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Announcements ~ 18 August 2019

fleur cross logo The Saint Bernadette Women's Group is forming!  Come with a friend to the next gathering, Bunco on August 20 at 7pm in the Bradican Room.
 
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: www.stbernpar.org. Calling all Catechists! Please respond to the call to share your faith with our children and the youth of the parish.
 
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 7, 2019. Just when you thought you there wasn't a program that could help you know your path by God's plan, this Workshop comes along! For more information please see page 9 in this bulletin or visit our parish website announcement page for online registration.
 
fleur cross logo Think 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, and considering becoming Catholic. If you or someone you know are seeking answers, call and register for the process in the parish office.  For an overview, please see last week's bulletin on our parish website.
 
fleur cross logo Our Confirmation preparation process starts a year earlier this year in 6th Grade. If you have sixth or seventh graders, you should have received a letter from us. Sixth graders who begin preparation this year will be confirmed the start of their 8th grade year (Fall 2021). Seventh graders who begin the process this year and will be confirmed their at the end of the 8th grade year (Spring 2021). Information sessions will be scheduled at the beginning of the school year.

Fr. Don's Weekly Letter ~ 18 August 2019

Dear Good People of Saint Bernadette,

Please take the time to read Martha Drennan's excellent reflection on the difficulty finding  not only catechists but students for religious education this year.  We are two weeks out and only 200 students, half the number of the last couple of years, 13% of children in registered families.  The reality is, we won't have time to get volunteers VIRTUS compliant with background checks and, depending on the number of students and catechists, may have to cut classes.  This is, however, the principal mission of the parish:  to educate.

I think Martha is right in saying that the problem is that we don't know what we don't know.  My generation was the first to not have a rigorous knowledge of our faith.  We live in such a poverty and we don't even know it.  When I was a missionary in the Dominican Republic with about 30 villages that I would visit monthly, the lifeblood of the villages was the training that I would give the catechists.  I could only be there once a month, but they did all the work of preparing people for baptisms, sacraments, and provided a weekly prayer gathering for the local community.  Without catechists, there is no community.

To say things are fine as they are, without picking up and using—or even being aware of—the absolute riches that God has placed in our laps, would be the same as promoting poverty and disease.  We must educate ourselves, we must then educate our children.  It is something that all the Church must do to be effective and pleasing to God.

I want to shift gears a bit here, and share with you some experiences I have had this summer.  It seemed to begin around the time of my mom's death back in May.  I had had a rough go for the past three years here at Saint Bernadette, I have this vision for community and nobody was buying it.  I guess I just expected people to get excited.  Some did, but it was only a ripple.  You see, I think the Tradition of the Church is the greatest gift we have to enrich and fulfill our lives.  But that Tradition is something that you have to live.  The Church isn't a museum you go to visit and look at stuff once in a while.  We can't learn our faith from a book, we have to immerse ourselves in it.  The vast and inspiring spaces are useless if there are not voices singing in them, if there aren't prayers going up.  And the communities that we form, which are our real architecture and expression, do not come into being if we do not give ourselves to that which is greater:  God among us, the Kingdom among us.

I've been trying to preach us into being a community and I realized that I didn't even feel like I belonged to it.  I have battled with some depression these three years, I have gained weight (I'm finally losing it now!), as people don't show up, programs fail, and I have been just trying to figure out what I'm doing wrong.

Then when my mom died, we had an experience to share, something that everyone has or will go through.  I shared about it a lot.  An outpouring of love and support from you, you became a part of the fabric of my life.  Now you are dwellers in my life, and part of my life is now within you.  I celebrated my anniversary four days later, another sharing of life which brought more community to life than I could ever have hoped to preach out of you.  The clouds started to evaporate, the sun to shine.  Not to mention Pollado Bailable.

I don't know what people think Church is for.  Some people might say it's there to get me into heaven.  Others that we owe God and have an obligation to show up and go through the motions.  Maybe arrive late and leave early, it doesn't matter as long as we appeared.  Maybe people find mutual support and fraternity.  When I was in college it was a chance to meet friends and then go out to brunch.

But the powerful truth is that Church is the product of something.  It is not the thing that produces us.  Our shared life experiences enlace us into something greater.  Our shared faith gives us an identity as a people—the People of God, as the Second Vatican Council says.  Our hopes come together, we enter into ritual Mystery in the story of Jesus throughout the year.  We start to look alike.  This is one of the most beautiful miracles of God, that he takes our diversity in all its origins and races and we start to look alike.  And Community is born.

