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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.

Announcements ~ 1 March 2020

fleur cross logo Next week FORTY HOURS begins on Sunday, with Sung Evening Prayer at 7pm, followed by our first Lenten Series Talk by Dr. Kim Belcher (see p. 6 for details).  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 Each and every registered family is asked to support the work of the Catholic Church in the annual Bishop’s Lenten Appeal. If you have not already done so, please consider making a pledge to this important appeal that funds many programs and ministries that serve the people in our diocese. 

fleur cross logo Saint Bernadette’s winter food drive for the St. Lucy Project is the weekend of March 7/8. Blue grocery bags with lists of needed items will be distributed after Masses on February 29 and March 1. The St. Lucy Project partners with food banks in our diocese to distribute food to those in need. Please pray for the success of the food drive and help by filling one or more bags with needed items and returning it the weekend of March 7/8.

Fr. Don's Weekly Letter ~ 1 March 2020

Dear Good People of Saint Bernadette,Dear Good People of Saint Bernadette,


Usually at the beginning of Lent we try to plan what might be possible for penitential practice and spiritual growth, and look around to consider what might be the best options.  I thought this year I might suggest a plan that is easy to do, and all of it is offered right here at Saint Bernadette.

RECIPE FOR LENT

I.  PRAYER AND FORMATION
In a large bowl combine, and mix on a low speed:
- one to six Friday night gatherings for the Stations of the Cross or pray the Stations weekly on your own;
- our parish Penance Service for Lent, Tuesday, March 31;
- one or two extra Masses for our parish Mission, March 9-10;
- one to three talks on being rooted in Baptism, Eucharist and the Liturgy, March 8-10;
- Wednesday nights, ALPHA Lenten Series;
- Taize prayer on March 23;
- a daily examination of conscience at the end of the day:  what did I do today that I would like/need to change tomorrow?  Ask God for help.
- a pinch of daily Mass if possible.

Religious practice may be seasoned perfectly when we intentionally arrive a little early for Mass to prepare with private prayer, and pause for prayer after Mass in thanksgiving - or observe silence after Mass so others might pray if they wish.  For this reason in Lent we do not sing a recessional hymn, to promote the power of silence and prayer.

II.  FASTING
While the above ingredients are blending, prepare the following ingredients on the side as accompaniments:
- meatless Fridays, one meal and no snacks on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday.  (Optional fasting days known to you alone are one of the most powerful ingredients for spiritual growth);
- Soup Suppers eaten in community all Fridays, 6:30pm;
- moderate portions at every meal (and, if you can, leave the last mouthful on the plate as a reminder of spiritual discipline).

III.  ALMSGIVING
- pick up two blue bags this Sunday for the Saint Lucy Project and return them filled with food for the poor next weekend;
- drop your loose change (or cash) in a CRS Rice Bowl each night for those suffering from global events served by Catholic Relief Services;
- the Bishop's Lenten Appeal - if you have not already given, this is what it is for.  Giving benefits you as much as it helps the person who receives your contribution.

Really, there is no need to reinvent Lent, that is why we include all these activities in our parish life during the season.  Please, take advantage of them.

Also, however, it is too easy to make the season all about me, when it is a time to be journeying together to the beautiful Mysteries of Christ which are to come Holy Week in the passion, death and resurrection of Jesus.  When considering all of these things, consider finding a companion to experience Lent with.  It is most ideal if we do these things as a family, but many don't have the blessing of family around them.  When we are alone and lonely we most often give up on the good intentions with which we enter the season.  

Invite others into your hopes for the season, and ride to church together.  It is shown that when faith is shared, faith grows many times greater and faster than when we are trying to slog it out by ourselves.  "Many hands make light work," I think I have heard it said.  Since liturgy is literally our most important work, let's enter into it together, fully aware of our belonging to and important place in this community.

Finally, we should remember that Lent originally evolved as a season for the preparation to receive the Sacraments of Initiation: Baptism, Confirmation, Eucharist.  It is a time when we are spiritually supporting and accompanying those who are in our RCIA program and preparing for the Easter Sacraments, and a time of powerful reflection on the gifts we have received in these sacraments.  Have we lived up to our baptismal commitments?  Have we, ourselves, even committed personally to the fact of our baptism, or was it just something our parents did for us?  Remember, God has no grandchildren, only Sons and Daughters.  Take advantage of this time for that daily examination of conscience and get to confession early in the season or take advantage of our Parish Penance Service on Tuesday, March 31.  That last week of Lent won't be a great option for confession as there are only two of us and we will most likely run out of time.  Now it the time:  make your plan for a powerful Lent.

God bless you.

