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Beating a Dead Horse #9 – God is Still “Almighty”

Lately, my friend Fre3d Capra has been spending a lot of time in our barn with my dead horse Petition. Despite the snows of the Blizzard of 2016, he has come daily to visit his dear smelly friend. (Fortunately, with the cold of winter, the stench has somewhat abated.) It seems that Fre3d has been beset by a “crisis of faith.”

I first learned of Fre3d’s terrible new torment when I overheard him saying to Petition: “I’m afraid something I always thought was true really isn’t true. I had always thought that God is ‘almighty’. But today I read a comment in the Sheep of Kephas blog about our Pastor that suggests he no longer says that God is ‘almighty’. The comment reminded me:  ‘Don’t forget….’Almighty’ used to be in the final blessing too…’

Fre3d went on to tell Petition that, without a missalette for reference, he had never noticed that our Pastor was omitting the word “Almighty” in the final blessing. Now that this omission had been called to his attention, Fre3d could only conclude that perhaps the Bishop or, perhaps, even the Vatican had called our Pastor and told him that the Magisterium he reevaluated the Church teaching and had determined that God was no longer “almighty”.

Then Fre3d said, “Petition, what happens if God is not ‘almighty’? Does that mean that there may be another god even mightier than our God? Or could it mean that our God no longer merits a capital ‘G’?”

At this display of a person’s faith being challenged and catapulted into absolute crisis, Petition could only respond with his usual sullen silence. “Huh?”

And so it went on for several days. Fre3d had reached a point of great disillusionment. There appeared to be no bottom to the depths of his distress. He was confronted with the prospect of worshiping a God or god that might not be ‘almighty’. Considering how hard it is for a dead horse to sink to a lower spiritual or emotional level, Petition also took on the cloud of gloom that engulfed our barn.

Fre3d and Petition had both fallen prey to the erosive effects of ‘minimalism’. On July 25, 2014, I used that word while speaking with our Pastor. He did not deny that characterization I made of his approach to liturgy, especially in saying the Mass. In his ‘minimalism’ words in the Roman Missal simply disappear – for example the word ‘graciously’ no longer exists. And, as Fre3d found out, without missalettes, no one will be the wiser when a word is jettisoned from the Mass. Now the missing word is ‘almighty’.

dead-horseConsider how this minimization has actually taken away an attribute of God, so clearly stated in the Nicene Creed: “I believe in one God, the Father almighty, …”

Is this how my story ends? Do I intend to leave you with two forlorn creatures, lost and despondent, in my barn. Will Fre3d’s crisis of faith not only drag him down to the depths, but will it also take my poor dead horse with him?

No, I cannot do that to you. Today, I forced Fre3d to go to Mass with me at St. Peter’s, kicking and screaming, “No, I can’t go. There is no ‘almighty’ God there.” And when we arrived, Fre3d and I witnessed a minor miracle. In God’s great and wonderful grace, Fre3d was to attend a Mass said by Fr. Pilon rather than our Pastor.

We both prayed with Father through the Mass and Fre3d saw that every word printed in my Daily Roman Missal came to Fr. Pilon’s lips and, when we came to the final blessing, Fre3d heard the authority of the Holy Catholic Church being proclaimed when Fr. Pilon said: “May almighty God bless you: the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit.”

And the clouds of gloom were opened and the radiance of Truth shined through! Fre3d was struck with the awe of the Almighty One – the Almighty God.

As soon as we arrived home, Fre3d leaped from my car and ran through the snow to the barn to share his joyous and miraculous experience. “Petition, Petition! God is indeed “ALMIGHTY”!!

My dearly beloved dead horse was heard to say as he often has before,  “Say the black, do the red!

If you have not already done so, I recommend you acquire a Daily Roman Missal or some suitable missalette. Even if our Pastor casts away or minimizes the words that the Church has given him to say, you will have the words before you. Those words belong to the Church – those words belong to God – they were given to us so that we can praise Him Who is Almighty!

Blessing

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For the Sheep in Exile – Bulletin 2016-01-31

Here is Bulletin_2016-01-31. There was a flyer in the bulletin that was too large for scanning. Please go to Bishop’s Lenten Appeal for details.

