From Our Pastor ~ June 8, 2014

Dear Good People of Saint Mary,

Saint Ignatius, it is said, as well as a number of other saints, said, “Pray like it all depends on God, and work like it all depends on you.” Apparently, that is what saints do.

Saints may not be as rare an event as you may think. There are seemingly countless saints already canonized. If you look it up, you always see the round figure 10,000. “Over 10,000 saints, but no definitive ‘head count’ is known.” There are so many – even those who are canonized, not to mention the countless saints who have not received the formal recognition of the church. Did you know that 805 saints were canonized in May of 2013, the month that Pope Benedict resigned? Pope John Paul II canonized during his papacy more saints than had been canonized in all the years before him.

If you look at salvation history, there are three principle eras. The first, the time of the “Old Testament” or the story from creation up to Jesus, we call the time of the covenants (Noah, Abraham, Moses, etc.) or the time of the patriarchs and prophets. This correlates to the time of the Father, when God was active in revelation and the preparation of the world for the event of his fullness revealed in Christ.

The second era, then, is the era of the Son, the 33 short years of intense interaction and witness of Jesus Christ himself. It seems like such a short time compared to the time of the Father! But the richness of what we have seen and heard “with our own eyes and ears” is infinite in its depth of meaning.

The third era, the “Apostolic Age,” or the era of the Holy Spirit, is often called the era of the saints. It is the time that God’s creation, redeemed and returned to its created perfection in the love of God, is filled with the power of the Holy Spirit and all is made new. In the gifts of the Holy Spirit which are given at Pentecost (and at our Confirmation, sacramentally), we are made new creations and given the tools we need to put our life of faith, hope and love (the gifts of baptism) into action.

God is act. And his movement, his divine sharing, loving and saving is what the Holy Spirit is all about. To know God is to know the Holy Spirit. To have an experience of faith that is detached, disinterested, irrelevant — this is to say that you haven’t yet discovered who God is.

It would seem that saints get this. They understand how to put the joy and power of God’s life into action as witnesses of Christ’s unconditional love, willing to sacrifice their own comfort, possessions, even putting their own lives in the balance, if necessary, in seeking the greatest good.

That same Holy Spirit flows through you — can you feel it? We have been praying for nine days that the Holy Spirit might reclaim our troubled and confused hearts, that he might bring light to darkness, clarity to confusion, solace to distress, innocence to injury. Only the Holy Spirit can do these things. But often we get the messenger confused with the message. Saints aren’t saints because they accomplished all these things themselves — but they were somehow able to become transparent enough with themselves that they became beacons of light and allowed the Holy Spirit to work these wonders through them.

So let his gifts shine in you. They often aren’t gifts that draw a crowd or perform miracles. Sometimes they are as simple as being able  to serve humbly, or encourage others to be better, or help others to achieve their greatness. Surely, the gifts of healing and wisdom and discernment are just as real. Look into your heart. What are your gifts? Everyone has them. And set them free to create, and you will show the glory of God in your life.

First, be a saint, and simply trust.

May God bless you.

Fr. Don

Express Announcements ~ June 1, 2014

Please plan to join us Friday, June 13 for our first annual Mass and Reception for the Renewal of Wedding Vows. Mass at 7pm, reception to follow. RSVP no later than Monday, June 9 to the parish office.

Religious Education Registration for the 2014-15 school year begins Monday, June 2 in the parish office.

Join our annual observance of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, this Tuesday, June 3, at the Fredericksburg United Methodist Church, 7pm.

Meet our new Parish Nurses and learn more about our new Parish Health Ministry after Masses next weekend: 6-6:30pm on Saturday and 8am-4pm on Sunday, outside church or in Courtyard Meeting Room, depending on weather.

Sunday, June 8 is our Annual Parish Picnic held on the grounds of Holy Cross Academy, 3-7pm.

SCRIP is on sale this weekend in the Parish Life Center after all Masses except Saturday 7pm and Sunday 2pm. Please use SCRIP and help our school.

Coffee and Donuts are available after Sunday morning Masses in the Parish Life Center.

SHARE Food Orders for June are due on the 16th. Please see the order form, p. 17.

