Please subscribe to receive email notifications of announcements and other parish events.
* Please plan to join us for our 40 HOURS’ Eucharistic Adoration which begins NEXT SUNDAY, March 12 following the 5pm Mass. Please see page 7 for the full schedule. Adoration is a time of grace and blsssings not only for the individual who sits in the Presence of the Lord, but also for the parish who sponosrs it. Please make visits to the Blessed Sacrament throughout these days; please sign up for an hour of half hours, by adding your name to the sign-up sheet in the church vestibule.
* The Bishop's Lenten Appeal is in full swing and we are asking every houshold in our parish to support to the extent they are able. The BLA funds many programs, services and ministries that serve people in need. Don't forget every new donor or gift over last year's gift will be matched by a chalenge gift upto $ 500,000. We are 60% of our goal of $432,000. Thank you.
* Plan to attend our Parish Penance Service, Thursday, March 23. Many priests will be on hand for a special parish service: prayer and song, an examination of conscience, quick individual confessions, individual absolution, a prayer of penance and a song of mercy. Join us for mercy and reconciliation while still early in Lent.
* Be sure to read Fr. Don's letter to learn about special developments for St. Patrick's Day this year on the thrid Friday of Lent!
* Don’t forget next week starts daylight savings. Be sure to move your clocks ahead an hour!
Dear Good People of Saint Bernadette,
Parce Domine, parce populo tuo. Spare, O Lord, spare your people. Nothing seems to shout Lent louder for me than the simple, quiet chant of this text. Ne in aeternum, irascaris nobis. Do not be angry with us in eternity.
We are about to enter into the depths of this season.And yet, the significance of the season has its historic origins not so much in the practice of penance, fasting, abstinence, and almsgiving for the reparation of our sins, as it does in the preparation for the reception of the sacraments of initiation— Baptism, Confirmation, Eucharist. It began as a spiritual preparation for those to be incorporated into the very life of the Trinity: Sons and daughters of the Father through Baptism, tabernacles of the Son in Eucharist, temples of the Holy Spirit in Confirmation. The complete package. As the time of the catechumenate grew for those preparing for Baptism we, the Church, began to reflect on the ways in which we had not been faithful to the promises that we made / were made on our behalf at our own Baptism. And in order to renew and proclaim those vows again at the Vigil and Easter Masses, we had some self-correction to make. Lord, have mercy, for we have sinned.
The sacrament of Confession/Penance/Reconciliation (each name speaks of a different aspect of the mystery of God’s mercy and forgiveness), since the fifth century or so, has been a sacrament that we are able to celebrate frequently. It is, unfortunately for some, like a carwash. I wonder sometimes what image of God is running through the minds of people as they confess on the other side of the closed window. Is it a God of judgment, one who will be angry with me forever? Or is it the od of mercy who makes my conversion possible and our redemption a promise? Are we children before God wincing about the punishment that is to come, or do we stand, waiting for the embrace that follows our humility and contrition? The good news is that God’s mercy is so full that even our imperfect contrition (because of his just punishments, the loss of heaven, the pains of hell) is enough. But the point of Lent is to pass from this beginner stage to where we find sorrow for our unfaithfulness to our Baptism because I love you, Lord, who are all good and deserving of all my love. I firmly resolve...
Lent is a time to come in the confessional (walk around the screen and sit down) and trust God’s mercy that he will, indeed, spare his people because of his great love, if our love is also true. It is a time to focus beyond our sin, to throw ourselves into a renewal of Baptism as if we are seeking the grace of God all over again for the first time! Of course, there is only one Baptism—rebaptizing is not possible, as the reality of God’s life is complete. We have received it! It is a time to consider who we are now, and who God calls us to be. It is exactly due to the fact that we are incorporated into this trinitarian family at Baptism and Communion that our reconciliation and communion isn’t only as individuals, but as a community. We need sacramental reconciliation because that forgiveness, spoken through the person of the priest by virtue of the sacrament of Holy Orders, comes from God as well as the community of the Church. The ashes we will receive on Wednesday this week aren’t a sign of faithfulness or belonging, they aren’t some kind of blessing: they are a confession of our sin to one another, which has damaged our community: I am a sinner, I need to do penance. The words spoken at the time the symbolic ashes are placed on us are significant, either “Reform your lives and believe in the Good News” or “Remember, you are dust, and to dust you shall return.” Make it right with God while you can.
