From Our Pastor – October 5, 2014

Dear Good People of Saint Mary,

Pope Francis, in his message for this year’s World Day of Prayer on January 1, wrote:

“Fraternity is an essential human quality, for we are relational beings. A lively awareness of our relatedness helps us to look upon and to treat each person as a true sister or brother; without fraternity it is impossible to build a just society and a solid and lasting peace. We should remember that fraternity is generally first learned in the family, thanks above all to the responsible and complementary roles of each of its members, particularly the father and the mother. The family is the wellspring of all fraternity, and as such it is the foundation and the first pathway to peace, since, by its vocation, it is meant to spread its love to the world around it.”

Last Sunday night our Diocesan Commission on Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs hosted our annual dialogue on peace at St. Francis of Assisi parish in Triangle, and this year we took this quote as our theme. Four women, representing the Hindu, Muslim, Buddhist and Catholic (Sr. Clare Hunter, FSE) faiths, spoke about the values of family, relationship, brokenness, and how our world might, as Pope Francis seems to suggest, apply the same kind of fraternal values to world situations between nations to seek a new kind of tolerance, even forgiveness and reconciliation.

Those who were present not only remarked about the power of the theme, but also the remarkable power of hearing these four women’s voices speaking from the same place, a common value of family, and expressing the same concerns and hopes.

You see, dialogue isn’t so much about all of us trying to be the same. Such an activity would be not only meaningless, but untrue. We are not the same. But as we approach one another and speak honestly what is true, and seek to act in truth, and really listen to what each other has to say, divergences begin emerge.Our commonality becomes clear, despite our diversity and distinctions of culture, race and religion. Such distinctions still exist, but coexist with the greater reality that is shared, and become less reasons for divisions as opportunities to learn, and grow.

Nobody had all the answers—any answers,really—to the big questions of what would a family of nations do to try to reconcile their own? How would one culture approach another in the accepting stance of a kind of adoption?How would an enduring love based in our common humanity and unity be able to overcome the pain of separation and rivalry, of pride and jealousy? At the end of the day, aren’t all the members of the family equal in rank and role? Doesn’t that relationship of brother and sister count for something?

Sometimes when I am in the confessional I hear children always refer to their brothers and sisters as “siblings.” How clinical and impersonal! I always ask them what they mean by that. I am always my brother’s keeper, but I’ve never thought much about being my sibling’s keeper.

Such valued relationships require a new set of considerations. When your brother sins against you you must first go to him and seek to be reconciled, Jesus said. How often do we go directly to the tribunal and seek damages?

There was a great moment when Pope Francis was speaking to a group of Pentecostal pastors in Texas earlier this year. He was telling the Bible story of Joseph and his brothers, who had sold him into slavery, short of killing him. “They came to Egypt to buy food in the middle of a famine,” the Pope relates. And it so happened that their long-lost brother was in charge of the food. “What brought them all back together was hunger. Clearly, they had money, they came to Egypt to buy food.”

All of us have our riches of our cultures and our systems of faith. But, as the Pope adds, “You can’t eat money. It is within the context of the relationship that we are fed.”

God bless you.

Fr. Don

From Our Pastor ~ September 28, 2014

Dear Good People of Saint Mary,

First of all, I hope everyone had a chance to stop by the ministry booths under the tents outside Mass last weekend. What a wonderful, generous group of people and what a beautiful spirit seemed to fill the event. Our thanks to all the ministry leaders and representatives who gave up a good part of a weekend to tell our parish story. My special thanks go to the coordinators of the day: Dawn Miller, Beth Merriman, Patti Kaila, Pam Biedenbender and Rick Caporali. Thank you!

This weekend is Commitment Sunday, when we take all that we have learned about opportunity and decide what we plan to do about it this coming year. You’ll notice on the commitment card that there are places to state your intentions to be involved in the parish life of prayer, service in ministry and faithful support of the parish mission that is the life of the Gospel and the salvation of souls. Please, again— each and all—consider doing at least one thing this year as a sign of your good will and thanks for God’s love for you. We have been given so many gifts in love, and are called to use them to advance God’s plan in loving service.

Commitment, Abraham Lincoln said, is what transforms a promise into reality. I’m pretty sure he wasn’t speaking directly about the spiritual life, but it is a fascinating reflection when you consider the ways we are invited to respond to God’s promise. The realization of God’s promises always requires a personal investment of self, an offering, a giving away.

