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.