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Announcements ~ August 12, 2018

fleur cross logo Celebrate this Holy Day of Obligation, The Feast of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Vigil Mass, Tuesday, August 14 at 7:30pm. Holy Day Masses Wednesday, August 15 at 6:30am, 9am, Noon, 6:30pm and 8pm (Spanish).
 
fleur cross logo Please read the statement by Bishop Burbridge on the first  anniversary of the violence that took place in Charlottesville on August 12, 2017.  Read more
 
fleur cross logo It’s time to start thinking about RCIA. The Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults begins September 11 and we welcome all who are interested in learning more about our Catholic Faith. If you or someone you know are seeking answers and might be thinking about joining the Catholic Church, call and register for the process in the parish office.
 
fleur cross logo The U.S. bishops urge our participation each Friday in a nationwide Novena for the Legal Protection of Human Life, August 3-September 28. Participants will receive weekly email or text reminders to pray and fast, along with little-known facts about Roe v. Wade to share with others. Sign Up!
 
fleur cross logo Religious Education Class Enrollment is NOW!  Registration forms are available in the Church Vestibule and Parish Office. For more information, please visit our website: stbernpar.org. Calling all Catechists! Please respond to the call to share your faith with our children and the youth of the parish, Catechist Meetings begin mid-August, so please sign up soon.
 
fleur cross logo All our St. Bernadette choirs are welcoming new members.  We have choirs for singers of all ages,  including three adult choirs in English and Spanish, Children’s Choir for 1st through 6th grade and, starting this fall, the re-launch of our Youth Choir for 7th through 12th grade.  For more information see stbernpar.org/praying/music-ministry or contact Director of Music Ministries David Mathers at 703-451-8575 x112 or dmathers@stbernpar.org
 
fleur cross logo Saint Bernadette is hosting a Called and Gifted Workshop on Saturday, September 15. For more information see page 9 or visit our parish website announcement page for online registration.

Fr. Don's Weekly Letter ~ August 12, 2018

Dear Good People of Saint Bernadette,

There have been some questions regarding the reception of Holy Communion lately, and I thought this week I would simply share the teaching of the Conference of Catholic Bishops to share up any question we might have:

“The Church understands the Communion Procession, in fact every procession in liturgy, as a sign of the pilgrim Church, the body of those who believe in Christ, on their way to the Heavenly Jerusalem. All our lives we who believe in Christ are moving in time toward that moment when we will be taken by death from this world and enter into the joy of the Lord in the eternal Kingdom he has prepared for us. The liturgical assembly of the baptized that comes together for the celebration of the Eucharist is a witness to, a manifestation of, the pilgrim Church. When we move in procession, particularly the procession to receive the Body and Blood of Christ in Communion, we are a sign, a symbol of that pilgrim Church “on the way.”

“For some, however, the experience of the Communion Procession is far more prosaic, analogous perhaps to standing in line in the supermarket or at the motor vehicle bureau. A perception such as this is a dreadfully inaccurate and impoverished understanding of what is a significant religious action. The Communion Procession is an action of the Body of Christ. At Christ’s invitation, extended by the priest acting in Christ’s person: “Blessed are those called to the supper of the Lamb,” the members of the community move forward to share in the sacred meal, to receive the Body and Blood of Christ which is the sign and the source of their unity. In fact, each time we move forward together to receive the Body and Blood of the Lord, we join the countless ranks of all the baptized who have gone before us, our loved ones, the canonized and uncanonized saints down through the ages, who at their time in history formed a part of this mighty stream of believers.

“This action by Christ’s body, the Church assembled for the Eucharist, is manifested and supported by the Communion Chant, a hymn in praise of Christ sung by the united voices of those who believe in him and share his life. The General Instruction of the Roman Missal takes this hymn very seriously, mandating that it should begin at the Communion of the priest and extend until the last person has received Communion.

