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A Glimpse of the Loving Hand of God:

 Priceless treasure in a ghost town

Dr. Tim Brady (Photos by Mike Walsh) POSTED: 11/5/11
Guest Columnist  

Father Rodriguez finds a New Church for an Old Mass

( At the western approach to Big Bend, smack on the border of Mexico, sits the town of Presidio, Texas, where Father Michael Rodriguez was re-assigned by the Bishop of the Diocese of El Paso, Armando X. Ochoa, formerly an Auxiliary to Cardinal Mahoney in Los Angeles. According to His Excellency Father had run afoul of Internal Revenue Service regulations by clearly enunciating the unequivocal, infallible teaching of the Catholic Church. How teaching Catholic dogma violates secular regulations, whether that possibility, if it indeed were true, should be of importance to a successor of the apostles, and the bishop’s qualifications to speak to IRS regulations are not the topics of this little essay, although we firmly believe that they must be substantially addressed as time goes by.

What this essay is really about is the Grace of God.

The parish of Presidio is responsible for a few missions, some of which sit literally right on the border with Mexico. It is also responsible for the mission Church of the Sacred Heart in Shafter, Texas, a bit more inland. Father Hinojosa, a 34 year-old Mexican priest, is the parish priest of Presidio and Father Rodriguez has been assigned as his assistant. Father Rodriguez relates that Father Hinojosa is a fine fellow and that the two of them have had a very good and tranquil working relationship in the short time that he has been in Presidio. It seems as though Father Rodriguez will assume the greater responsibility for the missions, especially on Sundays, while also celebrating the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass in the parish Church of Santa Teresa in Presidio on weekdays.

“Cura” is a term used to refer to priests in Spanish, much like “Cure” in French. Father Rodriguez will become the “Cura” in Shafter, as well as in other mission churches.

The Ghost Town

For those unfamiliar with this part of Texas, it is about as remote as anywhere one might imagine in the lower 48. It is a starkly beautiful landscape with endless mountain ranges in all four directions. In the last couple of weeks, we have heard reference to Father having been “banished to Siberia.” What we would like to do is to understand this in the good sense, Siberia being one of the most beautiful places on the planet, and remoteness being actually something very positive and desirable, especially if one is motivated by a Catholic desire to eschew worldliness.

As approximately 70 souls from El Paso learned on a recent Sunday, remoteness is not the same thing as inaccessibility.

A vein of silver runs deep under the rocks along Cibolo Creek in Shafter, and this is, historically, primarily the reason for the existence of the town, along with a bit of ranching in the area. As one approaches Shafter, the official Texas highway sign reads: “Shafter Ghost Town.” This is romantically attractive, but not precisely true. One local resident informed us that 15 souls abide there. Maybe it is more, maybe it is less, but one gets the picture. Melting adobe ruins from a more active time give one an idea of what was once a bustling mining town. As silver increases in price relative to federal reserve notes, the mine is cranking up once again, and Shafter is about to see a bit more action.

Silver is not the only treasure in Shafter, and it is by all means of a far more meager value, at any price, than these other treasures.

Among this handful of souls that live in Shafter, and in the surrounding desert hills, are a few folks that have done a marvelous job of preserving this mission Church of the Sacred Heart. It is not a pretentious building - no neo-Gothic architecture here - but it is a perfect building because it was built for the Perfect Sacrifice of the Ancient Rite of the Roman Catholic Church. Being tucked away in a place like Shafter, it has largely avoided the destruction that is part-and-parcel of our reform-of-the-reform brethren. Looming over the altar is a beautiful image of the Sacred Heart, identical to the one in the bishop’s cathedral - a building which has not been quite so fortunate as this mission church. Beautiful Catholic statuary adorns and graces the sanctuary and reminds one that at one time - even in these far reaches of a diocese - the Faith was once complete and flourishing. Oh, that such were so in the See.

The story of Father Rodriguez’ transfer has, up until this time, largely been viewed from the perspective of the loss we have suffered in the City of El Paso in general, and at San Juan Bautista parish in particular. And the story should and must be viewed from that perspective because it is a story of great injustice, illegality and insensitivity on the part of those who pay effusive lip-service to things such as “social justice” and “the Civilization of Love.”

But there is another story here, yet more important than the cruelty of a poor bishop. The other story is shot through with supernaturality - with the Grace of God. He truly is such a good God and such a loving God, so ready to show us His hand when we might otherwise be tempted to despair. We do not presume to understand the Mind of God, we simply give thanks that He deigns to reveal just a glimpse of His Work to us, so that we weak, miserable sinners (as Father Rodriguez referred to himself that Sunday in a sermon) are not quite so inclined to run around like so many headless chickens.