Analysis and Commentary:

1. Oh, the Uncertainty, Again: Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday last week were scheduled to be Communion Services. We had speculated that it might be time for Father’s annual ski trip. We also tentatively projected that the Blizzard of 2016 might force Father to cancel his plans. Apparently, it did. We know for sure that he celebrated Mass at St. Peter’s on Monday. Now, the new bulletin says that on both Monday and Wednesday there will be Communion Services at 8: 30 AM. It also notes:

There will be a Communion Service on Wednesday, February 3, St. Blaise Day, with blessing of the throats.

So, there are no blizzards predicted for next week and it looks like Father might actually be out there on the slopes this week. My beautiful spouse often wonders about that. She knows how much a successful skier depends on strong, flexible knees. If that is indeed the case, why does Father find it impossible to bend his knee and genuflect before the Most Blessed Sacrament?

2. New Cronies – Birds of a Feather: A major portion of the Pastor’s Piece was devoted to the following:

Hal Hunter, a very active member of the Rappahannock community, has brought to my attention the need for drivers to bring people to Cancer treatment. The program is called: Road to Recovery:

“Once or twice a month Hal drives a cancer patient for treatment at the Fauquier Hospital or the Cancer Center. His wife and Hal know both facilities well. She survived stage 4 lymphoma five years ago. Driving other cancer patients is one way to give back. Hal drives for an American Cancer Society program called the Road to Recovery. It used to be active in the County, then died. At present, Hal is the only Road to Recovery driver in the County. We need more drivers because the hospital added a Center for Cancer Care. The patient load is increasing, which increases the need for drivers. You get to specify how often you will drive, on what days, how far you will go, and so on. You can do all this online at http://www.cancer.org/involved/volunteer/road-to-recovery-volunteers, or you can attend a meeting at the Library on February 1st at 3:00pm. The program will be explained, questions answered and have signup forms. Hope to see you there.”

Thought 1: My sister, my brother, and my father all died of cancer. There is no way you will hear me criticize the intent of the Road to Recovery.

Thought 2: Father has found yet another highly visible, local “community activist” with whom to share his time and causes. As might be suspected, this activist is more strongly affiliated with the Rappahannock County Democratic Committee and liberal social agenda than with more conservative causes. Perhaps this example illustrates my point. Birds of a feather do flock together. Because we are still new to the area, perhaps you will let me know if I’m off base here.

Thought 3: My sister was visited frequently by a priest prior to her death. My father grew closer to God and his Catholic Faith in the years before he died and he was ready when cancer came. Through God’s grace, my brother finally opened up his heart to God after being away from the Church for decades. He received the Last Rites before he died. When I think of cancer patients, I think of the Four Last Things – Death, Judgement, Heaven or Hell. That strengthens my resolve to choose the real “Road to Recovery”.

Of Life, Amorrhites, and False gods

IMG_20160122_071901664Dawn on January 22 signaled a warning. For my wife and me it was a warning on many levels. From my old Navy days it was “Red sky at morning, sailors take warning.” And that red dawn, in fact, signaled the coming of the Blizzard of 2016. It was at Mass at St. John the Baptist that we heard that their buses to the March for Life had been canceled. – Yet, they had scheduled buses, whereas St. Peter’s had not. The faithful and the believers in the Church’s teaching on life made their way to Mass and Communion. We prayed for those who would be at the March.

And who was at the March? There were thousands. One day earlier I had the chance to see them as they came in from all ends of the country. Nuns, high school students, families with young children, and many, many Catholic priests. As I made my way from Metro Center to the Renaissance Washington DC Downtown Hotel, bound for the the March for Life Conference and Convention, I saw them. And knowing what weather was coming, I prayed for them. They were the ones making a true sacrifice.

Entering the hotel lobby, I saw them by the hundreds. They were friends meeting old friends. They were friends meeting new friends. They were of one mind and one heart. They had made the journey. I watched them as I made my way to the exposition rooms downstairs. They were dedicated and with purpose.

At the bottom of the staiLife 1rs, I saw the signs, banners, and displays. So many, many organizations dedicated to building a culture of life. I have a family member who works for one of these groups. We met and had coffee together, discussing the March and the weather to come. Then, he had to get back to work and I took the Life 2opportunity to take pictures of some of the displays.

