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Announcements ~ September 9, 2018

fleur cross logo RCIA begins September 10:  register now for The Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults. We welcome all who are interested in learning more about our Catholic Faith. If you or someone you know are seeking answers and might be thinking about joining the Catholic Church, call and register for the process in the parish office.
 
fleur cross logo All parents of children in 2nd Grade have a meeting with the Director of Faith Formation regarding their child’s preparation for 1st Reconciliation and 1st Communion on Thursday, September 13, at 7pm, in the school cafeteria.
 
fleur cross logo Parents of children in Faith Formation please note that classes will begin on September 9, 10, and 11. An email was sent this week with your child’s class, catechist’s name and contact information. If you did not receive this information via email, we will have class assignments for you at Door #13, the entrance to the school classrooms.
 
fleur cross logo St. Bernadette Choirs are welcoming new members. We have choirs for singers of all ages; three adult choirs in English and Spanish, Children’s Choir for 1st through 6th grade and, starting this fall, the re-launch of our Youth Choir for 7th through 12th grade. For more information see stbernpar.org/praying/music-ministry or contact Director of Music Ministries David Mathers at 703-451-8576 x112 or dmathers@stbernpar.org
 
fleur cross logo Knights of Columbus 5K Run/Walk at Burke Lake Park.Join us on September 15 for a 5K and cookout. See details on page 8.
 
fleur cross logo The U.S. bishops urge our participation each Friday in a nationwide Novena for the Legal Protection of Human Life, August 3-September 28. Participants will receive weekly email or text reminders to pray and fast, along with their useful info. Sign up at usccb.org/pray!
 
fleur cross logo Ministry Fair Weekend is September 22 & 23. Take advantage of our time to visit with ministry leaders and representatives outside under the tents about various ministries & choose one for your commitment this year. Bring your commitment card to Masses the following weekend, September 29 & 30.

Fr. Don's Weekly Letter ~ September 9, 2018

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You are a royal priesthood, a holy nation,
             the new People of God...
   for he has called you out of darkness
         into his own marvelous light.
                          1 Peter 2:9

 

 

Dear Good People of Saint Bernadette,
 
First of all, I want to welcome Doug Mills to the parish and school staff as Director of Development. He brings a great many gifts and we are very excited about what we will accomplish!
 
This past week we completed the Parish Renewal Handbook and Ministry Catalog for 2018 and sent it to the printer. It is our hope that you will receive it soon after September 9.
 
When you get the catalog, I ask that you use it prayer-fully to consider your place at Saint Bernadette. It is good to belong; it is better to belong and be involved!  Once again this year, I ask everyone to consider how they plan to grow in prayer, in service, and in giving to the parish or other charity during the coming year. If we don’t make concrete commitments, we usually just do whatever it was last year, or grow indifferent. The growth we want is living more deeply connected to God and his family. Our life of grace depends upon it.
 
The first part of the catalog has some texts (Sacred Scripture and other Church teachings) for your reflection and meditation. Read a little bit at a time, allow the thoughts to resonate in your memory. Most of us can go back to a time (I hope) when we lived our lives with the Church more at our center. Our world works very hard to draw us away from God and from each other, and convince us that the practice of faith (religion) isn’t as necessary or as important as we were taught as children. Unfortunately, too many people have bought the lie. Prayer and Sacred Scripture is something that we need every day. Making our “living sacrifice of praise” to God at Mass is not only required, it is the one thing that shapes us into Christ himself and makes us come alive. That life quickly begins to stagnate as soon as people stop coming to Mass to offer themselves to the Father in Jesus.
 
The second part of the catalog is a listing of all the ministries in the parish. You are asked to look through this section and prayerfully consider where God might be calling you to serve. Choose one. There is not a person that God is not calling to serve among his people. It might not be in the Church itself, it might be outside, at work, in the home. But the way he calls us is through the gifts we were given at Baptism. In this case, the Called and Gifted Workshop or something like it is so important, taking time to consider our life experiences and see where God was working through us:  those moments when we realize that we couldn’t have done that alone, it must have been God with us. Whatever gift you were working through at that time is the path God has for you, and you are invited to take that path not only to serve as Jesus serves, but to find fulfillment. Call the office if you might still be interested in the Workshop on the 15th, there may still be space. It is costly to invite national speakers to come and give the Workshop, and of the 50 people registered only 21 are parishioners from Saint Bernadette, so this will be the last time we host the Workshop in a while.
 