A small group of us arrived in Shafter on Friday evening - four young men and an old one - with the desire to be in the company of our priest and to do what we might to prepare the church building for the arrival of our parish family two days hence. As we wound through the mountains in the dark of night and crested a hill, we looked down into the town of Shafter, and upon its most imposing structure - Sacred Heart Mission - and upon a slender figure in a black cassock, sitting on a boulder in front of the Church, reading his breviary while awaiting our arrival. Literally from a mile away we could distinguish the figure and tell exactly what he was doing. If you have in your mind’s eye the picture of a defeated, dejected figure, you are not imagining what we saw from afar that night. What we knew, what we expected, what we saw, and what was proven to us over the next 48 hours was that this good and humble, this faithful and courageous priest, is even far more motivated to give his life for a true restoration of the Catholic Faith than he was before he and the rest of us were swooped down on and blindsided by the midnight modernist blitzkrieg a few weeks ago. Suggestion and fair warning to the modernists temporarily in control of the levers of Holy Mother Church: review the words of Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto to Ogata Taketora on January 9, 1942. And as you do this, think not that reference is made to one priest. It is God’s Church you would presume to destroy.

Back to that black solitary figure and his increased resolve: God help us that somehow we might be of some service in his mission.

After a brief orientation to the physical plant in Shafter and the task ahead of us, we tossed our mats on the floor of the parish hall and slept, Father would return to Presidio. We awakened in the dark the next morning and drove the 20 or so miles south to Presido to attend Father’s 8 AM Mass. Two of the young men served the Mass. Until that morning, Father had celebrated without servers. These young men are quite accustomed to serving for Father and they executed their duties flawlessly. The other two young men and I prayed the rosary in Spanish prior to the Mass, and were pleased to hear the voices of the local parishioners join in. After the Mass, two of the parishioners awaited us in front of the Church and their gratitude for what they were experiencing was palpable. They have high hopes and good plans - and now they have just the priest to support these hopes and plans. Of the two, one made the trip to Shafter the following day for the Mass yet to be described, the other regretted that she was unable. Given her friend’s response to the Mass the next day, my guess is that more than a few will begin to make the trek from Presidio to Shafter in the future.

Following a good Mexican desayuno we headed back to Shafter to begin work, Father remaining in Presidio to tend to his duties there.

A choir loft - the choir loft - is sort of emblematic of the destructive nature of the modernist heresy so well described by recent popes. The choir loft in Shafter was no exception. I guess maybe one of the ideas about a choir loft in the past was sort of like Church architecture in general - angelic sounds coming from above reminding poor sinners of the Heaven we desire and are meant to strive for - unnecessary now that Heaven is guaranteed to all and music ministers strum their guitars in full view of all the rest of the ministers of this-or-that to resounding applause. Choir lofts, in many cases, have become storage areas where can be found almost anything other than a choir - from old, broken chairs to the sacred items of an abandoned religion.

May it be clear that no offense whatsoever is intended to the wonderful and faithful few of Sacred Heart Mission, who have done the monumental service of preserving this great treasure with no reasonable expectation that a faithful Catholic priest would ever again appear to celebrate that Mass of Ages for which this very Church was constructed. Quite to the contrary. To these quiet heroes of the Faith, we poor people of San Juan Bautista are immeasurably indebted. Who knows who stuck the old Tridentine Altar Missals and the beautiful set of altar cards in the bottom of those cardboard boxes along with the old altar stone (replaced until that day by a piece of plywood) and an assortment of bent nails, tambourines and plastic flowers? Whoever it was was obviously not of anything other than good will, precisely because they did not place them in the trash, or leave them where someone bent on changing the Church in their own image would do so. Quite likely, whoever placed them there did so hoping and praying that the day would come when Catholics who loved Catholicism would find them, and treasure them, and restore them to their original purpose. A couple of sixteen-year-old boys did that on that afternoon. Their faces lit up as though they had discovered hidden treasure. Mmmm-hmmm.

