Pastor’s Piece – April 18

If you missed the Easter Vigil, you missed the most solemn important and perhaps most beautiful Mass of the year. We had a good turnout from all three communities of the parish: SKD and SSM English & Spanish speakers. In fact, we had a great turnout from those same groups for Holy Thursday. It was a real treat for me to see so many of you that I serve in different places and languages in one place for these solemn events united in prayer.

Back to the Easter Vigil, it was a real honor to be able to minister the sacraments of Baptism, Confirmation and First Holy Communion to a variety of the six people who completed their Sacraments of the Initiation. This solemn Mass with its different ceremonies is begun with the Lucinarium that includes the blessing of a bonfire, the procession with the Paschal Candle and the singing of the Exaltet. During this song, I sing the praises of Easter represented in a candle that is our symbol of the Resurrection.

Here is a sample:

This is the night, when once you led our forebears, Israel’s children, from slavery in Egypt and made them pass dry-shod through the Red Sea. This is the night that with a pillar of fire banished the darkness of sin.

With such fanfare made over one candle, we can see from where our tradition of lighting candles in churches comes. At SSM we have installed a candle rack in front of the BVM statue in order to exercise this tradition and help you offer votive prayers. Because of this custom’s great popularity and because of our limited space, I need to address = some issues of equity. The smallest candle offered burns for four hours. I charge $1.00 (.25 cents an hour). The next sized candle, in the red globe, is a ten-hour candle, but I only charge $2.00. For equity’s sake, I’m increasing the asking price for this candle to be $2.50. And so, as you can see, our three-day candle for $5.00 is way underpriced. Hence, people complain that they can never find a large candle to light. The size of our candle rack is limited by space. And so, the only fair thing to do is raise the price of the large candle. The price is now $20.00. Some may object and claim that .25 cents an hour brings the price to $18. That may be, but I’m offering you the convenience of not having to light candle for three days. Consider the extra $2.00 a service charge.

I’ve noticed that with Easter and nicer weather, many of you are returning to the pews or experiencing our solemn high barn Mass for the first time. There are some things worth familiarizing yourself with that I have found helpful over the past year. Such as, when I bring you Holy Communion. Regardless of what you’ve heard elsewhere, it is best to remove your mask when I present you the Sacred Host. Placing the Most Blessed Sacrament in the hands of somebody who has to hold the Host with one hand while fooling with a mask in the other hand makes me nervous. This is why I wear the mask at this point in the Mass. Please, don’t misunderstand. I’m not worried about COVID-19. I wear it so that you might feel more comfortable. Regardless of whether you welcome my advice or not, I will be more insistent with your children, as I’m sure you can understand.

Christ’s Peace,

Fr. Murphy

Newly Baptized and Confirmed

It is with great joy that we wish to congratulate and welcome the following who have been newly Baptized and Confirmed this Easter season:

  • Nancy “Jude” Brosnahan
  • Vanessa “Michael the Archangel” Castaneda
  • Anisa “John” Cortes
  • Stephanie “Damien of Molokai” Folds
  • Rebecca “Brigid of Ireland” Howe
  • Kimberly “Mary” Ramos

May the peace of Christ be with you all.

 

 

Bishop Burbidge – Easter Message

See page five of the April 4, 2021 bulletin for a special Easter message from Diocese of Arlington Bishop Michael F. Burbidge.

Easter Message – Bishop Burbidge

Pastor’s Piece – March 28

To vax, or not to vax? That is the question that I’m getting from some of you. I’ve not weighed in on the issue because I don’t feel that I’m expert in moral theology, medicine or in the art of prophecy. Nevertheless, here is my frank, non-professional assessment of the issue. I guess the word for that is pastoral.

Morally – The Church says it’s okay, then it is okay. We may be confused at times by things that Pope Francis says. We may suspect that there is too much politics involved in USCCB statements. That doesn’t mean that there is an inability to speak authoritatively on matters of faith and morals. Pope Francis, the
Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith, Bishop Burbidge, the United States bishops as a body, have said clearly that it is morally permissible to be vaccinated for COVID19. So, whether or not it is a good idea for you, is a separate question. You are not morally culpable for any association with immoral means of developing these vaccines if you should take one.