Choose your ministry for the coming year. You will have the added opportunity to speak with people already serving in all the various parish ministries under the tents in front of church before and after all Masses on the weekend of September 22-23. This year you will have the option to sign up directly with them at the tents. Give it a try—if it doesn’t bring you to life, if it becomes a chore, then that is not the ministry for you. The Church is not a place anymore where people respond to needs as volunteers. You must respond because you are called.
 
Finally, everyone is asked to prayerfully consider if the contribution they make to the Church is sincere. Our Sunday collections have stayed the same for seven years. Maybe it is time to consider giving more?  Costs have continued to increase, as always, and as we develop ministries and add the staff needed to bring our parish community and ministry to life, your support is needed more than ever. Please, give it consideration.
 
God bless you.
 

 

Announcements ~ September 2, 2018

fleur cross logo RCIA begins September 10:  register now for The Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults. We welcome all who are interested in learning more about our Catholic Faith. If you or someone you know are seeking answers and might be thinking about joining the Catholic Church, call and register for the process in the parish office.
 
fleur cross logo Religious Education Class Enrollment is NOW!  Registration forms are available in the Church Vestibule and Parish Office. For more information, please visit our website: stbernpar.org. Calling all Catechists! Please respond to the call to share your faith the youth of the parish, Catechist Meetings have already begun, please sign up soon.
 
fleur cross logo All our St. Bernadette Choirs are welcoming new members. We have choirs for singers of all ages,  including three adult choirs in English and Spanish, Children’s Choir for 1st through 6th grade and, starting this fall, the re-launch of our Youth Choir for 7th through 12th grade. For more information see stbernpar.org/praying/music-ministry or contact Director of Music Ministries David Mathers at 703-451-8576 x112 or dmathers@stbernpar.org
 
fleur cross logo Knights of Columbus 5K Run/Walk at Burke Lake Park. Join us on September 15 for a 5K and cookout. See details on page 8.
 
fleur cross logo Saint Bernadette is hosting a Called and Gifted Workshop on Saturday, September 15. For more information see page 9 or visit our parish website announcement page for online registration.
 
fleur cross logo The U.S. bishops urge our participation each Friday in a nationwide Novena for the Legal Protection of Human Life, August 3-September 28. Participants will receive weekly email or text reminders to pray and fast, along with ther useful info. Sign up at usccb.org/pray!

Fr. Don's Weekly Letter ~ September 2, 2018

Dear Good People of Saint Bernadette,
 
My dad sometimes would get frustrated with us,  his sons for having to repeat the same things over and over again.  Does this sound familiar?  But he would say that if you keep throwing mud at the barn, eventually enough will stick.
 
It is by repetition that we learn, isn’t it?  We revisit the same topics and situations throughout our lives and hopefully each time will be deeper, understood better, that the horizon will be wider.  So reminders are good, they keep us on track.  Even our liturgical year is cyclical, by its annual nature we revisit the Mysteries of Christ and come to know him more through them each year.
 
With the start up the school year, some of the teachers said we should have some reminders about proper practices that we observe when we attend Mass.  It occurs to me that this is something that might benefit more than only the students in the parish.  Here are some important points
.
Reverence.  We show our reverence in various ways during the Mass.  First, to the Presence of Jesus in the tabernacle, when entering and leaving the church, we genuflect (that is, touch the right knee to the floor) before we enter the pew before Mass and as we leave the pew at the end of Mass. 
 
Between these two reverences directed toward the tabernacle, once Mass has begun until the final recession, the focus of our attention during the Mass is toward the altar.  You see this expressed by the priest when he kisses the altar at the beginning, and throughout the Mass when the lectors, servers and other ministers bow to the altar.  It isn’t that the tabernacle isn’t important during the Mass, but it really isn’t the focus: our focus is on the action of the Mass, the heart of this action is on the altar.  The altar and the walls of the church are the only things (not persons) which are actually anointed with sacred chrism (the oil used for the character sacraments of baptism, confirmation and holy orders) at the time of the dedication of the church and altar.  The altar is anointed in five places (four corners and center) to represent the five wounds of Christ on the cross.
 
If you are not able to genuflect, for example, if you have a bad knee or hip, the Church says that a profound bow (at the waist) is equally appropriate.  I often bow for this reason.
 
