***Get out your crying towel for this one. The Washington Post ran a piece on November 11th about St. Agnes Parochial Vicar, Fr. Thomas VanderWoude. Seems the padre left a letter on Billie Ingrassia’s car warning that her bumper stickers, Vote Democrat and Democrats: Take Back the House send the "wrong message" for a Catholic. [All Democrats running in Northern VA championed child killing.] "If you support the Democratic position of abortion then you have no business receiving Holy Communion," Father’s letter said. [Sounds like Church teaching to us!] The self-described "feisty old lady" immediately whined to her friends who ran to The Washington Post to tattle on the mean ol’ priest who hurt Ingrassia’s feelings. The Post interviewed Ingrassia who obliged by publicly criticizing Fr. VanderWoude. The reporter, in typical liberal fairness, then called Catholics for a Free Choice and Americans for the Separation of Church and State for comment. The anti-Catholic groups obliged with further attacks.

We phoned Ingrassia who was very pleased with The Post’s coverage saying, "They did a good job." She said she called Fr. VanderWoude to warn him the reporter would be in touch. [Liberals are so considerate.] She also described Bishop Loverde as "nasty" for not including in his pre-election letter the paragraph from the U.S. bishops’ letter saying voters should examine multiple issues. [Apparently, Ingrassia read only that one paragraph and ignored the bishops’ heavy emphasis on the right to life of innocent unborn babies as the paramount issue.]

*** Actions Speak Louder Than Words. Ingrassia claims to be against abortion, but thinks voters should look at everything a candidate stands for, specifically mentioning capital punishment. [Duh! Al Gore favors capital punishment!] Are there no issues, we asked, that would disqualify a candidate from consideration? For example, would Ingrassia vote for a member of the KKK? "I can’t imagine that I would," she replied but said she’d have to look at everything else the candidate stood for. [Well…the lady’s consistent. She’ll consider politicians who advocate either lynching blacks or killing babies.] Apparently, Ingrassia saw no contradiction between her statement that Father handled the situation badly and her response, i.e. going after him in the national media.

Fr. Robert Ruskamp, Administrator of St. Agnes, gets two thumbs up for supporting Fr. VanderWoude. Linda Shovlain, Communications Director for the Arlington Diocese gets one thumb down. Shovlain, according to the article, said Father’s letter was "misguided" and "went too far," and that he had no right to "refuse the sacraments" to Ingrassia. She told us she was misquoted. [Easy to believe considering the bias of many Post reporters.] She said she defended Father’s right to correct a parishioner. [Good!] Unfortunately, Shovlain went on to publicly disagree with Father’s statement about Communion, and may have used the word "misguided" after the reporter used it two or three times. The Church, after all, has not refused Communion to Ted Kennedy, she said. [Yes, and that’s a scandal! We humbly recommend the same approach be used for pro-abortion politicians as has been used against some who kneel for Communion. They are refused until they stand up. Tell Teddy et al they may receive Communion when they stand up for life.] Shovlain said she learned a lot from her experience with The Post and would be more careful in the future, a wise course when dealing with the liberal media.

Just to clarify: Father VanderWoude did not refuse Ingrassia Communion. He warned her, like St. Paul, that we can receive the Body of Our Lord to our condemnation. It’s a hard truth. Catholicism is not a religious game. It’s serious business. Thanks, Fr. VanderWoude. We haven’t forgotten you were the only priest in the diocese to attend the 1995 Call to Action meeting at Christ the Redeemer in Sterling and challenge the renegades before they had us arrested. We hold you in special esteem. [P.S. We asked Ingrassia if she belonged to Call to Action. After a ten-second pause she said, "I don’t know what that is."]

*** Reflecting on liberals & the KKK… How would they really act if a white-robed, grand wizard ran for office? Somehow, we doubt Ingrassia would calmly "examine his position on all issues" before showing him the door. [At least we hope not.] And yet we can hardly be too critical of liberals’ two-faced behavior. Why? Well…Al Gore and his pro-abort pals (many Catholics) make no secret of their support for killing babies including stabbing near-term infants in the head and sucking out their brains. Are they pariahs in our midst? [Not hardly!] For example: Unlike his predecessor, John Cardinal O’Connor, who denied candidate Bill Clinton an invitation to the 1996 Al Smith Dinner in New York; Archbishop Edward Egan, O’Connor’s successor, appeared in news photos laughing between George Bush and Al Gore at this year’s October event. [The real pro-life candidates, Pat Buchanan and Howard Phillips, were excluded.] It was a terrific pre-election photo op. [Hey! If the Archbishop schmoozes with Gore, it must be okay to vote for him!] Now…replace Gore with Adolf Hitler or the tyrant of your choice.

Too harsh a comparison? We don’t think so. When Hitler came to power in 1933, he didn’t publicly reveal that his "final solution" to the "Jewish problem" included shooting, hanging, and gassing them. He talked about racial pride and national revival. Only gradually did his diabolical plans unfold. There’s no such ambiguity with Al Gore’s agenda. Child killing is central to the Democratic platform. Gore made it krystal klear in his convention speech, "Let there be no doubt: I will protect and defend a woman's right to choose" [to kill her baby anywhere, any time, even during delivery.] Yet these ideological clones of history’s worst monsters are honored at Church functions, hold inaugural events in our cathedrals, and take Communion with nary a wince from their pastors. So why shouldn’t 50% of Catholics vote for pro-abortion politicians? There’s little evidence our Church leaders believe what they say. [If they bother to say anything.] Unborn babies may be human, but they aren’t quite equal to the rest of us. Heaven forbid we raise a vigorous defense that might alienate the rich and powerful or [horrors!] endanger the Church’s sacred tax exempt status.

