From Our Pastor ~ February 21, 2016

Dear Good People of Saint Mary,

This weekend I am giving the homily at all Masses as the first installment of two other talks I will offer on Monday and Tuesday nights at 7:30pm, our Parish Mission during our annual tradition of 40 Hours’ Eucharistic Adoration. Please come.

“Rediscover, Reconnect.” This is the Mission title because I believe that there is a whole lot about our Faith that many of us either never got, or have forgotten about ourselves and spirituality. How can self-knowledge and self-love be so key to our understanding of our relationship with God and still so unhealthy in our own understanding of ourselves and how we are made? How would we ever “love our neighbor as we love ourselves” if we don’t even have a healthy understanding of what that means? And how do we get ourselves to a place where we can have even an hour of uninterrupted time to just sit and reflect on our lives, our life with God, and where we are headed?

Of course, Lent is a time to scale back the demands, turn down the volume, focus, really focus. Silence is not emptiness: we don’t need to be constantly stimulated, entertained, satisfied. This has become the expectation of so many in the way we approach life. But the truth is, such pursuits actually produce an emptiness, because we realize that these are things that never satisfy, they only cause us to seek more entertainment and greater stimulation. So we just use more, consume more, always more… It can become a never-ending spiral; it often results in desolation and despair, addiction or indifference.

In the same way, solitude is not loneliness. Many of us don’t like to be alone because we don’t like our own company. A spiritual director asked me once, early in formation, “Would you enjoy sitting down and talking with yourself?” “Would you hire yourself?” “Would you recommend yourself to serve someone in need?” Many people today don’t even know who they are, or never had a quiet enough moment to think about it. We are bundles of other peoples’ expectations and society’s rules (beyond immoral, now mostly amoral). We need to feel that we belong, that our existence is relevant—but to what, or to whom? All things, all situations, all structures are man-made and are only temporary—are things. Wouldn’t it make sense to pledge our allegiance (we, who are not things, but persons made for eternity) to the One Who Is always and forever?

Is it any wonder that families are confused, marriages fail, the last two generations of youth have just grown numb? Pope Francis says that indifference is the biggest enemy of our time, it is killing spiritual growth. Young people, especially, I’m calling on you: know yourself, and learn that we can’t know who we are unless we also know God, who made us and whose love keeps us in existence from moment to moment. Young people: rediscover your Church and come alive in the life of God. If he didn’t remember us every minute of the day, we would cease to be. We must remember him. This time of 40 Hours and Parish Mission is for you, especially. We older members of the Church can still change and turn our hearts  back to God. You don’t need to turn away! Come and show us how to start on the right path!

This is sure: you can’t hear the voice of God if there is no silence, no solitude in your life. Then—in the humility that you find there—you discover his mercy. The prayer of adoration is key to this formula. Then comes gratitude. Pope Francis said to the people of Chiapas, Mexico, last week: “Today’s world, overcome by convenience, needs to learn anew the value of gratitude!” We have to correct our throwaway culture. The place to begin is to realize that we can’t allow our own goodness, our own belonging to God to be  thrown away. Not by me, not by anyone who doesn’t know God or who I am. Then we become people of his mercy, people who speak his Word. Come, join us.

God bless you,

Fr. Don

Wednesday Noon Lenten Ecumenical Prayer Services
Micah Churches gather for prayer and almsgiving to the homeless. Light lunch receptions follow.

February 24 Rev. Joe Hensley (St. George Episcopal) preaches at St. Mary Catholic Church.
March 2 Rev. Don Rooney (St. Mary Catholic) preaches at St. George Episcopal Church.
March 9 Rev. Aaron Dobynes (Shiloh Old Site Baptist) preaches at the Presbyterian Church.
March 16 Rev. Allen Fisher (Presbyterian Church) preaches at Fredericksburg Methodist Church.