For some, however, the singing of this hymn is perceived as an intrusion on their own prayer, their private thanksgiving after Communion. In fact, however, this hymn is prayer, the corporate thanksgiving prayer of the members of Christ’s Body, united with one another. Over and over again the prayers of the liturgy and the norms of the General Instruction emphasize this fundamental concept of the unity of the baptized, stressing that when we come together to participate in the Eucharistic celebration we come, not as individuals, but as united members of Christ’s Body. In each of the Eucharistic Prayers, though the petition is worded in slightly different ways, God is asked to send his Holy Spirit to make us one body, one spirit in Christ; the General Instruction admonishes the faithful that “they are to form one body, whether in hearing the Word of God, or in taking part in the prayers and in the singing...” (no. 96). It describes one of the purposes of the opening song of the Mass as to “foster the unity of those who have been gathered” (no. 47), and says of the Communion Chant that “its purpose [is] to express the spiritual union of the communicants by means of the unity of their voices, to show gladness of heart, and to bring out more clearly the ‘communitarian’ character of the procession to receive the Eucharist” (no. 86).

“It is difficult for some of us to embrace this emphasis on Mass as the action of a community rather than an individual act of my own faith and piety, but it is important that we make every effort to do so. Christ himself at the Last Supper pleaded with his Father: “Holy Father, keep them in your name that you have given me, so that they may be one just as we are... as you, Father, are in me and I in you, that they also may be in us...” (John 17:11, 21).Baptism has joined us to Christ and to one another as the vine and its branches. The life of Christ, the Holy Spirit, animates each of us individually, and all of us corporately and guides us together in our efforts to become one in Christ.

“Finally, the fact that the Communion Procession is a profoundly religious action tells us something about the way in which we should participate in this procession. We are the Body of Christ, moving forward to receive the Christ who makes us one with himself and with one another. Our procession should move with dignity; our bearing should be that of those who know they have been redeemed by Christ and are coming to receive their God!

“The General Instruction asks each country’s Conference of Bishops to determine the posture to be used for the reception of Communion and the act of reverence to be made by each person as he or she receives Communion. In the United States, the body of Bishops determined that Communion should be received standing, and that a bow is the act of reverence made by those receiving. These norms may require some adjustment on the part of those who have been used to other practices, however the significance of unity in posture and gesture as a symbol of our unity as members of the one body of Christ should be the governing factor in our own actions.
 
“Those who receive Communion may receive either in the hand or on the tongue, and the decision should be that of the individual receiving, not of the person distributing Communion. If Communion is received in the hand, the hands should first of all be clean. If one is right handed the left hand should rest upon the right. The host will then be laid in the palm of the left hand and then taken by the right hand to the mouth. If one is left-handed this is reversed. It is not appropriate to reach out with the fingers and take the host from the person distributing.
 
“The person distributing Communion says audibly to each person approaching, “The Body of Christ.”  This formula should not be altered, as it is a proclamation which calls for a response of faith on the part of the one who receives. The communicant should audibly respond, “Amen,” indicating by that response his or her belief that this small wafer of bread, the wine in this chalice are in reality the body and blood of Christ the Lord.
When one receives from the chalice, the same proclamation is made by the person distributing Communion and the Communicant again responds, “Amen.” It should be noted that it is never permissible for a person to dip the host he or she has received into the chalice. If, for some reason, the communicant is not able or willing to drink from the cup then that person should receive only under the form of bread.
 
“It seems appropriate to conclude this reflection on the Communion Procession and the reception of Communion with a quotation from the Catechism of the Catholic Church, no. 1396:
 
In Baptism we have been called to form but one body. The Eucharist fulfills this call: “The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not a participation in the blood of Christ? The bread which we break, is it not a participation in the body of Christ? Because there is one bread, we who are many are one body, for we all partake of the one bread” (1 Cor 10:16-17):
 
If you are the body and members of Christ, then it is your sacrament that is placed on the table of the Lord; it is your sacrament that you receive. To that which you are you respond “Amen” (“yes, it is true!”) and by responding to it you assent to it. For you hear the words, “the Body of Christ” and respond “Amen.” Be then a member of the Body of Christ that your Amen may be true (St. Augustine, Sermon 272: PL 38, 1247).”
 
Sometimes it is best to go straight to the competent authority than to rewrite a version that can always be questioned!  The moment of Communion is The Moment when we are most fully who we are not as individuals but in communion with God and each other as a community, the Body of Christ!  It is a moment we should all be together, not divided by practice or anything which might draw attention to ourselves.
 
