From Our Pastor ~ April 13, 2014

Dear Good People of Saint Mary,

Passion Sunday begins not only the final chapter of Jesus’ public ministry, it also reveals the fulfillment, the final installment of God’s plan which began with his first Covenant with Abraham.

Elements of the Passion which we hear today proclaimed at the Gospel include the same elements of tree, garden, wood of sacrifice, unblemished lamb, bread and wine blessed and broken and poured out, that we see running throughout the story of salvation spanning the beginning with Adam and Eve in the garden, Abraham offering up his only son at Mount Moriah/Jerusalem, and the deliverance of the people of God from death and their liberation from the slavery of Egypt, as the waters of the Red Sea mark their new life, an image we see clearly as a prefiguring of our own Baptism. The law is given, the spousal relationship of God with his people is established and the faithfulness of God is given as the model of the holiness of Man which finds its fullness only in the Communion of Jesus and with Jesus.

The Word of God which took to himself our very human nature, now takes that nature and offers it back to his Father in a gesture that we are unable to accomplish alone, without joining our gift to his.

It is the movement of the Mass, as we begin with the Word who becomes really present, offering himself to the Father, for the sole purpose that we might, as members of his Body, participate in that offering and give ourselves to God.

A sudden shift takes place today as the world which Jesus came to save, shouting “Hosannah!” one minute and “Crucify him!” the next, begins to see the action of salvation unfold. It is a revelation meant for us, that we are not able to dismiss with indifference or allow the business of this week to eclipse. The most sacred events of our salvation will unfold for us, with us, by us this week. We will participate in the Last Supper Holy Thursday night discovering Jesus’ fulfillment of Passover, the institution of Eucharist and priesthood. We will process to the Parish Life Center following Mass as the disciples went with Jesus to the Garden of Gethsemane to pray, until midnight when he will be taken away.

Good Friday from 12 to 3 we gather in meditation and song, listening to the seven last words of Jesus interpreted in preaching and musical selections. Three services follow – listening to the Passion according to John, praying the universal prayers and receiving Communion which was consecrated at the Last Supper Mass the night before. The church is stripped, the altars are bare and the tabernacle is empty: no sacraments are celebrated between 3pm on Good Friday until the moment of resurrection at the Easter Vigil on the following evening because Jesus has died. The world mourns in hope.

At that moment after we have waited in the darkness of the Easter Vigil listening to the story of salvation unfold over generations in seven readings, the Gloria is sung, the joy of new life marks the moment of resurrection and the Church hastens to the font of baptism, the new sacred chrism of confirmation and the bread and wine of the heavenly liturgy of the Lamb of God. The wedding banquet of the Lamb in the heavenly Jerusalem is the celebration of the new communion of Christ and we are commissioned: sent to give what we have received. In a certain and final sense, the Last Supper was the last of it’s kind, redefined by the One who created it in the beginning. The new heavenly liturgy is our source and meaning for life, purpose.

Be sure to enter the Mystery: take your place in the story of salvation as we re-present and re-new the work of God, our new life everyday. Please be certain that you are most warmly welcome to join us for all of these things this week.

God bless you.

Fr. Don

Express Announcements ~ April 6, 2014

Join us for our LAST Lenten Soup Supper on Friday, April 11 in the Parish Life Center. All Soup Supper donations will help our parish feed those in need through the Micah Ministry Community dinners and the Brisben Shelter Dinners.

Additional Parish Confessions for Lent begin this week. Come early and avoid all the long lines during the last week of Lent.

All Masses on Easter Sunday will be held at the Fredericksburg Expo Center. Masses are at 8am, 10:15am and 12:30pm. There is plenty of parking. No Easter Sunday Masses will take place at the Church.

Come join the party at our annual Parish Dinner Dance on May 3 at the Jepson Alumni Center. See page 7 for ticket information.

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

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 ~ April 6, 2014

Dear Good People of Saint Mary,

We are in the process of final preparations for Easter Masses. Once again this year, we will be celebrating Mass at the Fredericksburg Expo Center.

For the past (how many?) years we have been gathering at the Expo Center—a lot of work—to provide a proper joyful welcome and ensure that everyone might have a seat and a parking space. And over the years we have perfected the art of liturgy for 3,500 faithful with the proper solemnity and reverence, joy and exultation that is proper for Easter Sunday, and still not let it last longer than a typical Mass in church. In the beginning there were many who felt that such a thing could not be held in a place such as the Expo Center: all these years now we have repeatedly heard from people who have newly discovered the experience of thanking and praising God in the joyful context of so broad an assembly celebrating the new life of Jesus’ resurrection. You can’t imagine the impact of it unless you are there. Is this us? We are a community that is so large and alive.

Don’t tell anybody, but the Expo Center is now holy ground – we have blessed it by the sacred rites of Mass and sprinkled generously the assembly (and the building) with the holy water of baptism!

I wanted to pass on a little advice on this weekend before we begin the solemn observances of Holy Week. Come to Expo early, just as the previous Mass is ending. The 8am Mass is usually 3/4 full, maybe a little more. That means that there are about 900 seats waiting for you. The 10:15 is basically full, although there are always some seats to be found on the far end of the room from the entrances. The 12:30 Mass, which is a fascinating and even more joyful Mass combining the cultures of North, Central and South America, has the most seats available and you are always welcome.

The Easter Vigil Mass in the church will begin at 8:30 and last until about 11:30. See the bulletin board in the vestibule of the church to learn about all the people who will be joining our church this year. Please keep all of them in your prayers during the coming week, a most important week in their lives.

This year we have bought gifts for everyone who comes to Easter Sunday Masses. You may have heard about the pastoral letter of Bishop Loverde, “Go Forth with Hearts on Fire,” a wonderful piece on the new evangelization and how you can become involved personally in the work of the Gospel. We have bought 7,000 copies to distribute this Easter, as well as holy cards commemorating the soon-to-be saints John XXIII and John Paul II. These are our gifts to you for this season of joy.

Of course, we will be looking for an army of volunteers to help at all the Masses to distribute these as people leave—if you are interested, please call the office. It will take only a little time, and as we finish you will find that traffic has quieted down outside.

Well, I don’t intend to get ahead of myself. We still have before us the most intense and reflective time of all the year. We hope to enter into the very suffering and death—and resurrection of Jesus as members of his Body, the Church. It is my prayer that we can find it in our hearts to make this Sacred Triduum, Holy Thursday, Good Friday, Holy Saturday and Easter Sunday a time of deep prayer and sacrifice. It is in the unfolding of Christ’s mysteries that we discover the reality of ourselves and the meaning of our lives. It is the selfless offering of Jesus that has saved us, and it is the selfless offering of ourselves as we recall his saving love that will continue to advance this salvation for all the world.

Don’t forget – Jesus came, he died and he rose from the dead that ALL might be saved. So don’t just share the secret with those who are friends—change the world.

God bless you.

Fr. Don

Express Announcements ~ March 30, 2014

Join us for our Lenten Soup Suppers on Fridays during Lent in the Parish Life Center from 6-7:30pm, followed by Stations of the Cross in the Church at 7:30pm, First Friday Mass at 8pm, and Stations of the Cross in Spanish at 8:30pm.

The Knights of Columbus are hosting a Men’s Retreat on Saturday, April 5. See page 8 for more information.

Tickets for the Mother-Daughter Tea to be held on April 12 are on sale after Masses this weekend.

Sign up today for All-Night Adoration which takes place on Friday, April 4 immediately following the 8pm Spanish Stations of the Cross.

Come join the party at our annual Parish Dinner Dance on May 3 at the Jepson Alumni Center. See page 9 for ticket information.

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

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.