From Our Pastor ~ June 22, 2014

From Our Pastor ~ June 22, 2014

Dear Good People of Saint Mary,

Have you ever noticed how many times during the Mass we literally turn to God and ask him for his gifts of unity and peace?

Peace is the first thing that Jesus offers to his disciples on every one of his appearances after the resurrection. “Peace be with you.” Peace and unity is the last thing that Jesus prayed for to the Father (Jn. 17) after the Last Supper and before his arrest, trial, torture and execution. This text from John, often called the “high priestly prayer” of Jesus, asks for the kind of unity between us that Jesus has with his Father – not for the sake of peace and unity itself, but “that the world might believe” that God sent him. Our defiant divisions and protesting spirit are things that aren’t limited to the major divisions among churches. They exist too commonly in families and within communions, as churches fall in upon themselves over issues of faith and life.

Two dramatic reflections follow from John 17. First, Jesus must have considered this an awfully important goal, to be praying for it at this time.

Second, he would not have been foolish enough to pray the prayer if he knew the Father wouldn’t deliver it.

Would the Father deny the prayer of the Son? Impossible. So we must proceed with the same kind of confident faith that this is God’s will, and somehow he will accomplish it in us if we only open our hearts to his grace and inspiration.

This confident faith is apparent in Pope Francis, who has been talking with literally everyone about unity and peace. He has made visible strides to provide the context for reconciliation to take place, between religions and nations. Here is a prayer he prayed recently in the presence of leaders Abu Mazen (Abbas) and Benjamin Netanyahu when they visited Rome at his invitation:

“To him, the Father, in the Spirit of Jesus Christ, I now turn, begging the intercession of the Virgin Mary, a daughter of the Holy Land and our Mother.

Lord God of peace, hear our prayer!

“We have tried so many times and over so many years to resolve our conflicts by our own powers and by the force of our arms. How many moments of hostility and darkness have we experienced; how much blood has been shed; how many lives have been shattered; how many hopes have been buried… But our efforts have been in vain.

“Now, Lord, come to our aid! Grant us peace, teach us peace; guide our steps in the way of peace. Open our eyes and our hearts, and give us the courage to say: “Never again war!”; “With war everything is lost”. Instil in our hearts the courage to take concrete steps to achieve peace.

“Lord, God of Abraham, God of the Prophets, God of Love, you created us and you call us to live as brothers and sisters. Give us the strength daily to be instruments of peace; enable us to see everyone who crosses our path as our brother or sister. Make us sensitive to the plea of our citizens who entreat us to turn our weapons of war into implements of peace, our trepidation into confident trust, and our quarreling into forgiveness.

“Keep alive within us the flame of hope, so that with patience and perseverance we may opt for dialogue and reconciliation. In this way may peace triumph at last, and may the words “division”, “hatred” and “war” be banished from the heart of every man and woman. Lord, defuse the violence of our tongues and our hands. Renew our hearts and minds, so that the word which always brings us together will be “brother”, and our way of life will always be that of: Shalom, Peace, Salaam! Amen.”

May God bless you.

Fr. Don

Express Announcements ~ June 15, 2014

Express Announcements ~ June 15, 2014

Please plan to join us Sunday, June 22 following the 5pm Mass for our annual Eucharistic Procession for Corpus Christi.

Our next New Family Welcome Meeting will be held Sunday, June 22, at 11:30am in the church.

The Spanish Ministry will host a Morning of Reflection in Spanish on June 21 from 8am to noon. Our guest speaker, Father Alex Diaz from Sacred Family Parish, will talk about the value of the Mass and importance to Catholic families.

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

SHARE Food Orders for June are due on the 16th.

From Our Pastor ~ June 15, 2014

From Our Pastor ~ June 15, 2014

Dear Good People of Saint Mary,

Well, I guess you are stuck with us priests for another year! This past weekend all the clergy assignments were published for 2014-15 and St. Mary, by God’s grace and the good will of Bishop Loverde, will remain unchanged for this year. For a complete list of the clergy changes in the diocese, you can look at the diocesan webpage, www.arlingtondiocese.org.

But the rumors were sure flying. They do every year, I guess, but each year it does become more possible that I would be moved. I have to admit I was anxious. But I was also troubled by the level of anxiety in peoples’ voices when we spoke of the possibility. You see, this is how the Church works. We go where we are sent and are lucky when we have a bishop whose collaborative spirit looks at the parish and discerns what is best for the parish at a particular time. The fact is, there are other parishes with needs, too, and there is nothing unhealthier than a community who forms around a personality: that would be the definition of a cult, I think. I haven’t done my job if you haven’t been formed and affirmed in your Spirit as a community, and you aren’t confident in your call to serve.

This is your greatest strength: you have discovered that you belong to God, and his Church, and God has given us this place in time to live fully in relationship with him, and with one another in charity and service. I can recall the parish when there was no awareness on the part of the assembly that their role was to participate in Mass. There was no awareness on the part of the members that their contribution as volunteers in service mattered. Having awakened, you now live that life in community, reverently and respectfully, and respond to however God is calling you to fulfill the mission of this local church. You do it so beautifully. You have nothing to fear. I’m so grateful that I have been able to work among you as your ‘father’ to help nurture this profound development. You are a community beautiful in your varied expressions and you must never forget it. I was thinking all these things as we waited for news about assignments. I feel very blessed to still be here with you.

We have so much to do. Watch this summer as many new ministries unfold which have been in their infancy for a couple of years. Our Parish Health Ministry is new and waiting for you to let us help you. Called and Gifted is on the horizon, a process by which all of us will be invited to discern how God has gifted us as unique individuals with special ways to serve him and his family–and to use them! We have grown so much in our opportunities for education, both in the religious education of our young but also in the ways in which we  can engage adults who hunger for continued formation. We will focus this year on the question, “How do parents get what they need to be good parents?” None of us can give what we don’t have, and we renew our commitment to partner with our parents in growing in the faith. And we continue to deepen our social commitment to the community in new and exciting ways. (And, I promise, I will go back to work and finally get those paintings in the church done!)

This weekend we honor all of our dads, whose involvement in our lives has brought us to this day. Their commitment requires ours; today we pray in thanksgiving for their lives, their dedication and guidance. For their many sacrifices, most of which we probably never even saw, we thank them and remember them in prayer.

We also ask God to raise up in our culture a strong understanding and commitment to Fatherhood. Families are still the backbone of culture and Fathers and Mothers are all needed to give good example and teach values to us as we go forward. Let this be our prayer today, to God our Father in heaven.

May God bless you.

Fr. Don

Express Announcements ~ June 8, 2014

Express Announcements ~ June 8, 2014

Please plan to join us Friday, June 13 for our first annual Mass and Reception for the Renewal of Wedding Vows. Mass at 7pm, reception to follow. RSVP no later than Monday, June 9 to the parish office.

Meet our new Parish Nurses and learn more about our new Parish Health Ministry after Masses THIS weekend: 6-6:30pm on Saturday and 8am-4pm on Sunday, outside church or in Courtyard Meeting Room, depending on weather.

Sunday (THIS weekend), June 8 is our Annual Parish Picnic held on the grounds of Holy Cross Academy, 3-7pm.

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.

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

SHARE Food Orders for June are due on the 16th. Please see the order form, p. 13.