The Sheep of Kephas

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For the Sheep in Exile – Bulletin 2016-05-01

Here is Bulletin_2016-05-01

All appears to be quiet at St. Peter’s. That is not necessarily a good sign.

Первое мая (May Day): As a retired Cold Warrior who stood guard against Soviet and Chinese Communist forces for 21 years, I recall this day with a set of mixed and dissonant memories. 

In my childhood, May was the month dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary, the time for the Rosary and May Crowning. I was not yet aware of the world’s great problems. In time, however, Our Lady of Fatima would reveal to me, as she did to the world in 1917, how important that Rosary would be in the context of my life.

In the mid-80s, at the height of tensions during the Cold War, there was a particular incident about which I can give no details. On that day, I could see more clearly than ever before, just how closely Mary was protecting her children. It was a moment that did much to change my understanding of who I was and what I must do with my life.

As the Church Militant we are not meant to be passive and expect God’s aid in all circumstances. Cold Warriors had to step up and face the evil of Communism as defined in worldly terms. At Fatima the evil of Communism was much more clearly defined.

“Russia will spread its errors throughout the world, raising up wars and persecutions against the Church. The good will be martyred, the Holy Father will have much to suffer, and various nations will be annihilated.”

Today, the evils confronting the Church are many, but their names are not nearly as well known as the simple term Communism. Nevertheless, the Church Militant should consider this Russian proverb: Бережёного Бог бережёт (God keeps those safe who keep themselves safe). In English we might say: “God helps those who help themselves. Pray to God but keep the powder dry.”

The Church Militant cannot remain passive, we must be ready to step up to the challenge, even if it appears to be insurmountable. Pray the Rosary. Look to the Holy Family for spiritual security. Look to Jesus for strength. Look to Mary for protection. And look to St. Joseph for guidance.

For many in the world this is Первое мая (May Day, International Workers’ Day), but for me and my family, this is the Feast of St. Joseph the Worker and the first day of Mary’s Month. Pray the Rosary!

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For the Sheep in Exile – Bulletin 2016-04-24

Here is Bulletin_2016-04-24

Commentary

1. Communion Services:  Wednesday 27 April and Friday 29 April are scheduled to be Communion Services. There are various reasons why some might want to attend a Communion Service or look for a Mass elsewhere. This notice is just to help you plan your week.

2. A Reflection: This week’s bulletin reflection takes the following verse from this Sunday’s Gospel:

“I give you a new commandment: love one another.
As I have loved you, so you also should love one
another.” (JOHN 13:34)

I find it worthwhile to reflect on the all the verses presented in the Gospel, especially the last:

Gospel Jn 13:31-33a, 34-35

When Judas had left them, Jesus said,
“Now is the Son of Man glorified, and God is glorified in him.
If God is glorified in him,
God will also glorify him in himself,
and God will glorify him at once.
My children, I will be with you only a little while longer.
I give you a new commandment: love one another.
As I have loved you, so you also should love one another.
This is how all will know that you are my disciples,
if you have love for one another.
The final verse brings with it a subtle yet consequential distinction. Initially, Jesus addresses the listeners as “My children”. That implies we should love one another as siblings, as family, sharing God as our Father.
Yet, the final verse requires love of an ever more important type. Unlike siblings in everyday families who often fight among themselves, Jesus asks us to put that aside. The love we must show to each other and the world must, absolutely must show that we share in our understanding and living of the teachings of our Master. It must be clear to all that we truly are the Master’s “disciples”.
If we do not fully accept the teachings of the Master, if we dissent, if we reject His teaching, we cannot be in full union with those who do accept and believe – we cannot love them. In this “new commandment”, Jesus brings love and belief into common accord – they are inseparable.
“When Judas had left them”, he had left his belief in the Master behind. In doing that, he could find no way to love Jesus’ disciples. With the loss of love in his heart, he could not even love himself – he despaired.
This is why the motto of this blog is: “Assent to counter Dissent” It is our earnest desire to bring together the flock of St. Peter’s through assent to the teaching of the Master. In that way the sheep can show that they are Jesus’ disciples because it will show in their “love for one another”.

