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THIS WEEKEND IS OUR PARISH PICNIC! Join us for a day of celebrating our parish family and our 38th anniversary of the dedication of the church! The picnic will follow a special bilingual Mass at NOON, combining the 11am and 1pm Masses into one. Families are invited to bring a side dish (last names beginning with A-L), desserts (M-S), or a non-perishable snack (T-Z). There will be no charge for hot dogs, hamburgers or drinks. Live music included. Join us!
If you haven’t yet returned your Commitment Card, you are welcome to drop it in the second collection basket, or mail it in, or bring it into the office. Everyone is encouraged to make a commitment to living your faith by getting involved in the parish!
All Soul’s Novena of Masses - Remembrance envelopes in which you may include the names of your deceased family or friends are available in the vestibule of the church and parish office. Envelopes will be placed near the altar during the Novena of Masses. To participate please fill out one of the envelopes with your donation and return them to the parish office before November 2nd. Questions, please contact the parish office.
Saint Bernadette Choirs are welcoming new members. We have choirs for singers of all ages. For more information contact Director, David Mathers at 703-451-8576 x112 or firstname.lastname@example.org
World’s Finest Chocolates! The St. Bernadette School Chocolate Sale will run October 1 – November 4. Candy bars are available for sale after all weekend Masses. The school receives 50% of the funds raised and will use the funds to support our school’s arts, academic, technology, and sports programs, as well as other events during the school year. Thank you for supporting our school!
Dear Good People of Saint Bernadette,Dear Good People of Saint Bernadette,
On the 3rd of October I was asked to give a talk in Atlanta on the progress of the ecumenical movement and how liturgy and the arts (music and environment) can unite us through beauty. The group I spoke to was the national Federation of Diocesan Liturgical Commissions, representatives of dioceses in the United States who lead worship on behalf of bishops. I was pretty nervous, I have to say, and spent a lot of time on the paper. It was supposed to be one hour long, and was one of two keynote addresses to the group, one by myself and and the other by Archbishop Wilton Gregory of Atlanta. I don’t know if you have ever done something like this before, but I kept going over it and over it, assigning stopwatch timing to every paragraph to make sure I didn’t go over the time limit. You see, these are the leading professionals responsible for making beautiful liturgy that inspires the Church. They are our best and brightest, presumably, and have a very important role in the life of the Church.
In my paper I quoted Bishop Frank Caggiano (Bridgeport) when he spoke to us at the National Pastoral Musicians Convention in Baltimore last summer. Liturgy, he said, is the divine fuel of the work of evangelization to break through our indifference. “You are the custodians of the path to beauty,” he told us. There is an evangelical power to liturgy itself: we are most ourselves when we are gathered to pray. Beauty transcends us, we are transformed. We are not here to be entertained, no matter how good it makes us feel. We are transformed, not by doing it, or hearing it, but by adding our gifts and voices and being it. This is the major divide between the Catholic Tradition and what has become of it in various Protestant expressions. Worship has been reduced to an opportunity for those who want to perform, and for those who want to be entertained. Trapped in the self, we can shut down the channel of being caught up in the life of God.
As I was giving my talk, I was thinking in the back of my mind about so many of the surveys which are coming in about our church renovation which say the church design is, in the mind of more than 60% (so far, at least), not necessary. One surveyed voted no, saying, “That is just beautification.” My heart sinks; I am convinced that we humans, who rely on our senses to bring us closer to God, desperately need art and beauty. We need spaces that inspire and exalt our senses about being in the presence of God in order to open to him. We need music which will involve us, an organ that will enhance our community’s voice and not fight it. A space that fills us with a sense that we are in a holy place, a place like no other, where God has chosen to dwell among us. A bright, uplifting, inspiring place where our best offering of art and craft speaks of the importance of God in our lives and the joy he brings. This is not a practical thing, it is hard to sell to bookkeepers and analysts. It only makes sense to those who thirst for God’s presence. Last week we and the campaign consultants had a conversation about the results of the planning study (and unless our in-pew surveys from last weekend are different) we probably will not do anything with the church.
When I was a pastor in the Dominican Republic you could always tell the neighborhoods who had overcome poverty. They were the ones where the people began to plant flowers in front of their houses. This is the place where we live, and it is beautiful, because life is good. But up until that point, people weren’t even aware of a lack. In so many places today we as a race are impoverished with regard to beauty (and truth, and goodness!), and not even aware of our poverty. All we know is that something is not right and we are often angry.
There is still a question whether or not parish meeting spaces will be supported. If so, my hope would be that, if we become a community that gathers and meets (if we build spaces to make such meetings possible), someday somebody can start the conversation again about how the nature of the worship space is vital. Maybe it’s a chicken-and-egg thing: does community grow deeper faith? Or does deeper faith grow community?
Anyway, my one hour talk on October 3rd went one hour and seven minutes. I finished the talk with a prayer: “Through him, and with him, and in him, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, we cry out with all hope: all glory and honor is yours Almighty Father, for ever and ever. All replied, “Amen!” and my talk ended with a standing ovation. Thanks be to God.
There are so many things going on at the same time in September and October: already this weekend is the PICNIC! I hope everyone has a wonderful day, as we say, just spending Saint Bernadette family time with God on the Lord’s Day. We leave for the Holy Land pilgrimage tomorrow (Monday) for two weeks, and will carry with us prayers for you and all your intentions as we go to the beautiful places where Jesus lived, proclaimed, healed, died and rose for us.
God bless you.