We plant the seeds of that Community simply by sharing ourselves in some small way and it grows day by day.  You can't give what you don't have, but we can always give ourselves, and teach each other: community is formed.  I realize we really have to step up offering adult education, maybe beginning with the documents of Vatican II.  But we have to get to know each other first, maybe just over a donut on Sunday morning.  We must not give in to the tendency of our world to fear.  The only product of fear is isolation, alienation, and resignation.  Let us give each other another chance, and trust that we will be joyfully surprised.

God bless you.

Announcements ~ 11 August 2019

Celebrate with us this Holy Day of Obligation, The Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Vigil Mass, Wednesday, August 14 at 7:30pm. Holy Day Masses throughout the day Wednesday, August 15 at 6:30am, 9am, Noon, 7:30pm (Bilingual).
 
Please consider our Catholic School. We invite you to visit our website, stbernpar.org/parishschool, if you would like to see what we can do for your child. You are welcome to call our Saint 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.
 
The Saint Bernadette Women's Group is forming!  Come with a friend to the next gathering, Bunco on August 20 at 7pm in the Bradican Room.
 
Saint Bernadette is hosting a Called and Gifted Workshop on Saturday, September 7, 2019. Just when you thought you there wasn't a program that could help you know your path by God's plan, this Workshop comes along! For more information please see page 9 in this bulletin or visit our parish website announcement page for online registration.
 
Think 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, and considering becoming Catholic. If you or someone you know are seeking answers, call and register for the process in the parish office.  For an overview, please see last week's bulletin on our parish website.
 
A letter was sent to every registered family in the parish who has a sixth or seventh grader explaining the change to our current Confirmation preparation process. If your family did not receive a letter, please contact our Faith Formation office. Sixth graders who begin the new process this year will be confirmed the beginning of their 8th grade year (Fall of 2021). Seventh graders who begin the Confirmation process this year and will be confirmed their at the end of the 8th grade year (Spring of 2021). Information sessions will be scheduled at the beginning of the school year.

Fr. Don's Weekly Letter ~ 11 August 2019

Dear Good People of Saint Bernadette,

Coming to the close of the summer season, there are a lot of details to cover for your consideration.  Once August starts, it is practically over.  Whoosh.

You’ll notice again this week all the pleading for volunteers for parish programs.  Today I must add a note of urgency.  As you know, all volunteers in parishes must clear a background check and attend a VIRTUS class.  In the past the diocese would allow people to volunteer at the last minute and then give a waiver allowing the volunteer to begin ministry even though the required paperwork was not complete.

This is no longer the case; there will be no waivers given this year.  So if you plan to serve in the parish in any ministry that involves children or youth, your application needs to go in now.  Actually, it needed to go in yesterday.  It is quite possible that we will have students enrolled in religious education classes and no one to teach them for the first month. 

The required classes for VIRTUS fill up, too.  Our class at Saint Bernadette is full.  The only nearby regional classes remaining are August 17 at both Saint Ann/Arlington and Our Lady of the Angels/Woodbridge, and August 18 at Saint Francis/Triangle.   Please take the time to consider how you might be involved in parish life this year, and factor in that we are up against deadlines for beginning ministries.

~  ~  ~  ~

We will have a change in the Mass schedule during the week at the end of August.  Please make a note if you are a daily Mass goer:  School Mass is moving to Wednesdays at 9am instead of Thursdays.  As Wednesday was my day off during the week, I will now move my day off to Thursdays and the 6:30am Mass on Thursdays will likewise move to Wednesdays.  Starting the week of August 26 we will celebrate 6:30am daily Mass on Mondays and Wednesdays.

~  ~  ~  ~

It has been a busy summer, as well.  Our summer projects didn't go exactly as we had hoped, but they will be complete.  Our new cleaning company in the school has the place sparkling.  Literally.  I have never seen such a clean building.  The usual repairs and replacements have happened with any building that gets such heavy and constant use.  One very satisfying project is the conversion of what we called the "Lab Learner" room into the new school Library.  It is in the room adjacent to the music room on the second floor on the front of the gym.  These rooms used to serve as the choir loft when the gym was being used as the church for Mass. 

