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Announcements, 8 January

Religious education classes will resume on January 8-10, 2017. All RE candidates for Confirmation (8th grade and up) are invited to attend our Confirmation retreat with NET Ministries on Monday, January 16, 2017. More information will be distributed to families.

The Deanery Mass welcoming our new Bishop Michael Burbidge has changed. We will host the Mass for the deanery on Monday, January 23 (not the 19th).

All parishioners are invited to pray for our Confirmation candidates, both from RE and from St Bernadette School, who will be confirmed this coming spring. Archbishop Timothy Broglio will celebrate the Mass of Confirmation on Thursday, May 11, 2017, at 7:30pm.

St. Bernadette Parish 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 the use of Parish facilities especially during winter months.

Fr. Don's weekly letter, 8 Jan

Dear Good People of Saint Bernadette,

Tomorrow with the Baptism of the Lord we observe the end of this short Christmas season, short as the calendar will allow! So much has happened this Christmas, so many beautiful, joyful gatherings and celebrations, so much goodwill and kindness. Again, I want to offer my words of gratitude to all our ministers who, by their art or their service, have made this season so remarkable. To our decorators, our musicians, our singers and servers, our greeters and ministers of Word and Sacrament, staff and volunteers, thank you!

Baptism is the perfect culmination of all that has gone before this Christmas season—incarnation, family, announcement of God’s plan of salvation—because in Baptism we become sharers of all these Mysteries. Not just so that we can claim them, but that they can now live in us. Baptism is at once the high point of our life, the greatest gift we can receive (I sometimes tell parents of babies being baptized that it is all downhill from here...), a new identity as members of God’s family and heirs to heaven, the dwelling place of the Holy Spirit—but it is also the doorway to life, full initiation in the Church, the beginning of a new reality that we are in Jesus. Life starts here, for saints.

I was surprised to hear a protestant pastor friend of mine tell me recently that he only recently realized that we Catholics would not rebaptize any of his people if they were to become Catholic. He had not been aware that our Church recognizes any Baptism as valid that uses the flowing of water, the name of the Father, Son and Spirit, and has the intention of the Church for the gift of salvation. Most Christian churches still would rebaptize Catholics if they were to go there.

It points to a fundamental misunderstanding we might have of Baptism. Baptism isn’t a function of Canon Law (although its proper administration is guaranteed by Church law requirements) or even an invention of the Church. It is an utterly free gift of God, his desire to share his life, his intervention in the time and space of creation to call us back by the sharing of his Spirit. There is no way we could limit it or control it, claim it for our own. We don’t deserve it any more than anyone else. The gift of faith is given to all who ask.

So to realize that all the Baptized are equally baptized—equally sharing in the life of God as brothers and sisters in one family, called to holiness and new life—well, it might change the way you look at other Christians who are outside the self-defined limits of churches. The unity of Baptism is the greatest and undeniable reality of who we are as one Body, even before we come to the inevitable controversies of governance, orders, Eucharist, marriage issues and the like. It is true that what unites is far greater than the things that might still divide.

I was privileged to be present a few years back as an agreement on Common Baptism was signed by the Catholic Church and the Reformed Churches (Presbyterian Church USA, Disciples of Christ, United Church of Christ, Reformed Church in America). For the first time there was a public, ratified document that said that we observed the validity of each others’ Baptism so long as the proper form was followed and the intention was there. Up until that point, we had recognized their Baptism, but they had not recognized ours. Small accomplishments like this can help us to see that God’s hand is still active in varied ways in the lives of the Church. At every Mass, you would be surprised if you actually counted the number of times that we acknowledge the mercy of God and ask for his gift of Unity for his people.

Baptism is the richest and most compelling topic of conversation that we can have with our Christian brothers and sisters in learning more about each other and finding opportunities to come together in prayer and service.

With Baptism, of course, comes the treasures of faith, hope and love that shape us according to the heart of Jesus. Without these supernatural virtues we would not understand God’s will for us—even as much as we do. To grow in our faith, to live in hope and to be guided by the love of God is something that can’t happen until we gain a healthy and profound understanding of the power of the Baptism that we have received.

The whole idea of an event of being "born again" is not familiar to us as with some other churches, because the Baptism we have already received is something we must seek to live out in every moment of life, not just once-for-all, as Sanctifying Grace continues to form us and shape us to know and love God and each other more each day.