It would be good to teach your children from the earliest age that this reverence is required.  It will be a good springboard for conversations about how all things sacred should be reverenced, including each other.
 
For reverence shown before receiving Eucharist, please refer to the bulletin online several of weeks ago, when I copied the USCCB’s guidelines for proper postures, conduct when receiving Communion.
 
This reverence can be shown also for each other.  You notice, for example, when the family brings the read and wine to the altar at the time of the Presentation of the Gifts, priest and people always bow to each other before turning away, as does the priest with the servers.  This is to acknowledge the presence of Christ in each other.
 
Penitential Act.  This is the number one reason why you should never be late for Mass.  The Mass has, built in, a preparation for receiving Communion.  As you know, we should not receive Communion if not properly disposed, or in the state of mortal sin.  Still, we should be conscious of venial sins we have committed, even though these sins do not require sacramental confession prior to receiving Communion.  The Church teaches that forgiveness of venial sin may be received through a good act of contrition, a work of fasting or charity, or some other suitable penitential act.  After the greeting at Mass, the first thing we do is get this taken care of.  If you are late and have not taken care of this in the car on the way over, you may not be properly prepared!  We have several options, the confiteor (“I confess...), the kyrie (“Lord, have mercy. Christ, have mercy. Lord, have mercy.”) and the responding prayer of the priest assure us of the necessary penitential act.
 
Processions and singing.  At various times during the liturgy we have processions, which are symbolic of the People of God on their way to the Kingdom.  The entrance procession, the procession of the Book of the Gospels, the procession of the Gifts at the offertory, the procession of the reception of Holy Communion, and the recessional at the end of Mass are all times that, at different times in the history of the Church, the entire congregation would participate.  For practical reasons, we don’t all get up and walk together, which would definitely make a greater impression of the symbol on our hearts.  Instead, usually ministers of the Mass process, and everyone else participates in these actions by singing.  Yes, singing!
 
Singing has powerful unitive effects: we are the voice of Jesus in his journey to the Father, gathering up all of his creation in the Mass and bringing us home!
 
God bless you.
 

Announcements ~ August 26, 2018

fleur cross logo RCIA begins September 10:  register now for The Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults. We welcome all who are interested in learning more about our Catholic Faith. If you or someone you know are seeking answers and might be thinking about joining the Catholic Church, call and register for the process in the parish office.
 
fleur cross logo Religious Education Class Enrollment is NOW!  Registration forms are available in the Church Vestibule and Parish Office. For more information, please visit our website: stbernpar.org.  Calling all Catechists! Please respond to the call to share your faith the youth of the parish, Catechist Meetings have already begun, please sign up soon.
 
fleur cross logo All our St. Bernadette Choirs are welcoming new members. We have choirs for singers of all ages,  including three adult choirs in English and Spanish, Children’s Choir for 1st through 6th grade and, starting this fall, the re-launch of our Youth Choir for 7th through 12th grade. For more information see stbernpar.org/praying/music-ministry or contact Director of Music Ministries David Mathers at 703-451-8576 x112 or dmathers@stbernpar.org
 
fleur cross logo Knights of Columbus 5K Run/Walk at Burke Lake Park Join us on September 15 for a 5K and cookout. See details on page 8.
 
fleur cross logo Saint Bernadette is hosting a Called and Gifted Workshop on Saturday, September 15. For more information see page 9 or visit our parish website announcement page for online registration.
 
fleur cross logo The U.S. bishops urge our participation each Friday in a nationwide Novena for the Legal Protection of Human Life, August 3-September 28. Participants will receive weekly email or text reminders to pray and fast, along with ther useful info. Sign up at usccb.org/pray!
 
fleur cross logo Our monthly Taize Ecumenical prayer service is this Monday, 8pm in the church.  All Christian friends are welcome to come, pray with us.

Fr. Don's Weekly Letter ~ August 26, 2018

Dear Good People of Saint Bernadette,
 
Our hearts are broken once again at even the possibility of the abuse of minors at the hands of Catholic clergy.  We are confused by thoughts of what is unthinkable.  How is it possible, first, that the abuse took place, but then that it was allowed to continue by our Church leaders?  As Bishop Burbidge said to teachers at the back-to-school Mass on Tuesday, tell your children that Jesus can never fail them.  But leaders can.
 