The moral question is further nuanced when we choose between vaccines. While the cooperation with evil is remote enough so as not be culpable sin, there is nevertheless greater proximity to the sin of abortion with the Johnson & Johnson and AstraZeneca vaccines. This means that if we are given the choice between vaccines that we ought to choose the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines over the first two. Medically – Unfortunately, the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines are more novel and experimental in their vaccination. Some in the field of medicine do not regard them as “vaccines” but rather as gene therapy.

While they are promisingly effective, the long-term effects are unknown. In fact, although more of a traditional vaccine, AstraZeneca has been suspended in many European countries. Personally, I’m not interested. I’m not at risk. If I should catch it, and I’m not sure that I haven’t had it, there is a very small chance (.12%) that it will be mortal. This is based an on-line Johns Hopkins COVID19 Risk Calculator. (https://covid19risktools.com:8443/riskcalculator) Regardless of the morally acceptable nature of the vaccine, that doesn’t make it mandatory. “As the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith has clarified, ‘vaccination is not, as a rule, a moral obligation and … therefore, it must be voluntary.’”

Note on the morality of using some anti-Covid-19 vaccines

Prophetically – This will probably mean that I run the risk of being banned from airline flights in the not-too-distant future. I’m at peace with that. I’ve seen plenty of the world and I look forward to spending more time with you.

Christ’s Peace,

Fr. Murphy

Religious Education Program

Religious Education Updates

Sacraments for the 2020-2021 year have been scheduled! We are still finalizing some information with the Diocese and therefore do not have all the details set. All Sacraments for both Saint Katharine Drexel and Saint Stephen will take place at Saint Stephen the Marytr. Once more details are finalized we will be sending information on how to register for specific times via email & Google Classroom to families enrolled in these classes.

First Penance: Due to COVID-19 we will not be holding the large Reconciliation event as we have in the past. During Lent Father Murphy will be available at all regularly scheduled parish Reconciliation times to hear the student’s First Confessions. He will have a list of students.

Parents – please inform him as your child is entering that it is their First Reconciliation. More information will be sent out.

First Holy Communion: May 1, 2021 – Noon
(Spanish), 2 pm (English), 5 pm (English)

May 2, 2021 – 10 am (English)
Confirmation: May 15, 2021 – times TBD
(pending information from the Diocese of Arlington)

Pastor’s Piece – March 14, 2021

We’ve reached the midpoint of Lent and that is reason to rejoice. Not to diminish this joyful occurrence, but that does leave only three more weeks to make a good confession before Easter Sunday. Our faith teaches that to receive Holy Communion worthily in the Easter Season is so important that it is part of our identity. Participating in the Paschal mysteries of the passion, death and resurrection of Jesus is a defining quality of being Christian. From the earliest times of the primitive Church, it was seen as most fitting for the catechumens (converts) to join our ranks at the Easter Vigil. After weeks of scrutiny and preparation, they would receive the Sacraments of Initiation: Baptism, Confirmation and First Holy Communion. Through these Sacraments we are united to the new life of Easter and its promised resurrection. But for we who are initiated, what do we do?

Over time, Lent was developed. A time of doing acts of penitence concluded with a renewed participation in the sacraments. Of course, the faithful couldn’t be rebaptized, so what could they do? The Rite of Renewal of Baptismal Promises was developed. Additionally, there is no redoing our First Holy Communion, but there is always room for improving our communion with the Lord. And so, making a good confession and experiencing the sacramental grace of forgiveness in the Sacrament of Penance became a part of our Easter experience.

Throughout most of Christian history much greater obligations of penitence, abstinence and fasting characterized this time compared to the all time historical bare minimum that we have today. Nevertheless, we still have an Easter Obligation, the need to receive Holy Communion worthily during the Easter Season. In turn, this prompts the necessary obligation to sacramentally confess our sins in this time period, hence the urgency. So, according to Canon Law, the bare minimum that defines us as Catholics in good standing, is making a sacramental confession and receiving Holy Communion worthily in the Season of Easter.