From Our Pastor ~ June 1, 2014

Dear Good People of Saint Mary,

This week we find ourselves in the heart of the Novena to the Holy Spirit, as we sharpen our senses and listen more intently for his instruction. I truly believe that the world is desperately in need of a new Pentecost when the truth will be heard clearly and people will respond in love.

I thought I would include in the column today a quick catechesis of the Holy Spirit that Pope Francis gave while in the Holy Land this past weekend.

“Today’s Gospel and this place to which, by God’s grace, I have come as a pilgrim, invite us to meditate on the Holy Spirit and on all that he has brought about in Christ and in us. In a word, we can say that the Holy Spirit carries out three actions – he prepares, he anoints and he sends.”

He explained, “At the baptism, the Holy Spirit descended upon Jesus to prepare him for his mission of salvation. … Yet the Holy Spirit, present from the beginning of salvation history, had already been at work in Jesus from the moment of his conception in the virginal womb of Mary of Nazareth … and acted in Simeon and Anna on the day of the presentation of Jesus in the Temple. … They gave prophetic expression to the joy of encountering the Redeemer and, in a certain sense, served as a preparation for the encounter between the Messiah and the people. These various works of the Holy Spirit are part of a harmonious action, a sole divine plan of love. The mission of the Holy Spirit, in fact, is to beget harmony – he is himself harmony – and to create peace in different situations and between different people. Diversity of ideas and persons should not trigger rejection or prove an obstacle, for variety always enriches. So today, with fervent hearts, we invoke the Holy Spirit and ask him to prepare the path to peace and unity.”

Secondly, “the Holy Spirit also anoints. He anointed Jesus inwardly and he anoints his disciples, so that they can have the mind of Christ and thus be disposed to live lives of peace and communion. Through the anointing of the Spirit, our human nature is sealed with the holiness of Jesus Christ and we are enabled to love our brothers and sisters with the same love which God has for us. We ought, therefore, to show concrete signs of humility, fraternity, forgiveness and reconciliation. These signs are the prerequisite of a true, stable and lasting peace. Let us ask the Father to anoint us so that we may fully become his children, ever more conformed to Christ, and may learn to see one another as brothers and sisters. Thus, by putting aside our grievances and divisions, we can show fraternal love for one another.”

Finally, the Holy Spirit sends. “Jesus is the one who is sent forth, filled with the Spirit of the Father. Anointed by the same Spirit, we also are sent as messengers and witnesses of peace. The world has much need of us as messengers of peace, witnesses of peace! The world needs this. The world asks us to bring peace and to be a sign of peace! Peace is not something which can be bought or sold; it is a gift to be sought patiently and to be ‘crafted’ through the actions, great and small, of our everyday lives. The way of peace is strengthened if we realize that we all of the same stock and members of the one human family; if we never forget that we have the same heavenly Father and are all his children, made in his image and likeness.”

“It is in this spirit that I embrace all of you.”

Pope Francis’ comments go right to the heart of our understanding of right relationship with God and with one another. To be made in his image and likeness in every way, we acknowledge that, as persons, we have a role in finding our own fulfillment in the context of the community that forms out of the love of the Holy Spirit – the Church. We must, therefore, always turn to him for our help, the words to say, the inspiration to act. Most of all, we discover that he is love, and we seek him everywhere we go.

May God bless you.

Fr. Don

Express Announcements ~ May 25, 2014

Our next New Family Welcome Meeting will be held Sunday, June 22. If you would like information on joining the parish before the next meeting, please stop by the Parish Office.

We hope you will join us on Friday May 30, for a beautiful Organ Concert, with guest artist Colin Howland. The concert will be held at 8pm and followed by a reception in the Parish Life Center.

Join Christians from Fredericksburg churches for the our annual observance of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, Tuesday, June 3, at the Fredericksburg United Methodist Church, 7pm. This is the ecumenical prayer service normally held every year in January, but was postponed this year due to weather.

Sunday, June 8 is our Annual Parish Picnic held on the grounds of Holy Cross Academy, 3-7pm.

SCRIP is on sale next weekend in the Parish Life Center after all Masses except Saturday 7pm and Sunday 2pm. Please use SCRIP, and a percentage of what you spend will be applied to our school.