Dear Good People of Saint Mary,
At the welcome and introduction of each Mass, you may have heard the Lector say “We are not complete without you.” These are words of true longing, but also theological words: we miss people who were once with us; we recognize our lack of diversity when we know that our baptized brothers and sisters are divided up all over Sunday according to bad decisions in the past, both personal and churchwide; we also know that Jesus’ prayer on the night before he died was clearly that we get it together and realize that we are not here for ourselves, but for something much bigger, which we call the Body of Christ.
It is time to go to work, once again this year.
It is the responsibility of each member of the Body of Christ, which has literally taken place in God’s plan at Saint Mary in Fredericksburg, to “come to Christ’s full stature,” to recognize God’s call and be thankful, then to do something about it. Parish Life Weekend is the time for each and every person in this Body to take their place, to learn and to teach, to feed and to be fed, to reach out in healing and to be healed, to comfort and to find peace in the work that God, in his Mercy, has given us to do. There is no doubt in my heart that at this moment, God has no other plan for us than that we grow together in prayer and loving service and know God’s plan in each of our lives and the life of Saint Mary. To be reconciled, to be holy and wholly his. The knowledge of God is the science of the saints, and we are all called to be saints.
By now you surely have received your Parish Renewal Handbook and Annual Report which contains a catalog of ministries and contact information, as well as a spiritual development of our parish theme, “People of Thankfulness, Sowing Seeds of Mercy.” If you haven’t already, I ask you to read it and prepare your hearts to make a commitment to God and the life of this parish in the year to come with a plan: how are you going to express your thanks to God in the coming year? How much time do you plan to pray? In which ministry do you plan to serve, using your special talents to build up God’s kingdom in the way that is unique to your gifts? And how much are you willing to give to support financially the mission of this parish and her many works? Ultimately, it is a question of how much you are willing to give your own heart to God, because where your heart is, there is your treasure.
Hearts only grow through thankfulness. Gratitude is the secret to just about every aspect of the spiritual life and the growth of community. Without it we are drawn into ourselves, trapped in self-centeredness and isolation. The kind of individualism that we see so common today is exactly what could ultimately destroy culture, families, and churches. It is already happening.
One who is forgiven much loves much. And this person is one who realizes the secret of self is that we give ourself away in love and service. How important are your things in life? For what are you most thankful? We realize that the best things in life aren’t things. They aren’t things we have earned, or bought, or found. They are gifts—grace, relationships, love, faith and hope— that are given to us by God, gifts that won’t wear out or decay. We want to return them to him a hundred-fold. Honestly, it isn’t possible to be truly a Christian and not be a person who gives. We are made in the image and likeness of God, who pours himself out for us.
Every family, please, return a card and get involved. We will place our commitment cards in the offertory baskets at next week’s Masses.
God will certainly bless you.