Many confessed anger last weekend about this newest and most painful development in the life of our Church.  I was quick to tell them that this is not a sin.  We know that Jesus never sinned, yet was furious when people abused his temple and turned it into a market.  That was about a building; spiritual temples are much more precious to God, and he is surely not okay with any of this.  What we need to do is figure out how to work through this anger in a healthy way.  Prayer, and care for each other is a good way to start
Bishop published on Tuesday the “Letter to the Faithful from Bishop Burbidge regarding the Pennsylvania grand jury report and allegations of sexual abuse in the Church.”  We had already finished the layout of the bulletin this week, so I will reprint his letter here
.
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
 
Our Holy Father, Pope Francis, recently reminded us of the words of the Apostle Paul: “If one member suffers, all suffer together with it” (1 Cor 12:26). With you, I share the suffering of victims of sexual abuse on the part of clergy, and the suffering of all who have lost trust and confidence in leaders of our Church.
Upon hearing credible and substantiated allegations of sexual abuse on the part of Archbishop Theodore McCarrick and the horrific accounts of the Pennsylvania grand jury report, including the failure of Church leaders to protect children, teenagers and young adults from abuse, I, like you, felt tremendous anger and shame that such crimes occurred within our Church.
 
I have had several opportunities to speak about these issues in recent days through statements, homilies, a letter to priests, and podcasts. (These are all available on the diocesan website.) In each instance, I knew full well that words cannot sufficiently express my regret for the sins of Church leaders and priests who betrayed Christ and his people. No matter how insufficient words may be, however, I again convey my sincere apologies to victims of abuse and reassure them, as well as the rest of the Catholic faithful in this Diocese, of my desire to support you in every way possible. Additionally, I assure you that no priest credibly accused of child sexual abuse is, or ever will be, in active ministry in this Diocese.
 
I was ordained a bishop in 2002, the same year the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People was enacted to establish standards for reporting and investigating accusations, as well as to help victims heal from the trauma they experienced. As such, I have always implemented these procedures throughout my ministry as a bishop. Once again, I wish to assure you that in our Diocese, immediately upon receiving an accusation of abuse, we report it to law enforcement. In addition, all evidence about each allegation is assessed by our diocesan review board, composed of a majority of lay men and women who have expertise in areas that will assist with the process.
 
Policies are essential, and they must continue to be implemented and followed. This crisis, however, is not only about policies — it is about evil, the moral failings of priests, and at times a lack of courage and integrity on the part of bishops and other Church leaders. Priests and bishops should not need policies to keep from committing immoral acts or to report heinous crimes to the authorities. We should need only a well-formed conscience, a commitment to Jesus Christ, and fidelity to the promises of our vocation. With the Lord’s grace, we must strive to root out evil and work tirelessly to protect all young people as a matter of respect for their precious dignity as beloved children of God.
 
When witnessing such failures, many will naturally question their confidence and trust in the Church. Please always remember that Christ is Head of the Church and that he never fails us. While the Lord in his divinity works through his bishops and priests, at times they in their humanity fail to protect the flock, even in the most disturbing ways. Please join me in praying for our priests, as in this troubling time they greatly appreciate the support you have shown.
 
I pray that, together, we will renew our faith in Christ, who promises to be with us through periods of darkness and uncertainty. We call upon his Divine Mercy and saving help as we seek healing, purification and transformation. May Our Lord guide and protect his Church and his people, now and always.
Sincerely in Christ,
 
Most Reverend Michael F. Burbidge
Bishop of Arlington
 

 

Announcements ~ August 19, 2018

fleur cross logo It’s time to start thinking about RCIA. The Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults begins September 11 and we welcome all who are interested in learning more about our Catholic Faith. If you or someone you know are seeking answers and might be thinking about joining the Catholic Church, call and register for the process in the parish office.
 
fleur cross logo The U.S. bishops urge our participation each Friday in a nationwide Novena for the Legal Protection of Human Life, August 3-September 28. Participants will receive weekly email or text reminders to pray and fast, along with ther useful info. Sign up at usccb.org/pray!
 
fleur cross logo Religious Education Class Enrollment is NOW!  Registration forms are available in the Church Vestibule and Parish Office. For more information, please visit our website: stbernpar.org. Calling all Catechists! Please respond to the call to share your faith with our children and the youth of the parish, Catechist Meetings begin mid-August, so please sign up soon.
 
