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Masses and Weekly Announcements ~ Week of 29 March 2020

Community Mass for Friday of the Fifth Week of Lent

Community Mass for Thursday of the Fifth Week of Lent

Community Mass for Wednesday of the Fifth Week of Lent


Community Mass for Tuesday of the Fifth Week of Lent 

Community Mass for Monday of the Fifth Week of Lent


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fleur cross logo Times are uncertain but we rely on your offering to the weekly collection to continue parish ministries.  We humbly ask your continued financial support. We humbly ask your continued financial support.


fleur cross logo With the closure of Fairfax County Government Offices last Friday afternoon, our parish office is not physically open, but Kendra and Ivonne are standing by to await your call with calls forwarded to them at home.  Fr. Don is still in the office and between the three of them we can probably respond to your needs or connect you with the rest of our parish staff who are still working from home.  We are still here for you.


fleur cross logo Lenten LIVING STONES are back.  You are welcome to place a stone from the container to in front of the altar, symbolic of those you have already asked to return to the church, so that our whole community might be reminded to pray for them.  If supply is low, please be patient; we will bring more the next week.


fleur cross logo The Bishop’s Lenten Appeal is underway  and we are asking every household in our parish to support this appeal to the extent you are able.   BLA funds are restricted gifts that provide many programs, services and ministries that serve people in need, and may not be used for any other purpose. 


fleur cross logo Mass Intentions are still available and beginning next week we have Masses scheduled without intentions.  We have a form, which may be found on the Announcements page of the website, for you to make requests for Mass intentions.  Or, just call the office.  We are still answering the phone!

Fr. Don's Weekly Letter ~ 29 March 2020

Dear Good People of Saint Bernadette,


First, know that you all are in our prayers, daily Mass and everything we are offering up for each other during this Lenten season.  Somebody said to me a couple of weeks ago, "Don't worry about looking for Lent; Lent will find you."  Prophetic words, perhaps.  I have a feeling we are in for an extended Lent season this year.  But the resurrection will be amazing.


Hopefully by now you have heard about what we can still offer to help bring hope and consolation. Daily Mass, a recorded Stations of the Cross, a Taizé Prayer Service.  It is undeniable that God provides what we need and presents the possibility when the moment is right.  While all of this was unfolding last week and I had no idea how to move forward, suddenly God provided a solution.  Two of our alumni of Saint Bernadette School, Andy Carluccio and Jonathan Kokotajlo, offered to help.  They have turned our chapel into a holy recording studio with several cameras and the expertise to take the footage and edit it, producing a quality video.  I never considered all the different nuances of sound and light in video work.  We thank them not only for their generosity in giving so that the parish might still have our Mass, but also in their willingness to come to the parish when it is probably advisable to stay home.  They are preparing a way for us to continue recording Masses even when they many not be able to be here.


Bishop Burbidge prefers Masses to be recorded and released on the same day, which means that we will be able to provide a daily Mass online beginning at 8:30am on weekdays and Saturdays.  We will celebrate Sunday Mass for the parish online on Saturday afternoon and it will be available by 7:30pm.  Liturgies for the Sacred Triduum will be live-streamed (see page 6) and NOT recorded, so please tune in when it may be found on our parish Facebook page.


Confessions will continue outside. Also, David Mathers our music director will continue to produce weekly liturgy sheets which we will post online so you have a resource to follow along with at Mass, including readings and music.  Since the Government Center shutdown last Friday, we will determine hours be creative and see what we might do.


Remember ECHO.  People will be needing food now more than ever and ECHO is our most active feeding service in the parish.  Rather than dropping food off at the church as we have done with our Can-A-Week program, please take it directly to ECHO and they will pick it up from you at the curb.  Contact ECHO to learn their greatest needs and hours of operation at www.ECHO-inc.org.