***Speaking of the Church’s tax exemption at least one bishop is saying we may have to give it up in order to proclaim the truth. In a January 4th article in The Arlington Herald, our former bishop, Thomas Welsh, lamented that, despite a clear choice in the recent election, Catholics ignored the teachings of the Church on abortion. "We have to form our Catholic citizens to vote and to vote intelligently. They have an obligation in conscience to be involved….We are in the Commonwealth of Virginia….The number one wealth is the life of our citizens." [Thank you, Bishop Welsh. We’re sending your comments to Billie Ingrassia.]

***Who called da cops at All Saints? Aliens! On November 5th the Sunday before the election, someone at All Saints in Manassas called the cops on a handful of pro-lifers leafleting the parking lot with a voter survey comparing candidates’ stands on abortion and other issues. Fr. Bob Cilinski, the Administrator, said he didn’t do it and the police department won’t talk. Thirty-five million dead babies and counting — no Catholic, cleric or layman, would do it. So…we conclude it was aliens who plan to take over the earth after we kill ourselves off! [Hey…they probably have cell phones!] We were disappointed that Fr. Bob didn’t read the bishop’s letter from the pulpit urging Catholics to vote pro-life. A big thank-you to all the priests in the diocese who did. [By the way, these surveys are legal and could be put in the bulletin. Why aren’t they? Mr. Fadoul?]

***Do the clergy want obedience from the laity? Then practice it! Unfortunately, even in this diocese, with its reputation for orthodoxy, some priests take liberties with the Mass. They render the Gospel gender-neutral even as they speak, alter words of specified prayers, leave the sanctuary at the sign of peace, omit the hand-washing rite, watch while LEMs (Lay extraordinary ministers of the Eucharist) distribute Communion, etc. It is disobedient to the Church to do these things! Vatican II’s Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy, Chapter 22, # 3, states clearly that "no other person, not even a priest, may add, remove, or change anything in the liturgy on his own authority." The priest does have some legitimate options. He can ad-lib at the opening and during the penitential rite, for example; but he is obliged to follow the rubrics set down for the celebration of the Mass. It is a duty of the obedience promised at ordination.

Some priests who disregard the Church’s rubrics bemoan "those people" in the pews who won’t listen to them. But why should the laity obey a shepherd who gives them an example of disobedience? And how can parents and teachers explain to their children and students that they must obey the Church, but Father can do his own thing? Scripture tells us the one faithful in small matters will be faithful in larger. Please, Fathers, teach us by your examples.

***And never, ever do this: On January 14th at the 12:30 Mass (no doubt at the other Masses as well) Fr. John O’Neill, O.S.F.S. at Our Lady of Good Counsel cut short his homily to pull down a screen and project a spread sheet and talk money. Calling his actions "avant-garde," he gave a sales pitch for the new gym. Inappropriate? Bad liturgical taste? Don’t be a fuddy-duddy; it’s only the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.

***Kudos to a prelate who used the "E" word. Zenit news service reported in November that the parliament of Moldova, a republic of the former Soviet Union, voted for a preliminary draft of a law legalizing abortion. On November 21st the Moldova Orthodox Church responded by threatening excommunication in an open letter to parliament signed by Moldova Metropolitan Vladimir. "We will demand from the clergy not to give communion to those supporting abortions until they have changed their attitude to this crime…. Would you or your children like to be victim of an abortion?…Would we have parliamentarians then?" [Question: When will Teddy Kennedy, Joe Biden, Patrick Leahy, et al be excommunicated for voting to kill babies? Why is the woman who kills one child more guilty than politicians and judges whose actions kill millions?]

***How many ways can you spay a woman? A new female sterilization method is in clinical trials. Called STOP (Selective Tubal Occlusion Procedure), it’s easier than tubal ligation, an in-hospital surgical procedure that can cost anywhere from $2500 to $8000. STOP, on the other hand, takes about 20 minutes in the doctor’s office and is a real bargain at $1,500. Here’s how it works. The doc inserts into the uterus flexible micro-coils that resemble the springs in ballpoint pens. The irritating coils, placed at the openings to the fallopian tubes, cause the woman’s body to form connective tissue sealing off the tubes and preventing sperm from entering and eggs from exiting. The eggs are reabsorbed. Described as "very promising," the real impact of this new assault on women is unknown. [Once again, we are guinea pigs for the anti-baby industry. Think about it…would you jab a bobby pin in your ear? What woman in her right mind lets a doctor (probably male) stick metal springs in her uterus so she can be a "safe" sex toy? Hmm…how many of the 400 women in the trials were blondes? We blush to suggest it, but, in the interests of equal-opportunity sterilization how ‘bout springs for men’s privates.]

***And finally, kudos to St. John the Baptist We have written often about "wreckovations" around the country that turn beautiful cathedrals and churches into rec centers, or about new monstrosities designed from scratch. But sometimes the faithful hit the jackpot. One of the loveliest new churches in our diocese is St. John the Baptist in Front Royal. It features beautiful stained glass windows including our favorite of St. Joan of Arc. Especially impressive is the window behind the magnificent crucifix over the centrally located tabernacle in the sanctuary. It’s worth a ride to Front Royal to visit this lovely little jewel. A heartfelt thank-you to all involved in planning and building a real Catholic Church!

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