God bless you,
 
 

Announcements ~ August 5, 2018

fleur cross logo Celebrate this Holy Day of Obligation, The Feast of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Vigil Mass, Tuesday, August 14 at 7:30pm. Holy Day Masses throughout the day, Wednesday, August 15 at 6:30am, 9am, Noon, 6:30pm and 8pm (Spanish).
 
fleur cross logo It’s not too soon to start thinking about RCIA. The Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults begins this September and we welcome all who are interested in learning more about our Catholic Faith. If you or someone you know are seeking answers, call and register for the process in the parish office.
 
fleur cross logo Please consider our excellent Catholic School. We invite you to visit our website, stbernpar.org/parishschool, or give us a call at our St. Bernadette School office at 703-451-8696 to learn more, or to arrange for a tour. Registration is still open for all classes, we hope to see you soon.
 
fleur cross logo Religious Education Class Enrollment is NOW!  Registration forms are available in the Church Vestibule and Parish Office. For more information, please visit our website: stbernpar.org
 
fleur cross logo Calling all Catechists! Please respond to the call to share your faith with our children and the youth of the parish, Catechist Meetings begin mid-August, so please sign up soon.
 
fleur cross logo Saint Bernadette is hosting a Called and Gifted Workshop on Saturday, September 15. For more information please visit our parish website announcement page for online registration.
 
fleur cross logo Please support St. Bernadette School! AmazonSmile is a simple and automatic way for you to support our school every time you shop, at no cost to you. Amazon will donate a portion of the purchase price to St. Bernadette School.

Fr. Don's Weekly Letter ~ August 5, 2018

Dear Good People of Saint Bernadette,
 
We received an important email from Bishop Burbidge this week after the bulletin was already laid out, so I’m going to include it here, first:
 
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ:
    
I invite you to join me in a weekly moment of prayer from early August through late September 2018, for the legal protection of human life. The Novena is being promoted on various means of social media beginning today and will be discussed in my upcoming podcast this week.
    
The retirement of Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy and the nomination of his successor have once again engendered debate in our society regarding the need for the legal protection of the right to life of unborn children. Each Friday, fromAugust 3 to September 28, 2018, we have the opportunity to join in a nine-week effort of prayer, fasting and education that a change in the U.S. Supreme Court will move our nation closer to the day when every human being is protected in law and welcomed in life. As part of a USCCB Call to Prayer initiative, participants will receive weekly prayer reminders by text message or email. In addition to the current invitation to fast on Fridays, participants will be encouraged to pray one Our Father, Hail Mary, and Glory Be for this protection of human life and will receive important facts about how Roe v. Wade is not health care, is bad law, and fails women.  Please sign up at www.usccb.org/pray for this and the continuing Call to Prayer initiatives. Resources and facts about Roe in your parish bulletin, on your website, and in other parish communications throughout this nine-week period are posted at http://www.usccb.org/issues-and-action/take-action-now/call-to-prayer/legal-protection-of-human-life.cfm.
    
Fraternally in Christ
Most Reverend Michael F. Burbidge
Bishop of Arlington
 
Also, we received an announcement about the upcoming  Marriage Jubilee Mass on October 14 at 2:30pm at the Cathedral.  Registrations must be in by September 14, we will have more information about the registration process in the bulletin next week.
Also, Catholic Charities has announced an important presentation titled “Seeking Hope and Healing in the Midst of the Opioid Crisis” which will be held at Good Shepherd Parish in Mount Vernon, September 29, 10am-3pm.  Come and learn more about the problem and consider how we might contribute to finding solutions.

For those who would like to participate, there will be Mass at 9am, followed by refreshments, and then at 10am the Conference will begin.  It will include a keynote address on how opioids became a crisis and how we may respond as a community of faith.  There will also be breakout sessions on family resiliency; what parishes and communities can do; and suffering addiction and the healing power of Jesus.  The day will close with a prayer service led by Bishop Burbidge.
 
Somebody asked me last week who ever won the car raffle?  The raffle went a little different this year than previously, and I think many people were confused and wondered if we were even going to see any benefit from it.  I realized that we never heard who won, all I know is it wasn’t me!  If you weren’t contacted, I’m betting it wasn’t you, either!  But we did receive our portion of all your ticket purchases, and I wanted to thank you especially.  This year we received $22,220 from this raffle, which will go directly toward our parish commitment for tuition assistance.  Many may not realize that we offer significant tuition assistance to many children in the parish each year.  I believe deeply that Catholic education must not become a luxury for the wealthy, but an opportunity for all kids to grow in wisdom and knowledge of our world and our God.  Thank you for your participation in the raffle this year.
 
