Pastor’s Piece – July 25

St. James the Greater, Apostle, July 25, 2020

I’m happy to announce that SSM is safer than ever. Our 5pm Saturday Mass, where there is an extra emphasis on wearing the mask, was met with a positive response. To give you a sense of what you might expect. We had less than thirty in the congregation. In addition, I have spared no expense to equip our air-conditioning system with antimicrobial filters. Of course, there are always the options to take in Mass in the great outdoors (on the patio), in the parish hall with a television monitor (not available Saturday nights), and starting Sunday August 2, for those at SKD, in a barn at the Fall Festival venue Four Hills Farm (4610 Sudley Rd, Catharpin) at 9:00 am.

Regardless of what the school year will look like, it’s time to register your children for Religious Education. We still have lots of questions without answers. We still don’t know of if Loudoun and Prince William Counties will let us use their facilities. Regardless, we will offer on-line options, but also, I would like to have the in-person classroom option. Possibly we will be using the SKD Mission Office
and or the SSM Parish Hall. These venues would require us to coordinate classes in the afternoons during the week for various grades. Overall, I image that our in-person classroom with catechist could also be telecast via a Zoom meeting. I hope that I’m communicating that there are a lot of variables and this doesn’t begin to consider the volunteers needed to actualize these plans. We will need some new volunteers to fill in those who will not be able to assist us during the week or because of current concerns about health for their particular circumstance. So, it is imperative that we know for what, who and how many we have to prepare. Please, register now. There will be an extra fee for registration after August 16.


The following article by Msgr. Charles Pope is outstanding and reflects my unexpressed sentiments very well.
(https://www.ncregister.com/blog/msgr-pope/be-not-afraid)

“I write this from my perspective as a priest responsible for the care of souls; I do not claim to be a medical expert. My pastoral concern is that we as a nation and as a Church have succumbed to excessive fear, which bespeaks a spiritual problem. The medical concerns arising from the pandemic are not without merit, but they are not unprecedented. What is unique today is the collective paralysis brought on by this fear. I write to express my concern and to reiterate the constant biblical cry, “Do not be afraid!”

“Some weeks ago, I wrote here at the Register about the crippling fear that seems to have seized the whole world, calling all to ponder that Jesus came to destroy him who holds the power of death, that is, the devil, and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death (Hebrews 2:14-15).

“I cannot avoid concluding that many people indeed are “in slavery through their fear of death.” There seems to be no end in sight for the fear they feel — no solution other than a cure for COVID-19. Watching the news only exacerbates the anxiety, as the media naturally focuses on the areas where things are not going well in our fight against the virus. It has now become politicized and commercialized, because fear is recognized as one of the best ways to control people, to attract viewers, and to sell products.

“What will it take to help people get their courage back? What is the endgame that public officials have in mind? Will there ever be a day when we say, “Let’s all get back to normal?” Will we always have to wear masks? Will we ever be allowed to sing, shout or cheer in public again? Will crowds ever be allowed to gather in common areas and convention centers? Will those who go about living life normally always be shamed and called selfish and irresponsible?

“Let’s get into our time machine and travel back just one year. Crowds gathered freely; airports were hives of activity; planes were packed with travelers and concert halls were packed with eager listeners. Restaurants were full of diners and churches with the faithful. People shook hands and hugged, their beautiful faces uncovered for all to see. People laughed out loud, choirs sang joyfully and stadiums erupted with cheers after a score.

“That was a year ago. Now so many are cowering in fear. They view every human being they encounter as a potential source of grave illness or even death: “He looks healthy, but I’d better stay far away because he may be carrying COVID-19!” Never mind a calculation of relative risks; every human contact might pose an existential threat. As a priest, I cannot imagine anything more demonic than this sort of fear. Satan wants us to fear and even detest one another. Our communion with one another is devasted by this extreme wariness.

“But Father! This is a very different virus. It’s extremely potent. We have to do this!” Again, I am neither a doctor nor a scientist. But I am a priest, and as such I think we must count the other costs. There is more to life than just not getting sick and not dying. People have lost their jobs; food production has dropped, and famine is just around the corner in some parts of the world. Routine medical care has been largely suspended. Important human events like weddings, funerals, the sacraments and enriching cultural events have been curtailed if not prohibited. Schools have closed and few have been permitted or have had the courage to reopen. There is a cost to these losses as well.