We carefully soundproofed this room from the music room next door (as we had soundproofed the wall between the classrooms and the gymnasium last year), and have added a drop ceiling with excellent lighting.  The former library at the far end of the middle school wing will now be home base for the Spanish program.  Both will become very useful for hosting larger groups of adults.  I am hoping they become home for our new Alpha program and the faith groups that form.

Another project that is more visible is the sidewalk connecting the church to the back parking lot by a series of ADA ramps.  PLEASE NOTE:  even though the cement will be poured by this weekend, the metal railing fabricator will not have the railings necessary for the ADA compliance in place for a couple of weeks.  There will be railings on all the ramps when it is finished.  If you need handicap accessibility, please continue to use the ramp in front of the church for a little while longer.

~  ~  ~  ~

Finally today we had a fruitful meeting with the diocese and a company that will refit our stained glass art in the church.  We still don't have a price... but I'm guessing we will pay what it costs.  The windows themselves will be re-set in a lighter, less massive aluminum frame which will allow the lighting units behind to be slipped out the side when they need to be replaced.  The Saint Joseph window apparently was restored, the other not so completely, so we are going to see what it costs to give new leading to the Our Lady of Lourdes window.  Then it will be in place, and done.  It is the first priority.  I also began discussion about finishing the choir area with a real structure for tiered seating, raising the choir up so that they can sing over the congregation and not into them.  Finally, the sanctuary and ambo might be made ADA compliant—you never know when you might have a lector, Eucharistic minister, or priest—only limited by a wheelchair.  The altar needs to move forward closer to the people.  Of course, we don't have money for any of this, but we can dream and be ready when the time finally comes.

~  ~  ~  ~

I hope you make the most of these last days of summer.  Don't forget to check out the Tibetan Performing Arts program we are hosting on the 25th!

God bless you.
 

Announcements ~ 4 August 2019

fleur cross logo Celebrate with us this Holy Day of Obligation, The Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Vigil Mass, Wednesday, August 14 at 7:30pm. Holy Day Masses throughout the day Wednesday, August 15 at 6:30am, 9am, Noon, 7:30pm (Bilingual).
 
fleur cross logov Please consider our Catholic School. We invite you to visit our website, stbernpar.org/parishschool, if you would like to see what we can do for your child. You are welcome to call our Saint 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 The Saint Bernadette Women's Group is forming!  Come with a friend to the next gathering, Bunco on August 20 at 7pm in the Bradican Room.
 
fleur cross logo Saint Bernadette is hosting a Called and Gifted Workshop on Saturday, September 7, 2019. Just when you thought you there wasn't a program that could help you know your path by God's plan, this Workshop comes along! For more information please see page 11 in this bulletin or visit our parish website announcement page for online registration.
 
fleur cross logo It’s time to be 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, and considering becoming Catholic. If you or someone you know are seeking answers, call and register for the process in the parish office.
 
fleur cross logo A letter was sent to every registered family in the parish who has a sixth or seventh grader explaining the change to our current Confirmation preparation process. If your family did not receive a letter, please contact our Faith Formation office. Sixth graders who begin the new process this year will be confirmed the beginning of their 8th grade year (Fall of 2021). Seventh graders who begin the Confirmation process this year and will be confirmed their at the end of the 8th grade year (Spring of 2021). Information sessions will be scheduled at the beginning of the school year.

Fr. Don's Weekly Letter ~ 4 August 2019

Dear Good People of Saint Bernadette,

Sometimes you can be surprised by how much you don't know! Or that you've been wrong for 25 years. I discovered this week that some customs which have been in effect in every parish and with every pastor I have ever served aren't, actually, according to the law of the Church.

For all these years I have been under the impression that in order to receive a sacrament or a sponsor certificate you would have to be a registered parishioner. It turns out "registration" is not found in Canon Law. The authority of a pastor extends juridically for those who live within the borders of a parish, and if people wish to register from outside the borders, the parish is able to serve them as well.

All these years we have been forcing people to register if they come to the office asking for these things. What has resulted is a very inflated picture of the actual active members of the parish. I'm guessing the real parish is probably half as large. So many people register to be Godparents or to receive sacraments and we never hear from them again.

So here is how it works now. If you are seeking a Sponsor certificate, we can provide it for anyone, whether registered here or anywhere, or not. It is basically a statement that you fill out, under oath, that you are a practicing Catholic, fully initiated in the Church (Baptism, Confirmation, Eucharist), that you are at least 16 years of age, if married that you were married in a Catholic wedding, and that you will support the person you are sponsoring as a good example and spiritual guide. The testimony is yours before God, and Ivonne or Kendra will witness your signature and and seal the certificate as a legal document.