We invite you to join us as a community to celebrate this Mercy of God that calls us together and reconciles us to him and one another. Special confessions, as you will find in the special pull-out center section of this bulletin, will be on Wednesday nights in addition to Saturday afternoons. We will have several days of additional confessions on the week leading up to the Sacred Triduum. We will have a special parish penance service on Thursday, March 23, beginning at 7pm with prayer and examen of conscience as a group. During Adoration we will then have individual confessions— we ask you to be prepared to give simple, short confessions of sins, without the expectation of counseling or long questions—and individual absolution. Periodically throughout the evening we will include prayers, an act of contrition together, maybe a song, and depart in peace. Confessions will go very quickly this way, if we all come prepared, and our parish will be blessed. See you Thursday, March 23, at 7pm.
Together as a community let us seek real, authentic change and use this gift of Lenten time to bring about true conversion.
God bless you.
* This weekend is Commitment Sunday for our diocese’s annual Bishop’s Lenten Appeal. If you did not have a chance to fill out your pledge envelope this weekend, please bring it with you next weekend. We hope for 100% participation among all our families, every cent helps. Host and Participant sign-ups continue for our Lenten Small Groups Series, “The Doctor’s In: Pathways to a Healthy Mind, Body and Spirit”. Information may be found on page 9 and our the parish’s signupgenius.com website, enter email@example.com to locate our signup.
* ASH Wednesday Masses Schedule, 9am, 12noon, 6:30pm and 8pm in Espanol. The collection on Ash Wednesday is for the Churches in Central and Eastern Europe. For more information visit, usccb.org/catholic-giving/ opportunities-for-giving/central-and-eastern-europe/ collection/
* Please plan to join us for our 40 HOURS’ Eucharistic Adoration which will begin Sunday, March 12 following the 5pm Mass. Please see page 7 for the full schedule. Adoration is a time of grace and blessings not only for the individual who sits in the Presence of the Lord, but also for the parish who sponsors it. Please make visits to the Blessed Sacrament througout these days; if you can sign up for an hour or half-hour, please add your name to the sign-up sheet in the church vestibule.
* Plan to attend our Parish Penance Service, Thursday, March 23. Many priests will be on hand for a special parish service: prayer and song, an examination of conscience, quick individual confessions, individual absolution, a prayer of penance and a song of mercy. Join us for mercy
and reconciliation while still early in Lent.
Dear Good People of Saint Bernadette,
How I wish we could take tour group after tour group of parishioners to Italy, to experience the incredible accomplishment of so many artists and architects that composed the Church’s legacy. It was a special treat to be a part of a choir who brought the layer of music’s beauty into the living, resounding spaces of great architecture surrounded by so much art. Taking pilgrimage trips to sacred places is most fascinating for me because, unlike tourists who might look at a church as a great museum piece, we go to celebrate Mass in these great places and literally bring them to life, experiencing in them the purpose for which they were made!
I try to incorporate great works of art on the cover of the bulletin and other publications as well, because we live in a poverty of great art, generally speaking. We do have some great, world-class galleries and museums within several hours of us where we could go and study and experience art, but how many of us actually do? At my last two assignments I led the Confirmation retreats in the Basilica of the National Shrine in D.C., because I discovered how many of our children had never been there, nor spent the time to consider the importance of beauty in life and in our expression of faith. If a parish church is the only example in your life of what is possible in the expression of art, music, and architecture—chances are we are uninspired to even copy it, let alone create new, greater expressions to speak the truth to the age in which we live.
We spent some time in Florence on this recent trip, a great city in history due to the flourishing of ideas and the arts that happened there. The time was the Renaissance, and the world was rediscovering much of what had been lost for centuries in the so-called “dark” and “middle” ages. There was a sudden awakening of artists and architects, musicians and thinkers who, by their interaction, challenged each other to reach greater heights than had ever been known before in so short a time. They took the rediscovered forms and proportions of the classical period and out of it created something entirely new. Part of what made this possible was a healthy
competition to do better than what had just been accomplished by other artists in such close proximity. They had the luxury of being surrounded by the art of the previous generation to make it one better, sometimes accomplishing things that we would even consider unlikely today. They were surrounded by examples, and challenged to reach new levels of artistry and craftsmanship, sound and light.