“We have been through tough flu seasons before without shutting down the country. I remember in 1968 — a terrible year for many reasons — the Hong Kong Flu was raging; 100,000 Americans died from the flu that year. My grandfather was a doctor and warned us about it, but neither the country nor the world shut down. The sick were isolated; the vulnerable were given heightened protection. I remember seeing “Quarantine” signs on the doors of some of the houses in my neighborhood. If someone had the flu, the entire household was ordered to stay inside for two weeks, and that very visible sign was placed on the front door. Meanwhile, the healthy went about their work, and life continued. Yes, the death toll was high, but everyone understood that life had to go on. Years ago, there were so many dangerous illnesses to be afraid of — cholera, smallpox, tuberculosis, polio. It takes courage to live, and people of the time had that courage.

“In the current pandemic, which is admittedly severe, we have quarantined the healthy along with the sick, the resilient along with the vulnerable. Crippling fear has seized so many people, and at some point, fear begins to feed on itself. We have shut down our economy, depriving many of their livelihoods and of the dignity that comes from working, from using their talents and from providing for their families.

“In the Church, collectively speaking, we too have cowered and capitulated. We have not summoned people to trust and faith. We have hidden our teachings on the role of suffering in bringing forth holiness and future glory. We have not presented the theology of death and dying at a time when it is so needed.

“We have limited and even denied the sacraments to the faithful, conveying the silent message that physical health is more important than spiritual health. In some dioceses, churches were locked, confessions forbidden, and Holy Communion inaccessible. Some priests who tried to supply Holy Communion to the faithful in a creative manner were criticized by liturgists and bishops. Some tried offering outdoor or “drive-in” Masses and were met with rebuke. In some cases, Mass was forbidden by local authorities, and many backed down in the face of this external pressure. While we could not recklessly disregard civil ordinances, too many of us were content to hunker down and forego public Mass. We
would not utter the biblical cry, “Do not be afraid,” out of fear of being called insensitive or
irresponsible.

“This situation is unprecedented in our lifetime, so it is understandable that we struggled at first with what to do prudentially. But now we must reflect on all that has happened and resolve to never again allow a governor or mayor dictate whether, when or how we may give the sacraments. Even if government officials can forbid large gatherings, it does not follow that the sacraments cannot be provided at all, via other means. I never refused Holy Communion to anyone who asked me during this time; I merely gave them Holy Communion outside of public Mass. I also continued to hear confessions in the church throughout the period, grateful that my bishop never forbade it or demanded that I lock the church.

“What then is to be our role as we go forward? Some universities and public schools have announced that will not reopen for normal, in-person instruction in the fall. Will we simply follow along and refuse to reopen our Catholic schools? Or will we say to our faithful that it is time to go forth into a world that has never been and will never be risk-free, balancing the needs of all against our fear of death? How long will we continue to offer public Masses in the current limited fashion? Masks hide the beauty of the human visage and the subtleties of our expressions; will we return to seeing one another smile, frown, laugh, and cry? Will we go back to shaking hands, hugging, and touching one another? Will I be able to offer Mass without retreating immediately back into the sacristy? Will parishioners be able to mingle and chat after Mass rather than running straight to their cars?

“What is our end game? Prudence has its place, but my concern as a pastor and physician of souls is that we are allowing unrelenting fear to drive our response. Until we as the Church confronting the situation and “man up” as Christians should, fear will masquerade as prudence, and folks like me who question whether we’ve gone too far will be called irresponsible and even reprehensible.

“For the time being, follow the recommended precautions, but ask yourself, “When will this end, and who will get to decide that?” The Church, and each one of us, has a role to play in ending the fear that this pandemic has set loose. COVID-19 can undoubtedly be a serious illness, but contracting it is far from an automatic death sentence. However, getting sick and even eventually dying is a part of living in this world. Some will call me insensitive for even mentioning this truth, but our parents, grandparents, and more distant ancestors went forth daily into a world that was far more dangerous than anything we have experienced. They lived life, accepting both its blows and its blessings. What about us today? Is God no longer with us? Are sickness and death the worst fate or is crippling fear a far more painful and dehumanizing sentence? Isn’t there more to living than just not dying or not getting sick? Will we as a Church be part of this conversation or will we remain fearfully silent? Will we simply reflect the beliefs and opinions of the current culture, or will we influence it with a theology that insists that suffering and death have meaning and an important role in our lives?

“No doubt some readers will think me imprudent, irresponsible, and insensitive. I accept that. But my take is that fear is a far more serious ailment than COVID-19. Life is risky, but there is greater ruin for us if we do not accept it and live anyway. At some point we have to break out of the huddle and run the play. God will be with us.”