So they cleaned and they cleaned, and they vacuumed and they filled the village dumpsters, and they recovered lost treasures and they left a choir loft as clean and presentable as it could be for the good folks who would arrive the next day to grace it with its original purpose. And they turned their attention to other tasks. The table (which was actually part of a nice old traditional altar from somewhere) was removed from in front of the traditional altar and placed in the back of the sanctuary with complete respect. Now the Catholic Altar of Spotless Sacrifice was in full view, and the boys’ attention was turned to preparing a fitting Altar for what was to occur there the day following. Brass was polished, candles trimmed, wood dusted, linens cleaned, floors vacuumed, images restored and souls solidified. All of this reportedly went on until 1:30 in the AM, far past the time their adult “supervisor” hit the hay.

All set for the Mass

These faithful young men desired with all of their hearts to be a part of everything the next day, and so, according to plan, I awoke in the very early morning hours - the madrugada - in order to rouse the crew. To do so, I had to traipse through the sanctuary to arrive at the area in which they were sleeping. I knelt to say my morning prayers in the light of a few candles they had left under various images, and due to the darkness and a semi-somnolent state of mind failed to appreciate what they had actually done in the hours since I had retired. Frankly, I did not truly appreciate it properly until the time of the Mass itself. To fully appreciate their labor of love for Our Lord and His Church, and the only Mass capable of capturing that sort of love, one had to have seen the area 24 hours prior. This Church was not by any means trashed - it was indeed beautiful and awe-inspiring when we first laid eyes on it. It was even more so after the efforts that only young men with this sort of energy, devotion and love can bring to the game.

So for the second morning in a row we left far before the sun rose to drive the forty miles along the Rio Grande to yet another mission Church where Father was to celebrate an 8 AM Sunday Mass. Again, the young men performed their service in impeccable fashion. On this Sunday only three faithful from the village showed up for the Sacrifice. They were rewarded for their efforts by a sermon which throngs of Traditional Catholics would give their eye-teeth to hear. In Spanish, of course. Three people or three-thousand people, to this faithful priest they are souls deserving of his very best. He managed to remind this group, as well, that he was a miserable sinner. Notably, one of these villagers was in attendance three hours later at the Mass in Shafter.

Leaving this village after the Mass we headed back to Shafter with the great expectation of seeing those people whom we have grown to love so - those people we have worshipped with - those people we have laughed with and, of late, cried with as well. A few had already arrived after setting out from Las Cruces, New Mexico - yet another hour more distant than El Paso - at three in the morning. It was then that I entered the Church and began to appreciate, in the light of day, what these boys had spent the night about.

And then they began to arrive. The families, the children, the smiles, the laughter, the happiness of being together again, the anticipation of what we all knew was about to happen. The sacrifice of the four-hour drive only made the reward sweeter. This was not a “strange” place to anyone - this was a Catholic Church - a Traditional Catholic Church with the Traditional Catholic Mass on a Traditional Catholic Altar and a Traditional Catholic Choir in a Traditional Catholic Choir Loft. It is God’s. And He loaned it to us to worship Him there in the same fashion as He has desired Catholics to worship Him for two thousand years.

We ask our bishop for this and we are denied. We gleefully occupy a small, “unimportant” barrio parish in El Paso and we are content beyond measure. And we are evicted. We are evicted, say our superiors, because our priest has somehow violated regulations imposed by a bureaucracy that is as godless as the government it represents. We are evicted by the purveyors of “social justice.” We are a family and our family is sought to be destroyed. We have a home and our home is wrecked. We are evicted, they tell us, because of something about government regulations. We can do nothing about how this is portrayed and we can do nothing to force the truth to be honestly spoken, but we can at least be very clear about the fact that we know better. We are evicted because the clear and unambiguous teaching of authentic Catholic doctrine simply cannot be tolerated by those to whom this doctrine is personally threatening or those whose personal agendas it threatens.

And on this Sunday in Shafter, Texas, we are happy beyond measure. We are supernaturally happy. A sort of happiness that, speaking from experience, one who has never had the Ancient Sacrifice of the Mass at their center is largely unfamiliar with.

Our Bishop, to whom we bear no malice and desire only eternal good, hears our cries for bread but offers us stones. He promises to restore that which he has taken from us and attempts to bamboozle us with a bit of incense and some phrases in Latin and call it the same thing as - according to popes from St. Pius V to Benedict XVI - our rightful possession as Catholics. We respectfully ask our bishop to return to us what he has taken from us and he tells us flat out, “No way.”

The Holy Father speaks in glowing terms of the Mass of Ages and of how those of us who love that Mass must be given every respect and consideration. We grieve for our bishop that he chooses to be obstinately disobedient to his superior.