~  ~  +  ~  ~

We know good can always come out of the darkest times.  Jesus is the light that dispels all darkness.  Now more than ever you must stay close to him in spiritual Communion.  One of the songs we sing in the Taize prayer service online says, "Dare to forgive and God will be with you.  God is forgiveness.  Love and do not fear."  Fear is the absence of love, and can happen when we have isolated ourselves and find ourselves feeling alone.  Be confident that the love of God floods your being, and our love being together multiplies that love and casts out fear.  But we must rely on one another, and together pray to God.  

I have already been hearing stories of how peoples' lives have changed in just one week—for the better.  Some people have said that they realize now that all the hectic things they had put in their lives may not have been so important after all.  They can see that family time is more important.  We needed to simplify.  Even our faith and God had been often pushed out of the calendar because we make ourselves busy.  When I have been out, I have seen families taking walks together, getting to know each other again. 


This will also reveal to us that so many things, so much stuff in our lives, really isn't necessary.  It is my deep desire that we will rediscover how great our faith practice is and how we may have been taking it for granted.  Sometimes we realize how much we desire something when we are deprived of it.


In the season of Lent, this is one of the reasons we practice fasting.  Fasting has long been a practice to ask God for the forgiveness of our sins as well as, as a people, to call upon God for deliverance.  I ask you to please consider choosing a day to fast.  I will be fasting on Fridays and perhaps we can be spiritually united in this ancient practice.  Also there are many rosaries and other devotions live streaming on Zoom and other social media platforms—join in.  I am very grateful that we have the internet as a way to continue coming together.  For the past week our community in the school and parish gatherings has taken on the appearance of Hollywood Squares or the Brady Bunch.  I have never been a fan of video conferences taking the place of face-to-face encounters, but when that is not possible, it is so, so great to see you online, for now.  I pray you stay cautious, healthy, and hopeful.


God bless you.

Announcements ~ 22 March 2020

We have received a few messages from people about how they can continue to support the parish during this difficult time. 

As many families go from paycheck to paycheck, that is pretty much the case for the parish as well, and we rely on your support.  Most of our staff are able to fulfill most of their duties by working remotely from home – as do our teachers and students – but their salaries rely on your weekly offertory and tuition payments. We are working to reduce utility and other expenses, manage our contractual obligations but we do need your help keeping our staff paid and the facilities running. We received several envelopes this past Sunday totaling $80.  We ask for your kind support. 

Please, if you are able, place envelopes through the mail slot at the front door of the parish office located at the top of the church steps and to the right or you are welcome to mail in your contribution.

All who have an email address and are not already enrolled in Faith Direct will receive an invitation for electronic giving from Faith Direct. You can enroll at any time using our church code VA70.

Please stay safe, and may we hold each other close in prayer.

 

 

fleur cross logo.Lenten LIVING STONES are back.  You are welcome to place a stone from the container to in front of the altar, symbolic of those you have already asked to return to the church, so that our whole community might be reminded to pray for them.  If supply is low, please be patient; we will bring more the next week.


fleur cross logo Instead of our monthly TAIZE prayer service on Monday, March 23 at 8pm in the church, you are invited to join us in prayer at our parish facebook page. Invite all your Christian friends to join us in this beautiful, peaceful ecumenical prayer service in the tradition of the Taizé Community in France.


fleur cross logo The office is still open for business as usual with limited on-site parish staff and shorter hours, 8:30am to 4:30pm.  We have had a challenge with our phone recording equipment (bad timing) but you can find our news online.  Don't forget, we are here for you.

fleur cross logo The Bishop’s Lenten Appeal is underway  and we are asking every household in our parish to support this appeal to the extent you are able.   BLA funds are restricted gifts that provide many programs, services and ministries that serve people in need, and may not be used for any other purpose. 


fleur cross logo Saint Bernadette Parish and School follows the Fairfax County School System regarding closing policy. At this time the school is closed for the foreseeable future and day and evening meetings and gatherings are either canceled or postponed.  Keep up to date on our website for developments.