Rules and Tools for Radical Pastors #12: Forum without a Defense

Our time is highly limited this week, but you have to see what is being said about Catholic teaching here in Rappahannock County. In his piece Skirting the Edge – Polite Disagreement in Rappahannock Jed Duvall puts it out there for all of us to see. The world, even the micro-world of Rappahannock County, does not approve of Catholic teaching on families and contraception.

This was a tough one. Organizers labeled it “challenging.” The third in a “Conversation” inspired by Pope Francis’ concerns for the environment and for poor people drew thirty-nine folks to the Washington, Va fire hall on Sunday, April 10, 2016.

The group was given paragraph number fifty from the encyclical “Care for Our Common Home.” What makes this discussion challenging is that the subject is, without using the phrase, birth control, and the church’s highly controversial stand against it.

Pope Francis, in his concern for the poor, writes that “to blame population growth instead of extreme and selective consumerism…is one way of refusing to face the issues.” (The complete paragraph and handout is available here.)

Nobody threw it in Francis’ face; people in Rappahannock are too polite for that. But it was offered in some of the discussion that “the thought adopted by this group is that we are the enablers of our consumption addiction, and the church needs to do more to support contraception and smaller families.”

Sheep of Kephas, read this article in its entirety. Read it slowly. Our Radical Pastor organized this series of meetings. This article makes that point clear. Our Radical Pastor has opened up the dialog among the wolves and the wolves say, “…the church needs to do more to support contraception and smaller families.”

This series of a meetings is a forum without a defense. There is no way an orthodox Catholic believer can counter what has been said.

The wolves have been alerted to our weakness, and the wolves are hungry.

Remember as you read – this is Good Shepherd Sunday.

 

For the Sheep in Exile – Bulletin 2016-04-17

Here is Bulletin_2016-04-17

General Comments

1. Resurrection: The “blue screen of death” (BSOD) has been vanquished (at least for now) and late yesterday my wife and I celebrated the resurrection of my laptop.

Lesson Learned: Never follow the recommendations of Microsoft (MS). You may think you have installed Windows 10 over Windows 8.1 successfully, but weeks down the line, you may find yourself facing the BSOD. Microsoft and PC repair companies may take my security, time and money, but they will never take my soul – providing I go to Confession and repent of my foul mood, colorful sailor’s language, and earnest desires for MS programmers to spend eternity in a very warm place.

2. Double-Dog Dare: To date, we have no responses on our double-dog dare to attend the “April 10 Conversation about the Pope’s Encyclical”. So, we will not have the opportunity to treat anyone at Copper Fox Distillery or Rudy’s Pizza. Nevertheless, there was one valued reader who contacted us and provided useful comments and encouragement. That reader is now included in our daily Rosary intentions for two weeks.

Commentary

The Good Shepherd: The following comment was not, we repeat, not in this week’s bulletin at St. Peter’s, nor do we expect it to be in the bulletin any time soon. Nevertheless, it is good to know that in many parishes throughout our diocese, even within the Beltway, there are priests willing to lead their flocks toward the Father.

IN TESTIMONIUM…

On Wednesdays and First Saturdays, on Holy Thursday and on Corpus Christi, we gather at the altar to adore Our Lord in the Most Blessed Sacrament. When the priest or deacon leads prayers at Exposition and Benediction he is kneeling in front of the altar.

Try to imagine for a moment how it would look and how you would feel if the priest or deacon were to kneel behind the altar at Exposition and Benediction. When I try to image that it seems awkward.

When the priest or deacon is facing the same direction as most of the congregation, is it not clearly symbolic of his leading the Christian people toward God?

Cardinal Ratzinger would agree. In his book Spirit of the Liturgy (published in 2000 by Ignatius Press) there is a chapter entitled “The Altar and the Direction of Liturgical Prayer”. In it he says:

after the Council (which says nothing about “turning to the people”) new altars were set up everywhere, and today celebration versus populum really does look like the characteristic fruit of Vatican II’s liturgical renewal. In fact it is the most conspicuous consequence of a re-ordering that not only signifies a new external arrangement of the places dedicated to the Liturgy, but also brings with it a new idea of the essence of the Liturgy.