Will the Supreme Court decision of Roe v. Wade ever be over turned? I truly don’t know. Yet, my wife and I will continue to pray and sacrifice to that end. And that particular family member of ours will continue to help spread the message and, more importantly, to live the message in his own family life. He has chosen for himself and his house in the same my wife and I have chosen for ourselves and our house.

“But if it seem evil to you to serve the Lord, you have your choice: choose this day that which pleaseth you, whom you would rather serve, whether the gods which your fathers served in Mesopotamia, or the gods of the Amorrhites, in whose land you dwell: but as for me and my house we will serve the Lord.” (J0shua 24:15)

Our God is a god of Justice and our God is a God of Mercy. We are living in a time of Mercy; we are living in a Year of Mercy. One has to wonder will there some day be a red sky in the morning that will signal a Year of Justice? And should that day come, what will be in the hearts of those at St. Peter’s who were dismayed when no bus had been scheduled to the March? And should that day come, what will be in the heart of the shepherd of St. Peter’s who had no time to schedule a bus to the March?

 

 

For the Sheep in Exile – Bulletin 2016-01-24

Here is Bulletin_2016-01-24

Note 1: Statement from Bishop Paul S. Loverde Dispensing Catholics from Sunday Mass Obligation for 1-24-2016:

(ARLINGTON, VA) In a statement released on January 21, 2016, Most Reverend Paul S. Loverde, Bishop of Arlington, said the following:

“Due to the impending storm which is predicted to be severe, and bearing in mind that Governor Terry McAuliffe has declared a state of emergency in the Commonwealth of Virginia, all Catholics in the Diocese of Arlington are dispensed from the obligation to attend Mass on Sunday, January 24, 2016. Such inclement weather and poor road/travel conditions which may jeopardize safety are serious concerns.

Note 2: The Bishop’s dispensation will undoubtedly make my original paper version of Bulletin 2016-01-24 a valuable collectors item. Don’t you wish you had one?

Analysis and Commentary

This weeks bulletin is replete with items of interest worthy of commentary. So much so that we will have to speak about some of them in separate posts.

1. Oh, the Uncertainty: Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday are scheduled Communion Services. That usually indicates that Father is going to take a vacation. Perhaps it’s time for his annual ski trip. For many, Father’s vacation signals an opportunity to return to the Parish for a few days. But, alas, the Blizzard of 2016 may force Father to cancel his plans. Oh, the uncertainty – will Father be off on a well-deserved vacation, or will he still be here. Blizzards surely can cause unusual inconveniences.

2. Valentine’s Day Massacre: As announced earlier, St. Peter’s will be cosponsoring “a dialogue from the whole world on the care of our common home.” Please refer to the item 2. The More Important in For the Sheep in Exile – Bulletin 2016-01-10. I asked my best gal if she could handle the excitement and romance of an afternoon at the library engaged in an interfaith, lack of faith, semi-secular, heterodox discussion that will lead to no good ends. She replied that she could only made more amorous be an opportunity to clean out an old outhouse. I guess I’ll have to come up with a better idea for a cheap Valentine’s Day date. Oh, bother!

3. They’re Back! Yes, St. Peter’s and Rappahannock County have been beset by a Poltergeist. We thought it was gone. But, the flyer in this week’s bulletin boldly proclaims: “Get Your Taxes Done Free!” Ah, yes. None other than the People inc. poltergeist is sponsoring this service. We can understand that free tax preparation might provide a great service to the community. But, why is it being advertised in our parish bulletin? More to the point, why is it that since our current Pastor arrived, People inc. is so close by. Certain organizations and certain types of priests seem to have a strong affinity toward one another.

For the Sheep in Exile – Bulletin 2016-01-17

Here is Bulletin_2016-01-17

Analysis and Commentary

Don’t Forget: There will be no bus from St. Peter’s to the annual March for Life this year. In this week’s Pastor’s Piece Father states:

DON’T FORGET THE…..
MARCH FOR LIFE-FRIDAY, JANUARY22
Please see announcement inside this bulletin.

That is the point, Father – we have not forgotten and we will not forget!