Fr. Don's Weekly Letter ~ 22 March 2020

Dear Good People of Saint Bernadette,

The icon on the cover this week is called "Salus Populi Romani," literally Health or Salvation of the Roman People, an icon from the Byzantine period found by Saint Helena in Jerusalem in the 4th century. According to the oral tradition, it is one of the images painted of Mary by Saint Luke. I don't need to give all the details here, but this icon has always held a very privileged place in the life of Church.

Pope Francis went to pray at the patriarchial basilica Santa Maria Maggiore before this image asking the healing intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary last Sunday. " With his prayer, the Holy Father pleaded for an end to the pandemic that has struck Italy and the world. He also implored the healing of the many sick people, remembered the numerous victims of these past days, and asked that their families and friends might find consolation and comfort. His prayer intention was also extended to healthcare workers, doctors, nurses, and all those working in these days to guarantee the smooth functioning of society. The Holy Father returned to the Vatican around 5:30pm (Zenit).”

In 593 Pope St. Gregory the Great carried the icon in procession to stop a plague. In 1837 Pope Gregory XVI invoked her to put an end to a cholera epidemic.

Now is a time to pray, and to be care-ful. Take care of each other with a special patience and respect, and take care of yourselves, too, because we may be called upon to serve in a way we haven't known before. We have a lot of time with disrupted routines: make prayer a cornerstone of your new daily life. Join our community together at Mass online each day. With the help of generous St. B school alumni Andy Carluccio and Jonathan Kokotajlo, we have the ability to video Mass which we post on our parish facebook page (facebook.com/stbernpar) and also link to our parish website (click the "Announcements" button on the front page - www.stbernpar.org - and then find the link for the video on the next). You can find the latest of Bishop Burbidge's messages at the diocesan website, www.arlingtondiocese.org. We assure you of our prayers in this difficult time, and rely on yours, too. It seems like things were changing every 15 minutes there for a few days, and we have tried to keep as up-to-the-moment with you as possible.

Otherwise, all we can do is wait and see how long we will have this temporary way of life. Hopefully we will learn things to take forward with us after it is over. Up until now I have resisted video conferences. I have several everydays now and am grateful for this better way of staying connected. We have to keep our community together, and not isolate. We have to keep in contact with God more than ever, and know that together we are Body of Christ. There is strength in this: as I said last weekend in a reflection on our baptism, you have put on Christ. This is an armor, a new skin so that these worldly threats cannot penetrate your soul. So stay close to him.

The church is open for visits, but we still have to observe the 10 person limit at one time. Please honor this requirement.

God bless you.

Diocesan and Parish Updates for COVID 19

Bishop Burbidge has announced that all public Masses are canceled indefinitely.  All other gatherings have been canceled or postponed as well, as groups must be limited to 10 persons or less and we follow the Fairfax County Public Schools policy of closing our facilities.  We are still trying to figure out how to hold funerals, confessions, and other activities only allowing 10 people to be present.  Bishop asks that we try to understand the spirit that is behind the restrictions, to keep others safe as well as ourselves.  

A message from Fr. Don regarding the COVID-19

Dear Good People of Saint Bernadette,

We continue to pray for the health of everyone and the containment and resolution of this current health crisis.

Please know that we have been carefully watching developments and waited until after Fairfax County’s press conference took place this afternoon to see if there would be any changes in the way we are thinking of going forward.

Unless we receive word from Bishop Burbidge or local government that assemblies such as Mass are not allowed, we plan to continue as much as normal.  Emphasis must be placed that anyone, whether at risk because of age or health condition that would cause risk, is not expected to attend.  Bishop Burbidge gave a dispensation for the obligation to attend Mass to anyone who is 60 or over, has chronic illness or immune system deficiencies, as well as those who care for such persons.  Anyone who shows common symptoms of illness should avoid coming to Mass and parish activities until 24 hours after symptoms abate.  People who have doubts about whether or not they should self-quarantine should probably not be in close proximity with others.  Read the full statement from Bishop at www.arlingtondiocese.org.