But God is good. “God is very, very Good,” as the Cura de Shafter reminded me over his shoulder after the Mass on Sunday in a spontaneous moment as I was trying to keep pace with him. God is very, very good. God does not give stones for bread. What loving Father would do so?

For quite some time now, we have prayed for a place where we may do nothing other than worship as our ancestors have for millennia. Our Mexican ancestors, our German ancestors, our Filipino ancestors, our French ancestors, our Irish ancestors... . And God answered our prayers, and He gives us His Mass. Are we other than miserable sinners, that we might tell God where we want Him to provide us with these gifts? God is good. He has given us our place. He has heard our prayers and He has answered them in a manner so obvious that only the most oblivious could ignore it. Never mind that that place is more than two hundred miles from our homes.

Another memo to those who despise the Catholicism of their ancestors: study Catholic history. The greater the persecution, the greater the flowering of the Faith. If the intention was to somehow throw water on this fire, know that enemies of the Faith, within and without the structures of Holy Mother Church, have tried unsuccessfully to do that for two-thousand years.

We bear no malice, but we will not abandon the Catholic Church and all that that entails. We will not abandon the rightful liturgy of Holy Mother Church and we will not abandon Her authentic doctrine. We have now been well-formed and we have now studied what the doctors and saints of the Church have taught from the beginning. We recognize a counterfeit and according to the highest authorities of the Church we are free and obligated to reject it - in perpetuity - for ever and ever, amen.

Being miserable sinners, we despaired - but only briefly. We even saw our Cura despair a bit - before Shafter - and far more briefly. He rolled well with this punch and is back in the fight with what, it would seem to me, is a greater determination than what we have previously seen, difficult though that may be to imagine. You see, you are dealing with a priest who has fallen in love with Catholicism and with the Catholic priesthood. You are dealing with someone who really believes in the term “alter Christus.” If that is an unfamiliar term, it is only charitable to suggest that you study it well. Because being in love with your Catholic priesthood - understanding that, for the sake of those souls under your care you are a man set apart, is a very sublime way of being in love with God Himself.

So it was eleven in the morning and the entrance bells rang. The rosary had already been prayed, as is typical prior to the Ancient Rite. Through the main door of Sacred Heart Mission proceeded our Cura, accompanied by eight well-disciplined young men, whose greatest pride and joy is to be at the side of their priest as he offers the Sacrifice, just as every other Roman Catholic priest has (with the exception of the last forty years) throughout history. Pride - not in themselves - but in the glory and majesty of the Church they love and the priesthood to which some among them aspire. As the processional crucifix passed down the center aisle, people bowed, as the Cura processed behind, the people bowed - not to the man, love him though we do - rather to Our Lord, who deigned from the outset to be represented by miserable sinners set apart.

The modernists get it wrong. They wish to appear to be egalitarian -  ”one of the people.” What they have failed to grasp is that it was never about them in the first place. It is about Our Lord. It is He we worship in our priest - our alter Christus - not some Father so-and-so. Their superficial faux-humility attempts to hide what is far too obvious - that they do, indeed, consider themselves greater than those they are supposed to serve. The Cura de Shafter is not confused on this point of Catholic doctrine.

Apart from praying for our Traditional Catholic parish, we had been praying for quite some time for a Traditional Catholic Altar. Once again, here was the goodness of God right before our eyes. Prayers answered. It had simply never occurred to us that our prayer would be answered by an already existing Traditional Catholic altar 220 miles away. The fact that we are astounded by God’s answer in such a palpable and obvious way speaks only to our lack of Faith. But, then, as our Cura reminded us - we are weak and miserable sinners.

Significantly, we were not the only ones at prayer, and we were not the only ones whose prayers were answered. We learned at the convivio after the Mass that a few of the faithful in Shafter had been praying for decades for precisely what they saw unfold before their eyes on that day. We prayed for years, they prayed for decades. We had reasonable hope for a parish and an altar; what hope had they for a really Catholic priest and a Missa Cantata in their “ghost town?” We are humbled and grateful to these good souls.

The Missa Cantata proceeded and it was beautiful, of course, as is intrinsic to the Ancient rite. It does evoke charitable emotions of pity to consider that a bishop might believe that a group of Catholics would be fooled by an imitation. This cannot be imitated any more than a concrete shell with stadium seating can imitate the Cathedral of Chartres. Modernists have never understood true Catholic liturgy. Many are still under the impression that the difference between the experimental Mass of a committee and the Mass of Ages boils down to slinging a censer around and uttering some phrases in Latin. We are called on to have pity, and we are called on to pray for the conversion of these men, just as we pray for our own. We are all weak and miserable sinners.