A very perceptive and helpful reader did not forget. She kindly informed me that:

In a recent post you compared the 2015 announcement in St. Peter’s bulletin for the March for Life, to the current year’s.   I found one from Sunday, January 19, 2014, and thought you might like to read Father Murphy’s Pastor’s Piece:
“My mistake.  Last bulletin, I mentioned that the little white flags in our yard represent the 3,300 unborn children killed by abortion “each year.”  It is rather incomprehensible, and so, it didn’t catch my attention, but the sad, sad reality is that the flags represent 3,300 killed each day.  This is the number for the United States alone.  This sobering figure not only doesn’t include the rest of the world, but it also doesn’t include the human beings discarded through chemical abortion, whether it be through the side effects of the “pill” that prevents newly conceived human life from implanting on the inter-uterine wall of the mother or the human fetus kills such as, The Morning After Pill, Plan B and the like.  It is a callous disregard for human life, no matter how we look at it.  Prayer and conversion of hearts is what is desperate needed.  Please consider joining us for the March for Life on Wednesday, or at least, skip dessert or hold the meat, seek out a church and offer a Rosary for the change of hearts needed.  Christ’s Peace, Fr. Murphy”

This is what we can’t forget. For years, St. Peter’s had pastors who led their flock. Pastors such as Fr. Murphy would call the flock to follow. They would gently guide the flock and teach them God’s plan for life on earth – not man’s plan to destroy life under the false banner of “save the earth”.

Don’t Forget: There is no single post we have written that has received so many comments as the item Life – Last Year and This Year in For the Sheep in Exile – Bulletin 2016-01-10. Several times after Mass and elsewhere, parishioners stopped me and asked “Why is there no bus to the March this year?” Canceling the bus was one action that struck to the core of our Catholic hearts. How do you join “us for the March for Life” if the Pastor has allowed the flock to scatter so that there no longer is an “us” to join?

Don’t Forget: There was a time when the scales of the works of mercy were balanced at St. Peter’s. The emphasis was on both the Spiritual and the Corporal. Secular social justicism is not part of the Christian works of mercy.

Don’t Forget: Many of the Sheep of St. Peter’s are at other parishes now. Keep them in your prayers. They left because the Mass and the Eucharist were no longer the central focus in the life of the parish.

Don’t Forget: It wasn’t the taking away of the bells – it was the taking away of what the bells were meant to signify. It wasn’t the use of a pewter paten – it was the taking away of the gold befitting our King. So many things have been taken away.

Don’t Forget: Father has said: “Don’t forget the……” Surely, we will never forget. We won’t forget Life. And we won’t forget the way it was is during the “status quo ante.” Someday, there will be a new Pastor who will gather all the sheep together and we will be joyous because we did not forget.

As Fr. Murphy would say: “Christ peace!”

For the Sheep in Exile – Bulletin 2016-01-10

Here is Bulletin_2016-01-10

Analysis and Commentary

1. Life Last Year and This Year: Last year in Bulletin_2015-01-11 and Bulletin_2015-01-18 there was the following announcement:

The annual MARCH FOR LIFE in Washington, D.C. is set for Thursday, Jan. 22nd, 2015. There will be a bus from St. Peter’s for anyone wishing to participate in this event, and donations can be offered on the trip to D.C.. Mid-morning will be the departure time for the bus, which will return to St. Peter’s between 5 and 6 pm. The bus can stop at the commuter lot in Warrenton (north of town) for those who live close to that town. Bring a bag lunch which you can eat on the bus on the way to the March. Anyone under age 18 needs to be accompanied by an adult. Look for a sign up sheet which will appear next weekend as you enter the church.

This year in Bulletin_2016-01-10 there is an announcement saying:

Are you thinking of going to the March for Life on Jan. 22, 2016 in Washington, D.C.? St. Peter’s is not having a bus this year, but two neighboring parishes are welcoming St. Peter parishioners on their buses:

St. John the Evangelist in Warrenton–a donation of $20 (adult) and$10 (child up to age 13) to defer the cost of the bus needs to be in the office by Jan. 20. Please call Olivia (secretary) at 540-347-2927 as soon as possible.

Precious Blood Catholic Church in Culpeper–a free will offering to defer the cost of the bus will be taken on the bus. The bus will leave the church parking lot at 10:30 am and return at around 6 pm. Please call Scott Klose at 540-718-7574 as soon as possible.

What has changed in a year that makes it no longer possible to have a bus to take our parishioners to the annual March for Life?