 

Christ’s Peace,
Fr. Murphy

Homily – Sixth Sunday of Easter

VI SUNDAY OF EASTERTIDE – A – 2020

If you love me, you will keep my commandments. (Jn 14) Divine Providence was at work when they etched those words in stone above the front door of the Sacred Heart Cathedral in Richmond. You see, many years after the cathedral was built, they would build the college campus of Virginia Commonwealth University surrounding it. And furthermore, they would place the dorms, so that a certain undergraduate would pass this message three times a day on the way to the cafeteria.

Later in the next chapter of John Our Lord would tweak His message to, “You are my friends if you do what I command you.” (Jn 15:13) That sounds so odd or inauthentic. I remember newly arriving at VCU and being approached by fraternity members looking for me to pledge. Their pitch reminds me of Our Lord’s teaching, ‘if you come and do what we say, we’ll be your friend.’ I steered clear of these guys. No offense to you frat boys. Although the beer was enticing, I already had friends so I declined. Later I would join the oldest and largest fraternity in the world. I pledged the Alpha and Omega house.

If I rejected the friendship of the Greek fraternities on the grounds of insincere friendship, why do accept the Lord’s? The friendship that He came to establish is what is called a covenant. We can see how this relationship has been developing throughout the OT.

  1. Adam
    • God’s promise – I give you paradise
    • His command – Be fruitful and multiply, and don’t eat of the tree
  2. Noah
    • Promise – “I will establish my covenant with you, that never again shall all bodily creatures be destroyed by the waters of a flood.” (Gn 9:15)
    • Command – “Be fertile, then, and multiply; abound on earth and subdue it.” (Gn 9:7)
  3. Abraham
    • Promise – great nation and descendants as numerous a the stars
    • Command – Worship God (the only), circumcision
  4. Moses
    • Promise – freedom from slavery, Promised Land, Divine Presence (tabernacle, pillar of cloud and fire)
    • Command – 10 Commandments and a way of life (yearly cycle of feasts)
  5. Jesus

  6. Promise – freedom from sin, salvation, personal involvement in our live and His abiding sacramental presence
  7. Command – be Catholic

Hopefully, we have all heard that God loves us. Well, love demands a response. Just as a young man professes his love to his girlfriend and he expects her to respond with the intention to exclusively spend her time with him, so there is a proper way to respond to God’s love – 10 Commandments.

In the Catechism before we get to the section of the moral life, we study the Creed. Likewise today’s Gospel passage is from the 14th chapter of John, the second half of his presentation of Christ’s life. Jesus establishes who He is and His love for us well before He starts in on commanding us. How wrong would it be for the young man demanding exclusivity and all the free time of a girl on the first date?

We have heard people complain that the Church is all about is rules. But is it not really all about a relationship? Like your homes, it isn’t uncommon for the teenaged member of the family to have such a great desire for independence that the love and support of the parents is obscured and all he sees is rules, rules, rules. This adolescent perspective isn’t lacking in our culture. There is an influential part of our society that wants complete and utter independence from any authority that can’t be controlled or manipulated by them. They bristle at the idea that one has to accept a rule that they can’t control, like human life is sacred, marriage can’t be reconfigured or gender reassigned. If their premise were accepted, that all rules have to be under human control, this would mean that the principles that govern mankind are merely governed by things in creation. We are more than the things of earth. Our bodies are only a part of who we are. We are created in God’s image and likeness. Our souls have higher law.

Just laws are in accord with one’s nature. I can’t expect the cat that shares my house to sit at the dinner table, wait for me to say grace and then be deft with the manners that govern the proper use of fork and knife. Why is it that often the oldest children are scolded before the younger ones? They have an ability that the younger ones don’t. They know better. Likewise our appetites and strengths don’t govern right and wrong like they do for animals. We answer to a higher law. In turn we enjoy the higher powers of freedom and immortality.

Human freedom is ordered to the good and not evil. To do evil is not freedom, nor a part of freedom, but only a sign that one is free. Freedom is not rooted in the physical ability to do evil, but in the moral ability to do good. “The more one does what is good, the freer one becomes. There is no true freedom except in the service of what is good and just. The choice to disobey and do evil is an abuse of freedom and leads to the “slavery of sin.”” (CCC 1733) “Do you not know that if you present yourselves to someone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one you obey, either of sin, which leads to death, or of obedience, which leads to righteousness?”  (Rom 6:16)

A sports analogy can help. There was a movie that came out a few years ago, called Million Dollar Arm. It’s based on the idea that there are those with extraordinary athletic abilities, no matter what sport they play. So, a baseball scout goes to India and to find some athletes who excel at cricket and bring them back to America to play baseball. Now, to bring these boys into professional baseball, they will have to surrender their way of throwing a ball for a cricket. I don’t know anything about cricket, but I do know that you can’t excel at golf, that is, you will lack the freedom to move the golf ball around the links as you wish, if you insist on using a baseball swing, stance, and grip. Now, tell me. Is this a lack of freedom? Who is more free, the one who insists on using the baseball, hockey, lacrosse or cricket swing to hit the golf ball, because after all these are more options, or the person who is disciplined and stays within the natural physics of golf?

