From the Pastor ~ Oct. 6, 2013

Dear Good People of Saint Mary,

Do you desire to reconnect and participate fully in the life of faith that is your birthright by virtue of Baptism? I believe this is a deep desire that all people have, as we are “wired” for relationship with God as spiritual creations. But so many people are misled and lose the way. If this has happened to you, please read this with the tenderness with which it is intended; if you have a son or daughter who no longer believes that faith needs to be a lived expression, please copy this page and mail it to them. If I knew their names and addresses, I would write this to them myself.

Recently a woman came into the office — I am not including any details here in order to respect her confidence, but it could be any number of people I have met in the past ten years. She had suffered for years at the hands of an abusive spouse, had just tried to “keep it together” for her kids’ sake, had lost any sort of hope in the future, had become basically a shell of a person who dreaded the next impossible hurdle. She recently had gathered up enough nerve to get out of the impossible relationship in which she found herself, realizing that what she had, whatever it was, was not a marriage. Not in the sense of the Church as a sacrament, something forged in fidelity, permanence and openness to life. She came to the office without hope, dreading what I would say about what she had done. But she said that she was ready to do whatever was necessary to come back to God, if that meant working through the often-difficult soul searching of the annulment process.

We spoke about her situation at length. It came to light that she, a Catholic, had never been married in the Church, something she had regretted all these 25-plus years. She said she knew the entire time that what she had done wasn’t right. She had found herself drifting, outside the Church without an anchor. “What do I have to do,” she asked while crying,”to make this right?”

It was an amazing moment. She had not realized that she wasn’t married at all in the eyes of the Church, as Catholics must be married in the Church to be validly married. “All that is required,” I replied, “is confession.”

She looked at me blankly. “What do you mean? Everything is so hard, everything in my life is impossibly hard. How is it possible?”

“I don’t know, exactly,” I said, “how mercy and forgiveness is so hard for us but is so easy for God. The difficulty of our tears and our desire to return to him brings us his love where, for us, it would be impossible.”

Communion is restored. She got her life back that day and is back on the path God started her on so many years ago. Maybe her suffering can be a healing for you.

Today is pro-life Sunday. You can save someone’s life: life is so very precious to God. We often think of the unborn who are so terribly undesired and killed out of fear and a lack of hope. This is so against the witness of God himself toward us when we are undesirable. We think of the elderly whose lives are shortened for convenience and in the name of “quality of life” which ultimately is neither. We think of the poor, those whose lives depend upon us for the bread they need to survive today. And we think of those who have come to despise their own life because, in their aloneness, they have forgotten how the relationship of another can make possible the miracle of forgiveness and love where once, alone, it was not possible.

Today we reach out to all those who find their life confusing and difficult, a challenge too heavy to confront. No sin is too great, no separation deep enough to overcome the love of God who continues to touch and change his creation. And you have the job to deliver this Good News to them. Go, do it.

God bless you.

Fr. Don

Express Announcments ~ Sept. 22, 2013

This is Parish Life Weekend. Please take time to visit the ministry tents before and after all Masses and consider which ministry or group you would like to join this year. Next weekend is Commitment Weekend, when we will offer our completed commitment cards to God along with the gifts of bread and wine at all Masses.

Seats are still available on the bus for our Diocesan Pilgrimage at National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, DC on Saturday, October 12. The deadline to sign up is Monday, September 23 at 9am in the Parish Office. Don’t miss the bus!

RCIA is beginning on Monday nights in the church, starting at 7:30 (following our weekly novena of the Miraculous Medal). If you or anyone you know is interested in being a part of the Catholic Church, please know all are welcome to come and see, and learn how. It’s not too late.

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

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

Please note the time change for the Young Adult Ministry. They will meet this week on Monday, September 23 at 7:30pm in the church.

Watch here, please, in future bulletins for the latest news of the week, and stay tuned for updates in our parish website soon that will improve our communication with you online: www.stmaryfred.org.

From the Pastor ~ Sept. 22, 2013

Dear Good People of Saint Mary,

I’ve always had an issue with today’s Gospel. It seems to me that Jesus could very easily be thought to be saying something I would be uncomfortable saying. Here a guy who is cheating his master, and the master commends him (the “dishonest steward”) for acting prudently.

A kind of “honor among thieves,” it would seem.

Maybe that is the key, a story in the context of a world that is not perfect. A master who, in this case, maybe doesn’t represent perfectly the same Father that sometimes is represented in Jesus’ stories as the Master, Groom, King, or Landowner. Maybe in this case Jesus is stretching us a little to find glimpses of truth even in that part of our world where truth is sometimes hard to find. Maybe even in ourselves.

God brings good out of evil despite our world everyday. Perhaps you have known this in your own life. Where God seems farthest away you suddenly catch a glimpse of him. Of course, he doesn’t move, we do, so the distance must somehow be due to us.

This idea of perfection can be the most difficult one, at times, when we hold ourselves to a rule that demands perfection. But, as always at some point, we realize that only God is perfect, that he has given us a Church as the place where we, as a community, can help one another as instruments of God’s grace to be perfected. That we can exercise the Cardinal Virtue of prudence — that which orders the other Cardinal Virtues of justice, fortitude and temperance — work with our limited gifts and use them to return to God a greater yield of gifts, of grace, of glory.

You see, all these stories of gifts and expected returns, the whole Gospel concept of talents being given out doesn’t hinge on how many you start with. It has everything to do with what you do with what you have been given, and in prudence, use our equal potential to make equally pleasing returns to God, even though they may not be quantitatively the same.

How many times have we learned that the judgment of comparison is an unworthy exercise? Since we were children. Yet how often do we not try because it seems “unfair” that someone got a better deal than we did? It isn’t a matter of fairness; it is a matter of what you did with what you were given. When we speak of our gifts and how we use them, we often use the word “stewardship”; for people of faith, I prefer the word “discipleship” as a more fitting synonym, because as students of faith (the word “disciple” means “student” in its Greek origin), it is as followers of Christ that our lives and the fruitfulness of our lives take on a new meaning. A great purpose that goes beyond ourselves and connects us to a responsibility to the care of all of God’s people, the goodness of his creation that surrounds us, the task of helping one another to get to heaven.

Then the phrase from the Gospel today, “The one who is trustworthy in very small matters is also trustworthy in great ones” begins to make more sense. We all realize, in our small way, the same great process which, in Christ, allowed for our forgiveness and salvation.

We live the life God gave us, and we live it as best we can, and in this small way we realize our potential.

Make connections this Parish Life Weekend with God’s call to you, and stop before and after Masses and make a connection with people in the parish who invite you to get involved in the work of Christ in our parish and community. There are so many small ways to answer this call of God to much greater things.

God bless you.

Fr. Don

2010 Dedication Mass

2010 Dedication Mass