It is a little more complicated for sacraments. For example, if you seek baptism for your child, you do not need to register here, or anywhere. If you are registered here or live within our parish boundaries, there is no question. If you are registered in another parish, we need a letter of permission from the pastor of that parish. If you are not registered anywhere, you will need to obtain a letter of permission from the pastor of the parish in whose boundaries your residence lies.

As I said in my memo to the parish staff, on one hand it seems like we are giving up. On the other hand, it just seems like we are being honest. To register just to get what you want doesn't really make you a member in the active sense of a practicing, active member serving God and the Church. Also, it is not up to the parish to prove somehow the intentions of the person seeking the certificate to support another person in the faith; it is the integrity of their word, which we only witness and seal.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

A special thanks to all those who worked so intensely to produce our summer show, Kiss Me Kate. I had the privilege to attend all five shows this year and don't think I have ever had the chance to watch young actors grow so quickly in the craft of singing and dancing, in their confidence and in the way they opened up to the audience. I can see why such a dedicated staff of producers, director, conductor, costume makers and choreographer come back each year as volunteers to make this happen! Many of them were in the cast many years ago and realize how much this changed them and helped them to grow, and they are paying it back. So, thanks. A special thanks to Bill and Anna Molino, who help put it together!

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Watch the next few bulletins for information about new groups and programs in the parish. Saint Bernadette Women's Group is forming. They are planning a Bunco night on August 20 at 7pm in the Bradican Room—all women are invited to bring a friend! We are also calling on young adults in the parish to start a Young Adults' Group. After a year of no available space for new programs, we think we have figured out a way to introduce the Alpha Series to anyone interested, both an Alpha Series for adults as well as for youth. If you are curious, look at alphausa.org/ catholic. You may have noticed we have added classes in Faith Formation for youth in high school who may be looking for more of a classroom approach to learning the Faith.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Finally, I would like to draw your attention to a very special Buddhist event which is coming here August 24-25. We are honored to host the Capital Area Tibetan Association's visit by the 7th Yongzi Ling Rinpoche, who was recognized by the Dalai Lama as the reincarnation of his Senior Tutor. He has traveled all over the world to teach Buddhists and will be here teaching the Buddhist community in the gym in the mornings. We are all invited to a vegetarian lunch on Sunday, August 25 at noon, an interreligious prayer/dialogue from 2:30-4pm, followed by a presentation of Tibetan Culture at 4:30pm. Please see p. 10 for details.

God bless you.

Announcements ~ 28 July 2019

fleur cross logo There is still a chance to see our Summer Theater performances! Depending on if you see the bulletin online, here are the performance times: Thursday, 7pm; Friday, 7pm; Saturday, 1pm & 7pm; Sunday, 1pm. Tickets available at the doors of the Saint Bernadette School Gym.
 
fleur cross logo Our Prayer for Christian Unity in the Taizé tradition is Monday, July 29 from 8-8:45pm for beautiful prayer and meditative songs, praying with Jesus "that all be one."
 
fleur cross logo Please consider our Catholic School. We invite you to visit our website, stbernpar.org/parishschool, if you would like to see what we can do for your child. You are welcome to call our Saint 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 7, 2019. Just when you thought you there wasn't a program that could help you know your path by God's plan, this Workshop comes along! For more information please see page 9 in this bulletin or visit our parish website announcement page for online registration.
 
fleur cross logo A letter was sent to every registered family in the parish who has a sixth or seventh grader explaining the change to our current Confirmation preparation process. If your family did not receive a letter, please contact our Faith Formation office. Sixth graders who begin the new process this year will be confirmed their 8th grade year (Fall of 2021). Seventh graders will also begin the Confirmation process this year and will be confirmed their 8th grade year (Spring of 2021). Information sessions will be scheduled at the beginning of the school year.
 
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 by Sunday, 28 July. A box is in the church vestibule to place your donations. See page 7.
 

Fr. Don's Weekly Letter ~ July 28, 2019

Dear Good People of Saint Bernadette,

At the end of August we will observe the 400th anniversary of the most-recognized date of the coming of slavery to England's American colonies, August 30, 1619. We know that the Africans who arrived in 1619 on the White Lion (and, a few days later, the Treasurer) were from Angola, and we know how they came to be captured. We don’t have all the names, but we do know that Captain William Tucker took two of them into his household, Isabella and Antony, and allowed them to marry. When their child William became the first recorded black birth in what would become the USA, he was baptized into the Anglican faith in 1624. We know that a “Negro woman” named Angelo in a 1624 census had arrived on the Treasurer in 1619. Archaeologists have recently discovered graves that might include hers.