fleur cross logo All our St. Bernadette choirs are welcoming new members. We have choirs for singers of all ages,  including three adult choirs in English and Spanish, Children’s Choir for 1st through 6th grade and, starting this fall, the re-launch of our Youth Choir for 7th through 12th grade. For more information see stbernpar.org/praying/music-ministry or contact Director of Music Ministries David Mathers at 703-451-8575 x112 or dmathers@stbernpar.org
 
fleur cross logo Saint Bernadette is hosting a Called and Gifted Workshop on Saturday, September 15. For more information see page 9 or visit our parish website announcement page for online registration.

Fr. Don's Weekly Letter ~ August 19, 2018

Dear Good People of Saint Bernadette,
 
Guess what the most popular question has been, especially these past few weeks!  “How’s that construction project?  Is everything going to be ready?”
 
With the start of the school year we are like sprinters at a starting block, knowing that it isn’t a sprint at all, but a marathon... but the beginning of the year will require a particular burst of prayers from you.  Please continue to remember our contractors, our teachers and staff and our project in your prayers in the next few weeks.
 
We had some delay with the county in receiving permits.  And we decided to do this project during what we know now was the rainiest summer practically in all history.  And human error and several surprises in an existing building for which there were no blueprints didn’t help either.  It has been a daily struggle, trying to prevent error and keep the project on track.  There is still much to be done, but the good news is, that we will soon be past it and the reward of a little sacrifice will be great.
 
We’re ready for the children.  The classrooms were largely untouched, and have had their regular summertime deep cleaning.  The instructional wings are all carefully separated from construction, you might not even know what is happening on the other side of the temporary walls.  But you will start to wonder:  where are Mrs. Dalmut and all the staff working?  A few of the new spaces will be finished, and staff will be roommates for a while until all the offices are finished. 
 
If you are still looking for a good school, we have openings in many classes.  You are welcome.
 
If you build it they will come.  I’m hoping this is true, particularly in the case of religious education for children this year.  We recently did a mailing to all families with seventh graders in the parish to raise awareness, in case they didn’t know, that sacrament preparation for Confirmation is a two-year program and they need to start now if they hope for Confirmation in eighth grade.  We sent out just over 500 letters:  there are 500 7th graders in the parish. 
 
Each year we are struck by the reality that for grades 1 through 8 we could need to accommodate as many as several thousand students if everyone came.  So far, about 175 have registered.  People say, well, folks here are just late in committing to everything.  This is not a thing, this is a symptom, I believe, of a tepid lack of priority.  Isn’t it true, families all wait to see what their sports schedule is first?
 
I believe that if sports is the thing that is keeping our children from growing in their faith, then the sports program must be diabolical, because it caused this and future generations to grow apart from the Body of Christ.  But this sounds a little crazy, even for me, to say.  There can be only one other explanation, then.  Our parents have not given faith formation priority in their own lives, and their children see by their example that it isn’t important.  You can’t demand of your children that which you will not give as good example yourself.  Even though the family, the domestic church, is the first place where evangelization is supposed to take place in children’s earliest years, parents simply can’t give what they don’t have.  Other stuff simply becomes more important.  Life is busy.
 
If this seems like a bit of a rant, I’m sorry.  But who else is saying these things?  And as your pastor I have an obligation to remind you of the promises you made at the baptism of your children, that you will raise them in the practice of the faith and keep them free from sin and death.  So many of you parents are faithful.  But, apparently, the vast majority may not be.
 
The only other explanation could be that we have many families who are double-registered here and in another parish (or other parishes).  Sometimes families from other parishes will register here to get (dishonestly) our in-parish tuition rates.  This has been going on forever, and I can’t really fix that, other than appealing to justice.  But if you are one of these many families that are double-registered or multiple-registered, please pick one.  Each parish pays subsidies to the diocese for education and the diocesan newspaper, for envelopes and mailings for all their registered families.  And it skews all the population counts for our annual reports.
 
I finished our annual report to the diocese this week, and it asks about the social outreach of our parish to the local community.  It was hard for me finish the report with so many ministries which we don’t have at all—ministries for life, to care for the addicted, parents’ and single parents’ services, pastoral care for migrants and refugees, child care and head start programs, many education opportunities, social support, housing services, health-related services, even the biblical care of widows and orphans.  I could only say that I hoped for these things in the future, but that for now we were looking, as a parish, for our heart as a servant.  We have to learn how to take care of our own children before we can begin to reach out to care for others.’  Lord, may it soon be so.
 
