slowly in an odd tone, “Well, that’s the strange part. People tell me that sometimes they sound like crickets or that all they hear is crickets. So, I thought perhaps I should call an exterminator. But, then the sounds change. Some people have told me that they sound like an old Simon & Garfunkel song.”
“What do you mean ‘thy sound like an old Simon & Garfunkel song’?” This really had me going.
“Well, you’re old enough to remember the song “The Sound of Silence”. That’s the one. People keep telling me that during the homilies at Mass they keep hearing “The Sound of Silence”.
Well, once again Fre3d had thoroughly confused me. As we said our goodbyes, I asked him to let me know if he ever figures out what is causing those sounds. He assured me that he would as he ambled off whistling “The Sound of Silence”.
My confusion was not to last long however, because I think I have finally figured out what’s going on – or more rightly, what’s not going on in the main nave. Think back to the earlier example of a homily given at St. John’s then fast forward to the gospel for last Sunday from Mk 9:38-43, 45, 47-48. In that Gospel Jesus tells us:
“Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin,
it would be better for him if a great millstone
were put around his neck
and he were thrown into the sea.
If your hand causes you to sin, cut it off.
It is better for you to enter into life maimed
than with two hands to go into Gehenna,
into the unquenchable fire.
And if your foot causes you to sin, cut if off.
It is better for you to enter into life crippled
than with two feet to be thrown into Gehenna.
And if your eye causes you to sin, pluck it out.
Better for you to enter into the kingdom of God with one eye
than with two eyes to be thrown into Gehenna,
where ‘their worm does not die, and the fire is not quenched.'”
At the 8:30 AM Mass at St. John’s, the Pastor, after cautioning us not to go plucking out our own eyes, reminded us that sin and the punishment for sin are real. His explanation was clear, forceful, and to be remembered.
At the 11:00 AM Mass at St. Peter’s, the Gospel was not mentioned. The word “sin” was not spoken. The words “Gehenna” or “hell” were never uttered. In my second encounter, one very attentive and alert parishioner noted that any and all references to that type of teaching were studiously avoided by our Pastor. And to my recollection, that has been the case since our Pastor arrived at St. Peter’s.
And therein lies the answer to Fre3d’s problem in the main nave. Yes, since June of 2014, we at St. Peter’s have been hearing crickets and the sound of silence. When it comes to hard teachings of the Church, all we hear is silence.
Here is Bulletin_2015-10-04
It is not the purpose of this blog to forget the good people of the parish who continue to work in support of the Church’s pro-life teachings and many, many other worthy causes. This week, please take time to read what is being done by the parishioners of St. Peter’s.
Likewise, it is not the purpose of this blog to be a relentless hammer pounding away at every action or word coming from the pulpit or the rectory.
Nevertheless, as we said last week, “It is quiet these days at St. Peter’s – very quiet.”
In some ways the only sound we hear is – crickets. – – – – More to follow.