I will work in the next couple of days to put together a parish Mass all can sign into via Zoom so those who need to stay home can still experience a connection with the Mass and community.  I’ll know more about this tomorrow.

If further closures are announced by Fairfax County Public Schools, we will follow their policies, as we always have.  That would mean that evening programs on the campus are canceled.  Catholic Charities has already canceled their programs in the diocese.

Prayer is always a good pastime. It looks like we may have some time on our hands in the coming days.  Prayer is powerful and this is a good time to ask for help.  It also is calming and will help in the long run since fear and anxiety can also compromise immune systems.

Stay well.  I will be back in touch soon. 

Fr. Don

Announcements ~ 15 March 2020

fleur cross logo Lenten LIVING STONES are back.  You are welcome to place a stone from the container to in front of the altar, symbolic of those you have already asked to return to the church, so that our whole community might be reminded to pray for them.  If supply is low, please be patient; we will bring more the next week.
 
fleur cross logo Please join us tomorrow, Monday, March 23 at 8pm for this month’s TAIZE Prayer Service. Invite all your Christian friends to join us in this beautiful, peaceful ecumenical prayer service in the tradition of the Taizé Community in France.
 
fleur cross logo Our Parish Penance Service will be Tuesday, March 31 at 6:30pm, a time that we will have at least sixteen priests (English and Spanish) who will be here for you. Please plan to come.  + Martes, 31 de marzo.  Unanse a nosotros para un servicio especial que incluye confesión individual rápida y absolución.  Favor mirar el boletín.
 
fleur cross logo The Bishop’s Lenten Appeal is underway  and we are asking every household in our parish to support this appeal to the extent you are able.   BLA funds are restricted gifts that provide many programs, services and ministries that serve people in need, and may not be used for any other purpose.
 
fleur cross logo Inclement weather policy: Saint Bernadette Parish and School follows the Fairfax County School System regarding closings for snow and other inclement weather. An announcement will be made even on Saturdays and Sundays because the school buildings are used for extracurricular and community activities on the weekends.

Fr. Don's Weekly Letter ~ 15 March 2020

Dear Good People of Saint Bernadette,

As I work on this article today, we are still in the middle of Forty Hours, our parish retreat and mission for Lent.  I remember when we were kids we would go to church at night sometimes during the week and the parish would have adoration of the Blessed Sacrament.  I always remember it as a kind of time that was different from other time.  It is time that stands, somehow, between the experience of God Visible and Invisible.  So far we are having a great Forty Hours this year.  I am grateful for the generosity of those who are coming to our evening talks and Masses, and all who have taken some extra time to simply come and be in the presence of God.  It has been a great time for peace and quiet.

If Jesus were sitting in a chair in your living room, you all probably would be paying attention, at least I would hope that all would recognize something incredible was happening.  But even seeing him as a man (with the only exception being what we saw last Sunday in his Transfiguration on Mount Tabor), there is still this suspense of imagination between seeing Jesus, an outwardly similar person as you or I, and the glory that lies within.  I like to think of that suspense of imagination as the doorway to faith.  It requires a humility and a willingness to allow, to receive, that which is not necessarily fully known to come to us and help us know more.  Our world, in many ways, has stopped listening and forgotten that to have faith, you have to have faith.

We enter today into a special, vital three-week cycle of the Word of God at Sunday Masses.  Pay attention!  The Third, Fourth and Fifth Sundays of Lent in Cycle A (as well as every year for the Masses where the assembly prays over those to receive the Easter Sacraments—this year, 11am Mass on the 15th, 9am Mass on the 22nd, and 11am Mass on the 29th) include the definitive texts of Jesus’ self-revelation, not only in his words but his actions as well.  These are the texts from the Gospels in which Jesus clearly reveals himself as the fulfillment of the Father’s plan, a plan which up to this point was a process of preparing humanity for conciliation with God in Jesus’ Person.