God doesn’t accomplish anything in our lives or the life of our parish without us, fully involved. Consider a vocation, and how a vocation can’t be successful without a commitment. You could have a vocation as a mom or dad, or as a priest or religious, or even as a peacemaker or teacher, but it means nothing if you don’t respond. The word vocation, based on the Latin word voco, vocare (to call), has intrinsic to its meaning that someone has to answer the call. Otherwise it is of no value, unfulfilled.

This Thursday we keep in our prayers one of our parishioners, Joe Farrell, and our seminarian from this summer, Rich Miserendino, both of whom will be ordained as transitional deacons at Saint Peter Basilica in Rome by Archbishop Donald Wuerl of D.C. We pray for their commitment in this step toward being ordained priests here in Arlington next June, and for our church and the commitments we make.

May they be a good example and source of inspiration for all of us to follow through with the good intentions we have, to follow God’s will in our lives and, by our actions, transform God’s promise for us and our parish into reality. Congratulations, Joe and Rich!

On a final note, I promised a parishioner that I would mention his disappointment when
he came back to his vehicle after the 8:30am Sunday Mass and found that someone had
backed into it and driven off, leaving considerable damage. This is not the first time this has happened, sadly. There were other instances of rude behavior which people related. We can only apologize for the parking lot we have for so long. It is all we have. If you do not wish to be parked in, it would be wise not to park in a place where that will likely happen. Choose one of the spaces along the trees, or on a street nearby. Above all, let us make the commitment to take responsibility for our mistakes, and be charitable and kind with each other and with our neighbors.

God bless you.

Fr. Don

Express Announcements ~ September 28, 2014

* Commitment Sunday is today. Remember to offer your commitment card at Masses this weekend. If you forgot, please mail it in or bring it to the office. Thanks. We ask everyone in the parish to make a positive commitment to living faith in love.

* More adult formation classes are starting this week. Please look in the bulletin for information – one Bible Study begins on Wednesday and two more begin on Thursday.

* Both Fr. Mealey’s presentation on Marriage and the Annulment Process (Thursday evening, Oct. 2) and our Seminar on Life Decisions (Saturday, Oct. 4) will be held depending upon response. At the time of this printing, we have not had any registrations. If you wish to attend, please call the office and leave your contact
information so we may notify you if the meetings are to be held at a later date.

* Don’t forget the Saint Francis Feast Day Animal Blessing next Saturday, October 4, in the parking lot on the office side in front of the church by the statue of Saint Francis.

* 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.

His Beatitude Louis Rafael Sako, Chaldean Catholic Patriarch of Iraq, has asked the world to pray with him for Christians and religious minorities who face unspeakable suffering in Iraq, Syria, Egypt and other countries:

Lord,
The plight of our country is deep and the suffering of Christians is severe and frightening. Therefore, we ask you Lord to spare our lives, and grant us patience and courage, to continue our witness of Christian values with trust and hope. Lord, peace is the foundation of life; Grant us the peace and stability that will enable us to live with each other without fear and anxiety, and with dignity and joy. Glory be to you forever.

Express Announcements ~ September 21, 2014

* Parish Life Weekend is this weekend. Take advantage of our time to visit with ministry leaders and representatives outside under the tents about various ministries — and choose one for your commitment this year. Remember to bring your commitment card to Masses next weekend, December 27-28 for Commitment Sunday. This is the time of year when we make an account of our activity and make resolutions of prayer, service and support of our parish mission.

* Adult formation classes start in earnest this week and next. Please look in the bulletin for information – most require registration in advance! One Bible Study begins this Thursday, and next week one on Wednesday and two more on Thursday begin.

* Fr. Mealey’s presentation on Marriage and the Annulment Process will be held Thursday evening, Oct. 2. Please, if you or someone you know needs to come back to the
sacraments, plan to attend. Also, Our presentation on Life Decisions is coming again on Saturday, Oct. 4. Please see p. 8 for details.

* Don’t forget the Saint Francis Feast Day Animal Blessing on Saturday, October 4 in the parking lot in front of the church.

* 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.

His Beatitude Louis Rafael Sako, Chaldean Catholic Patriarch of Iraq, has asked the world to pray with him for Christians and religious minorities who face unspeakable suffering in Iraq, Syria, Egypt and other countries:

Lord,
The plight of our country is deep and the suffering of Christians is severe and frightening. Therefore, we ask you Lord to spare our lives, and grant us patience and courage, to continue our witness of Christian values with trust and hope. Lord, peace is the foundation of life; Grant us the peace and stability that will enable us to live with each other without fear and anxiety, and with dignity and joy. Glory be to you forever.