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

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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.

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