“Stooping down” (an image often used by Church Fathers in the first centuries to describe the Incarnation of the Son of God) to speak with a Samaritan and sinful woman, Jesus reveals God’s intention to go out to the peripheries and call back those who still thirst for God but may not even know it.  The water, as always, finds central place in God’s story of faithfulness and grace.  Jesus says to her, “I AM the living water,” life-giving water in the context of our desert lives.

Next weekend is an almost comical story of how confusion and blindness has caused everyone’s failure to understand even blindness itself.  Everyone is obsessed with whodunnit and who to blame for it that they have completely obscured the truth that Jesus has brought the light of life to not only the blind man who can now see, but has brought the opportunity of keen sight to all the rest who have chosen blindness instead.  Jesus says to him I AM: “You have seen him, the one speaking with you is he.”

In two weeks on the Fifth Sunday of Lent we listen, astounded.  When the Gospel is proclaimed in two weeks, put down the missalette and just listen (this should be the case all the time...).  Imagine that you are hearing this story for the first time, and grant yourself a child-like innocence that what you are hearing is the “Gospel-Truth.”  Not only because it really happened, of course, but also because it is so shockingly unbelievable.  It seems that Jesus waits for his friend’s death to happen so that he could be the one to restore his life, knowing that there were those nearby who were close to killing him.  He calls forth Lazarus from the tomb.  To Martha he says, “I AM the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, even if he dies, will live.”  She replies with her “I believe.”

The all-caps of “I AM” is emphasis which I have placed on the texts included here.  But I don’t think it is a stretch to assume that Jesus, when he said these words, was aware of the words he spoke to Moses two millennia before in the burning bush.  Moses asked the voice in the bush, whom shall I say sent me?  The Voice said, “I AM WHO AM.  Tell them I AM sent me.”  The flame which naturally would be destructive as well as giving light and warmth, did no harm to the bush, but enlightened the mind of Moses and warmed his heart to do the will of I AM.  The visible revealed a much deeper invisible reality.  Moses led the people of God through the water of death to a first covenant with God.

God’s terrible and unfathomable Being is somehow contained in frail humanity without doing it any harm:  we spoke of this at the Annunciation of Mary and the Nativity of the Lord last year.  We have come far as God’s people by his grace.  He now calls us through the water of life, baptism, to a New Covenant, his Blood which will be poured out for the forgiveness of sin.  “Do this,” he says, “in memory of me.”

God bless you.

Announcements ~ 8 March 2020

fleur cross logo FORTY HOURS begins this evening with Sung Evening Prayer at 7pm, followed by our first Lenten Series Talk by Dr. Kim Belcher (page 9).  All are asked to sign up for hours or half hours of adoration during the nights and days between Monday evening and Close of Forty Hours with Benediction on Tuesday evening at 8:30pm.  Sign up sheets are available in the vestibule of the church.  Consider signing up a time for your parish ministry or group to come and pray together before the Blessed Sacrament.  Take advantage of the talks, Morning and Evening Prayer, and Masses offered during this time of our annual parish retreat of forty hours of adoration.

fleur cross logo Lenten LIVING STONES are back.  You are welcome to place a stone from the container to in front of the altar, symbolic of those you have already asked to return to the church, so that our whole community might be reminded to pray for them.  If supply is low, please be patient; we will bring more the next week.

fleur cross logo The Bishop’s Lenten Appeal is underway  and we are asking every household in our parish to support this appeal to the extent you are able.   BLA funds are restricted gifts that provide many programs, services and ministries that serve people in need, and may not be used for any other purpose. 

fleur cross logo Inclement weather policy: Saint Bernadette Parish and School follows the Fairfax County School System regarding closings for snow and other inclement weather. An announcement will be made even on Saturdays and Sundays because the school buildings are used for extracurricular and community activities on the weekends. Please take this policy into account when scheduling use of Parish facilities during winter months.