God bless you,
 

Announcements ~ August 12, 2018

fleur cross logo Celebrate this Holy Day of Obligation, The Feast of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Vigil Mass, Tuesday, August 14 at 7:30pm. Holy Day Masses Wednesday, August 15 at 6:30am, 9am, Noon, 6:30pm and 8pm (Spanish).
 
fleur cross logo Please read the statement by Bishop Burbridge on the first  anniversary of the violence that took place in Charlottesville on August 12, 2017.  Read more
 
fleur cross logo It’s time to start thinking about RCIA. The Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults begins September 11 and we welcome all who are interested in learning more about our Catholic Faith. If you or someone you know are seeking answers and might be thinking about joining the Catholic Church, call and register for the process in the parish office.
 
fleur cross logo The U.S. bishops urge our participation each Friday in a nationwide Novena for the Legal Protection of Human Life, August 3-September 28. Participants will receive weekly email or text reminders to pray and fast, along with little-known facts about Roe v. Wade to share with others. Sign Up!
 
fleur cross logo Religious Education Class Enrollment is NOW!  Registration forms are available in the Church Vestibule and Parish Office. For more information, please visit our website: stbernpar.org. Calling all Catechists! Please respond to the call to share your faith with our children and the youth of the parish, Catechist Meetings begin mid-August, so please sign up soon.
 
fleur cross logo All our St. Bernadette choirs are welcoming new members.  We have choirs for singers of all ages,  including three adult choirs in English and Spanish, Children’s Choir for 1st through 6th grade and, starting this fall, the re-launch of our Youth Choir for 7th through 12th grade.  For more information see stbernpar.org/praying/music-ministry or contact Director of Music Ministries David Mathers at 703-451-8575 x112 or dmathers@stbernpar.org
 
fleur cross logo Saint Bernadette is hosting a Called and Gifted Workshop on Saturday, September 15. For more information see page 9 or visit our parish website announcement page for online registration.

Fr. Don's Weekly Letter ~ August 12, 2018

Dear Good People of Saint Bernadette,

There have been some questions regarding the reception of Holy Communion lately, and I thought this week I would simply share the teaching of the Conference of Catholic Bishops to share up any question we might have:

“The Church understands the Communion Procession, in fact every procession in liturgy, as a sign of the pilgrim Church, the body of those who believe in Christ, on their way to the Heavenly Jerusalem. All our lives we who believe in Christ are moving in time toward that moment when we will be taken by death from this world and enter into the joy of the Lord in the eternal Kingdom he has prepared for us. The liturgical assembly of the baptized that comes together for the celebration of the Eucharist is a witness to, a manifestation of, the pilgrim Church. When we move in procession, particularly the procession to receive the Body and Blood of Christ in Communion, we are a sign, a symbol of that pilgrim Church “on the way.”

“For some, however, the experience of the Communion Procession is far more prosaic, analogous perhaps to standing in line in the supermarket or at the motor vehicle bureau. A perception such as this is a dreadfully inaccurate and impoverished understanding of what is a significant religious action. The Communion Procession is an action of the Body of Christ. At Christ’s invitation, extended by the priest acting in Christ’s person: “Blessed are those called to the supper of the Lamb,” the members of the community move forward to share in the sacred meal, to receive the Body and Blood of Christ which is the sign and the source of their unity. In fact, each time we move forward together to receive the Body and Blood of the Lord, we join the countless ranks of all the baptized who have gone before us, our loved ones, the canonized and uncanonized saints down through the ages, who at their time in history formed a part of this mighty stream of believers.

“This action by Christ’s body, the Church assembled for the Eucharist, is manifested and supported by the Communion Chant, a hymn in praise of Christ sung by the united voices of those who believe in him and share his life. The General Instruction of the Roman Missal takes this hymn very seriously, mandating that it should begin at the Communion of the priest and extend until the last person has received Communion.

