From Our Pastor ~ September 14, 2014

From Our Pastor ~ September 14, 2014

Dear Good People of Saint Mary,

Watch for it… watch for it…
It’s that time of year again when you will be receiving our new Parish Renewal Handbook and Annual Report in the mail. The packet will arrive in a large envelope, including the catalog, a cover letter from me, a commitment card, a reply envelope for the commitment card,and a prayer card.

Our goal this year is to learn what holiness means, and to be holy. What does “holy”
mean to you? For many, unfortunately, it is the characature of the one who walks around
with his eyes gazing upward, who disdains the world and avoids anything that they feel is unworthy of them.

Well, that is not what I’m talking about. And that isn’t Jesus. God put us here on this earth to change it, and it won’t change if we aren’t involved. His call requires us be involved intimately, to enter into suffering and pain—not so that we can change it (we can’t), but so that he can transform it from within—through us.

A healthier definition of holiness, I believe, is to be exactly the person who God made you to be, to discover what he has given you so that you can fulfill a particular task in his Kingdom that only you can accomplish with your mixture of gifts and talents. It requires a radical openness to God, and to other people, too. Especially the people who might not agree or follow the same values and faith that we have. If we hold others at arms length, then how is the embrace of Christ through us going to break down the alienation of distance and hatred?

You see, God has a plan. It’s been from the beginning and always, and it unfolds over time in places and generations without exception. It is activated through the gifts that he has placed in all his people, without exception, because that is what he makes. People with gifts. At the right moment, when the need arises, these gifts make themselves available and effective to serve him and his people through us. Mary’s gift of openness to God’s will unlocked the mystery of the Incarnation for generations of people who had waited for the Messiah. Peter’s embedded gift of evangelism (clarity) was activated in that moment when, in his encounter with Jesus, he was asked, “Who do you say that I am?” And on that rock Jesus built his Church. Look to the great figures of saints anywhere in the great tradition of the history of salvation—even to those who are living today—and you will find people everywhere who are responding with open hearts, simply responding to this encounter with God, letting those gifts go to work. Holy people (saints) aren’t people who accomplished great things: holy people (saints) are the ones who allowed God to accomplish great things through them, just by becoming who God called them to be from the foundation of the world.

So, if the gifts are seeds in us that are already planted by God then all we need is good soil to grow in. Let Saint Mary be your garden, your vineyard. We are in the world in order to transform the world and cannot shy away from the ministry. So, please, get involved and become fully who you are called to be.

God bless you.

Express Announcements ~ September 7, 2014

Express Announcements ~ September 7, 2014

* Join us for our ecumenical Taize Prayer Service Monday evening, 8:15 to 9pm for prayer for unity and peace.

* Our Parish Ice Cream Social, Cakewalk and Dance is Sunday Afternoon, September 14, 4-7pm. Enter the contest for best decorated cakes: most unique, most delicious looking,
best “family project” cake, and prettiest cake. Cakes must arrive for judging by 430pm. Dance to live music and chill.

* Our Manna Food Project is also the weekend of September 13-14. Please bring non-perishable food donations to the van outside church all weekend for the Fredericksburg Area Food Bank.

* Parish Life Weekend is the following weekend, September 20-21. Watch your mail for our Parish Renewal Handbook with ministry catalog and prayerfully consider which ministry might be perfectly suited for you this year. Everyone, please get involved!

* 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.

From Our Pastor ~ September 7, 2014

From Our Pastor ~ September 7, 2014

Dear Good People of Saint Mary,

Do you remember what it felt like when we were kids and summer was ending? There was always a kind of sadness as the days got darker but also an abiding warmth about gathering closer to family and other people as the weather turned cooler and we left behind that summer independence as we returned to home and community, and school.

One of the things we looked forward to, as children, was the fall carnival. It is one of the strongest memories of community that I recall in my life. We would go out into the early evening and there would be lights strung across the parking lot at St. Francis Xavier Church in Kansas City, MO, twinkling welcome. There would be a lot of people who braved the first chill in the air of autumn, who came out for bingo under the tent, or to try out the various booths of games where you could win that prize that you never wanted so much as you did at that moment. Ice cream was always served.

And there was the cakewalk.

Someone (I always figured it was Monsignor, himself) had literally painted a numbered path on the parking lot and people lined up to take their chance on winning a cake.

You see, you follow this magical path and when the big band music stopped, if your
number was called, you won a cake. It was better than the lottery. You looked at the array of beautiful cakes and got to choose. This was, as far as I was concerned, the foretaste of heaven.

Of course, our family brought a cake too—everyone did—because that was the price of
admission. Mom’s cake was always one of the first to be picked, even though they just looked like the ones we often had at home. She made this kind of chocolatey-licious cake with sour milk that is still my favorite today.

As I think back on these memories I’m sure I’ve idealized the whole thing, as a child will do. But it is so great that regardless of what that church carnival actually was, the feeling of it has stayed with me to this day as one of my favorite memories. It is that feeling that you can’t replace when you begin to feel like you don’t belong, or are drifting a little. It is comfort to know that somewhere, the church lights are still on.

So now you know, if you were wondering, “Why a cakewalk?” I’m always amazed at how many people have never been to one.

Of course, the fact that cake goes so well with ice cream gives us another clue. The ice cream social finds its fulfilment in the cakewalk, and it leads us to share our prizes. It is funny how often people win their cake and run for the door, taking it home. (Here is a secret, maybe it will catch on this year: once a cake is won, it is meant to be something you can share with others.) Suddenly there is ice cream and cake for everybody, which help us to see how well we are suited for one another, too. You can use cake and ice cream as a model for how community can form and people can complement each other.

So don’t miss our parish cakewalk, and dance, and ice cream social next weekend. Come in your dancing shoes. There are a few events each year that can bring all of us together and this is a good one. Yes, it happens out at Holy Cross in the afternoon on Sunday (I guess people don’t like to go out in the evening anymore) and it is still late summer so the sun is still high and it is plenty hot. But all the ingredients for good memories are still present, and I hope it can serve as a moment when you realize that the community of the Church is still at the heart of who we are.

Now that I think about it, maybe we should add Bingo out on the soccer field. Maybe next year.

There is no charge, this is a present to all of you in our parish family. No charge, of course, unless you’d like to bake an amazing cake and bring it for some kid to win and, hopefully, share.

God bless you.

Fr. Don

Express Announcements ~ August 31, 2014

Express Announcements ~ August 31, 2014

* Our Parish Ice Cream Social, Cakewalk and Dance is Sunday Afternoon, September 14. Enter the contest for best decorated cakes: most creative, most delicious looking, most
authentically “kid-made”. Cakes must arrive for judging by 4:30pm. Dance to live music and chill.

* Our Manna Food Project is also the weekend of September 13-14. Please bring non-perishable food donations to the van outside church all weekend for the Fredericksburg Area Food Bank.

* Parish Life Weekend is the following weekend, September 20-21. Watch your mail for our Parish Renewal Handbook with ministry catalog and prayerfully consider which ministry might be perfectly suited for you this year. Everyone, please get involved!

* First Friday is this Friday and we will have our customary Mass at 8pm followed by all-night adoration. Please plan to come, adore, and pray:for safety for Christians, for peace, for justice and for life. If you can, please sign up on the sheet in the vestibule 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.