What about COVID? As long as there is no obligation to attend Mass, then there can’t be an obligation to receive Holy Communion and therefore neither is there an obligation to go to Confession. Bishop Burbidge hasn’t reinstituted the obligation to attend Mass yet.

While there may be no obligation, as your pastor I invite you to consider. In the course of visiting the supermarket, which 98% of you do, (I know. I’ve seen many of you.) you are exponentially more at risk to encounter the Coronavirus than coming to Confession at SSM. At a minimum you are exposed to at least a dozen people in the course of grocery shopping. At SSM on a Saturday afternoon, you have a 10% chance of seeing another soul at church. (That is a scientific conclusion based on a field study of two penitents in the course of an hour for the past two Saturday’s.)

Perhaps you’re among the group that doesn’t believe he has committed any sins. I believe you. The grace that Our Lord provides us is powerful enough to keep us from mortal sins. What a great blessing to be among those who have experienced this power. But for the rest of us, let’s examine our conscience carefully.

Not only is confessing your sins at SSM safe, but it is so convenient. For the vast majority of you, it is an out of the way location. This means that penance is built to your confession. So not only do you have an automatic reduction in temporal punishment by confessing at SSM because of the time it might take to arrive there, but there is minimal line waiting and ample hours and days to fit the diverse lifestyles of the parish, such as:

  • Wednesday nights from 7-8:00pm. This is the time that you are most likely to have to wait. Our Spanish speakers have been taking advantage of this convenient time for years.
  • Friday mornings. Please note, this takes place immediately after 8:30am Mass. That means, be there at 9:00am, I won’t wait around for long.
  • Friday evenings are blessed with a double header. I’m in the confessional at 6:40pm after the Spanish Stations of the Cross and then again at about 7:30pm following the English. Once more, the Stations are some readily available penitence.
  • Saturday afternoon. Starts at 3:45pm . I’m there till 4:45pm, but I have to leave at that moment to get ready for Mass. I can’t linger.

Hope to absolve you soon,

Christ’s Peace,

Fr. Murphy

Pastor’s Piece – March 7, 2021

We are all engaged in the freewill sacrifices and obligatory penitence of Lent. Perhaps we need an incentive to maintain the rigors of our discipline. There is a special reprieve for us this month. March 19 is the Solemn Feast of St. Joseph. Solemn Feasts carry with them special distinctions. Not only do we sing the Gloria at Mass, as we would for any Feast Day, but in addition, we recite the Creed, as we would on a Sunday. So as Sundays (in normal times) would be a Holy Days of Obligation, so are Solemn Feast Days in many parts of the world. In fact, in Italy, not only is St. Joseph’s Day a Holy Day of Obligation, but it is their chosen day to honor all fathers, their Father’s Day, thus tying in a noble secular observance with our Catholic faith. In the United States we don’t observe St. Joseph’s Day in the obligatory way that precept days are designated because our bishops decided to use an option that the Holy See granted back at the II Vatican Council. So, while we don’t observe St. Joseph’s Day as a Holy Day of Obligation, it is still one of the 10 Precept Days of the universal church. This means that it carries no obligation on our part, but we still have the benefits.

The benefits of a feast day are just that, to feast. As we know, there is a strict prohibition not to eat meat on Friday’s during Lent. This rule applies to those who have attained 14 years and is a mortal sin for those who knowingly and willingly disregard it. Meaning that if you fall into that category, you’ve got to visit the Sacrament of Penance before you show up for Holy Communion. (Consult the bulletin on the expanded Confession schedule during Lent.)

Nevertheless, this year, March 19 falls on a Friday. This means that nobody need ask me or Bishop Burbidge for dispensations. It is often the case when St. Patrick’s feast falls on a Friday, the Knights of Columbus ask the bishop for dispensation in order have their corned beef and cabbage dinners. Unlike St. Patrick, St. Joseph’s feast is a Solemn Feast for the universal church, not just a singular country, or those whose cathedral or parish is named after a particular saint. Therefore, there is no fasting or even abstinence on Friday, March 19 this year.

