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.