God bless you.

Fr. Don Rooney

Announcements, 1 January

Next Saturday don't miss our exciting all-ages event, Worship Night with Sean Feucht, on January 7. You can get tickets and info at

Religious education classes will resume on January 8-10, 2017. All RE candidates for Confirmation (8th grade and up) are invited to attend our Confirmation retreat with NET Ministries on Monday, January 16, 2017. More information will be distributed to families.

The Deanery Mass welcoming our new Bishop Michael Burbidge has changed. We will host the Mass for the deanery on Monday, January 23 (not the 19th).

Fr. Don's weekly letter, 1 January

Dear Good People of Saint Bernadette,

It’s Christmas night as I’m writing this bulletin letter, and we’ve finished the first day of the Octave of Christmas. For the past seven days, as you read this, the Church will have been celebrating Christmas Day.

The idea of an Octave is unique to Christianity, and it is applied to the two great feasts of Easter and Christmas, when the Church is celebrating the pivotal Mysteries of Christ which have changed everything.

Many people may not have even wondered about it before: why do you think that we can begin the celebration of a solemnity (Sunday, for example) with a Vigil Mass the night before? This idea comes from the shabbat (Sabbath) celebration of Judaism, when the Jewish people believe that the Lord, in his rest on the seventh day (Saturday), is so present in their celebration that the mere 24-hour day observance cannot contain him. The enlarged day begins at dusk the evening before.

For this reason we, too, observe Vigils on Sundays, and days like Christmas Eve, All Hallows Eve the night before All Saints’ Day (October 31), and most of all the great Easter Vigil of the Resurrection of the Lord. Attendance at a Vigil Mass is the same as attendance on the day itself, because it is the day which begins early.

For the great feasts, like Easter, the Church teaches that what Sunday is to the week, Easter is to the year. So days like Easter and Christmas, by their very observance, witness that the Presence of the Lord is too great to be contained even by a week’s time. The week is enlarged from seven days to eight, an octave of days.

There is, already in Christianity, an understanding that the Presence of Jesus Christ has taken the original seven-day week and extended it to a new Sabbath—for Christians, Sunday—so that the Christian week begins on Sunday and ends on Sunday (the "Lord’s Day"), symbolizing Christ, whose Unity is both Alpha and Omega. The Eucharist we celebrate on the Lord’s Day is both Source and Summit of our life; God creates on the first day, and after the original rest, acts again and recreates on the eighth day, thus renewing, restoring, and bringing back to life that which is dry, or lost, or dead.

Sunday was known in patristic writings as "the eighth day." For this reason Christians have been called "People of the Eighth Day," and the Octave represents the fullness of time in Christ.

Therefore, this year, the Octave of Christmas continues through this Sunday, Today. Merry Christmas! But that is still not the end of the Christmas Season: Christmas continues through the feast of the Baptism of the Lord—this year celebrated on Monday, January 9.

. . . . .

Our thoughts now turn to the new calendar year. It is my prayer for all of you that the Presence of Christ in our experience of this new time might transform our lives into the fullness of time for each and for all. May we grow together spiritually and as a community; may our dreams come to fruitfulness and may we commit to help one another attain them; may we be people who turn more and more away from ourselves and toward God and each other, seeking to help, encourage, heal and build up. We see so many examples everyday how destructive people can be to one another: consider an equal or even greater potential we hold in our hearts to be people of mercy and love, reconciliation and peace. So may this year be for all of us.

And let us be people of thankfulness. I am grateful to all of you who have stepped forward in friendship and given me so good a welcome here at a new home. To all who give so freely of themselves in service, who power the many ministries already underway, and those who will build new ministries and bonds in our community in the year to come. I am grateful for our hardworking parish staff—your parish staff—who have jobs because you support Saint Bernadette.

I am especially thankful to all those who made our Christmas liturgies this year prayerful and beautiful, who led our hearts in worship of the invisible God, now visible in Jesus: priests, ministers of Communion, servers, readers, musicians, ushers and decorators. The symphony comes together in one beautiful sound from the many parts who make their own small but necessary contribution. So may our parish family be in the coming year, church and school, as we grow together.

God bless you.