This is Commitment Sunday and all are asked to put your completed Commitment Cards in the second collection at Mass. You can still turn it in, drop it in any collection basket during the next few weeks, mail it in using the return envelope provided in the Catalog packet, or drop it by the office. Please do it sooner than later; we will begin to compile lists of people for our Ministry Leaders to call, to get started. Thank you for your beautiful response to God’s call to live an active faith.This is Commitment. Sunday and all are asked to put your completed Commitment Cards in the second collection at Mass. You can still turn it in, drop it in any collection basket during the next few weeks, mail it in using the return envelope provided in the Catalog packet, or drop it by the office. Please do it sooner than later; we will begin to compile lists of people for our Ministry Leaders to call, to get started. Thank you for your beautiful response to God’s call to live an active faith.
Next weekend’s Second Collection is for victims of Hurricane Florence. Please join parishes in the Diocese of Arlington in supporting this effort to assist those affected by the devastating damage from Hurricane Florence and its aftermath. Parishioners may choose to donate to these disaster relief efforts online via the diocesan website, ArlingtonDiocese.org/HurricaneFlorence. All funds collected will be forwarded to Catholic Charities USA, which will forward the entire amount to Catholic Charities agencies serving the affected areas. Thank you for your support.
On Saturday, October 6, bring your beloved pets for a special Blessing of the Animals in honor of Saint Francis’ feast (October 4). We will meet at 10am in the front parking lot in front of the Grotto of Our Lady of Lourdes.
Saint Bernadette Choirs are welcoming new members. We have choirs for singers of all ages; 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 contact Director, David Mathers at 703-451-8576 x112 or email@example.com
Save the Date! You are invited to our Saint Bernadette Parish Picnic and Fall Festival Family Day, October 14. The afternoon Mass schedules will be adjusted to accommodate our family celebration of all the diversity in the parish. Details are on page 7.
Dear Good People of Saint Bernadette,Dear Good People of Saint Bernadette,
Thanks to you, all our good ministry leaders who showed up last weekend despite rain and inconvenience to be available to members of the parish who might get involved in the service of the Church. We had a lot of people stop and visit, and learn more about what the parish is doing. Truly, you are instruments in enabling our parish to fulfill its call from God to be a Church of service after the heart of Jesus. Despite modest results, the greatest witness was to tell the parish that ALL are invited to this life that God opens to them.
I hope people finally received their 2018 Parish Renewal Handbook and Ministry Catalog this week and will have a chance to really look at it. It is for you.
After last weekend’s letter, I had several people come up to me and say that what I described as an active, serving parish actually was Saint Bernadette in the past. There was a time when ministries and activities involved many people and the parish was the center of the community. Whatever the reason is, it doesn’t matter: people, over time, can forget that they are a vital part of the community, and feel like they don’t matter. A lack of activities and involvement can cause people to look elsewhere because we are wired in God’s image to be community. He is, three in one, just as we are to be: 11,000 in one. When that is missing, we look in other places.
This is commitment weekend: please renew your commitment to Pray, Serve, and Give to renew the mission of Saint Bernadette to God and those in need. It is important, our lives depend upon it.~ ~ ~ ~ ~
In conversation this week, I still sense a lot of suffering in the Body due to the sins of some members in the Church in relation to the problem of abuse in the Church and the wider world. I suggested in a letter a couple of weeks ago that our facing these terrible sins in the Church may be an opportunity to open a conversation about this reality which is a part of all society, that we might be a source of healing that could go forth from us as a ministry. We choose to work with God to bring good out of suffering, both in our own lives and our world. I ran across this quote from St. Pope John Paul II (Salvifici doloris, 26):
“Down through the centuries and generations it has been seen that in suffering there is concealed a particular power that draws a person interiorly close to Christ, a special grace. To this grace many saints ... owe their profound conversion. A result of such a conversion is not only that the individual discovers the salvific meaning of suffering but above all that he becomes a completely new person. He discovers a new dimension, as it were, of his entire life and vocation ... Nevertheless, it often takes time, even a long time, for this ... to begin to be interiorly perceived. For Christ does not answer directly and he does not answer in the abstract this human questioning about the meaning of suffering. Man hears Christ’s saving answer as he himself gradually becomes a sharer in the sufferings of Christ.”
Again, I am not in the least attempting to minimize the real evil here. I am, however, taking the concept of suffering out of the abstract where most people are most comfortable in dealing with it. Suffering, except for cases of “natural” evil like hurricanes and tornados, is always at the hands of others. Even the most abject suffering, as we see in Jesus on the Cross, can bring about salvation.
The first thing we must do is go about helping the victims/survivors heal. We must be a place of welcome and healing, there must be no reason for anyone to fear being a part of this family of God. We must make sure that this cannot happen again.
Then, we must figure out how we heal our Church and the wider world. It is here, in our own flesh, that we are most like Christ, because it is here, in our limitations and weakness, that he proves his most profound love for us in our human condition. Faith, then is not a spirituality where we try to pray ourselves out of the human condition. It is the gradual realization that our life is united, more and more, to the life, death and resurrection of the Son of God through our human condition. Rather than always revealing how our lives are such a mess, we need to discover that it is precisely that mess that God comes to transform, to convert, to use to accomplish his plan for us. Without the Cross this mess makes no sense.
The work of reparation for our sins and the sins of others is not easy, but necessary. Typically we think of the season of Lent in a general kind of way to work through certain disciplines from the Tradition that are prescribed: prayer, fasting, almsgiving. I would propose to you that we are in a long Lent right now, and that we might consider living accordingly. Determine a day that you will fast, identify certain sacrifices that you might make for this intention of healing and strengthening our Church as she is suffering. Pray for the inspiration to become instruments of God’s special grace which has the power to make us completely new people, a renewed Church, a new world.
God bless you.