* Host and Participant sign-ups continue for our Lenten Small Groups Series, “The Doctor’s In: Pathways to a Healthy Mind, Body and Spirit”. Information may be found on page 9 and our the parish’s signupgenius.com website, enter firstname.lastname@example.org to locate our signup.
* Our Parish Offices will be Closed on Monday, February 20 in observance of President’s Day. The office will re-open on Tuesday, February 21 at 8:30am.
* The collection on Ash Wednesday is for the Churches in Central and Eastern Europe. For more information visit, usccb.org/catholic-giving/ opportunities-for-giving/central-and-eastern-europe/collection/
* ASH Wednesday Masses Schedule, 9am, 12noon, 6:30pm and 8:00pm in Espanol
* Next weekend Commitment Weekend for the Bishop’s Lenten Appeal. If we reflect on the mission that Jesus has given us, and the words of Pope Francis, the Church us uniquely placed by God to be his agent of mercy and change, to heal our world. Prayerfully respond to this call. Your generosity is what makes our Church’s response possiblke. “Offering Hands to Serve and Hearts to Love”
* Plan to attend our Parish Penance Service, Thursday, March 23. Many priests will be on hand for a special parish service: prayer and song, an examination of conscience, quick individual confessions individual absolution, a prayer of penance and a song of mercy. Join us for mercy and reconciliation while still early in Lent.
Dear Good People of Saint Bernadette,
I wish all of you could have gone to Rome with us for a real celebration of faith and Church. I have to say that our choir sounded really good, too. Maybe we can have a concert here at St. Bernadette before we forget all our songs! I was originally going on the trip as chaplain for the pilgrimage, and my job was to have provided Masses and talks where necessary as we traveled from place to place.
Then we found we were short on men’s voices. So I became a member of the bass section! I hadn’t sung in a choir since seminary—23 years ago—and the experience for me was so great, and rich, to serve in the ministry of music, standing in the shoes of others for a moment... We rehearsed several times a week for the month before we left, and our group came together in a way that was really powerful. Our shared effort made the trip together a trip of real friends and partners in ministry.
It was also good to see our new music director, David Mathers, in action. The transformation of our volunteer choir was amazing, and I saw his gifts as a choir director. It was good for the two of us to work together in this way as he comes to our parish.
Again, I want to thank Tom Schafer for coming to the rescue. When I found out I was coming to St. Bernadette and there was no music director, we started a search. Soon, however, it seemed that the new pastor of Saint Mary had someone in mind with whom he had worked together previously, and David asked if he might come here, except that he must honor his commitment to all who had already invested so much time and money in the choir trip to Rome. We knew it would be awkward, the time in between, but Tom saved the day. Tom, who worked here for many years previously, was a familiar face and excellent musician, and came back for six months to carry us through Advent and Christmas. I am so grateful for Tom’s dedication and goodness to our parish. I told him anytime he wanted to come back down his mountain from Front Royal for a visit he was welcome here.
I am thankful that David is now here, and our music program can continue to take shape, especially since I had my refresher course in choir ministry since Christmas. The choir has become a great metaphor for the parish for me. When you sing in a choir, you must always listen to the persons on both sides of you; the goal is to use your voice to blend the others that you hear. This kind of constant listening while singing is like serving in the Church. We can’t just talk all the time without listening, without realizing that we are not here just to sing a solo. Imagine what a mess you would have on your hands if you had a group of people who were all singing solos, trying to make their voice distinctive out in front of everyone else. A choir has one voice, as a parish has one voice.
It isn’t the voice of the director, or of one bass, or even one section of sopranos. It is one voice. On top of that, you then realize that the purpose of a choir in liturgy is very different from a choir in concert. The choir in liturgy has, as its primary purpose, the promotion of singing in the congregation. It only exists to support the singing of the assembly! To support, to encourage, to show everyone how possible it is to raise voices in praise and prayer.
Did you know that? The first purpose of music ministry at Mass is to encourage YOU to sing! You can tell the health of a community by the way they sing. We have some challenges here, because our church is so big and doesn’t help us with good accoustics. It means that sometimes it might seem like you are the only one singing... I hear people singing when I’m coming up the aisle—but the sound doesn’t carry well to the altar. We will figure this out: in the meantime, sing twice as loud! I don’t know if you’ve ever been to a Mass when it seems like the congregation’s singing is going to take the roof off; it is so great, so life-giving.