Finally, you will find an informative page on the Called and Gifted Workshop for 2018, Saturday, September 15, and I want to encourage you to come and invest a day in your spiritual and missional life.  God has a plan for each of us and mostly people just coast through life without considering their role.  I’m not talking about lining up people to serve ministries in the Church—though that would be an added benefit—I’m asking you to consider confronting the fundamental question about life:  why am I here?
 
You see, God has left clues along the path of life to reveal his plan as we mature through life experiences, which we reflect on, identifying the feedback which guides us.  It is a process of discerning the gifts with which you were recreated in baptism—everyone has these gifts who are baptized.  These gifts aren’t meant for ourselves, to benefit ourselves, but to be used in service to others, to bring God’s creation to full stature in Christ.  It is through our gifts that we are called to new life.
 
I encourage you to set aside September 15, now, and hold that day for gathering with us at Saint Bernadette.
 
God bless you,
 

Announcements ~ July 29, 2018

fleur cross logo Please consider our excellent Catholic School. We invite you to visit our website, stbernpar.org/parishschool, or give us a call at our St. Bernadette School office at 703-451-8696 to learn more, or to arrange for a tour. Registration is still open for all classes, we hope to see you soon.
 
fleur cross logo Saint Bernadette is hosting a Called and Gifted Workshop on Saturday, September 15, 2018. For more information please visit our parish website announcement page for online registration.
 
fleur cross logo The Greater Springfield Communities of Faith are providing school supplies for children in our community. Supplies should be turned in before or after Masses Sunday, 29 July.  A box will be available in the Church Vestibule to place your donations.
 
fleur cross logo Please support St. Bernadette School! AmazonSmile is a simple and automatic way for you to support our school every time you shop, at no cost to you. Amazon will donate a portion of the purchase price to St. Bernadette School.

Fr. Don's Weekly Letter ~ July 29, 2018

Dear Good People of Saint Bernadette,
 
We find ourselves this week at the last weekend of July...  The simple statement comes filled with the realization that we have less than a month to welcome back our teachers, barely more than a month before the children return to school and the parish program annual cycle begins again!  So much to get done in a little time.
 
It also means that we need to be thinking about serious planning for the coming year with regard to religious formation.  Before the year takes you hostage, I request that you take sufficient time to make sure your children can take full advantage of our religious education program.  Young people: take advantage of one of the finest youth programs a parish has ever attempted.  I was meeting with Martha Drennan, our director of faith formation, and Fr. Jack at different times over the last weeks and we have come to the same conclusion:  parents, you must get behind the work that we all know must be done.  It isn’t easy every week to make these commitments to sports and music, and karate and dance, but we do.  RE needs to be a priority and that priority isn’t going to be named by the children.  I talk to so many parents every year who look back and wish that they had done more to instill a love of the faith and a sense of belonging in the Church in their children’s lives.  Across all religions and congregations, young adults are gone.
 
Please, please, don’t wait until the last minute to register, if only because we won’t know how many teachers we need to find unless we know how many students we will have.  So far, we have only about 100 children registered— 1/5 of the number of students last year. 

It is also time to begin talking about RCIA.  You will find a nice section on pages 8-9 of this bulletin about the RCIA (Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults).  The program begins Monday night, September 10 at 7pm—we will be meeting on Monday nights this year.  Once we determine the need for RCIA in Spanish (called “RICA”) we will set a date and time.

Parishes our size typically have 70-80 people enrolled in the RCIA program—those who have never been baptized, but also those who may have been baptized in another Christian Church and wish to become Catholic by making a profession of faith in the Catholic Church.  Past years we have seen maybe only one fourth of that number, and I wonder if we are doing something wrong in making the invitation.
 
I call upon everyone in the community to start extending an invitation, a welcome to people who may be seeking to, as Jesus said, “Come and see.”  Maybe you, yourself, have wondered for a while if this is a step you might take.  Maybe someone you know... Talk to your relatives and friends and welcome them:  Just come and see, no need to decide right away or even know in the beginning if this is right for you.  Maybe you find yourself just wishing that there was more.  Come and see if it is here.
 