Announcements ~ 23 February 2020

fleur cross logo It’s time for each and every registered family to support the work of the Catholic Church in the annual Bishop’s Lenten Appeal: “Steadfast in Faith and Joyful in Hope.” Please prayerfully consider making a pledge to this important appeal that funds many programs and ministries that serve the people in our diocese. Commitment Weekend IS THIS WEEKEND at all Masses. Your generosity is what makes our Church’s response possible.

fleur cross logo Please join us tomorrow, Monday, February 24 28 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 ALPHA Lenten Friends: Small Groups Program. This year we have will introduce/reintroduce the ALPHA program for adults as our Lenten Small Group Series. The program is scheduled to begin Wednesday 26 February and runs through 22 April. A signup sheet is available in the church vestibule or visit our online registration at https://www.stbernpar.org/alpha. If you have any questions, please free to contact Kara Lilly at klilly@stbernpar.org or Rick Caporali at rcaporali@stbernpar.org. 


fleur cross logo Saint Bernadette’s winter food drive for the St. Lucy Project is the weekend of March 7/8. Grocery bags with lists of needed items will be distributed after Masses on February 29 and March 1. The St. Lucy Project partners with food banks in our diocese to distribute food to those in need. Please pray for the success of the food drive and help by filling one or more bags with needed items and returning it the weekend of March 7/8.

Fr. Don's Weekly Letter ~ 23 February 2020

Dear Good People of Saint Bernadette,


This weekend before Lent begins I was wondering what I might write to inspire you to take this season seriously for the spiritual power it can provide for you.  Most of the time I believe we can forget to pay attention and so many opportunities are missed.


As I write this we're still on pilgrimage.  In fact, we just arrived in the Jerusalem area this afternoon and celebrated Mass in Bethany at the house of Lazarus, Martha and Mary.  Tomorrow we will visit the Mount of Olives, the Garden of Gethsemane, the Upper Room of the Last Supper, the place on Mount Zion where Mary's Assumption into heaven is commemorated, and visit the house of Caiaphas under which is the cistern where Jesus was held prisoner the night of the Last Supper and his agony in the garden, before the Friday of his Crucifixion.  Thursday we will walk the Way of the Cross, where Jesus walked, was crucified, died, and rose from the dead.


Each time I come here (maybe even a dozen times now) I have a new realization.  This time it is hitting me pretty hard that all of this is real.  You might say, "Well, that is strange coming from a priest..."  It isn't that I don't believe all of this is real, but it takes on a new dimension when you actually experience the places where they happened.  A couple of strong realizations I had this trip include when we visited the grotto where the angel Gabriel announced to Mary that she was to be the Mother of God.  Her neighbor Joseph, her betrothed, lived in his own cave just up the hill from Mary's family.  His cave is under today's church of Saint Joseph:  you can visit it.  I realized that this was the cave where Jesus lived all those hidden years for which there is no account of his life in the Gospels.  It occurs to me that we don't really know what those years might have been like, but we know where he lived...


Another example is a new place I had never been before today.  After Mass in Bethany, we visited the tomb of Lazarus.  No one doubts that this one is the real deal.  It has a more modern entrance, about 30 really steep stairs that go way into the ground.  Once at the bottom there is a kind of "vestibule" room.  On the end of this room is an entrance you literally have to crawl through to come into the smaller space where Lazarus was actually buried.  Tradition explains that Jesus went into the tomb vestibule and called Lazarus from the smaller adjoining room to come out.  A bunch of us were in the tomb, just soaking in the fact that Jesus was there in the next room calling to us who were in the smaller burial chamber.  Amazing.


The reason all this is important is that I have found that many of our people, especially our young people, are honestly surprised when they begin to learn that all these places actually exist.  They are real.  Faithful people venerated all of these places from the very first years unceasingly.  When Saint Helena arrived around 325 AD all she had to do was go to all the places where people had never stopped praying.  She built the Byzantine churches which cover the Holy Land, whose foundations were built upon by the Crusaders in the great building age of the 1100s.  We have never not known that these were the places where Jesus was born, worked miracles, called disciples, proclaimed the Good News and offered himself for us and for our salvation.  It is too much to take in in one visit.  Every time you come back you discover more as the Mystery of Christ unfolds in real time and space.


It would be far harder to prove that these hundreds of sites are not the real deal.


So here's how this works in Lent.  Consider yourselves pilgrims on this journey of Lent.  Travel lightly: we don't need even a small part of all the baggage we are carrying.  Make small sacrifices along the way and ask God to help you lighten the load and travel more easily.  Along the way, pay attention.  Don't just look for the things you must find for survival or to satisfy something that you don't fully comprehend.  Look for what is real around you.  It might be a place where Jesus actually walked, or it might be the same stars, the same sunset sky that he also saw day after day.  Our earth is holy because he made it and placed us in charge, but also because he entered into it as one of us.  All water is touched by him, all lands.  Take the time to pause frequently and catch your breath if you need to, or just look around for something you may have overlooked up to today.  It might be traveling companions we need to appreciate more, or situations when we might be able to assist others with the journey.  There was a lot of desert in the lives of the Israelites, John the Baptist and Jesus before the public phase begins and the promised land can be entered at the end of our wandering.  Trust in God, and ask him to assist your journey.  Place your life in his hands, because he is trustworthy and loves you completely.


My photos are on Twitter and Instagram @frdonrooney.