About 20 slaves came on that ship, the White Lion, to Point Comfort—Hampton, Virginia today. They came here.

It was big business for Virginia. The economy flourished, business boomed with free "labor." Of course, human beings could never be called a commodity, as such. So we just didn't admit that they were human beings. Who goes against the system when it seems like the economy is improving?

Numbers are only estimates. 128,000 slaves came to Chesapeake, 210,000 to the Carolinas and Georgia. 27,000 to the northern U.S., 22,000 to the Gulf Coast. 2.6 million went to the Caribbean, and an unbelievable 5.1 million slaves went to the coastal ports of South America. In all, in the U.S., 387,000, and in Central and South America - 8,068,000.

And it is estimated that probably less than half survived the crossing of the Atlantic in such distress, no water, no food, no sanitary considerations, or simple torture and murder. Maybe 20 million? I did a family tree about 15 years ago. From the first Rooney families we have on record coming to Dubuque, Iowa, I have nearly 4,000 people on the tree. Imagine how many people's lives were touched by these 8,400,000 ancestors.

We've heard desperate stories about my own ancestors in Ireland who were treated lower than the livestock in the manors, and it still makes me angry to consider how "my people" had the choice to starve, or leave. I didn't know them, but they still seem like a part of who I am. Only 3 million immigrants to the U.S... Is it any wonder people are angry. I gave a talk at the Buddhist Catholic Dialogue a couple of years ago in Taiwan. My topic was nonviolence and the teachings of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King. In my research I saw again riot photos that I had forgotten seeing on the evening news on our black and white TV when I was small. I knew at the time what I was seeing was wrong, though the culture I lived in sat silently, watching the TV. We had riots near our home, houses were burning. We moved to the suburbs.

Racism has been the topic of polite discussion for many years, growing and boiling and blowing up at times in ugly outrage. I don't pretend to know the solution, there are a lot of emotions we need to own for allowing the root and attitudes of slavery to coexist with our daily prayers even for next 100 years after the Emancipation Proclamation. What is one of the core beliefs of Christianity? That words don't matter if our actions, our thoughts don't match. In this sense, I guess you might use the word hypocrisy.

One thing I do know to be true: I don't remember ever hearing a groundswell from the grassroots that all this was terribly wrong. We can all agree on slavery and apologize for being so mistaken. These kind of stories inhabit every country and every culture in the long history of persecution and ethnic cleansing. It's the world, right?

Leaders might make statements of faith or moral values which "represent" culture, or divide it for personal or corporate gain. What would a world look like that is truly colorblind? Selfless, nonviolent, not just tolerating, but embracing?

I have a friend who is colorblind. He looks at a field of red flowers and just sees grey. So this is not the kind of vision I am talking about. We don't want to just blur our sight and live in a daze and let the world become grey. I am a painter as well as a priest, and can't imagine painting a canvas with just grey. Nor would God.

Color is such an amazing thing. In color theory, "value" means how light or dark that color is. "Hue" means how color is effected in its interaction with other colors. Colors work together to be made into beautiful things, not war and hate. That isn't God's plan. We must see God's beautiful variety in a new way. God, give us new eyes. I am not here for myself. This August let us spend our energy on reaching out to others in a groundswell of mercy.

God bless you.

 

Announcements ~ 21 July 2019

fleur cross logo Summer Theater tickets will be on sale after all Masses! This year, since Bishop Ireton High School is under construction, we will have the performances right here in our gymnasium at Saint Bernadette. See page 7 for information and save the date!
 
fleur cross logo Our Prayer for Christian Unity in the Taizé tradition will take place one week later than usual this month of July. Come join us on Monday, July 29 from 8-8:45pm for a beautiful time of prayer and meditative songs of joy and peace as we pray with Jesus "that all be one."
 
fleur cross logo Please consider our Catholic School. We invite you to visit our website, stbernpar.org/parishschool, if you would like to see what we can do for your child. You are welcome to call our Saint 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 7, 2019. Just when you thought you there wasn't a program that could help you know your path by God's plan, this Workshop comes along! For more information please see page 9 in this bulletin or visit our parish website announcement page for online registration.
 
fleur cross logo A letter was sent to every registered family in the parish who has a sixth or seventh grader explaining the change to our current Confirmation preparation process. If your family did not receive a letter, please contact our Faith Formation office. Sixth graders who begin the new process this year will be Confirmed their 8th Grade Year (Fall of 2021). Seventh graders will also begin the Confirmation process this year and will be Confirmed their 8th Grade Year (Spring of 2021). Information sessions will be scheduled at the beginning of the school year.
 
