From Our Pastor ~ January 18, 2015

Dear Good People of Saint Mary,

A big part of living faith is standing up and being a witness to how that faith is lived faithfully in our modern world. In the next two weeks we will have real time opportunities to make that faith visible, to walk and talk the Gospel in how it guides us in our daily lives.

Of course, the first obvious example is the March for Life this Thursday, February 22. There is probably still room on a bus; we always order two just in case and end up using only one. Sign up quickly. If you have never gone, you must try it even if only once. The powerful message of the Gospel lived by so many present, who silently witness to the gift of life and how it is so disregarded in our world today is a remarkable event. No doubt once again this year it will be underreported, the estimated size of the crowd will be reported again and again as much smaller than reality, and the message will be distorted according to various editorial agendas.
Every other protest this year will be reported, and re-reported; this one will largely be ignored again. Our legislators will take the day off. But the message is still clear, that we must value and reverence the life that is given to us by God and the administration of death must stop. Unfortunately, God has been left out of the deliberation process, as if he were some sort of intellectual fashion. Well, that is the pride of man that has gotten us into a mess ever since Adam and Eve. If you go to the March, just be present, be humble and sincere, and pray for conversion, beginning with ourselves. Take heart,the tide is turning, I believe, through the generous and prophetic work of so many people, our own people like Kathleen Wilson at Mary’s Shelter and the Bereit family and their gift of 40 Days for Life. They have made their voices clear and strong, and we are blessed that they are right here as brothers and sisters of our own at Saint Mary. I have learned so much from them.

One of the most unnoticed events, it seems, is Catholic Advocacy Day in Richmond a week from Thursday, January 29. At such an opportunity when we gather with our bishops and discuss the issues of law and society, and then have the opportunity to take the message of our faith and conscience in person to our lawmakers — I’m always amazed how only a few of us go year after year.

Yet, a good showing of Catholics can make a difference in how our state legislators consider bills and act to defend life, care for the poor and immigrants, defend marriage and build strong families, promote parental choice in education and uphold religious freedom, among other issues for the common good.

These are critical issues to our culture and the Catholic voice is needed so badly to provide balance in the deliberations of our leaders as they consider issues and votes. This is how nobody can say they didn’t know what we Catholics believe, and how
many of us there are in constituencies in Virginia!

You can find a complete list of the Virginia Catholic Conference agenda in this week’s Arlington Herald, and register at their website, www.vacatholic.org  Catholic Advocacy Day is always held on the last Thursday in January after the General Session has begun. Last year about 275 people attended from the dioceses of Richmond and Arlington, much fewer from Arlington. The day begins with breakfast and welcoming remarks from Bishops DiLorenzo and Loverde, followed by prayer and briefings on proposed state policies in the areas of concern. After the briefings, participants from Catholic churches and schools throughout Virginia meet in groups to discuss the issues, then head to the General Assembly building for constituent visits at legislators’ offices. Afterwards, Mass, lunch, and a debriefing are held at nearby St. Peter Church.

If we don’t speak about what we believe, nobody will. Nobody will know any better.

Finally, the other, next opportunity to live the Gospel is personal. You may be wondering why I keep mentioning it, it is because I believe that the Called and Gifted Workshop February 6 and 7 is going to make a real difference in how you live your life as a baptized Christian seeking your path in the world today, serving God and others. How can you know your focus if you don’t know the concrete ways God is calling you to act through the gifts he has already given you, perhaps some you aren’t even aware of, or have taken for granted? So far about 100 parishioners at Saint Mary have begun the process. To date, only about 75 people have registered, though many are telling me that they are coming and haven’t done it yet. The Diocese has asked if they can invite leaders from all the parishes to attend, so it is important to register soon if you plan to come. The deadline is Wednesday, January 28 so we will know how many chairs we can give away to others who may be interested. Please come.

God bless you.

Fr. Don