The Sheep of Kephas

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Chester Gap

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As I am writing this, it is about 6:30 PM on February 26. Today, I learned of an accident that took place on Chester Gap. An SUV, a school bus, and a small sedan were involved. Thankfully, there were no children on the bus and no one was hurt. The SUV was undamaged, but the small sedan collided with the bus. The direct cause was ice on the road.

The woman driving the SUV was emotionally shaken. She could not reach her husband by phone until over two hours later. The husband was 2,146 miles away on business, where he could provide no assistance. Now he is asking himself why this happened. As I said, the direct cause was ice on the road. Yet, I know, you know, all of the Sheep of Kephas know that there was an indirect cause that led to this accident. My wife, the driver of the SUV, and I, the husband who is so far away during a time of need, know that indirect cause resides at St. Peter Catholic Church in Washington, VA.

On at least two occasions this blog has referred to Chester Gap. In the post Dead Horse #6 – It’s a Mystery, on June 1, 2015 we said:

Chester Gap is at an altitude of 1,339 ft (408 m) and it separates Warren County from our own Rappahannock County. It is also the dividing line between two parishes of the Diocese of Arlington, our St. Peter’s and St. John the Baptist. During the Winter, the Gap presents a hazard to those traveling from Washington, Virginia to Front Royal. The road can be icy and treacherous. It is a hazard that many of the sheep in exile must negotiate on a weekly or even daily basis.

It is Lent. My wife makes every effort possible to attend daily Mass. On Wednesday of this week she was able to attend a Communion Service held by Deacon Benyo at St. Peter’s, only three miles from our home in Sperryville. Why was it that today she had to cross Chester Gap to attend Mass at St. John the Baptist? Perhaps our statements on January 4, 2015 in our post For the Sheep in Exile – Bulletin 2015-01-04 will help to answer the question.

Personal Commentary: My wife and I made the passage twice across a foggy, rainy, and sometimes treacherous Chester Gap last evening to attend Mass at St. John the Baptist. As we were traveling, we engaged in our recurring conversation about why we travel the extra 20.6 miles each way, week after week. Certainly, if we only made the three-mile trip from our house to St. Peter’s, we would be safer and we would save a full hour of our time. Yet, the Sheep in Exile know why we make the trip. They know why they also make the sacrifice. …

Going back to our statement on June 1, 2015, we noted:

These days, Chester Gap is also the dividing line between to ways of thinking about the Roman Catholic Church. On the Front Royal side of the Gap orthodoxy prevails. On the Washington [, VA] side there is something different. …

There it is. The Sheep in Exile, the sheep of St. Peter’s who desire to be fed with sound, undiluted Catholic doctrine, often make the trek to other parishes. They go elsewhere so that that can partake in sacramental worship and prayer without fear of encountering aberrations. They go to avoid near occasions of sin resulting from frustration and even anger. Go to a Sunday 8:30 AM Mass at St. John the Baptist and will see them and perhaps you will also see us.

As we have said in the past, we pray for our Pastor and we pray for the sheep. But there comes a time, a time like this, when you begin to wonder why we must endure this. At times like this, we begin to wonder why the Bishop thought that moving this particular priest to St. Peter’s would be beneficial to anyone or that any problem would be solved.

Consider if things had gone differently on the morning of February 26. Suppose there were children on the bus. Suppose someone had been hurt.

Consider also, if the driver of that SUV had not had not been compelled to cross Chester Gap by the need seek a Mass said in reverent conformity with the desire of the Holy Church to feed and nourish the sheep.

Consider that, if the driver of the SUV could have found something better than the current minimalist Mass at St. Peter’s, she would have been among the first to be at St. Peter’s that morning – – and she would have been there safely.

Pray for our Pastor. And pray that the bishops throughout this country lay to rest the notion that they can solve a problem merely by moving the direct cause of the problem elsewhere. It doesn’t work for pedophiles and it won’t work for radical pastors either.

Pray for spiritual justice.



1 Comment

  1. Thank God no one was hurt. You all continue to be in our prayers as does Fr. Grinnell. There is a stubborn pride in the liberal mindset that can make for disastrous blind spots. One can only pray that the individual is not fully culpable because of ignorance. The only other alternative is malice. Dear Mother Mary, you love your priest sons so much. I beg for your intercession for Fr. Grinnell.


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