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, 28 July. A box will be available in the Church Vestibule to place your donations.

Fr. Don's Weekly Letter ~ 21 July 2019

Dear Good People of Saint Bernadette,
 
The Good Samaritan stops and cares for his enemy.  Confronted with the evil of violence, he chooses to insert himself into the victim's life, literally caring for his enemy, embracing him, lifting him, probably preventing his death.
 
Evil is not active. Evil persons are.  Evil itself is a deprivation of a goodness that is should be there, a lack of what was originally intended by God in his creation.  Goodness, truth and beauty are transcendentals in which all beings participate to one degree or another.  We experience fear when we encounter anything or anyone who lacks the goodness that is supposed to be there.
 
Saint Paul says that fear is the absence of love.  Like good and evil, when we encounter someone or something lacking some degree of goodness, we can choose to love, or to fear.  Our response may be clouded by judgement or a misconception of reality, but we make the choice.  One of the most famous sayings of St. John of the Cross, a 16th century mystic and Doctor of the Church in Spain, is: "Where there is no love, let me put love.  There, I will find love."
 
"Enemy" and "friend" are on the same spectrum of extremes. We fear due to the absence of friendship, the absolute lack of love is enemy.
However, I choose to love.  I do not get to choose my neighbor, I only get to choose to love, or not.
 
"And who is my neighbor?" the man asks Jesus.
 
This is a very complicated question today.  Neighbors can be so different and varied.  Neighbors are People like me.  People completely different from me.  People who like me.  People who don’t like me. People who wish me well.  People who wish me harm.  People I like.  People I don’t like.  People who agree with me.  People I don’t agree with.  The rich man living on top of the hill.  The poor man living under the bridge.
 
They are best friends, and total strangers.  Fellow Americans, foreigners.  Big saints, big sinners. 
 
Often they are people we would rather avoid, or we are taught to avoid.  In the Gospel, the priest and Levite, by their own religious law, couldn’t come into contact with the blood of another.  They walked a wide path, knowing that their faith would not allow it.  Remember this is Jesus telling the parable...  Was the law of their faith more important than the compassionate care of this injured, dying man?
 
The instruction love your neighbor as yourself compels us to consider ourselves in the place of that man in the gutter by the road.  In such a place, how would you wish to be treated?  Ignored?  Refused?  Rejected? Denied?  Rounded up and expelled?  There is a lot to think about here.  In our culture we have blurred the lines between what is right and wrong, and what serves our interests.  We call it politics.
Who is my neighbor?  The least of these.

On the last day of judgement "the king will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father. Inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.  For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, a stranger and you welcomed me, naked and you clothed me, ill and you cared for me, in prison and you visited me.’  Then the righteous will answer him and say, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink?  When did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you?  When did we see you ill or in prison, and visit you?’  And the king will say to them in reply, ‘Amen, I say to you, whatever you did for one of these least brothers [or sisters] of mine, you did for me (Mt. 25:34).  Those who did not, will not enter the prepared kingdom.
 
Ultimately, you don’t get to pick your neighbors.  They always challenge our hearts to find a way to be moved with compassion at the sight of them.
 
“He approached the victim, poured oil and wine over his wounds and bandaged them.  Then he lifted him up on his own animal and took him to an inn and cared for him.  Notice, he didn’t just throw him a dollar bill, he took his two silver coins and gave them to the innkeeper to care for the man, promising to do more if necessary.
Which was the neighbor?  The one who treated him with mercy.  We do get to choose to love.
 
May we, in gratitude for the mercy God has shown to us, make him visible in our merciful treatment of our so many kinds of neighbors.
 
God bless you.

 

 

 Campaign Logo Badge
  
 
 
Called and Gifted Workshop
Saint Bernadette Church
Saturday, September 7, 2019
 
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Workshop Details

Catherine of Siena
 
 

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Our Saint Bernadette 2018-'19 Ministry Catalog 

 


2018 2019 Catalog