Our Church needs you.  We are incomplete if all of our brothers and sisters are not with us in Communion.  We are always in need of new people with ideas and gifts to refresh the Body of Christ—ultimately, it is God’s plan that ALL his children come together in unity.  Perhaps a lot of people today really believe the secular or pluralist views that “it is all the same anyway.”  I do not.  I believe there are honorable and valuable things to be learned from Christians in all ecclesial communions, yet I believe that the ancient path of prayer and sacraments is the surest way to God.  It’s fulness has always been found in the Church, despite our sinfulness and shortcomings.  Why have doubts?  I realized long ago that, if I’m a believer in Jesus Christ and in his Father who sent him out of love for me, then I have no business doubting his Word and Sacrament as it has been guided by the Holy Spirit for these 2,000 years (and that doesn’t even include all the preparation God did in the Old Testament era to prepare the world for the gift of his Son!).  If you are discerning a call to the Sacraments, please include in your prayers a prayer of guidance to the Holy Spirit, so you will be where God has planned for you.  It may not seem obvious at first, it may seem just like a small word of encouragement or kindness, but if you give it your attention and prayer, it might grow more beautiful than you might have ever imagined.
 
Now is the time to let us know you might be interested.  I will be teaching about half of the instructions, and our program will be based on strengthening community.  Martha, our new director, brings many gifts to the process.  Please know you are welcome.
 
God bless you,
 

Announcements ~ July 22, 2018

fleur cross logo Please join us for our monthly Taizé Prayer Service, Monday, July 23, 2018 at 8pm. Come pray for Christian unity in our community and in the world. All Christians are warmly invited; invite your friends!
 
fleur cross logo Please consider our excellent Catholic School. We invite you to visit our website, stbernpar.org/parishschool, or give us a call at our St. Bernadette School office at 703-451-8696 to learn more, or to arrange for a tour. Registration is still open for all classes, we hope to see you soon.
 
fleur cross logo EXTRA! EXTRA!...SUMMER THEATRE PROGRAM announces the DC Metro Area amateur premiere of Disney’s “NEWSIES,” a musical based on the Disney film. Performances will be Thursday, Friday, and Saturday, July 26-28 at 7:30 p.m. with a matinee performance on Saturday, July 28 at 1pm at Bishop Ireton High School Auditorium. Tickets will be available for purchase on-line beginning on July 3. Discount tickets will be available for purchase after all Masses on July 14-15 and July 21-22. Spread the word—Newsies is taking summer theater by storm!  For more news and information, please visit www.summertheatreprogram.org.
 
fleur cross logo Saint Bernadette is hosting a Called and Gifted Workshop on Saturday, September 15, 2018. For more information please visit our parish website announcement page for online registration.
 
fleur cross logo The Greater Springfield Communities of Faith are providing school supplies for children in our community. Supplies should be turned in before or after Masses Sunday, 29 July.  Please see list of items on page 9. A box will be available in the Church Vestibule to place your donations.
 
fleur cross logo Please support St. Bernadette School! AmazonSmile is a simple and automatic way for you to support our school every time you shop, at no cost to you. Amazon will donate a portion of the purchase price to St. Bernadette School.

Fr. Don's Weekly Letter ~ July 22, 2018

Dear Good People of Saint Bernadette,
 
I’ve been to a couple of rehearsals of “Newsies,” the Saint Bernadette/Bishop Ireton High School Summer Theater Program in its 20th Season, and I want you to buy tickets and go for a night out enjoying the incredible talent of our young people.  The show is this Thursday, Friday and Saturday evenings and a matinee on Saturday afternoon.  It is the second best regional theater production of the year, I should think.  Normally I would say it is the best, but I saw “Hamilton” last week and have to say that that show is unreal, and amazing.  “Newsies” is real amazing.  I put a rehearsal photo on the cover this week, and an inset photo of the orchestra who were here rehearsing, too.  Sometimes the orchestra doesn’t get the applause it deserves!  Like most of us who quietly go about doing our work everyday, maybe there isn’t the applause but there is the satisfaction of knowing that the show needs our music to be a hit.  It is the same with the community of the Church.
 
But it was so satisfying, wasn’t it, seeing all the young people at Masses last weekend singing a preview of the musical?  Some were parishioners here, some from other parishes, some were from other churches.  It was good to see how music unites, and brings us together.
 
Last week ten of us from the parish attended the annual convention of the National Pastoral Musicians’ Association, whose members include musical ministers from Catholic parishes and dioceses—this year from 47 states and five other countries.  One of the breakout speakers spoke about the recent polls which have been done in the Church, seeking statistics about who is leaving the Church and why.  He inspired a few interesting reflections.
 