The key to our excelling and living like the immortal divine family member is the moral life. Like the Indian boys pulled from the grinding poverty of India to be professional ball players in the US, they will have to adapt to new rules. When Christ teaches, If you love me, you will keep my commandments. He wants us to know what it is like to live like a royal member of His household. “I no longer call you slaves … but friends…” (Jn 15:13) We don’t know what it is like to live with slaves, but we do own pets. Why do we give them the privilege of living in AC, eating table scraps, watching t.v., going on trips and sharing the intimacy and love of our family?

Well, because our pets aren’t living like they do in nature. If they were tearing up the furniture, doing their business where and when they want, biting and abusing the members of the family, I’m sure that we would reconsider their status as indoor companions. But because they have altered their lifestyle, in as much as their nature permits, they live with us. In fact we extend their lifespan as much as our power permits. Well, Jesus doesn’t want to leave us outdoors to die like an animal. I will not leave you orphans. Yet let’s not get carried away with ourselves, it isn’t our nature to be divine. How will we know what is expected at God’s divine banquet table?

When Moses was sent down river as a baby in a basket, he was a condemned criminal for being born Hebrew. He is an image of the human race that lives under a death sentence because of our birth. In a wonderful way, according to God’s plan, the families that gave Moses this death sentence were the ones who saved him. The mother that gave him his Hebrew status, the very thing that condemned him, surrendered him so as to save him. And the daughter of Pharaoh, the king who condemned him, saved him by taking him in as his own mother. The daughter of Pharaoh gave him royal status. Yet at the same time, Moses natural mother is called in to nurse him.

Our mothers gave us life and a death sentence. The moment we are born, we started to die. To remedy to this problem, most of our mothers sent us down stream as infants. They brought us to the waters of Baptism and we entered into a new family. God became our Father and we are now brothers and sisters of His Son. Moses was nursed by his natural mother but then lived as Pharaoh’s son. Likewise our natural parents raise us but we live with the promised inheritance of living in the Kingdom of Heaven, as members of the royal family of the King of Kings.

It was Pharaoh’s royal daughter that brought the lowborn Hebrew baby, Moses, into Pharaoh’s royal family. Our new mother likewise has a status far beyond her adopted children. She is the one whom the angel declared to be “full of grace.” The Blessed Virgin Mary is always the mother of Jesus, a natural member of the divine family, but also she is the mother of those whom her Son adopts, us. Mary’s new status as our adoptive mother is established when Jesus tells John the Apostle, a representative of His the new Church,  “Behold, your mother.” (Jn 19:27)

To attain heaven, to live as a child of God, we have an adopted mother. How will we know what is expected at God’s divine banquet table? Follow the instructions of your mother. Devotion to her is a certain path to our heavenly home. Ad Iesum per Mariam. If we were to take her up on her plan that we pray the Rosary daily like she instructed the children at Fatima, how could we fail to miss her maternal guidance?

Homily – IV Sunday of Easter

Good Shepherd Sunday

The lockdown called for by the CDC happened March 23, forty days ago, yesterday. As we know our Lent is roughly 40 days (Quadragesima). In a similar fashion our word quarantine comes from the same Latin source and means roughly forty days. In scripture the rains poured down on Noah forty days and forty nights, after which God initiated a covenant with him and his descendants. Moses standing on the threshold between the promises God made to Abraham and a new law went up to Mount Sinai and staid forty days to get the Ten Commandments. The Blessed Mother followed this Mosaic Law and was confined forty days after giving birth to Jesus. Jesus went in to the desert forty days to begin His ministry and initiate the New Testament.

On Friday, May 1, the fortieth day after the President’s recommendations to be locked down the bishops of the United States re-consecrated our nation to the Blessed Virgin Mary and her protection. This act is meant to be a reminder of the effective intercession of the Blessed Mother. We may recall how she rescued the couple in Cana from social disgrace on the day of their wedding when she advocated for them with her Son. The Church in America has a long tradition of turning to her. Bishop John Carroll of Baltimore, the first bishop of the United States, promoted devotion to Mary, the Mother of God, and placed the United States under her protection in1792. The Sixth Provincial Council of Baltimore in 1846 named the Blessed Virgin Mary, under the title of the Immaculate Conception, as the Patroness of the United States, hence the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, D.C.

