From Our Pastor ~ March 9, 2014

Dear Good People of Saint Mary,

Our Parish Mission with Fr. Dennis Corrado already begins next weekend! Fr. Dennis will join us for all the Masses next weekend, then with a special talk on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday at 7:30pm. Our annual 40 Hours’ Devotions will also be underway next weekend from Sunday night to Tuesday night, so it will be a time of real prayer and growth. Please note that we have changed the Masses to 6:30pm on Monday and Tuesday evenings in order to schedule both 40 Hours’ Masses and Father’s Mission Talks. Please mark your calendars, sign up in the church vestibule for a time of prayer in the Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist, and don’t miss these talks.

The topic this year will be forgiveness. I was told about Fr. Dennis by a music director friend of mine in Connecticut last year. She said that he came and preached all the weekend Masses and the word slowly got out. On Monday night, there were about 200 people, on Tuesday their church was full. On Wednesday they had to put up video screens in the hall for the crowds (their church is relatively small). He is a very dynamic and genuine, challenging speaker and brings a great opportunity for our growth and reflection in making this Lent a season of real conversion and prayer. I encourage you to take advantage of this great opportunity.

Thanks for your great initial response to our parish’s responsibility for the Bishop’s Lenten Appeal. After Commitment Weekend last weekend, our unofficial totals are right at 70% of our goal for this year, a great start. Please be sure to take your part and give your contribution. Envelopes are available in the church for you to use if you have maybe misplaced the one mailed to you.

Every diocese in the country has an annual appeal of some sort in order to accomplish the works of the diocese – diocesan ministries, the formation of priests, services to the community and everyday realities of payroll and utilities for many offices. We can’t be a branch without a vine! Please be generous.

I was in the front office the other day and overheard a conversation at the window which has me thinking. Someone was requesting a Mass intention for a particular date. As you may have guessed, the date requested was no longer available, in fact, it had been requested by someone already.

We are now filling Mass intentions for October and I wouldn’t be surprised if the Intentions Book for calendar year 2014 will be full by Easter. As you know, we only have about 1,000 announced Mass intentions available each year, since one Mass each Sunday must be for the parish. Canon Law allows for only one announced intention with a stipend (suggested $10) at each Mass (a law written in answer to abuses long ago), and in the parish we have limited the number of Masses you can request each month in order to give more people an opportunity to request a Mass intention.

Since we don’t open the book for 2015 until November, what do we do in the meantime? The person who came to the window was told about the possibility of unannounced intentions, but wasn’t interested, which indicated to me a lack of understanding of what this means. You see, every time a priest celebrates a Mass, one particular intention may be used and it provides him personally with a stipend. Each time one of us concelebrates (more than one priest at a Mass), or celebrates a Mass away from the parish for whatever reason (our parish pilgrimage, for example, or when we are away) we use all the unannounced intentions which have been requested. For a while now, we have had none of these. Consider it, if you will; there is no limit to the number of unannounced Masses you may request. And if we can’t get to them all, we send them to priests in parishes or missions who don’t have enough.

God bless you.

Fr. Don

Express Announcements ~ March 2, 2014

Ash Wednesday is March 5. Masses will be held at 6:30am, 9am, 12noon, 6pm and 7:30pm. Ashes are not distributed at times other than following the Masses.

Join us for our Lenten Soup Suppers beginning this Friday, March 7, 6-7:30pm in the Parish Life Center, followed by Stations of the Cross in the Church at 7:30pm in English and 8:30pm in Spanish. Since this is first Friday, Mass is at 8pm and all-night Adoration will follow the Stations beginning at 9. Please sign up in the vestibule of the church for your time.

The St. Mary Manna Food Project will collect nonperishable food items and financial donations next weekend for the Fredericksburg Area Food Bank. Volunteers will be available before and after all Masses to accept your donations.

Couples from Worldwide Marriage Encounter will be available March 8 and 9 after Masses to provide details about the upcoming Marriage Encounter Weekend, which will be held in Fredericksburg in April. All married couples are invited to stop by the Courtyard Meeting Room after Mass next weekend for more information.

Join Fr. Rooney for five Sunday night classes during Lent on enriching your knowledge of the Mass through Sacred Scripture. Please, you must sign up by this Thursday, March 6 to determine if we have enough for a class. We are sorry for the short notice! Call the office to register, more information in this bulletin, p. 6.

SCRIP is on sale 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.

From Our Pastor ~ March 2, 2014

Dear Good People of Saint Mary,

When you study liturgy, one of the principles you learn is lex orandi, lex credendi. It means, literally, the  discipline of praying is the discipline of believing. The way we pray reveals exactly what we believe.

It is a useful principle when looked at from both sides of the coin. We can learn so much about what we believe by the Tradition of rites and actions which forms the seamless expression of the Church’s worship throughout the ages. The texts, the gestures of the Mass are a catechesis in themselves. We learn by doing.

We can also intuitively know whether or not something we might be doing is appropriate by first considering the faith of the assembly and then discerning if what we do actually brings to visible experience the inner faith of the Church.

For example, if song is prayer, and prayer is always directed to God, applause praising the singer or choir is a confusion of purpose. Certainly, we appreciate the talents of those who lead liturgy, and there are times that
expressions of thanks are quite appropriate, but never in such a way as to confuse a performance for an audience with a prayer to God. Likewise, recently some commonly used songs in liturgy were suggested to be
not appropriate, because the texts directed the attention of those singing to themselves, rather than a prayer to God.
The way we come forward in the Communion procession probably says a lot more than you have ever considered. First, the one fluid movement of the people of God to the Eucharist evokes the image of God’s creation in one procession to the heavenly kingdom. We are united by one action, processing, in one voice in song, united in one gesture of receiving the Body of Christ, that which we become. It is the fulfillment of the consecration that began with the calling down of the Holy Spirit upon the gifts, transformed, broken and shared that we might be transformed and shared. We are consecrated as well. The Church welcomes all people to seek the faith that is prerequisite to Communion. The one Communion that we share is the outward sign of the one faith that we share. To not share that one faith and to join in Communion nonetheless would be a lie;
for this reason we do not practice intercommunion. Lex orandi, lex credendi.

Recently an usher very passionately told me, “You must tell people to stop seeking out only the priest for Communion!” What he was referring to was another example of an inconsistency between how we act  sometimes and how we believe. Since we believe that Christ is truly present under the form of bread and wine, it does not matter who is the minister of Communion, as long as they are  duly prepared and mandated for the ministry by Bishop Loverde. To refuse Communion from a Eucharistic Minister is to express a misunderstanding of the real Presence of Christ, which we cannot make of our own accord at all. At this moment we are all one.

Next time you are at Mass, consider the many gestures, postures, distractions, attentiveness, level of dress, even coming late or leaving early, and ask if these are really indicative of the lex credendi that is within
you! We have been given so much, and can do so much more with generous hearts and gratitude for what we have.

I’d like to offer a special thanks to Joan Doherty this weekend. Her endless attention to the plants in the church have yielded what I think might be a world record in the area of poinsettia longevity. Ash Wednesday is
late this year, and those flowers just keep on blooming.

Watch our calendar as we enter the Lenten season this week with Ash Wednesday. May the season of Lent be a time of deep conversion and strength for you. Join us as we gather for the rich prayer expression of our
Tradition over the coming weeks.

God bless you.

Fr. Don