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.

From Our Pastor ~ June 8, 2014

From Our Pastor ~ June 8, 2014

Dear Good People of Saint Mary,

Saint Ignatius, it is said, as well as a number of other saints, said, “Pray like it all depends on God, and work like it all depends on you.” Apparently, that is what saints do.

Saints may not be as rare an event as you may think. There are seemingly countless saints already canonized. If you look it up, you always see the round figure 10,000. “Over 10,000 saints, but no definitive ‘head count’ is known.” There are so many – even those who are canonized, not to mention the countless saints who have not received the formal recognition of the church. Did you know that 805 saints were canonized in May of 2013, the month that Pope Benedict resigned? Pope John Paul II canonized during his papacy more saints than had been canonized in all the years before him.

If you look at salvation history, there are three principle eras. The first, the time of the “Old Testament” or the story from creation up to Jesus, we call the time of the covenants (Noah, Abraham, Moses, etc.) or the time of the patriarchs and prophets. This correlates to the time of the Father, when God was active in revelation and the preparation of the world for the event of his fullness revealed in Christ.

The second era, then, is the era of the Son, the 33 short years of intense interaction and witness of Jesus Christ himself. It seems like such a short time compared to the time of the Father! But the richness of what we have seen and heard “with our own eyes and ears” is infinite in its depth of meaning.

The third era, the “Apostolic Age,” or the era of the Holy Spirit, is often called the era of the saints. It is the time that God’s creation, redeemed and returned to its created perfection in the love of God, is filled with the power of the Holy Spirit and all is made new. In the gifts of the Holy Spirit which are given at Pentecost (and at our Confirmation, sacramentally), we are made new creations and given the tools we need to put our life of faith, hope and love (the gifts of baptism) into action.

God is act. And his movement, his divine sharing, loving and saving is what the Holy Spirit is all about. To know God is to know the Holy Spirit. To have an experience of faith that is detached, disinterested, irrelevant — this is to say that you haven’t yet discovered who God is.

It would seem that saints get this. They understand how to put the joy and power of God’s life into action as witnesses of Christ’s unconditional love, willing to sacrifice their own comfort, possessions, even putting their own lives in the balance, if necessary, in seeking the greatest good.

That same Holy Spirit flows through you — can you feel it? We have been praying for nine days that the Holy Spirit might reclaim our troubled and confused hearts, that he might bring light to darkness, clarity to confusion, solace to distress, innocence to injury. Only the Holy Spirit can do these things. But often we get the messenger confused with the message. Saints aren’t saints because they accomplished all these things themselves — but they were somehow able to become transparent enough with themselves that they became beacons of light and allowed the Holy Spirit to work these wonders through them.

So let his gifts shine in you. They often aren’t gifts that draw a crowd or perform miracles. Sometimes they are as simple as being able  to serve humbly, or encourage others to be better, or help others to achieve their greatness. Surely, the gifts of healing and wisdom and discernment are just as real. Look into your heart. What are your gifts? Everyone has them. And set them free to create, and you will show the glory of God in your life.

First, be a saint, and simply trust.

May God bless you.

Fr. Don

Express Announcements ~ June 1, 2014

Express Announcements ~ June 1, 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.

Religious Education Registration for the 2014-15 school year begins Monday, June 2 in the parish office.

Join our annual observance of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, this Tuesday, June 3, at the Fredericksburg United Methodist Church, 7pm.

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

Sunday, 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. 17.