Fr. Don's Weekly Letter, 25 December

Dear Good People of Saint Bernadette,

That night was, by all accounts a cold night and people were seeking shelter. Everyone is uprooted like you, making the arduous journey from Nazareth over rough terrain through unsafe lands to make your way back to the place of your ancestors. You must be counted in a census required by the occupying soldiers of the Roman Empire. You try to get just a little farther, though darkness and cold is falling, to get to Bethlehem. Arriving late, there is no place left to stay. You are frustrated because you want to protect and provide a safe night for your wife. Or, you are wondering where this is going: is that a contraction that you just felt, here in the middle of nowhere? Is it time for this baby? Am I ready?

The air of the cave is damp and full of the smells of the nearby animals. Seems like an unlikely way for God’s plan to unfold, from our perspective today. There in that cave nobody knew exactly what was happening, only that it was miraculous. The light, the peace, the angels and shepherds. Something remarkable is underway.

He will gather together all the nations starting with the two groups who surround him tonight: those who are looking for something (only God knows what) who daily risk the chance of not recognizing him even when he stands in front of them, and those who are not looking for him at all. At Jesus’ time there wasn’t a group of faithful who embraced his birth, nobody celebrated. Nobody knew it was happening, any more than they knew that the Incarnation of Jesus had already taken place nine months before when Gabriel appeared to Mary and told her that the child would be great and holy, and would be given the throne of David, his father, a Kingdom with no end. "How can this be...?"

Unfortunately the story, in history, can seem so distant and defined. It isn’t scientific, there isn’t a video of it you can pull up. Even though there are centuries of writings about this event that followed, the fact is that the earliest Gospel doesn’t even mention it. Its impact has grown in our awareness as we realize the effect of the full reality. It isn’t a thing, or a piece of evidence intended to be scrutinized by personal opinion. Jesus can’t be put into a neat package, even with the finest scholarship.

Even our language fails to grasp the full reality, though we try our best. When St. Jerome translated St. John’s word Logos (λογος) into Verbum, or Word, even here we failed to grasp the truth of the moment. Verbum, or Word, is a thing; "The Word became flesh" doesn’t capture the living teaching of the Gospel, because Logos is a word that involves one who gives that word, an agent who acts. A better translation might have been to say "The speaking became flesh." That way we would have a deeper understanding of what happens, how the ongoing action of God is what became us.

God, who is not limited by time and space, is always speaking the Word, the Word is always being begotten, the Word is always becoming flesh, we are always being transformed by the Pentecost Spirit, the Last Supper and Cross always and for ever extends to all moments in history. It isn’t as easy to understand as science. The "Today is born our savior" is a word that speaks to all time. Literally, Today.

The event of the Incarnation is, perhaps, most clearly the event that challenges us to look deeper into the reality of God who cannot be contained simply in the data of his creation.

The story continues to unfold today. Jesus continues to come into this same world where only he knows our potential for goodness and peace. He will come to those who don’t know him, he will come to those who are not looking for him at all. He will break into the noise of our world in silence, and he will bring about change. He will continue to touch souls, bring them back to God, and bring to his loving embrace all those who know nothing of him at all. He will bring peace.

Since we are a part of the story still unfolding, we have a role in this plan, a real, concrete role. Something is lost if you do not do something about it. The fact of this role does not depend on your doubts or even in how unlikely this seems, or how unworthy you might feel. Jesus chooses you Today, he becomes you, he begins the possibility of living Communion with you, and calling you to be the fullness of your created being as a person made in his image. He is love, he loves you.

Enter into this mystery of life and our being called together to act in his love. May this great Feast of love and mercy touch our hearts and make us like he is, may our world together know his joy, and his peace.

God bless you, merry Christmas!

Fr. Don

Announcements of upcoming events

Mark your calendars!

December 19 (Monday): Parish Advent Penance Service, 7pm.

December 23 (Friday): Diocesan Simbang Gabi Mass with Bishop Burbidge and Reception, 7pm.

Be sure and check out our new parish website, and subscribe on the "Announcements" blog to receive late-breaking news.

December 24 (Saturday): Christmas Eve Masses at 4:30pm, 7pm (Spanish), 9:30pm and Midnight. Concerts will precede both the 9:30pm and Midnight Masses 45 minutes before Masses begin.

December 25 (Sunday): Christmas Day Masses at 8am, 9:30am, 11:15am and 1pm (Spanish). Please note, there is no 5pm Mass on Christmas Day.