In our parish church this entire month, we are honoring the Virgin with this statue of Our Lady of Fatima. The Fatima apparitions started in May and spoke of the need to reform in order to avert world catastrophe and usher in an era of peace in our time. The daily Rosary was to be an integral part of realizing this prophetic plan to bring the world in accord with her Immaculate Heart. It is interesting to note that the last time that the churches closed like we are experiencing was exactly one year after Our Lady of Fatima last appeared to the children visionaries. These children were shepherds and so it seems appropriate bring them up on this Good Shepherd Sunday.

How do we know that we are with the Good Shepherd? The Good Shepherd provides for His followers. He established this universal church on the Twelve Apostles, so that throughout history and geography these followers may have His shepherd’s care. We may at times have questions about the men who succeeded the Apostles, their character, their instructions or even example. It seems to me though that that is part and partial to being apostolic.

Were these original bishops, the Apostles, without sin? Peter and Judas’ sins are notorious.

Did they always have the right motivations? James and John tried to angle for VIP spots in the Kingdom of Heaven.

Did they always believe? Thomas’ doubt is renown.

Did they always do what the Holy Spirit revealed? Startlingly we read in Galatians, “And when Kephas (Peter) came to Antioch, I (St. Paul) opposed him to his face because he clearly was wrong.” Paul even speaks of James and Barnabas being in cahoots with this error. “I said to Kephas in front of all, “If you, though a Jew, are living like a Gentile and not like a Jew, how can you compel the Gentiles to live like Jews?” (Gal 2:11-14)

Historically things can get real bad. E.g. the Arian Heresy denied that Jesus is the Son of God. It lasted formally for three hundred years and arguably gave birth to Islam and even some contemporary modern sects such as Jehovah’s Witnesses and Mormons. It has been estimated that over half the bishops at one time were Arian. Then there is the gloomy history of Reformation England. Only one bishop, St. John Fisher, maintained that the successor of St. Peter is head of the Church, the rest said that King Henry VIII was.

So we ought to conclude that it isn’t in individual bishops or in a singular pope, that we find the Good Shepherd but rather in their united effort. The Second Vatican Council teaches in Dei Verbum that “The Magisterium is not above the Word of God but serves it.” Likewise the Council fathers teach that this is also the case for Sacred Tradition. (DV #10) In other words, nobody is making it up as he goes along but rather is beholden to the gift of faith that is passed to him and in turn is obliged, and more importantly, equipped to ensure that that same deposit of faith is passed to the next generation of believers authentically.

Our union with the bishops, united to Peter’s successor, the pope, are how we know that we are under the Good Shepherd.

And so from the beginning and throughout history there is an imperfect use of this gift, yet it would be wrong to conclude that therefore they don’t have the means to speak for Christ authentically and authoritatively. We Jesus Himself gave instruction to His followers it wasn’t always heeded. Yet it was the Apostles who persevered. For example when Jesus was taught unambiguously of need to eat His Flesh and Drink His Blood, He lost a lot of disciples. Jesus turned to the Apostles and asks them if they are going to skidaddle. “Simon Peter answered him, ‘Master, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.’” (Jn 6:68) If it weren’t for Peter and the Apostles would the Lord have had any disciples left?

Ultimately they followed Jesus through obedience to Him and not what the crowd said or even what their own limited understanding dictated. Similar to those early disciples who left Jesus over the Eucharist it was revealed last summer that over 70% of Catholics in America don’t believe in the Eucharist. With such widespread misunderstanding of our Catholic faith today we must give the example of the Apostles.

When the Jesuits returned to Japan after having been expelled for 260 years there were amazed to find in a remote village in the north east of the country where the people gathered every Sunday to pray the Apostles Creed, the Our Father, Hail Mary, Glory Be, Acts of Faith, Hope, Charity and Contrition, and recite the Ten Commandments and the Eight Beatitudes. The flabbergasted missionaries asked about the custom and were told that a long time ago the “fathers” in preparation of their own martyrdom instructed the ancestors of these Christians to do this. And then the jubilation of these Jesuits turned to apprehension when the villagers said that they were given instruction by these same “fathers” that when others would come talking about Christ, they were to ask them four questions. When you enter your churches what do you do? Does your Lord have a mother? Where does the leader of your church live? Do your fathers have wives?

The timeless identifying marks of those under the guidance of the Good Shepherd. The true Presence of the Eucharist, the honor to the Blessed Mother, the successor of St. Peter in Rome and the discipline of celibacy in imitation of Jesus and the Apostles. Ultimately this is where we find the Good Shepherd.