First, among the youth polled, some unexpressed feelings that were unexpected.  The youth/millennials in dialogue said that they would prefer that we talk with them, not about them.  Their indifference is, perhaps, not as simple as we might think and they would like to be engaged in conversation.  They asked:  Do we even know who they are?  Do we miss them?  Do they even know they are missed, since they are gone?
The speaker reminded everyone that, even though they may not have direct contact with the Church at this time in their lives, they still have relationship with us, and we are the Church.  We can’t forget that we are still avenues of grace.  He did say, however, that if our witness is not credible and authentic, it is likely that we will do more damage than good.
 
He said that the statistics prove that those who leave the Church cover the wide range of all ages, not just the youth.  We have gotten accustomed to stereotyping young adults as “Nones” (when asked to put their religious affiliation on questionnaires, they write “none”) but there are just as many adults of all ages who are described as “Dones,” having had enough of not getting what they want or even need from their life of faith and church community.  They are simply “done.” These often seem to come from generations who had a sense of religion as obligatory practice without ever having learned why we do what we do as the Church.  At any rate, in 2007 there were 36.6 million nones/dones; in 2014 there were 55.8.  The critical statistic, the speaker said, isn’t necessarily the age of the people, but the fact that the number seems to be growing (in all places and in all churches and religions) so much faster now than before.
 
If, in fact, the median age of those who have decided to leave the Church is 13 (both Pew and CARA have the same statistics), then many of the people who have already “checked out” are still in the pews because mom and dad say that is where they must be.  It seems that some real, honest, heart-to-heart conversations need to take place at home—that is, if everyone can find a time to be home together at the same time.  We need to think about how we include young people in the ministry and leadership of our parish groups, too, learning to be Church by doing Church, not just learning by watching us jump through the hoops.
 
Our busy lives are preparing a bright future for our children, but the cost of that future is family, deep peace, knowledge of God and I’m afraid, perhaps, salvation.  Our hard work will get us into great colleges where the job of apostacy will be finished by scholars whose voice apparently speaks more convincingly that Jesus himself.  Did we succeed?
 
The speaker had another point which got me thinking.  He said these people aren’t “unchurched” because once you are a part of a church it stays with you.  I have heard people often say this when they are in the process of coming back to the Church: “I found I just couldn’t stop being Catholic.”  They are, rather, “unGospeled” because the real message of truth has never been taken in and absorbed by their hearts and minds.  Once you know the love of God, you simply can’t deny it.  The real problem is that many of us never learn it, and that this is not a journey meant to be taken alone.  We are together and the love of God is what drives us forward.
 
God bless you,

 

Announcements ~ July 15, 2018

fleur cross logo Please consider our excellent Catholic School. We invite you to visit our website, stbernpar.org/parishschool, or give us a call at our St. Bernadette School office at 703-451-8696 to learn more, or to arrange for a tour. Registration is still open for all classes, we hope to see you soon.
 
fleur cross logo EXTRA! EXTRA!...SUMMER THEATRE PROGRAM announces the DC Metro Area amateur premiere of Disney’s “NEWSIES,” a musical based on the Disney film. Performances will be Thursday, Friday, and Saturday, July 26-28 at 7:30 p.m. with a matinee performance on Saturday, July 28 at 1pm at Bishop Ireton High School Auditorium. Tickets will be available for purchase on-line beginning on July 3. Discount tickets will be available for purchase after all Masses on July 14-15 and July 21-22. Spread the word—Newsies is taking summer theater by storm!  For more news and information, please visit www.summertheatreprogram.org.
 
fleur cross logo Saint Bernadette is hosting a Called and Gifted Workshop on Saturday, September 15, 2018. For more information please visit our parish website announcement page for online registration.
 
fleur cross logo The Greater Springfield Communities of Faith are providing school supplies for children in our community. Each child will receive a backpack with necessary school supplies. Any extra supplies will be distributed to ECHO, Springfield/Franconia Resource Center, Crestwood Family Center, Crestwood, Garfield, or Lynbrook Elementary Schools or other organizations in need of supplies. Supplies should be turned in by Sunday, July 29.  Please see list of items on page 9. A box will be available in the Church Vestibule to place your donations.
 
fleur cross logo Please support St. Bernadette School! AmazonSmile is a simple and automatic way for you to support our school every time you shop, at no cost to you. Amazon will donate a portion of the purchase price to St. Bernadette School.

