Express Anouncements ~ Jan. 12, 2014

This year marks the 237th Anniversary of the drafting of the Bill for Establishing Religious Freedom. Please join the Knights of Columbus at their annual celebration this afternoon. At 1:30pm, a parade will depart the Fredericksburg train station and proceed to the Religious Freedom Monument on Washington Ave. The ceremony will culminate with the laying of a wreath at the monument at 2pm.

The Council of Catholic Women will hold a Virtual Baby Shower for area pro-life groups the weekend of January 18 & 19. Please bring your donations (diapers, wipes, blankets, baby clothing) to the Parish Life Center that weekend.

Plan to join Christians in Fredericksburg for the annual Week of Prayer for Christian Unity this year celebrated at Fredericksburg United Methodist Church on Tuesday, January 21 at 7:30pm. Details in this bulletin.

Sign up today for the March For Life on January 22. See more details in this bulletin and join us for this peaceful protest against abortion.

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.

Sunday Coffee Shop is open this weekend after the 7, 8:30 and 10am Masses.

From Our Pastor ~ Jan. 12, 2014

Dear Good People of Saint Mary,

With the Baptism of the Lord we officially bring the Christmas season to a close. Looking back on it, I believe it was one of the most vibrant, alive Christmas seasons we have ever had at St. Mary. More people came and filled the Masses than before. And your participation at Mass was significant and authentic, praying and singing. The Second Vatican Council, by the way, included this as one of the four benchmarks of the Presence of Christ in the liturgy: when the assembly prays and sings. There was a spirit of reverence, and real presence each time you were here. I believe we touched many hearts this season, and were touched by the underlying love that brings all of us to life in this beautiful season.

I’m not sure I sufficiently thanked all our ministers and those who lead them. Our ushers gave kind greetings tirelessly, our servers served faithfully, our lectors proclaimed the beauty of God’s Word so that we could hear it clearly, and our Eucharistic ministers facilitated the fullness of the Mystery in the action of Communion. Our decorators outdid themselves in beauty making our church incomparable, according to the tradition to which we have become accustomed, to provide our very best to the worship of God in his house. But the greatest thanks could to go to those who, by far, worked the most hours and refined and brought to us the gift of music. David Mathers, our Director of Music, and all his staff, and all the members of our choirs, and musicians — to them we owe a particularly great thank you for the endless repertoire of music and the hours spent in preparation. You have continued to lift our hearts to God in song that is seasonally joyful and reflective, sorrowful and glorious, and each time we join in with you we are changed. Thanks.

There are a couple of things I would like to bring to your attention — please try your best to be involved in several very, very important activities that happen at this time in January that are usually poorly attended, I think, just because people are still taking a breath from Christmas. They are the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity (Tuesday the 21st), the March for Life (Wednesday the 22nd), and Catholic Advocacy Day (Thursday the 30th). All three should be overflowing with Catholics, indeed, Christians of all churches, to promote unity, life and justice in our community and our nation. But they are not. All three are required, not optional, and we should be involved in all three, even in some small way, to put our faith into action. I challenge you to be involved in all three.

Also, I would like to welcome you to our newest parish campus, www.stmaryfred.org. We had a wonderful website before, and are grateful to the volunteers in the parish who put so much work into making it a reality in the past, but we have taken the step and hired a website expert to produce a new website that is attractive and informative, but most of all flexible and very easy to navigate. Also, our staff managers will have simple access to make their own updates and, hopefully, you will find a website that is always current and pertinent. So we hope, and will try to maintain. So you are invited to go there and walk around sometime.

For more information about Virginia’s General Assembly and the bills and sessions that are planned, and most importantly the Catholic Church’s position on the many pieces of legislation that are up for a vote, please visit the Virginia Catholic Conference website, www.vacatholic.org, and find out how you can get involved. Register to receive emails and become a part of a voice of reason and faith together. Imagine 700,000 Virginia Catholics standing together for life, justice, family and the common good. And stand.

God bless you.

Fr. Don

Express Announcements ~ Jan. 5, 2014

 

Sunday Coffee Shop is open this weekend after the 7, 8:30 and 10am Masses.

The Council of Catholic Women will hold a Virtual Baby Shower for area pro-life groups the weekend of January 18 & 19. Please bring your donations (diapers, wipes, blankets, baby clothing) to the church that weekend.

Sign up today for the March For Life on January 22. See more details in this bulletin and join us for this peaceful protest against abortion.

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 ~ Jan. 5, 2014

Dear Good People of Saint Mary,

So.

If you are ever in a conversation and somebody says that, that means that they have no idea what to say next.

2014. If you’re my age you remember thinking as a kid how impossibly distant the year 2000 was and how we’d probably never get there anyway.

Sometimes when I’m giving a homily I wonder why anyone listens. It probably seems to people like all I ever do is preach. Because pretty much whenever we are together most, I have to preach. But I’m really a pretty quiet kind of person.

I’ve been thinking a lot this season of Christmas about how this only-begotten Word of God-made-flesh, Jesus, spent his first nine months in the womb of the Blessed Virgin Mary revealing the plan of God to us not saying a word. Here now he’s a baby and he doesn’t have a thing to say. Just baby-talk. Yet God still speaks to us through him —the invisible God made visible—even fully, somehow, in this helpless baby in a cave in a backwater town in the middle of  nowhere – who fully reveals him.

The baby is a great image. Sure, helpless, totally dependent, even silent. But also perfectly beautiful, absolutely innocent, pure, completely the best of what “human” means before we begin to make bad choices and discover independence and ego.

As I said in many of my Christmas homilies – but forgot to include in others – the silence of this time in the infancy of Jesus – the silence in the midst of poverty and danger, the silence proceeding into Egypt as they flee as refugees to save the Child’s life – the silence is what paves the way and gives meaning to the greatest silence 33 years later when suddenly this baby gives over his last breath and delivers his spirit to the Father. It is in the silence of his freely-chosen death that Jesus speaks the loudest words of his life. The work of salvation begun in incarnation – conception at the Annunciation, birth at the Nativity—the salvation begun today in this Christmas season finds it’s fullest expression in the Silence hanging on the Cross.

The wood of the tree encountered by the first Adam is the same wood of the cradle and the Cross by which the Second Adam rights the wrongs of all time and place and brings us back to God in joy and peace.

We get the glad tidings of comfort and joy early in the story; it gathers our families together to share in God’s gifts, it reminds us of our humble origins and the humility that is required for us to unworthily accept the limitless riches that God has waiting for us. It calls us back to the simplicity and total dependence on God of the Son of God himself, who has entered into our history to show us the way.

Remember? Pope Francis said we can’t understand Christmas unless we have found some silence in advance? Well, once that silence becomes a part of us, it is the path toward which we are able to understand the crosses of life, the suffering and death, the meaning of new life and resurrection. Christmas happens only in the middle of the context of Annunciation/Incarnation and Death/Resurrection.

The day of the Lord isn’t some day in the future. It is now. It is the manifestation of Emmanuel (“God with us”) to the Magi who have traveled afar to greet the new king. We are there. It is the revelation of God to all people today. God is saying to us: “Pay attention! Something remarkable and unfathomable is happening to us today!” The plan of God unfolds before our eyes, we who are wordless, helpless and silent; we can hear.

God bless you.

Fr. Don