Also, you probably heard the old story about the pastor who mentioned to members of his congregation that they weren’t singing very well. They told him that God didn’t give them good voices for singing. “Well,” he said, “all the more reason to give back to God the gift he gave you!”
I’m a firm believer that the most important thing that a parish does is Mass. It is the one thing that we do that literally touches every person who sets foot on the property. For this reason it is imperative that we do it well, to the best of our ability, so that God’s gift of beauty in spoken and sung Word might be the vehicle by which his Spirit can touch every heart. And it is why we need to involve as many people as we can in the work of liturgy: everyone has a role, everyone has a place, each according to their calling and their gifts. As individuals we might not trust our vocal acumen: but as an assembly we sing with one voice, and it is always beautiful, the voice of Jesus himself. The Body of Christ sings.
God bless you,
Dear Good People of Saint Bernadette,
Our choir pilgrimage is now more than half over, we are in Rome today. I thought I might share with you some of our experiences.
Our time in the Tuscan city of Florence was beautiful—not only perfect weather (although it has been below freezing at the beginning of every day so far, so it is a little chilly—the coldest winter in 30 years) but also all of the wonderful sights and tastes that we get to share together. We sang our first Mass at the Franciscan church of Saint Mark, the church that s connected to the convent where you can find the priceless treasure of the many nuns’ cells decorated with frescoes by Fra Angelico. It was a little dark, and very, very cold in the church, but the choir sounded amazing. These churches were designed with music in mind, along with many other things:
we discovered that we only need to work at making about half the sound in these churches because everything carries. We also learned how well our mistakes carry!
We toured the city, the Duomo, Our Lady of the Flowers (the name of Florence, Firenze, is a derivation of the word fiori, or flowers). The city is so old, and walkable, and we toured some of the world’s greatest art galleries and centers of power, both for the republic of Florence and the Church. So beautifully situated around the Arno River, the city combines the best of Italian culture, from the Renaissance to the modern day.
On our way to Rome on Saturday, we visited the clifftop Umbrian town of Orvieto, with its beautiful Duomo (Cathedral) of Our Lady of the Assumption. This is one you could google and study a little. It is the town of a Eucharistic miracle which gave birth
to the Tradition of the feast day of Corpus Christi. Like Florence, it is a town rich in the development of Renaissance culture, when a reawakening in art and music paved the way to modern day. We chose it because it is a town largely unimpacted by tourism and modern blight: it is a town like you might imagine still to be in the 1600s. After singing at Mass in the cathedral’s Chapel of the Corporal (the Host at Mass bled onto the bishop’s corporal, the cloth that is placed on the altar), a chapel from the 1200s, we went nearby to a 2 1/2 hour lunch! After a little shopping, we headed to Rome.
Since we have been in Rome, we have visited St. Peter Basilica several times. We were first there to sing for the 3:45pm community Mass on Sunday. St. Peter is a place that has something happening all day long, and we were the choir for a regular Sunday Mass at the altar of the Chair of Saint Peter. We were back there again on Monday morning to celebrate a private Mass for our group in a chapel beneath the main altar, at an altar facing the actual tomb of Saint Peter himself. After Mass we toured the Vatican Museum, culminating in a time when we experienced the Sistine Chapel. We were on our own this afternoon; I visited the Pantheon and the ruins at the Roman Forum. When I have been here before we always seem to rush through it on our way to something else... Today we leisurely walked through the centuries of history there.
Tuesday (tomorrow, as I write this) we will go to Assisi and while at the Basilica of Saint Francis we will have a private Mass for our group. These Masses serve also as great opportunities to rehearse for our Thursday night concert at the Church of Saint Ignatius in Rome. We also, at every place we stop, pause and pray for all the intentions we carry with us to Italy. I have been praying for all of you in a special way at all of these Masses, for your intentions.
We saw the Pope at his Sunday Angelus talk this past weekend. He stands at a very high window from the Papal Apartments of the Apostolic Palace every Sunday he is in town and gives a homily for the day. He gave a very moving homily on the Beatitudes, particularly in the context of our political divisions and the way in which immigrants and refugees are being treated right now.