God became one of us. The hallmark of the Incarnation is humility. This virtue is to be always present in the humble instruments that He uses to shepherd His Church. The Good Shepherd leads as one of us, not like those who bark commands over the flock, wielding sticks and employing dogs.

God the Son became one of us. So much so that He Himself practiced obedience, even when every fiber of His being didn’t want to. In the Garden of Gethsemane He resisted to the point of sweating blood. Nevertheless just as He taught His disciples He took up His cross. Chances are that we won’t literally be taking up instruments of our execution. More often the obedience that we are expected to imitate is that of the Child Jesus.

Take Joseph, Our Lord’s foster father. Sacred Scripture describes him as a just man. We know that God the Father entrusted him with the care of the Blessed Virgin Mary and His Incarnate Son, so he must have been quite admirable. Nevertheless that doesn’t mean that he was immaculate. He was a victim of Original Sin like you and me. And so, like Jesus, the Good Shepherd, Who humbled Himself to live and obey under Joseph’s roof and adhere to the Fourth Commandment, so we are called to follow good men who have flawed human nature and enormous and unimaginable responsibility.

Who of us was content with our father’s managing our homes at some point in our youth? Hopefully most can look back and see their father’s wisdom eclipsing their sophomoric understanding of the world. As the saying goes, “When I was a boy of fourteen, my father was so ignorant I could hardly stand to have the old man around. But when I got to be twenty-one, I was astonished at how much he had learned in seven years.” We call this phenomenon 20/20 vision.

By-the-way we are in the year 2020 and 20 + 20 = forty. Hopefully the forty days that we’ve spent will give us the insight needed to improve things in ourselves and the world. Don’t forget the Holy Rosary in that improvement. The Blessed Mother was most clear and emphatic with it being the tool to improve the world in our time. The Good Shepherd not only obeyed Joseph, but especially His immaculate Mother.

We imitate the Good Shepherd and follow His humble lead. Regarding those whom He has called to lead us, we can rest assured that we can’t go wrong in obeying. The great thing about obedience regarding options that are moral (we can’t never obey an immoral law) is that you can’t be wrong. “Let every person be subordinate to the higher authorities, for there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been established by God. Therefore, whoever resists authority opposes what God has appointed, and those who oppose it will bring judgment upon themselves.” (Rm 13:1-2)

Pastor’s Piece – May 2

Happy Easter!

We all know that Governor Northam’s Executive Order 55 would have us remain at home except for some expressed purposes until June 10. We may have forgotten Executive Order 53 where most businesses will be allowed to function, while maintaining social distancing measures, starting May 8. Bishop Burbidge hasn’t forgotten. Although it may appear that our governor will maintain restrictions for the above businesses till June 10, our bishop together with the Bishop Knestout of Richmond intend to press the issue if public worship doesn’t resume May 8. Our bishop wants to show the governor our church’s good faith and commitment to the common good. So waiting till May 8 he believes will establish the sincerity of that commitment, but he assured his priests that “The Diocese is prepared to advocate further for a lift on restrictions if the May 8th date does not ease restrictions in some way.” (April 22, 2020 Presbyteral Council Notes)

I am hopeful that next Sunday will be a big change for the better for us. Of course it won’t be business as usual, but it will be reason to dispense with some cautions.

Bishop Burbidge has cancelled all Confirmations in May and so, I have cancelled all First Holy Communions this month. We plan to have the children make their First Holy Communions September 26 & 27. As far as Confirmation is concerned the bishop is taking extraordinary measures and granting me permission until December 31 to confirm the children and adults of the parish who are prepared.

You learned in catechism class that the bishop is the ordinary minister of Confirmation. At least that’s what I’ve been teaching eighth graders. But if we had an AP Religious Education class we would learn that he isn’t the only one who ordinarily confirms. Priests ordinarily do it when they baptize an adult, bring somebody (who’s not an infant) into the Church or when they encounter somebody in danger of death who lacks the sacrament. If fact the only sacrament that I am powerless to minister is Holy Orders. (Technically I don’t minister Holy Matrimony, rather I officiate the vows. So if you hear word that I’ve ministered matrimony it is reason to pray for my soul.)

I’ll do my best to imitate the successors to the Apostles and confirm our graduating eighth graders September 12. As far as the adults that I’ve been preparing in RCIA our date has yet to be determined. I’d love to celebrate the event on one of the great feast that our church has during June, such as Holy Trinity, Corpus Christi, SS. Peter & Paul or the Birthday of St. John the Baptist. But we know how hard it is to predict the status of things a month from now.

