Express Announcements ~ Jan. 19 2014

We encourage all St. Mary Parishioners to invite friends and neighbors who are not attending Mass with us each week to Come Back to our parish family on the weekend of January 25 & 26.

The Council of Catholic Women will hold a Virtual Baby Shower for area pro-life groups this weekend. Please bring your donations to the Parish Life Center.

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.

Sign up today for the March For Life on January 22. See page 10 for more details.

We ecourage all families to register in the parish. Our next New Family Welcome Meeting is Sunday, January 26 at 11:30am in church.

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. 19, 2014

Dear Good People of Saint Mary,

This weekend we get a glimpse of our theme, “Liturgy is Life is Mission,” in two ways. Throughout the year we hope to express in our limited way the reality that everything we are flows from the Mass, and everything we hope to accomplish brings us back to the Mass to give thanks and share in the offering of Jesus of himself to the Father, now as members of that same Body of Jesus.

At the Presentation of the Gifts this weekend, children from our Religious Education Program are bringing back to Mass what they love and what they pray for. Mostly photos of people — family, friends — whom they hope will be remembered in all our intentions at Mass this weekend.

They have completed, as families, a class on how the Mass is a powerful way of offering our intentions to God, and that the value of the Mass is infinite, great enough to include the desire of every heart in creation for all time, even if at just one Mass. Each family brought a photo of someone living or deceased, or drew a picture of someone, or included their prayer intention on a paper flower petal, which were then combined as classes where possible, so that these beautiful arrangements of prayers can be brought up the aisle with the gifts of bread and wine and made a living offering to God.

You may have heard of spiritual bouquets before — when you might give a gift to someone which says how many prayers, acts of kindness, or things you might offer up for their intention.

This is a bouquet of a different type: it is directly to God, not for our enjoyment or recognition, but a huge arrangement of photos and messages, longings that only God will see and each of which he will recognize in the Mass. This is who we are, as well, in the pews each time we gather for Christ’s Mass. We are the signs of thanksgiving and petition, and our lives are the petals of the arrangements which are presented to God, to be consecrated. Spiritual writers in the Church have said in their reflections that perhaps Jesus did this when he was on the cross: in that eternal moment he brought to mind every person who would ever live — every person — and remembered them to God, with their intentions, with their offenses, with their desire for  reconciliation. He represented us on that cross, and in that way presented us personally to the Father.

The other way we will see our lives flow out of the Mass today is at the end: we will have a sending forth prayer this weekend in which we will be sent to go out into the world and offer the invitation of Christ to someone to come home. To rediscover the real meaning of the Mass and open their hearts to God again and this community. We can be powerful instruments of the love of God when we offer that welcome, and give people a glimpse of the goodness that waits for them in Christ. I have seen it time and again. Sometimes the hurts are very old and the difficulty great for people to forgive. Sometimes it has been years. And sometimes people are just waiting for somebody to come along and ask them to come home.

The end of the Mass’ Latin text literally, after the final blessing, says, “Go, it is sent.” The word misa, “sent,” is where the word “Mass” comes from. The Mass is literally a sending, then, a time in which we receive everything, more than we can even imagine, but not for ourselves alone. What we receive must be shared. What we have learned, we must teach. What has nourished us must benefit the many who hunger for truth and peace. So it is we who are sent, and it is in this sending that we find our meaning. The mission to which we are sent is the beginning of our fulfillment.

God bless you.

Fr. Don

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