We will, again see Pope Francis on Wednesday morning, as I think we have good tickets to see him at his Wednesday audience. Then, best of all, our choir will sing at the Papal Mass, the Solemnity of the Presentation of the Lord on Thursday afternoon. I went to the Congregation of Religious Orders this morning and picked up my ticket to concelebrate the Mass with the Holy Father! Cool. We will be home before you even read this—consider this my postcard greeting you from all the points along the way of our pilgrimage. We carry with us your prayers, and keep your hearts present to us all along the way. Hopefully we will do this again, and you will be able to join us. There is nothing like Rome anywhere in the world for Catholics, I have to say that when I am here, it feels like home.
God bless you.
Dear Good People of Saint Bernadette,
As you read this, we are already in Rome, having sung in Florence, Assisi and Orvieto. I forgot to mention—if you are on Twitter, I’ll be tweeting photos, @frdonrooney.
Last week before we left for Italy I signed a little under 2,000 letters to all of you who have contributed to the parish in the past year. I’ve done this every year now since being a pastor, and every year I become very much aware of how dependent the mission of the parish is upon your goodness and generosity. I am deeply grateful to you for what you make possible, and hope you have a sense of accomplishment, of being a part of something wonderful that is larger than any of us. Not everyone can give a lot—in fact, not that many people do: it is the collective contribution, something from everyone, that makes the difference. The responsibility of the parish should not rest on the shoulders of a few, anyway.
Each year we are asked by the diocese to conduct an “offertory enhancement” program of some kind, in which we encourage everyone to actually make a pledge to give more in the coming year. There is good reason for this. Just like any area of our lives, we respond to the requests before we ever get to the things we know we should get to. That is why we have things like the Bishop’s Lenten Appeal each year, because we know that we will respond to the request. We might not get around to giving—certainly not as much as is needed—if just left up to our memory. I decided, as the new guy, to get to know the parish before I started asking formally for more. What I have found here is good. You are generous, you are supporting your church. We have a good bank account, and I don’t believe the Church is in the ministry of saving: we will identify the good works that we want to accomplish in building up our parish community and reaching out as Christ into the community surrounding us. In the meantime, I ask that you continue to give. If you would like to skip one Starbuck’s a month per family and give that, in turn, to the parish I wouldn’t argue. That would add nearly $200,000 to the budget alone!
When my brothers and I were kids we watched our dad write the check every week. We were far from rich, and lived without a lot of the things we saw that our friends had, but we knew that the Church got his first $20 every week (this was in the 60s and 70s), at times when we knew that there wasn’t a lot to spare. Maybe this is a reason that my brother and I became priests. We witnessed our parents’ commitment to the parish.
I wonder if successive generations would remain more faithful to the practice of our faith if parents were to make visible the sacrifices they make in support of the Church, a living example for children to know how to pick up where previous generations left off. Where your treasure is, there will your heart will also be. Children watch.
Maybe it was because my grandparents were first and second generation Americans of immigrant families. They had a keen sense that the only success of the Church would be due to their support. In this new country, they realized, there would be no benevolent ruler to build new versions of all the beautiful, old churches they knew in the “old country” and maintain them.
Or, if you visit Central and South America, you’ll find the same remarkable churches from previous centuries. But with the wave of dictators and 150 years of freemasonry which has sought to destroy the Church in these countries, confiscating properties and murdering, straining faith communities financially to the breaking point, the Church is largely now controlled by the government as a “service” to the people. Salaries, buildings, maintenance and community development are all subsidized by the government. At least, this was my experience studying several summers in Mexico and working two years in the Dominican Republic. There is not the direct correspondence between the Sunday Offertory and the survival of the parish in those countries as there is here.
What can we do to restore the Church as the heart of the community and the center of peoples’ family life?—or is this even an ungrounded, idealized, sentimental vision of a past based on pictures of big, fancy churches and pious stories of pay, pray and obey. Maybe we need to quit looking at the past: What we have now, Where are we now?
What do we have now? What if we remove the word “restore” in our question and replace it with the word “build”? What can we do to build the Church as the heart of the community and the center of our family life?
This is where your office as lay people becomes so important. Show your children how to be faithful, and talk about these things where there is silence, contribute in the conversation. Let’s build up.
God bless you.