God bless you

Announcements ~ 16 February 2020

fleur cross logo It’s time for each and every registered family to consider how they plan to support the work of the Catholic Church in the annual Bishop’s Lenten Appeal: “Steadfast in Faith and Joyful in Hope.” Please prayerfully consider making a pledge to this important appeal that funds many programs and ministries that serve the people in our diocese. Commitment Weekend will be February 22-23 at all Masses. Your generosity is what makes our Church’s response possible.


fleur cross logo Lent begins a week from Wednesday!  You will find a complete schedule for Lent in next week's bulletin.


fleur cross logo ALPHA Lenten Friends: Small Groups Program. This year we have will introduce/reintroduce the ALPHA program for adults as our Lenten Small Group Series. If you are a small group facilitator or would like to become one, please plan to join us on February 19 at 7pm in the Bradican Room in the Parish Office to learn more about the program or please see page 8. 


fleur cross logo St. Bernadette’s winter food drive for the St. Lucy Project is the weekend of March 7/8. Grocery bags with lists of needed items will be distributed after Masses on February 29 and March 1. The St. Lucy Project partners with food banks in our diocese to distribute food to those in need. Please pray for the success of the food drive and help by filling one or more bags with needed items and returning it the weekend of March 7/8.


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. If public schools are closed, our school is closed and all activities on the campus for that day and evening are canceled.  Check the parish website for weekend announcements regarding cancellations. You may also call the Parish Office for a recorded message. Please take this policy into account when scheduling use of Parish facilities during winter months.

Fr. Don's Weekly Letter ~ 16 February 2020

Dear Good People of Saint Bernadette,Dear Good People of Saint Bernadette,


Last fall the Diocese of Arlington published our own Norms for the Celebration of Eucharist to be observed by all parishes.  The good news is, we are pretty much already doing everything as required.  I was glad to finally see in print a policy that officially allows both boys and girls to serve at Mass, that says that standing is the proper posture for the reception of Holy Communion, and that women are welcome to serve in the roles of Lector and Extraordinary Minister of Holy Communion.  For most places in the world these are taken for granted, but have been a source of controversy in our diocese for many years.


There are, however, a few points which probably require some further discussion.  One of them has to do with the practice of coming up at Communion time and requesting a blessing.  The document says,


"The practice of ministers of Holy Communion imparting a blessing on those who come forward but who do not receive Communion is nowhere indicated in the liturgical books of the Roman Rite. Therefore, such practices—including verbal blessings, touching the forehead of an individual, and other gestures of blessing—are strongly discouraged for Priests and Deacons. Because lay persons cannot impart blessings in the context of Mass, Extraordinary Ministers are prohibited from imparting blessings and from enacting gestures that could be confused as a blessing. Alternatively, all ministers may indicate in a few simple words [a prayer for unity, or] that a blessing will be imparted at the conclusion of Mass, namely, the Final Blessing that is given by the presiding Priest" (77).


For many years we have offered this as a sort of alternative for receiving Communion—St. Pope John Paul II was the first to invite non-Catholics to come forward for a blessing since they could not receive Holy Communion—but I think the message here is that there is no real "substitute."  In my mind there needs to be a sense of hospitality in welcoming people to join the procession even if not able to receive (especially children preparing to receive First Holy Communion, or others due to consciousness of grave sin, non-members, or lack of marriage in the Catholic Church), but is a blessing the appropriate alternative?


A number of years back I was at a celebration of full communion between Episcopalian priests and Lutheran pastors, and the presider was a Lutheran liturgist I admire.  It seemed perfectly right to me, to go forward at communion time—not to receive communion, of course—but to ask for his blessing.  What he did was, for me, marvelous.  He paused.  Without any rushing, he began with "Let us pray."  And what followed was a beautiful prayer about how painful is the sin of our division, that we know this is not the will of God, and how we might spend our lives in God's presence with each other in prayer for unity and to do all we can to make this full, visible communion a reality among all the baptized.  


I sort of stood there for moment stunned by the beauty of what he just did.  Not just to settle for the next best thing, but to commit actively to doing everything we can to get ourselves back in communion.  You see, this could be because of either creed or sin:  either way, we are praying for reconciliation and unity.


For this reason, I ask that we ministers of Communion, priests and lay extraordinary ministers, instead of giving a blessing, say with profound gravity, "May we be one in God."  This is the text approved by the Diocese.
The blessing you would be asking for is the same blessing given at the end of Mass, anyway.  It isn't like you collect blessings.  The more the merrier.  Each blessing is unique for you as well as infinite, and two is not better than one.  Instead, at this moment of broken unity, we pray for the one thing that we desire, that we may be one in God.  Please look it up.  It is Jesus' desire on the night after the Last Supper and before he died (Jn. 17:21).  It is the prayer of Jesus.


While on the subject, it seems like we are getting many, many more requests for "special" blessings for people after Mass.  Again, this is (borderline?) superstition.  More is not better.  If you can explain to us how that second blessing is different than the one you received at the close of Mass (just minutes before), then we will consider it.  It seems to be a trend, like so many, which emphasizes the "specialness" of me over the election of our community as the people of God, the Body of Christ.  I am who I am only because of my identity in the people of God, which is filled with grace and blessing because of Jesus' presence, where two or more of us are gathered in his name.


Greetings from the Holy Land.  We are in Jordan this weekend. I'm tweeting. Follow me @frdonrooney.


God bless you,

 

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