Needless to say, he considers the “new idea” to be mistaken. Instead of conceding these changes as permanent he insists:

A common turning to the East during the Eucharistic Prayer remains essential. This is not a case of accidentals, but of essentials. Looking at the priest has no importance. What matters is looking together at the Lord. It is not now a question of dialogue, but of common worship, of setting off towards the One who is to come.

At the same time he suggests (back in the year 2000) that this takes time, admitting that “nothing is more harmful to the Liturgy than constant changes, even if it seems to be for the sake of genuine renewal.” His initial suggestion for immediate implementation was the placement of a significant cross in the middle of the altar to serve as a reference point.

The next modest correction that can be taken without any further rebuilding would be for the priest and deacon to stand at the front of the altar during the Eucharistic Prayer, similar to how they lead prayers at Adoration. This is what St. John has been doing on Holy Thursday, Good Friday and Holy Saturday for many years. I would like to know your thoughts about our doing that more of the time.

God bless you!

Fr. Christopher J. Pollard
Fr.Pollard@StJohnCatholicMcLean.org

Consider this Sunday’s Gospel:

Jesus said:
“My sheep hear my voice;
I know them, and they follow me.
I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish.
No one can take them out of my hand.
My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all,
and no one can take them out of the Father’s hand.
The Father and I are one.”

The Good Shepherd “leads”, the Good Shepherd leads his sheep to the Father. We at St. Peter’s desire eternal life and to know the Father. To this end, the Church gives a shepherd to individual flocks. Yet, not all the shepherds are dedicated to this mission. They have other concerns, concerns more of this world than the next. They would rather save the world than save souls, man’s impact on the climate is more threatening than Satan’s hunger for souls.

As Venerable Fulton Sheen has said: “Unless souls are saved, nothing is saved. There can be no world peace unless there is soul peace.”

Since June of 2014, my wife and I have found little peace of soul at St. Peter’s. Meanwhile, the shepherd is in town with his climate cronies, drinking the intoxicating brew served at the bar of social justicism.

“Unless souls are saved, nothing is saved. There can be no world peace unless there is soul peace.”

 

For the Sheep in Exile – Bulletin 2016-04-10

Here is Bulletin_2016-04-10

Apology: For two years, I had a contractual relationship with United Press International (UPI) and was eligible for press credentials. Each week I had to make a deadline with a 12-page newsletter. There would be little allowance for tardiness. Whether I was in Virginia, California or Hawaii on other business, I had to meet the deadline.

This week’s post is late. There were reasons, but there are no excuses. The fact that my computer was stricken with the blue screen of death (BSOD) is not an excuse. The whole affair prompts me to say or is that “C:prompts” me to say, “Computers are not our friends, they merely tolerate us.” Obviously, my computer is no longer tolerant.

Mortality: Though difficult enough for me, the death of a computer can be dismissed as just another event. The recent death of my friend is both a human and a spiritual event. His burial at Quantico National Cemetery brought a great reality into sharp and immediate focus. The mournful sound of Taps and the final blessing by the priest cause me to reflect upon my own 21 years in service to the country and my 44 years as husband and father. Mortality and the eventual call of Jesus to the place he has prepared for me must be understood and accepted. I must be prepared!

Then, with no warning, I learn that my brother-in-law has suffered a heart attack. He survived and is recovering and prayers were answered. Yet, here again the question of mortality demands consideration. I must be prepared!

The Gospel on this Third Sunday of Easter makes the point so well:

Amen, amen, I say to you, when you were younger,
you used to dress yourself and go where you wanted;
but when you grow old, you will stretch out your hands,
and someone else will dress you
and lead you where you do not want to go.”
He said this signifying by what kind of death he would glorify God.
And when he had said this, he said to him, “Follow me.”

