Monday, March 23

March 23, 2020

Good morning, Good morning!

So you are sitting there, in front of your computer, with your best imitation of a Starbucks Blonde Smoked Butterscotch Latte… or simply a Folgers cafe con 2% leche y azucar, coffee with 2% milk and sugar, wondering why the foolish pastor always initiates his homilies with a double greeting. “Good morning. Good Morning.” Quite simply, a lesson learned from my old pastor, Fr. Charles Phelan who once reminded me that people never listen to the first sentence of your homilies but usually kick in around the second or third sentence.  The Good morning, Good morning offers a deflection to get them on board with the first sentence.  So, with that, enjoy your morning coffee.

Let today’s letter serve as dedication to the Hispanic families in the hills of Northern Loudoun County in our humble home of St. Francis De Sales.  There will be many future such dedications but this one is wrapped in a mystery set in a Feast Day.  Today is the feast of the Spaniard, Blessed Fr. Fidel Rodriguez, priest and archeologist.  A contemporary of his, a child, with the same name, would become an Augustinian priest.  Both scarred by the 1936 revolution in Spain.  One in death and the other in survival.

Rodriguez the elder was involved in the archeological digs of Spain.  He and his band of young students found all sorts of ancient sites with the skeletons of both man and beast…one with an ancient artifact.  cultura.castillalamancha.es/museos/nuestros-museos/museo-de-ciudad-real.   The ancient mastodons, rhinos, and giant tortoises are breathtaking but the “artifact” is the piece de resitance. 

Stop, Stop, Stop.  The Artifact, discovered by the priest might attract us to one to the venues of science fiction to reflect on an object that is not supposed to be where they found it.    Allow me to draw back to the Intellectual science fiction film known as “2001 Space Odyssey.”   “2001: A Space Odyssey is a 1968 epic science fiction film produced and directed by Stanley Kubrick. The screenplay was written by Kubrick and Arthur C. Clarke, and was inspired by Clarke’s short story “The Sentinel” and other short stories by Clarke. A novelisation of the film released after the film’s premiere was in part written concurrently with the screenplay. The film, which follows a voyage to Jupiter with the sentient computer HAL after the discovery of a featureless alien monolith affecting human evolution, deals with themes of existentialismhuman evolution, technology, artificial intelligence, and the possibility of extraterrestrial life.”  A Space Odyssey (film)  Clark’s monolith is very similar to the artifact.  It was not supposed to be there.

Fr. Rodriguez discovered the artifact, presently identified as the, “Iberian Sphinx.”

He found it in Alarcos, Spain; about one hundred and twenty miles South of Madrid in mid- southern Spain.  Hardly a seacoast town.  The artifact in Spain, like the Sphinx in Egypt involves a woman’s face on a lion, protecting a burial site.   An Egyptian colony?  In Spain? So far from the coast. Why?  The same can be asked of an Egyptian influence in the Basque regions of Northern Spain. Why?  And tied in with the people who eventually settle in… Southern Ireland around 3500 BC.

Some think the Celts who swept through Iberian Peninsula and served as mercenaries for Pharoah Xerxes II around 1100 BC, in Egypt.  Others say the Egyptians found reason to explore beyond the pyramids at a much earlier time.

Sadly, shortly after the discovery of Iberian Sphinx the priest archeologist was killed in the Spanish revolution.  Future studies on the artifact were suspended for the time.  More will become known in the future searches.

Meanwhile in the same year of 1936 young Fidel Rodriguez was a student in the Augustinian Seminary connected to the Universidad Santa Maria Christina, in the famed Escorial.  His entire class, plus professors, and administrators were walked across the street from the front doors of the college… and shot by the communist insurgents.  Rodriguez, falling into the gully that served as a drainage ditch feigned death amidst all the carnage.  After some time he crawled out and went home.  He would later be ordained an Augustinian priest and serve with my uncle in the South Side of Chicago.

As per chance, Fr. Fidel and I would meet up at Santa Maria Christina in 1975.  I the student and he the priest, slowly dying of cancer.  On occasion we would sit outside the front door looking across at the section where he was supposed to die thirty nine years earlier.  I stared with a sterile interest in the history of the past event and he lived with the memories wrapped with sounds and smells.  I am sure today he is buried with his former confrers.  God bless them all.

Now, revealing the Shanty Irish that is my heritage.  I give you the sad news.  The people of the town, The Escorial knew there would be an attack upon the seminary in 1936 but gave no warning to the priests or seminarians.  Nothing.  Much had to do with the way the priests and seminarians mistreated the townsfolk. There was no love between them.  Hence, I was I quite moved with the admonition by Pope Francis, himself born in 1936, uttered 74 years after his birth, “The Shepherd is called to smell like the sheep.”  Never forget the people.  Vivo Cristo Rey!!!

I would be remiss if I did not beg your indulgence for generosity once again in helping to pay the bills of the parish.  God bless the many of you who have mailed in your envelopes or shoved them under the sacristy door.  Or those who have joined the electronic giving program: https://saintfrancisparish.org/parish-giving/  God love you… and so do I.

Tomorrow, a dedication to the kids of the parish who, with parents and grandparents, are locked away for the safety of their health.  I am going to give them the recipe for my peppermint ice cream.  Sweet and simple for the kids to make.  Please stay tuned.

Please don’t forget confessions each day at 8am; Noon; and 7pm.

Blessed Fidel Rodriguez pray for us in our studies, discoveries, and sufferings.  Vivo Cristo Rey !!  Let us pray for one another.

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