This is a mere fraction of the blessings that devotion to St. Joseph can bring us. Out of all the men in human history that the omniscient and omnipotent God could choose to guard, protect, educate, and love His only begotten Son, and His Most Blessed Mother, He chose St. Joseph. This is why Pope Francis has invited us to draw closer to St. Joseph. He has designated 2021 as the Year of St. Joseph in order to do just that. I’ve included information in our bulletin on how we can participate. It is a venerable tradition of our faith to use the nine days before a feast in order to prepare spiritually. Please, consider using one of these St. Joseph devotions for your novena as a way of making this March 19 the day of blessings for you and your that it could be.

Christ’s Peace,

Fr. Murphy

Pastor’s Piece – February 28, 2021

Sadly, the last time that I wrote a Pastor’s Piece was back in the summer, the Queenship of Mary, August 22. My excuse is (What else?) COVID19. Not that I contracted the dreaded virus, (Thanks be to God.) but rather much like a snow day, regardless if your neighborhood is snowed in or not, or if your kids even have in-person class, everything gets disrupted. Some of the collateral damage of COVID19 has been experienced in the routine of parish life. Early on, when everything was shut down, including golf-courses (such needless tragic loss of recreation), my routine of getting together with fellow priests on Tuesday was curtailed. This led me to observe that the life of the parish (i.e. staff) was happier to have me around on Tuesdays rather than Mondays. Frankly, I came to understand better my own biorhythms. I’m tired on Mondays. So thus, began my experiment with Mondays off, rather than Tuesdays. This seems like a better schedule, all except for my beloved (At least, I love to write it.) Pastor’s Piece. Mondays was the day that I found was best to write it, and I have yet to find the perfect time to give it attention. That’s the story behind the lack of parochial headlines.

Speaking of headline news, if you were paying attention at the evening Mass Ash Wednesday and all subsequent English Masses that I’ve offered, you may have noticed that I concluded each Collect (the opening prayer Mass) with the words, Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, God, for ever and ever; Amen.

You may be asking yourself, what’s the difference? It sounds right. There is “one” difference. The “one” as in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. In line with changes to our English translation of the liturgy a little over a decade ago, it has been thought best to bring the English more in-line with the Latin. Interesting this isn’t an issue the Spanish Mass that I offer here at SSM. The Spanish translation reflects the Latin, “Deus, per omnia saecula saeculorum…”.

So, to conclude, this more accurate translation helps keep us from error regarding Who Jesus is. He isn’t the One God independent of the Blessed Trinity nor is He one god among many. Hopefully, now that we have the controversies of the IV century settled, we can get back to the business of the XXI.

Speaking of XXI century problems, I know that the parish live-streamed Masses aren’t always ideally broadcast. Yet, I’m not always sure of the problems. If you could offer some feedback on your experience, let Maureen know via e-mail and I’ll attempt to make proper adjustments.

Christ’s Peace,

Fr. Murphy

Support the Bishop’s Lenten Appeal

The Bishop’s Lenten Appeal (BLA) strengthens the bonds of faith that join us together as a Catholic family and provides the resources to assure the continued presence of Jesus Christ’s Gospel message and ministry across our diocese.

Whether promoting vocations, educating our future priests, providing lay ministry formation, teaching, evangelizing, providing outreach to youth, young adults and those in need, the programs and ministries of the BLA touch every parish and parishioner in our diocese.

See the video and flyer below to learn how your gifts to the Bishop’s Lenten Appeal benefit everyone within our diocese.


2021 Bishop’s Lenten Appeal Flyer

Donate Today
Please prayerfully consider supporting the Bishop’s Lenten Appeal. Letters have been mailed to all registered St. Katharine Drexel Mission parishioners or for your convenience, you can also donate online. Thank you for your support!

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Save the Date – August 9th

We will be hosting the St. Katharine Drexel Golf Tournament at Evergreen Country Club in Haymarket, VA on Monday, August 9, 2021.
9:00 AM – Registration
10:00 AM – Start of Play
11:30 AM – Lunch (while golfing)
3:30 PM – Dinner (tickets for dinner will be available)
More details to follow!!!