For some, however, the singing of this hymn is perceived as an intrusion on their own prayer, their private thanksgiving after Communion. In fact, however, this hymn is prayer, the corporate thanksgiving prayer of the members of Christ’s Body, united with one another. Over and over again the prayers of the liturgy and the norms of the General Instruction emphasize this fundamental concept of the unity of the baptized, stressing that when we come together to participate in the Eucharistic celebration we come, not as individuals, but as united members of Christ’s Body. In each of the Eucharistic Prayers, though the petition is worded in slightly different ways, God is asked to send his Holy Spirit to make us one body, one spirit in Christ; the General Instruction admonishes the faithful that “they are to form one body, whether in hearing the Word of God, or in taking part in the prayers and in the singing...” (no. 96). It describes one of the purposes of the opening song of the Mass as to “foster the unity of those who have been gathered” (no. 47), and says of the Communion Chant that “its purpose [is] to express the spiritual union of the communicants by means of the unity of their voices, to show gladness of heart, and to bring out more clearly the ‘communitarian’ character of the procession to receive the Eucharist” (no. 86).

“It is difficult for some of us to embrace this emphasis on Mass as the action of a community rather than an individual act of my own faith and piety, but it is important that we make every effort to do so. Christ himself at the Last Supper pleaded with his Father: “Holy Father, keep them in your name that you have given me, so that they may be one just as we are... as you, Father, are in me and I in you, that they also may be in us...” (John 17:11, 21).Baptism has joined us to Christ and to one another as the vine and its branches. The life of Christ, the Holy Spirit, animates each of us individually, and all of us corporately and guides us together in our efforts to become one in Christ.

“Finally, the fact that the Communion Procession is a profoundly religious action tells us something about the way in which we should participate in this procession. We are the Body of Christ, moving forward to receive the Christ who makes us one with himself and with one another. Our procession should move with dignity; our bearing should be that of those who know they have been redeemed by Christ and are coming to receive their God!

“The General Instruction asks each country’s Conference of Bishops to determine the posture to be used for the reception of Communion and the act of reverence to be made by each person as he or she receives Communion. In the United States, the body of Bishops determined that Communion should be received standing, and that a bow is the act of reverence made by those receiving. These norms may require some adjustment on the part of those who have been used to other practices, however the significance of unity in posture and gesture as a symbol of our unity as members of the one body of Christ should be the governing factor in our own actions.
 
“Those who receive Communion may receive either in the hand or on the tongue, and the decision should be that of the individual receiving, not of the person distributing Communion. If Communion is received in the hand, the hands should first of all be clean. If one is right handed the left hand should rest upon the right. The host will then be laid in the palm of the left hand and then taken by the right hand to the mouth. If one is left-handed this is reversed. It is not appropriate to reach out with the fingers and take the host from the person distributing.
 
“The person distributing Communion says audibly to each person approaching, “The Body of Christ.”  This formula should not be altered, as it is a proclamation which calls for a response of faith on the part of the one who receives. The communicant should audibly respond, “Amen,” indicating by that response his or her belief that this small wafer of bread, the wine in this chalice are in reality the body and blood of Christ the Lord.
When one receives from the chalice, the same proclamation is made by the person distributing Communion and the Communicant again responds, “Amen.” It should be noted that it is never permissible for a person to dip the host he or she has received into the chalice. If, for some reason, the communicant is not able or willing to drink from the cup then that person should receive only under the form of bread.
 
“It seems appropriate to conclude this reflection on the Communion Procession and the reception of Communion with a quotation from the Catechism of the Catholic Church, no. 1396:
 
In Baptism we have been called to form but one body. The Eucharist fulfills this call: “The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not a participation in the blood of Christ? The bread which we break, is it not a participation in the body of Christ? Because there is one bread, we who are many are one body, for we all partake of the one bread” (1 Cor 10:16-17):
 
If you are the body and members of Christ, then it is your sacrament that is placed on the table of the Lord; it is your sacrament that you receive. To that which you are you respond “Amen” (“yes, it is true!”) and by responding to it you assent to it. For you hear the words, “the Body of Christ” and respond “Amen.” Be then a member of the Body of Christ that your Amen may be true (St. Augustine, Sermon 272: PL 38, 1247).”
 
Sometimes it is best to go straight to the competent authority than to rewrite a version that can always be questioned!  The moment of Communion is The Moment when we are most fully who we are not as individuals but in communion with God and each other as a community, the Body of Christ!  It is a moment we should all be together, not divided by practice or anything which might draw attention to ourselves.
 
God bless you,
 
 

 

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