And in answer to my concerns about mortality, Jesus clearly says, “Follow me.” It is my prayer that I live the kind of life and die the kind of death that “would glorify God.”

The Needs of the Flock: This week’s Gospel comes as close to addressing the needs of the flock at St. Peter’s as any scripture can. In this Gospel are the words from the Good Shepherd, the Divine Shepherd to all the shepherds and pastors who would ever receive the great gift of Holy Orders. These are the words that bring confidence to the lambs who might otherwise loose their way, to the sheep threatened by the wolves of this world, and by the sheep who seek nourishment and guidance. The instructions are simple, yet profound:

“Feed my lambs.”

“Tend my sheep.”

“Feed my sheep.”

There was no other priority. For St. Peter and all to follow the flock comes FIRST. Of course, those outside the flock must be gathered together and brought into the fold, but if the lambs and sheep have not been tended, how can any within or outside the fold be saved?

Double Dog Dare: This week there will be a great family gathering in Sperryville. Three children, their three spouses, eleven grand children, a 17 lb. flying feline fuzzball, a dead horse named Petition, and Fre3d will gather together to celebrate five March/April birthdays and many other important events. Consequently, I will be unable to attend the “April 10 Conversation about the Pope’s Encyclical.” This week they’re going to discuss population control. Yikes!!!

True Catholic teaching will be on display and probably mocked. Our Pastor will be there. What will be his position? This will probably be the best of the series – at least from the standpoint of sick humor. And yours truly will not be able to attend. Therefore, in the spirit of The Christmas Story, I hereby issue a double dog dare to any of you to attend in my place. Go put your tongue on the frozen flagpole as my wife and Spiritual Director urged me to do. Should anyone take this double dog dare challenge and provide a report on the proceedings, I will gladly take you to either the Copper Fox Distillery or Rudy’s Pizza and purchase the treat you most desire. More importantly, I will include you in my daily Rosary intentions for the next two weeks.

For the Sheep in Exile – Bulletin 2016-04-03

Here is Bulletin_2016-04-03

From Triduum to the Solemnity of Solemnities: One day is incapable of holding all the mystery and joy of Easter. Even the Octave of Easter cannot provide all that the Church wants us to learn from the Resurrection and Jesus’ subsequent appearances to the Apostles. So, Holy Mother Church gives us an entire Easter Season. He is risen as He said! Alleluia!

During this Easter Season, my wife and I will reflect upon the loss of a dear friend. We will consider the meaning of his suffering. We will pray for the same graces and privileges he had. His reception of the Last Rites and an apostolic blessing with plenary indulgence at the hour of death, clearly placed him in the loving embrace of Jesus, Mary and Joseph. And, of course, we will pray for his wife and family and assist them in whatever way we are able.

In this Eastertide, we will also consider the work done by Mother Angelica through EWTN. She was a true defender of the Faith. She was bold and fearless in her assent for the teaching of the Church and her chastising the dissenters who were leading the flock astray.

In the spirit of joy that comes with Easter, my son-in-law and I will also ask for Mother Angelica’s intercession in our fishing excursions. Why? Consider this story from the 29 May 1961 Southern Illinoisian that read as follows:

A group of Franciscan Nuns in Ohio has gone into the fishing lure manufacturing business. All profits will go to their church. These lures will be called the St. Peter’s Fishing Lures—after the Big Fisherman. They have 16 worms, jigs, bucktails, and plugs. I’m told that each lure is sold with a built-in prayer for the user to have good fishing. I’m sure there are days when each of us can use all the help we can get.

Mother Angelica takes her rightful place now with Venerable Fulton Sheen, the first master of modern Catholic media. Because it appears that Mother had a great love for St. Peter, we will pray for her intercession on behalf of all of us at St. Peter’s.

Coming Soon: Over the next few weeks we will spend more time unraveling the social justicism that is going on behind the scenes within our Parish and in Rappahannock County. Until then, here is some recommended reading: Summarized Notes from March 13 and Does Francis Know?.