Life, the March for Life, the understanding that all human life is sacred – Have we heard recently about this Catholic teaching about Life from the pulpit here at St. Peter’s?

What has changed in a year that makes it no longer possible to have a bus to take our parishioners to the annual March for Life?

Perhaps there are more important concerns that have taken precedence at St. Peter’s. If that is so, what might they be?

2. The More Important: Perhaps the following from the last page of  Bulletin_2016-01-10 constitutes one of those more important concerns that justify not having a bus for the annual March for Life:

AN INVITATION TO
ALL RAPPAHANNOCK COUNTY RESIDENTS
TO TALK ABOUT THE POPE’S ENCYCLICAL ON THE CARE FOR
OUR COMMON HOME

The Pope is asking for a dialogue from the whole world on the care for our common home. Pope Francis has said in his encyclical: “I urgently appeal for a new dialogue about how we are shaping the future of our planet. We need a conversation which includes everyone …”

Discussion will be held at: Rappahannock County Library
When: Sunday, February 14, 2016
Time: 3:30pm-5:30pm
A series of five monthly conversations are planned.

Sponsors: St. Peter Catholic Church, Washington, VA; Unitarian Universalists of the Blue Ridge, Sperryville; Green Team of St. James’ Episcopal Church, Warrenton; RappFLOW; Rappahannock League for Environmental Protection; (others to be announced.)

No prior preparation is needed to participate in this discussion. Copies of the book Laudato Si,’ St. Francis’ Encyclical Letter, will be available.

Contact: Fr. Tuck Grinnell, email: grinnellhorace@gmail.com. phone: 540-675-3432

To this my wife and I make the following simple comments:

  •  Father, despite what you and Fred Pugarelli might think, Pope Francis is not yet “St. Francis” as you have indicated in your announcement.
  • It is unlikely that the Unitarians or the Episcopalians or any of the other participants are providing the copies of Laudato Si’. The book pictured in the bulletin announcement is listed on Amazon for $9.47 per copy. Might we point out that the Vatican makes this available for free to all at Encyclical Letter Laudato Si’ of the Holy Father Francis on Care for our Common Home. We have had this link on the Sheep of Kephas blog for quite some time. Save the Parish some money and have the interested parties download it from the Vatican site.
  • Perhaps the money to be spent on the copies of Laudato Si’ would be better spent on financing a bus for St. Peter’s faithful to go to the annual March for Life.
  • In this Jubilee Year of Mercy, would it not be useful to preach from the pulpit what a great mercy it would be if abortions were to be stopped, if Planned Parenthood were to be disbanded, and our Supreme Court be persuaded that Life matters?
  • Even better, Father – perhaps you could call together the Unitarian Universalists of the Blue Ridge; the Green Team of St. James’ Episcopal Church; RappFLOW; and the Rappahannock League for Environmental Protection “for a dialogue from the whole world” on the Church’s teaching on Life, the Holy Eucharist, eternal salvation, etc. we’re sure that they would participate with the same vigor as they will on Laudato Si’. Not!
  • By the way, February 14th is Valentine’s Day. The first meeting at the library might be absented by a few loving couples.

For the Sheep in Exile – Bulletin 2016-01-03

Here is Bulletin_2016-01-03

Still within the Octave of Christmas, today we celebrate the Feast of the Solemnity of Mary, the Holy Mother of God.

My wife and I are taking this time to regroup, to reflect, and to pray. On the 27th of December, we enjoyed the great gift of seeing our 11th grandchild (granddaughter number five) receive the Holy Sacrament of Baptism. The Baptism immediately followed Mass in the Extraordinary form with our two eldest grandsons serving. The Baptism rite was also conducted in the Extraordinary Form, primarily in Latin. Our eldest grandson was the Godfather and our second eldest grandson served the priest. My wife, a convert, was amazed by the richness of the old rite with its symbolism and instruction on the great importance of this Holy Sacrament.

In the Bulletin you will find A Letter from His excellency Most Reverend Paul S. Loverde On the Occasion of the World Day of Peace January 1, 2016. Also of interest for Catholics throughout the world is the Pope’s message Overcome Indifference and Win Peace.

As I said earlier, we are taking this time to regroup, to reflect, and to pray. Next week we will be back with analysis and commentary on items in the bulletin and other happenings related to the St. Peter’s.