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* 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 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
* Our first Called and Gifted Workshop will be held on August 18-19. Please see page 8 for more information, and find the registration form on page 9!
* Catholic Home Missions Appeal Collection This week, we take up the Catholic Home Missions Appeal. Right now, over 40 per cent of dioceses in the US are considered home missions because they are unable to fund essential pastoral work needed in their communities. Your support of this appeal helps ease the struggle of these dioceses. Please prayerfully consider how you can support this appeal. More information can be found at usccb.org/home-missions.
* The Second Collection next weekend is for parish special needs. Please consider giving to our second collection next weekend for work we are doing in the parish this summer. This weekend again we will be collecting contributions for the renovation of public bathrooms in the school and church vestibule. Thanks for your generosity.
Dear Good People of Saint Bernadette,
As I write this, I haven’t yet left, but as you read it, I will already be back this week from the annual National Workshop on Christian Unity, this year, in Minneapolis. Each year ecumenical and interreligious leaders gather at this Workshop to keep relationships current and talk about the progress of local and national activities and documents which shape our shared life, as baptized persons who seek Jesus’ will for full, visible Communion, as well as how we are doing reaching out to people of different faiths as a united Christianity. Our divisions are simply confusing to most non-Christians: why should they want to talk to us if we can’t even figure out how to talk to one another? At perhaps the most pivotal moment of Jesus’ life on this earth, between Last Supper and Calvary, Jesus prayed to his Father that we might be one, even as perfectly united as he is to his Father—not just so that we might be united, which is essential to being Church—but he added the final explanation, “so that the world might believe that you sent me” (Jn. 17).
We realize that Jesus prayed for the most important things on his last night on earth as a man—this being one of them—and that he would pray to the Father only in such a way that their wills be united. The love he has for the Father is transparently clear, including all of us who believe in his name.
So I wonder why this has not been a priority in our Church? We have the annual meetings, we have official national and international dialogues that virtually no one is paying attention to, and in our hearts we know that we have to share the air with non-Catholics in a way that is respectful, even reverent. But we seem to have missed the connection that it is precisely Christ in you that I serve, and when I serve you, it is Christ in me that you encounter. According to Vatican II (Nostra aetate) this presence of Christ in you exists in non-baptized persons in seed form, whether they are aware of it or not, because all of us come from God and it is God’s will that all of us return to him. All of us... so we need to get to work!
I served as the national director of the Catholic Association of Diocesan Ecumenical and Interreligious Officers (cadeio.org) for the past six years and as I look back on it, I can say that there are only a handful of bishops and priests that are even keeping this alive? Despite the fact that the last five Popes have all expressed this notion that Christian unity is not something we do on the side as an extracurricular activity; it is essential to the life and future of Christianity. What we share in common is far greater than what we disagree about—not that the things we disagree about aren’t important—but we more often focus on the differences to protect our sense of identity. We define ourselves more easily by simply saying we are not Protestant, or Jewish, or Muslim, even though the majority of Church probably wouldn’t be able to tell you actually who they are and what beliefs define them. Of all who self-identify as Catholic in the United States, about half actually attend Mass on Christmas and Easter. That means half don’t come at all. What the surveys call “regular attendance” means once a month: that is about 30% of American Catholics.
Today is a new beginning. It is the day that you and I must begin again affirming the centrality of Jesus in our lives. And every day we must remind ourselves that he did not do all of this just for me. Although theologians have said, it is true, that if even only one person made up God’s creation, Jesus would still have suffered, died and risen for that one person, the entirety of his teaching reveals to us that Jesus’ saving death and resurrection was done for us and for our salvation. He came to give us life, life to the full, as one Body (his) united in the love of God, emp- tied out of love for the Father and filled with the Holy Spirit. Our Vigil Mass this weekend is focused entirely on the sacraments which bring this Church into Being: He did everything to make us one. We are his.