Mark repairs the old, forgotten bells

After a wonderful and spirited time of celebration after the Mass, with our new-found Catholic brethren from Shafter and the surrounding area, we heard the bells of the mission bell tower ring. We do not know how long it has been since those bells rang. A couple of the young men ventured into the attic above the choir loft and found the torn and tattered ropes to the bells, which did not extend down into the loft, making the assumption that they had been silent for some time a reasonable one. We had sacrificed and spent much money buying real bells that rang out through the barrio of San Juan calling people to Mass and announcing the arrival of Our Lord on the altar. May God will that these bells, fit with new ropes, will now ring out through the hills surrounding Shafter.

Catholicism - that is authentic Catholicism - is a religion that has been all but abandoned, preserved literally by a minute remnant of loyal Catholics. With much gratitude to these people, and with always the greater gratitude to God and the Heavenly Host, we note that those designs to gut and destroy Catholicism and replace it with a counterfeit have not enjoyed complete success. Nor will they, thanks in no small part to those very few men like the Cura de Shafter – Father Michael Rodriguez - who would quite literally give their lives for the Faith.

As we miserable sinners who nonetheless desire to stand behind these men militate in our natural ways to defend the Faith, we lose sight of a crucial detail. We confuse those who would destroy the Faith with those who adhere to the same values and same religion, and are motivated by the same things that we aspire to. This miscalculation hampers us. Therefore we implore them with descriptions of how many vocations our poor parish produced in just a few years compared to the diocese as a whole in over a decade. We think that this will somehow speak to some Catholic voice within them. We err. What we regard as good, they do not, and they tell us so in so many ways, yet we fail to hear them, just as they fail to hear us. It confuses us because we speak the same idiom. We vocalize the same words. But we understand these words in a vastly different manner. We demonstrate our large families with beautiful, obedient, well-formed children and they see threats to the planet. We speak to them of our devotions and our confessions and they see a cult. We plead to be allowed nothing other than to live Catholic lives with the immemorial Mass at the center, and they see anachronisms incapable of embracing the “real” world. We continue to try to speak to them, as we must out of obedience and charity, but with rare exception they are not able to hear us.

It is true that we bear no malice toward our priests and bishops who objectively think and believe differently than we do. Quite literally we fear for their souls - and we pray for their conversion and salvation. Hopefully God will hear us even though they do not. Would they be moved that we pray for their salvation? In order to do so they would have to believe that salvation could be lost. We do not know the minds of others apart from what they express to us, but when they tell us something, in order to understand them, we are well advised to believe that they mean what they say. And when they tell us in so many words and in so many ways that they deny very basic, well-established tenets and doctrines and laws of our Church, we had darn well better take them at their word.

In November of 2007, our bishop wrote the following in a  diocesan newsletter: “As it turns out, nowhere in Sacred Scripture or in any other of the teachings of the Church do we find any doctrine which absolutely declares that death immediately merits heaven or hell.  Even after the transition of death, God in his mercy and discretion, gives us the opportunity to grow in his friendship, his grace, in order to better understand and appreciate his reality, heaven.  We might even say that in the game of life, we will most likely go into ‘overtime’ at the transition of death.”

Overtime? Perhaps some are hesitant to say this - it is not an easy thing to say - but it must be recognized that we are not talking about the same religion here. We are talking about two very different religions. Contrary to what our bishop wrote, the Roman Catholic Church teaches, “Each man receives his eternal retribution in his immortal soul at the very moment of his death, in a particular judgment that refers his life to Christ: either entrance into the blessedness of heaven - through a purification or immediately - or immediate and everlasting damnation.” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1022.)

Given the obvious “divergence in religion,” are we to be surprised that we are not heard? Are we surprised that those details of a traditional Catholic life and a traditional Catholic parish are met with derision and rejection? Should a bishop who truly believes that he gets a second shot at it after he dies care whether or not we pray for the salvation of his soul? 

When at last our relief arrives, when at last justice is done, it will apparently not likely be by means of the human element inhabiting the positions of power in the Church today. It will come from that Good God spoken of by the Cura in Shafter. And the truth is, it has already arrived. It was right there in front of us that Sunday at  Sacred Heart Mission. Who but God could work in such marvelous ways? Who but God could answer fervent prayer for a parish, a church, an altar, a Missa Cantata - in a “ghost town,” to top it off, for those of us still having difficulty discerning His hand?