The Deanery Mass welcoming our new Bishop Michael Burbidge has changed. We will host the Mass for the deanery on Monday, January 23 (not the 19th).

Fr. Don's weekly letter, 18 Dec

Dear Good People of Saint Bernadette,

Recently I met with a journalist who wanted to do some reporting on religion, in particular, what is happening in the community among churches and religious groups in a spirit of unity. Like so many young adults today, the value for unity was very clearly important to him, though he didn’t seem to have a religious affiliation, or much experience of who the churches are and why. Like so many people, he was confused by our lack of unity and involvement among churches, if Jesus really is at the center of who each of our communities is.

On the night before Jesus died for us, one of his last prayers to his Father (and he surely knows what needs to be prayed for, and what the Father will grant), "that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me" (Jn:17:21). If we are not one, the world will never believe in the integrity of a fractured group of followers whose lives don’t witness the Oneness of the God they claim.

Then he asked a more pointed question. "What exactly is different about the Catholic Church that sets you apart from all the other churches?  I realized that here is the problem, and we began to talk more about it. The problem is that we always go to this question first. What makes me different from every body else? How can I preserve and defend my piece of turf in this world? We seem to need this kind of security, so we define ourselves according to what or who we are not, rather than who we are. We do this without even thinking about it, in small ways that communicate a kind of unwelcoming spirit. For example, the bulletin when I came was a collection of "ads" all in boxes, fighting for attention. Those bulletin boards in the church vestibule are the same, a visual confusion, each one trying to be different. My favorite example is school uniforms. I tell students the reason for uniforms: if everyone is wearing individual fashions, all you see is the fashion; when students wear uniforms, ironically, you see faces. Churches are the same.

So I thought about this question for a bit, what makes the Catholic Church different, and this is what I came up with. The Catholic Church remains the starting point of all churches, from where all of them came before personality divisions started splitting the community. The personalities still claimed Christ, but really more their particular interpretation or brand of him. It surprises me that many people don’t realize that at one time everyone was Catholic... Denominationalism is so pervasive today that many people assume that the Catholic Church somehow split off from...what?

The Catholic Church remains the place where people can all return, because it still includes the sum total of everything that all churches together include. This is not to say, as the Church quickly says, that many gifts have not been learned since and the Holy Spirit has been alive in the community of all the baptized despite our divisions. Our failures can’t frustrate the will of God, he continues to act where hearts are open to his will.

But here is the jist of it, I think. The Catholic Church continues to name the holiness of God’s creation and the dignity we carry, not of our own merit, but because we are made in his image and likeness. Our realism with regard to Word and Sacrament compels us, still, to proclaim that, as God is holy, so is human life in every aspect: Life is holy. Marriage is holy. Our earth, as it is made by God as the place where we encounter him, is holy.

You are holy.

And that all of this was so important to God that he sent his own Son, a plan that was begun long before we even knew we needed him. According to our liturgical time, even now he has been in the womb of the Virgin Mary for nine months, unknown to us, waiting to experience the light of his creation as one of us. And the joys, and sorrows, and all. He is the one who has entered into all of it, and it, and we, are holy because God becomes Man so that what is human might be divinized.

Next week at Christmas Masses we will be giving everyone this card. May it be a reminder to you, if you need the reminder, or perhaps you might know someone to whom you could give it, someone who needs to remember it’s all about love.

God bless you.

Fr. Don


Father Don's weekly letter, 11 Dec

Dear Good People of Saint Bernadette,

On Monday of this week we listened to the Gospel of Luke (5:17-26), the story of the moment in time when Jesus is preaching to a packed house and nobody else can get near. People remove the roof and lower a paralyzed man into the presence of Jesus. It is pretty clear what they want: healing for the man whom they carry. But Jesus, seeing their faith, says to them, "As for you, your sins are forgiven."

I don’t think I ever realized before that Jesus is speaking to the people who bring the paralyzed man before him, not the man himself; I always just assumed Jesus was going to make this point about how forgiveness of sins is, actually, a greater miracle than making someone walk. We forget because the silence of forgiveness isn’t as flashy. But the text very clearly says Jesus saw their faith, and said, "As for you, your sins are forgiven." Then, in order to make his point to all who are present, he heals the paralyzed man.