Fr. Don's Weekly Letter ~ July 15, 2018

Dear Good People of Saint Bernadette,
 
Every few years I write a bulletin article about the importance of funerals and the teachings of the Church with regard to funeral arrangements.  People find it useful, as it is a topic that sometimes comes up at a moment when those who must make arrangements don’t feel clear headed about how to proceed.
 
If someone you know is dying, it is important to contact a priest right away who can come to give the Anointing of the Sick—ideally, at a time when the person who is dying is still able to participate in the prayers (including the sacrament of Reconciliation) and can still receive Holy Communion.  Holy Communion is actually the sacrament of the dying, it is called Viaticum, or Food for the journey.
 
Hopefully by this point we have already begun making  plans.  Parents should talk to their children about what they want to happen.  Too often the children are no longer practicing Catholicism and really don’t know what is customary.  It is good to have these conversations, not only to teach them what you hope for, but also to free them from all the last minute anxiety.  Many times children will decide that a Funeral Mass isn’t necessary because they would feel too awkward attending. 
 
Funerals are very important.  We gather with the Communion of Saints for the person who is transitioning from this life to beyond;  we actively recall the salvation that is given to us through Jesus’ sacrifice on the Cross and apply that with our praise and thanksgiving for the intention of our beloved dead.  It is precisely this prayer to apply the grace and mercy of Jesus’ offering of himself for the intention of the deceased that has completely dropped out of funeral rites in other Christian churches.  They don’t pray directly for mercy and forgiveness for the deceased, they only pray for the comfort of one another, because they don’t want ever to give the impression that we could, in any way, buy our way into heaven.  Of course you can’t—but we do believe that our prayers and acts of reparation can help others who may be in purgatory now and unable to help themselves.  I hope that when I’m gone there is still someone who will offer a Mass intention for me every now and then, I probably will need it!
 
It is customary, normative, in the Church to celebrate the Funeral Mass with the body present.  If the choice is to cremate, it is preferred that cremation take place after the Funeral Mass.  Cremation has been allowed since the 60s but is still not preferred.  In the past, cremation was done by “pagans” to say that they had no hope in an afterlife; believers would never cremate.  Society has largely lost this distinction.  Today the general understanding is that cremation is allowed, but should not be chosen in any way that would be disrespectful of the deceased.  The remains (“cremains”) still must be interred in a place of honor, in the ground or in a niche at a columbarium, a place where people can still go to pray for them.  They may not be carried around, or scattered, or divided up among the kids, or made into jewelry or anything else.  Such things do not respect the dignity of the person whom we recall.
 
The Catholic tradition is a three-part Rite of Christian Burial.  Typically on the evening before the Funeral Mass we gather for a Vigil, sometimes called a “wake” or a “viewing” (if there is a body).  This is typically done at a funeral home, but if the church is available it could also be at the church, especially if a large crowd is anticipated.  The Vigil is a Liturgy of the Word: prayers, a reading, a psalm, Gospel and maybe a short homily.  Sometimes in the absence of a priest the custom of praying the rosary became popular.  Sometimes people do both.
 
The Funeral Mass is typically celebrated late morning or early afternoon (especially if arrangements for burial follow the Mass).  We have a packet in the office which you can pick up for planning purposes.  There are Scripture readings prescribed by the Church from which you can choose, as well as selections of sacred music.  Sometimes people want a “favorite song” of the deceased; generally speaking, we try to accommodate it as a prelude if it is reverent, but only sacred music is permitted during a Funeral.  Suggested selections, both in English and Spanish, cover all styles and periods of sacred music, traditonal as well as modern.
 
Finally, the third part of the Rite of Christian Burial is the graveside service, or Rite of Commendation.  It is very short, we arrive at the cemetery and accompany the casket to the grave, bless it, pray together for the deceased and depart.  It is very short.
 
We permit words of remembrance after the Prayer after Communion at the Funeral Mass, usually a 3-5 minute prepared talk by family or friend.  If people wish to have multiple speakers (as is more likely in a Protestant service), I always encourage them to consider speaking at the Vigil, or even the graveside.
 
If anyone would like to meet to work on planning in advance, we are happy to speak with you.  Hope this helps, if you have any other questions, please call.
 
God bless you,
 
 
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