This Good God will not be mocked. For His own good reasons He has chosen to once again allow His Mystical Body to suffer, even at the hands of His prelates. In a way and a time known not to us He will once again wrest His Church from the hands of the unbelievers. In His infinite and perfect kindness, His infinite and perfect love, His infinite and perfect solicitude for us miserable sinners, He deigned to show us His hand one Sunday in Shafter.

We must continue to work through the human element of the Church. For his own good we must continue to offer our bishop the opportunity to be obedient to his own superiors, and out of charity remind His Excellency that he has certain obligations, even if he finds them personally distasteful or contrary to whatever agenda he might have. He may think that he gets a second chance after death, but we believe what the Church teaches infallibly, so we know he does not. As the Cura de Shafter reminded us last Sunday, instructing the ignorant is a spiritual work of mercy, and it is not optional.

No one, including a person enjoying the office of bishop, can swat down the Catholic Faith by sending a priest willing to suffer and unwilling to compromise that Faith to a far corner of a diocese. These sorts of actions evoke pity on the part of faithful Catholics, who have great reverence for the office. They demonstrate a lack of comprehension regarding a phenomenon that never fails to repeat itself throughout the history of the Church - persecution of Catholics, whether from within or from without the hierarchy of the Church - serves only to strengthen resolve and cause the Faith to flourish. After all, our entire Faith is modeled on the Perfect Suffering of the Perfect Innocent. Humanly difficult though it may seem, our proper response to our transfer to Shafter is to rejoice at this great act of Divine Providence wrought by the very hand of an unwitting apostolic successor. God is, indeed, very, very good.

Having been answered in this fashion by Our Lord do we now take our rest and enjoy the gift? By no means. We must remember that it has been just a brief period of time since we, too, were unaware of the treasures of true Catholicism that have been largely locked away. We cannot take our treats and gloat in a corner. If one stops to consider it, we are really doing just fine - we have the essentials of what we need. To paraphrase St. Athanasius, “they have the buildings, we have the Faith.” We know, now, that the attempted destruction of true Catholicism and its replacement by something else is the greatest of injustices. God will watch over us in this endeavor just as did in Shafter. For the sake of our fellow Catholics, who are where we were a short while ago, who have not had the unspeakably great advantage of being presented with the fullness of Catholicism, who might well even deny that anything has been taken from them, we are obligated to continue to respectfully militate and to appeal to the entire human element of the hierarchy for that which we have been guaranteed and what is rightfully the possession of all Catholics.

It matters not that we may be derided by some of our brothers; we too have derided in the past. One cannot make a choice until that choice is available. Our Holy Father has done nothing new. He has simply reiterated what has been legally established in perpetuity - the true Mass is ours and of every Catholic and no one, not even a Successor of St. Peter,  has the authority to change that fact. The city of El Paso contains perhaps 95% of the population of the Diocese of El Paso. Not everyone, for various reasons, can make the journey to Shafter and these souls must have this treasure readily available to them. We owe it to our fellow Catholics, we owe it to the Church, and we owe it to a Faithful God not to rest on this matter until this disobedience is resolved in generous fashion, as our Holy Father describes it.

So let us continue to petition our bishop to return what is rightfully ours and what he has unfortunately and unjustly taken from us. Having been given good opportunity, should His Excellency persist in his own disobedience, let us continue to avail ourselves of the recourse we have within the human element of Holy Mother Church. All of this we must do. In the end, let us not, by any means, fail to appreciate and act upon that great demonstration of God’s faithfulness that Sunday in Shafter. He has already shown us, in spades, how He will reward our small efforts and sacrifices. Let us be fully aware of this. Let us be obedient and faithful to our Cura, knowing that he is uncompromisingly faithful to Our Holy Father. Let us multiply our prayers for the conversion and salvation of our bishop. Let us not hide this light under a bushel.

A Sanctuary fit for a King

We have our church. We have our altar. The faithful of Shafter have what they have prayed for for decades. We were given chalices and altar cards and vestments and statuary and altar stones and bells as a bonus. We were given beautiful children who genuflect and make the sign of the cross before they learn to speak. We were given each other, we who were strangers just a few years ago, to strengthen each other in our Faith.

We learned on a Sunday that Shafter is truly not a ghost town. Those in search of silver under the hills around Sacred Heart Mission know that there is a certain treasure there. They know where that treasure is and they plan to take full advantage of it. Should we be less wise than they?

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