When it comes to sin, I think we are very aware of guilt and pardon. A lot of people joke about "Catholic guilt" as if it is something unique to us. Guilt, actually, is a gift to anyone who is contrite, a great gift; without it, we would just continue to do the same things over and over with any sort of reflection and awareness of the weight of our actions. Guilt should not be confused with shame: it is the difference between guilt saying "I did something wrong" and shame concluding, therefore, "I am a bad person." Good people do bad things, and their goodness is what needs to be healed.

If however, we consider being reconciled with God as only a legal pardon, we might miss the complete point of absolution: "...Through the ministry of the Church may God give you pardon and peace, and I absolve you..." The peace which follows is as complete and as necessary as the pardon which restores us to our place, in relationship with God and the Church. Healing takes place.

If we were to focus as seriously on and truly appreciate the healing that takes place in reconciliation, we might be more vigilant in protecting and sustaining the wholeness that God gives to us. It is a miracle greater than any physical healing that we might desire.

One product of this healing is the exultation and rejoicing that we hear about in the season of Advent. Abundant water in the desert, rocky paths made smooth, the way of the Lord being made straight. Glory and splendor, strength and fearlessness. "Be strong, fear not! Here is your God, he comes to save you." Then, Isaiah says, the eyes of the blind will be opened, the deaf will hear, the lame will leap. People in silence will sing. This kind of healing fills us.

It is important to consider the goodness of those friends who lower the paralyzed man into the presence of Jesus so he can do his work. The paralyzed man is not the only one who is healed by their kindness. In fact, the unintended result that is their own far more profound healing comes as a result of their goodness. I wonder how many people are lying on stretchers—physically, emotionally, spiritually—waiting for us to open the roof?

This weekend we are challenged to find the joy in the midst of this waiting. The color rose is unique in liturgy, the color of rejoicing. We rejoice because we have seen the glory and splendor of the Lord, and we know that he continues to come and bring healing to his people. Let us be active in helping him.

* * * * *

I would like to direct your attention to our new website, if you haven’t already discovered it. I hope it helps us greatly improve the kind of communication that is so vital to a community. Some of the links are still under construction, even some of the linked documents are placeholders from work that we did at St. Mary which we will adapt for use here at St. Bernadette. I invite you to go and look around—there is a lot to see. The parish calendar, the archive of bulletins, my weekly homily are there, and all is finally compatible with mobile devices. The first thing you see in the WELCOME block is a link ("Announcements") which will take you to a blog where we will include the latest news of the parish, special schedules, upcoming events, important information.

Most of the links having to do with ministries and volunteers are yet to be developed, as we develop and begin to produce catalogues and rosters. All these will be added. You will find in the quick links at the bottom of the page direct access to many of the things you seek quickly, ministry schedules, etc.

We’ve been working on this for months, and are glad to say it is now up—still a work in progress, so your continued patience is greatly appreciated!

God bless you.

Fr. Don

weekly announcements

Mark your calendars!

December 8 (Thursday): Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of Mary, a holy day of obligation.   Vigil Mass, Wednesday, Dec 7 at 7:30pm;  Masses on Thursday Dec 8 at 6:30am, 9am (with School), Noon, 6:30pm and 8pm in Spanish.  You can also see Mass schedule in calendar.

December 12 (Monday): In honor of Our Lady of Guadalupe, we welcome the miraculous digital reproduction of the original tilma commissioned by St. John Paul II, for veneration in the church from Noon until evening Mass.

December 12 (Monday): Special bi-lingual Mass honoring Our Lady of Guadalupe, Patroness of the Americas and the unborn. Procession at 6:30, Mass at 7:30pm followed by reception in the cafeteria.

December 16 (Friday): School Christmas Pageant in church, 7pm

December 17 (Saturday): Simbang Gabi Mass and Reception, 7:30pm

December 19 (Monday): Parish Advent Penance Service, 7pm.  Please join us for this special opportunity with eight priests to prepare for the coming of Christ.

December 23 (Friday): Diocesan Simbang Gabi Mass with Bishop Burbidge and Reception, 7pm.

December 24 (Saturday): Christmas Eve Masses at 4:30pm, 7pm (Spanish), 9:30pm and Midnight. Concerts will precede both the 9:30 and Midnight Masses 45 minutes before Masses begin.

