St Mary is blessed to be located in a great spot here in the College Heights neighborhood in downtown Fredericksburg. Being located in a neighborhood gives us special obligations to be good neighbors to the residents who live around the church. One way we can contribute to being good neighbors is by how we park for Mass. As you all know, we have a parking lot that is often too small for our church, often necessitating parking in the neighborhood to attend Mass. St Mary wishes to encourage our parishioners as much as possible to be mindful of the neighbors in front of whose houses we park, and one way of doing that is to first try and park on the new parking spots added on William Street in the past year. This street parking provides direct access to the parish property with little to no inconvenience to our neighbors. We encourage anyone coming from downtown up William Street to use those spots first before attempting to park anywhere else. One other way to make the parking situation better is to park in a way that will allow a maximum number of cars to fit on the street. On Sunday mornings, some of our neighbors have to park 2 or 3 blocks from their house because of our overflow onto the neighborhood streets. Please park considerately. And lastly, when exiting the parking lot on the Stafford Avenue Exit, please be cautious and mindful of the fact that we are exiting into a neighborhood. These small considerate steps can help to alleviate a great stress on our neighbors, and make Sunday Mass a little more prayerful and a little less hectic once we leave the church for the chaos of the world.
This week I read, and shared on Facebook, words from a homily on the priesthood by the Cardinal who would become Benedict XVI. (A short link to the article: https://tinyurl.com/w77v8bsn).
Some of the words echo back a theme that Fr. Kelly touched upon as he was leaving: that he wants you to know Jesus. In a priestly vocation the Lord touches
a man and invites him to intimacy that exceeds both imagination and expectations. To know Him as friend and Lord is at the heart of the invitation received and passed on. That encounter is not unique to us, but priests are also gifted with being an instrument to enkindle that fire of love in other souls!
The future pope added this personal story about the bond of friendship and grace:
When I cross Saint Peter’s Square, indeed, when I simply step out of the house, I encounter people from all countries, of all ages, from all walks of life. They recognize me as a bishop and are glad because a bishop is for them a successor of the apostles, a bearer of the mystery of the Church, a messenger of Jesus Christ. Again and again it is as though we are all old friends. No one is a stranger to the other. Through the faith, we are all acquainted. Through the Church, we all belong to each other. And what is most moving for me is the joy that is alive in all these encounters.
I know people (with pictures to prove it) who encountered him exactly as he speaks of walking across St. Peter’s Square at the same time each day. Their stories of his humility and warmth chatting with him stuck in my memory.
So, thank you Fr. Kelly, and all of the priests who have and will serve you and all believers. And on behalf of our priests, thank you for the warmth and kindness of your love for the priesthood. The Lord has brought us together and let our paths cross so that we might share in His love. But above all, thank the Lord who accomplishes all these good things in us.
All goodness is an unmerited gift from the Blessed Trinity!
Happy Fourth of July!
This year I am pausing to think about the virtue of patriotism. Even a cursory look at the news tells us that patriotism can no longer be taken for granted and is sometimes vilified.
Do we have a duty to love our country? Yes. Why?
One way to consider patriotism is found in having a proportionate love of country as the specific community where the Lord has given me life, support, and opportunity. It is no wonder that the Catechism of the Catholic Church touches upon it in paragraphs about the fourth commandment to honor father and mother:
In our brothers and sisters we see the children of our parents; in our cousins, the descendants of our ancestors; in our fellow citizens, the children of our country; in the baptized, the children of our mother the Church; in every human person, a son or daughter of the One who wants to be called “our Father.” CCC 2212.
Human families, parishes, cities, and nations are made up of persons. These communities are an expression of the loving providence of God.
The love and service of one’s country follows from the duty of gratitude and belong to the order of charity. CCC 2239
I think sometimes of an account written by a Catholic convert from atheism. Her objections to faith melted the more she contemplated that her love for her family had to be more than just chemical reactions in a highly evolved but meaningless arrangement of matter.
Because we have encountered uncreated love, through created beings, we owe to them a veneration of gratitude and respect. To love our families, parishes, city, and country does not mean that we are blind to faults. It is because we love that we can strive to improve every level of society.
Why do I love America? Because Jesus commanded me to “Love the Lord God with your whole heart, mind and soul; and love your neighbor as yourself.”
Enjoy the holiday. God Bless America.
Statement by Bishop Michael F. Burbidge on Independence Day
The 4th of July is a welcome patriotic tradition that is free of politics and full of pride and celebrations. Despite situations in our country that still divide us, the holiday we celebrate this weekend remains a symbol of a nation that 245 years ago decided that it could stand on its own, and that its strength was in a united people who yearned for freedom and understood that we are endowed by our Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. May we recall the final line of the Declaration of Independence which concludes that “…with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our lives, our fortunes and our sacred honor.” Happy Independence Day!