Fr. Don's Weekly Letter ~ 8 March 2020

Dear Good People of Saint Bernadette,

The topic on everyone's mind which is growing greater each day is the spread of the coronavirus.  For a while we hoped that it would not find its way too nearby, but as I write this column we already have several cases in Maryland.  The conference I'm co-chairing in Houston in a few weeks has lost our keynote speaker because he will not be able to travel here from Rome.  I'm hoping the entire conference is not canceled.  As we begin to feel the effects, our hearts go out to all those who have been suffering from the illness as well as the loss of loved ones, and we pray for the skills of scientists and doctors to develop a vaccine quickly.

Bishop Burbidge sent a message to priests last week in response to people who had contacted him with concerns.  He encouraged us to exercise common sense in responding to the many opinions and instructions that we are receiving from various parishioners.  I have learned again that we are very rich in opinions!  But I do think it is time that we make some adjustments in the way we celebrate Mass.

For a time we will suspend the practice of Communion under both forms.  During regular times and even flu seasons we have not suspended this practice, because everyone is free to choose whether they wish to receive from the Cup or not.  Eucharistic Ministers, however, do not have a choice and I do not want them to be unnecessarily exposed to this virus.  Once it seems contagion has subsided, we will resume the practice of Communion under both forms.

I would also like to make the suggestion during this time of contagion that you consider receiving Communion in the hand.  At every Mass the Eucharistic Minister gets licked on the fingers, resulting in a situation where something could be passed very easily, certainly to the next person who licks, but also on everyones' Hosts.  This is not a requirement, just a consideration that I am asking of you.

We are not going to cancel the sign of peace.  I know many parishes have, but I suspect there may be more of an reason there than simple public health.  You have the choice now of how to extend a sign of peace to those around you; it doesn't require physical contact.  From the altar it looks like everyone is spread out and just waving at each other already.  I suggest one possible, very nice, reverent exchange of peace is a slight bow to one another and a quiet greeting.  

We have discussed back and forth about the purchase of hand sanitizer stations at the doors of the church.  The demand of keeping them stocked is unrealistic, as they would constantly need to be filled, unsupervised children everyday would be into them.  And we can't risk being blamed for someone getting the virus because our dispensers were empty.  Everyone needs to be vigilant about hand washing and sanitizing all the time, and we are only one hour in your week.  If this is a concern, please consider bringing your own hand sanitizer to church (BYOHS). We probably should all be carrying a small bottle with us wherever we go.

~  ~  ~  ~

As we begin the season of Lent, it occurs to me that we need to reshape our culture to be a culture of mutual respect. The Truth must be our mission, it is hard to find today.  It seems that everyone (even "Church" people) have a license to say whatever they want and claim its true.  Especially with the unaccountability of being anonymous on the internet, it is possible to talk about each other and make public statements without even knowing the person we might be excoriating.  The Truth is still the Truth even if we have decided we know everything and don't agree.  Every once in a while you come across the raw hate and ugliness out there and it takes your breath away.

I remember learning in school about what it means to bear false witness.  We were told it is like going to the top of a tall tower and ripping open a feather pillow on a windy day.  You never get to take back words or undo the damage of your words, even if they are true.  We must be very careful with the reputation of others.  Even if that reputation doesn't fit our expectations, it is necessary to find in ourselves the mercy that will allow that person to change, if needed.   

It was refreshing to be in the Middle East where the news actually included world events and developments that were not overshadowed or shaped by opinion or self-interest, or American politics.  It was refreshing to learn about something other than campaigns and criticism.  It was nice to be in a place (ironically, the Middle East) where everything you heard was not said through a filter of "us and them." 
Ultimately, it is unity and mutual respect, even reverence, that the Lord requires, to act justly, love mercy and walk humbly with your God.  It is easier, I think, than we believe.  This is a good starting point in Lent.

God bless you.

 

Adoration


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