December 25 (Sunday): Christmas Day Masses at 8am, 9:30, 11:15 and 1pm (Spanish). Please note, there is no 5pm Mass on Christmas Day.

January 19 (Thursday): The Deanery Mass Welcoming our new Bishop Michael Burbidge will be hosted at St. Bernadette, reception following.

Father Don's weekly letter

Dear Good People of Saint Bernadette,

Did you know that in the earliest centuries of the Church the sacrament of reconciliation was, like the other sacraments, only allowed to be celebrated once in your lifetime? Yes, that’s right. Once.

It could be traumatic. The one who confessed their sins would have to do so publicly, before the entire assembly, confess and receive a penance from the confessor. Penances often lasted several years. You might have to sit in the dust for several years at the door of the church as people came and went to Mass, with ashes on your head.

You had only one shot at it. I imagine you would take it pretty seriously. Of course, guess until when everyone chose to wait to confess their sins? If you gambled it right, you could confess your sins with your dying breath, with all your wits about you, provided you had control over such variables. A risky game.

The heresies of the fourth and fifth centuries actually did sinners a favor. Church Councils, after much debate, decided to allow a second confession for those who had already confessed once, in the circumstance of a well-meaning person who had been misled to join a heretical sect, only realizing their mistake later. Mercy was extended finally for this, the only sin regarded as unforgiveable: apostacy.

The other thing that came to the aid of sinners was plague, strangely enough. Terrible waves of disease would sweep through continental Europe and not only the lay people would die. Over time the priests from Ireland populated the churches of Europe, because Ireland was not affected by plague. But in Ireland, the Church had developed differently from the Canonical Penance of the continent. Rather, they grew up in communities surrounding the monks and priests of the local church who often were responsible for not only the spiritual but social and economic life of society as well. What today we would call spiritual direction was common. And in the course of spiritual conversations, discerning the presence of God, the awareness of contrition and conversion developed into a practice of frequent confession that was confidential in nature.

Perhaps you have heard people say, “I don’t have to confess to a priest, I confess directly to God.” Perhaps you’ve said it yourself. But in the Tradition, the integrity of the Sacrament withstood the evolution of time. The vertical nature of confession to God is fulfilled by the alter Christus, Christ present in the priest through the sacrament of Holy Orders, but also the horizontal dimension of confession to the Church is also satisfied. You see, when we sin, it isn’t just between us and God at all; our sin damages each and every member of the Body of Christ whether we stop to realize it or not. Satisfaction, or forgiveness, must come from both dimensions in order for sin to be remitted: forgiven by God, forgiven by our brothers and sisters. Confession remains public, that is, out loud to a human representative of the Church, but done in such a safe way that absolute confidence demands it never need be known by anyone else.

I’m troubled that we seem to have few confessions at St. Bernadette, but people keep telling me that everyone is going to other churches for the sacrament. If that is true, we need to address the topic and figure out how we can better serve our parish in this way. This Advent we will have a parish Penance Service on Monday the 19th in the evening with guest priests, but I’m told that recently not too many people attend. At this point we won’t be able to add too much to the calendar, so please join us on the 19th.

There was something we tried last year at Saint Mary that was a little experimental, but hugely successful. Apparently people give up after they have been standing in line for too long for too many trips in a row, as people in front are seeking advice or counseling, or otherwise taking a long time. We tried a kind of “speed dating” approach: if you’re interested in coming, simply confessing sins, receiving penance and absolution quickly and with no discussion or direction this was for you. That night literally hundreds of people came, probably half of them not having been to confession for 20 or 30 years. Maybe we could try this, too.

Advent is often mistaken for a penitential season, like Lent. It is not. It is a time of preparing our hearts and homes for the coming of the Lord. If confessing sins is a necessary part of that process, then confession is a real part, but the focus isn’t on doing penance for penance’s sake, such as the fasting and almsgiving of Lent.

Simply because the sacrament became possible frequently, however, I don’t think it should become a form of maintenance. It must never become routine. Please, let’s realize the absolute gift that is the sacrament of reconciliation. If we don’t know God’s mercy in our lives we have no reason to be merciful people.

God bless you.

Father Don Rooney
Pastor, Saint Bernadette Catholic Church
Director, Office of Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs, Diocese of Arlington

7600 Old Keene Mill Road
Springfield, VA 22152
703-451-8576; mobile 703-309-8719



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