In the mean time I invite everyone to check our cyber presence. We have done some work on these that you might find more helpful:

https://www.saint-stephen.org

https://www.katharinedrexelcc.org

https://www.facebook.com/katharinedrexelcc/?epa=SEARCH_BOX

https://www.facebook.com/St.StephentheMartyrMiddleburg/

By-the-way the Wednesday night Holy Hour (6:30-7:30pm) will continue. It was well attended.

Just in case you don’t have the same source of jokes that I have during our shutdown. What do you call a nun who sleepwalks?

A roamin’ Catholic. 

Christ’s Peace,

Fr. Murphy

P.S. Confessions this week can be found Wednesday 6:30-7:30pm (during the Holy Hour), Friday morning after Mass, and Saturday 3:45-4:45pm.

Pastor’s Message – Covid 19

This Holy Week is going to prove to be different than all the rest. Firstly, most of you won’t be away for Spring Break! What a shame I can’t look forward to your presence for the sacred Triduum celebrations.

We may feel deprived of the Lord this Holy Week. Keep in mind the proximity of the Blessed Virgin Mary who is so prominently at the Lord’s Cross, but all is effectively employed to be with the Church (the Apostles) when our Lord ascends into heaven. She prepared them well for this new experience of Christ. Nevertheless, I shall keep the church open as normal for your visits (6pm – 8pm daily). Regardless, Bishop Burbidge does want me to lock the doors for the Lord’s Last Supper Mass, the Liturgy of the Lord’s Passion and the Easter Vigil. Frankly, I don’t see myself gathering enough enthusiasm to offer those liturgies without at least some of you in attendance, so you won’t actually be missing anything.

Speaking of “some in attendance,” this Sunday there is yet another way to participate. I mentioned last week of the details of the private Masses that I offer. Please, refer to that if you are unclear. This Sunday, in addition to what was previously mentioned, if you happen to pull into the church parking lot and a maximum of ten people are already gathered in front of the church, you may stay in the comfort and protection of your car. Tune into 89.5 FM and enjoy the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass broadcast live from one end of the parking lot to the other.

Here are the details about receiving Holy Communion. If you are in the Church, come to the Altar Rail. If you are outside, I’ll come to you. If you are in the Parish Hall, I’ll bring you Communion. For those in their cars, there is no “drive-thru” service offered.  Seriously the Bishop forbade it. If you are parked closer to the front of the church, come up the walkway and I’ll meet you at the steps. After you receive, break right and walk back to your car down the driveway. If you are in the parking lot by the Parish Hall, wait at the bottom of the steps at the walkway to the Parish Office. I’ll place a traffic cone there to mark the spot.

Bishop Burbidge worked out a satisfactory way for us priests to minister the Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick to those with the virus in the hospital. This is being employed at Fairfax Hospital. Please note, Prince William Hospital seems unwilling. I can press the issue with the powers that be, but I have to know for whom I am advocating. It is important for you to contact me and we can better work things out together. If not, the hospital staff will run interference.

I know that we won’t be together physically at this most solemn time of the year, but we are together in the Lord and in prayer. The parish doesn’t just bring us together in thoughts and prayer, but it continues to rely on your generosity. We still have a wonderful staff who are serving you. Our religious education staff members are organizing lesson plans for each class, each week to study their catechism and prepare for the sacraments. With the help of staff, this week I offered RCIA class in English and in Spanish via a video conference. This was another first for me this week as I offered preparation for the Sacrament of Holy Matrimony on FaceTime. Correspondence, website and Facebook postings, organizing the bulletin (you can find it either at SSM or SKD website), office work, bill paying, and answering requests from the community are still happening because of your continued support in absentia.

Thank you so much for those who are remembering to send us envelopes. It is so reassuring to see this support arrive. Nevertheless, there are many who have discovered the ease of use of Faith Direct and I am equally grateful and encourage others to find its advantages.

Please, be assured of my continued prayers as we weather this difficulty. I pray that your Holy Week may be the unique experience of drawing ever more closely to Our Lord and his Blessed Mother.

 

Christ’s Peace,

Fr. Murphy

SKD 2019 Ministry Fair

Join an SKD Ministry

Thank you, parishioners! Our SKD Ministries are growing thanks to the December 8th Ministry Fair.
You can be an active faith participant by considering one of the many ministries that are helping to grow our vibrant St. Katharine Drexel community. From the meals ministry and choir to Altar attendants or van drivers and Eucharistic Ministers, there is a place for you.
All are welcome to share an hour of time in whatever capacity you feel you can. There is a place for you at SKD!
See the link below for information on our ministries.
https://www.katharinedrexelcc.org/ministries-st-katharine-drexel/

Holiday Sweets to Support the Christian Refugee Relief Fund

Holiday Sweets for Family, Friends, and Business Associates

St Katherine Drexel’s Knights of Columbus Council is sponsoring a holiday season candy sale for the Knights’ Christian Refugee Relief Fund which benefits persecuted Christians and those in their care, especially in the Middle East. Deadline to Order: December 15, 2019.

