Dear Good People of Saint Mary,
It used to be after Christmas you could heave a sigh of relief that everything went so well and then slow down for a few weeks before Lent began. Not so, anymore! As I write this article on Monday, 1/5, we are exactly three months until Easter, a month and a half from Ash Wednesday and there is much to tell you about.
I want to tell you about the dialogue that began today between six members each of Fredericksburg United Methodist Church and Saint Mary —that will need to wait until another week. This weekend we celebrate the Baptism of the Lord, the end of the quick Christmas Season and a day that we all consider the impact of this baptism event in our own lives. It means, among so many other things, that just as all this would be meaningless without Jesus’ Presence to us—in liturgy, in life, in ministry—especially and in a particularly remarkable way in the Eucharist—that it also requires that we also be present to him.
We have to be here, in his Presence, because to be present to the Love of God is to be transformed. This Presence must happen both ways.
This weekend we have surrounding us on the walls of the church photos of the children of the parish—at Holy Cross Academy and in our Religious Education Program—after we celebrated Family Week. We invited parents to attend RE classes with the children and prepare a photo, adding what gifts they have received from God that might actually be part of God’s calling them to the Consecrated Life as a Sister, a Nun, a Priest or a Monk. So many kids, so many gifts.
They are with us in the church to remind us of who we are, how we are called, how we need to be present to God night and day, how we must nurture and support these gifts which God has given us not for ourselves, but to build up his Church. They are a reminder of how we must pray for each other, and place ourselves in the presence of God every moment of our lives to learn the depths and beauty of this relationship to which God has called us, to live in his love.
Today, we are called by our baptism into his Loving Presence, he who is Love, to be transformed. And every moment is a new beginning.
So, as we seek to live into our baptism, here is a program of spiritual exercises I invite you to take advantage of this year. I challenge you to use any or all of these opportunities to their fullest, because they are a coming together of several programs just at the right time in the life and spiritual development of our parish, and we will grow together. It won’t happen again for a long time. Some of it you already know about. Begin with the Called and Gifted Workshop, use the season of Lent to build your small group skills while we catch up on all the one-on-one Gift Consultations, and then begin the Small Groups for Called and Gifted in learning and living your gifts in everyday life.
Called and Gifted Workshop
Investigate the gifts that God has given you that make you uniquely suited to love and serve one another and participate in the life and ministry of the Church at Holy Cross Academy. 7—9:30pm Friday, 9—3:30pm Saturday; $20 for parishioners / $30 for others covers materials and lunch on Saturday.
Register by January 28.
Season of Lent
BETRANSFORMED Small Group Bible StudyConsider gathering a group of six or seven friends, colleagues, associates or neighbors (“affinity” groups) to study and share the Mass Readings each week before the six Sundays of Lent. Volunteer to host a group, or sign up for groups that will be forming. DVD and book help lead discussion. You can get a glimpse now at www.lentenfriends.org $10 for materials. Watch for details and announcements and sign up soon. First week of study is February 15 through Palm Sunday.
Forty Hours’ Mission:
“The Kingdom of God is Among You” Deacon Mark Cesnik, OP, of the Catherine of Siena Institute will lead the parish in a reflection on the spirituality of gifts. Weekend homilies April 30 and March 1, and at 7:30pm (following Mass) on Monday, March 2 and Tuesday, March 3.
This year let’s make the most of Lent together.
God bless you.