All orders must be made online at https://www.sarriscandiesfundraising.com/VIEWBYCATEGORY.aspx?id=MA

Use Group ID number:  10-3461

Orders will be shipped directly to the address you specify and delivery timeframes will be specified when you order.  You can share the link for this non-denominational sale with others who may be interested in purchasing gifts.

If you plan on sending sweets to several locations consider establishing an account to streamline your ordering process.

Latest Update on Building Project

Our efforts to construct a permanent home for St. Katharine Drexel are moving along quite well this fall.  Our meeting with the Diocese of Arlington Building Commission is scheduled for October 28 to gain conceptual approval of our approach, financing, and other aspects.

On December 8, 2019, we plan to hold a get-together between the Masses to provide you with an overview of the latest plans.  Refreshments will be available. Please mark it on your calendars.

New Adult Bible Study

Starting this fall, St. Katharine Drexel Mission is pleased to offer two Bible Study options for our church community:

  • Unlocking the Mystery of the Bible
  • Walking with Purpose: Woman’s Catholic Bible Study

Below is information about our newest adult Bible study: Unlocking the Mystery of the Bible.


Unlocking the Mystery of the Bible is an 8 session study to help you get the “big picture” of the Bible by showing how fourteen narrative books of the Bible tell the complete story.

This study begins with Adam and Eve and continues through to Christ and the Church. You will learn how to read the Bible and better understand it.

The study is set to begin in mid-October. If you would like to join us in our study of the Bible, please contact Jackie Lorzing at jackie.lorzing2011@gmail. or 703-754-3859.

 

>> Walking with  Purpose: Catholic Woman’s Bible Study

Let’s Build Our Church: DBC Review

September 2019: An important update from the St. Katharine Drexel Building Committee.

The SKD Building Committee has been busy since June 2019 preparing the information needed by the Diocesan Building Commission to gain approval to proceed to the next steps of our project (e.g., design and construction). Since June, we’ve prepared a detailed financial analysis to demonstrate feasibility and our ability to pay for, own, maintain, and operate our new church building. We assembled all the necessary supporting studies and documentation as required by the Diocese.

What is the Diocesan Building Commission?
The Diocesan Building Commission is comprised of clergy, management, and external experts in real estate, architecture, construction and finance. The Commission was established to ensure projects are appropriately formulated and vetted prior to undertaking significant financial obligations and initiating costly design and construction.

The Diocese supports our need to have a permanent, spiritual home for St. Katharine Drexel to ensure that we provide for the spiritual needs of our current parishioners and minister to new Catholics, all by spreading the Word of Christ. Diocesan representatives lauded the significant support and efforts St. Katharine Drexel’s parishioners have undertaken – both financial and through community formation. This assessment is underscored by the investment the Diocese has already made in acquiring the land ($1.5M) and the support (financial and professional) the Diocese provided in securing the Special Use Permit from Prince William County.

Next Step: Diocesan Building Commission Review
We will be continuing our collaborative work with the Diocese in October to develop a path to build our church in a timely manner and within the appropriate financial parameters.

To that end, we are pleased to announce that the Diocesan Building Commission will formally evaluate our plan approach in their next meeting on October 21, 2019.

The purpose of this meeting is to come to an agreement on the basic financing approach and underlying assumptions and projections. Upon approval from the Diocesan Building Commission, we can then solicit proposals from and interview Design/Build firms, select a firm, refine our concept, start preliminary design, and other activities.

Your Support Makes This Possible
The most important factor that enabled us to get to this point is the incredible financial and spiritual support the dedicated parishioners of St. Katharine Drexel Mission have provided. We appreciate all you do and trust you will continue to support the building of our church through the fulfillment of your Capital Campaign pledge.

Are you new to St. Katharine Drexel Mission or haven’t yet made a financial commitment?  Join our community in supporting the SKD Capital Campaign. We are currently at 94% of our campaign goal and we truly need your help to make it the rest of the way. Together, we can Build Our Church!

In Christ,

David O’Flynn
Building Committee Chairman

 

P.S. – The SKD Building Committee is planning an event this fall to share further details and visual designs. Details will be provided in the coming weeks.