Blog categories can optionally have a description that shows here.

Jesus is the Lamb of God.

Support the Diocese of Obala, Cameroon

On September 20th  our second collection will support the Diocese of Obala, Cameroon.  Please go to https://arlingtonmissions.org/diocese-of-obala-2/ to find out more about their ministry. If you would like to donate to their efforts click the link at the bottom on the page.  Your gifts and prayers will be a blessing to families who benefit from this loving outreach in mission countries!

Pastor’s Piece – August 29

Today’s Pastor’s Piece is a letter from Bishop Burbidge regarding a day of prayer and fasting for peace in our communities on Wednesday, September 9, 2020.

Letter from Bishop Burbidge

Pastor’s Piece – August 22

Last Friday and Saturday ten people in our parish completed their Sacraments of Initiation and were confirmed in the faith. I wish to
congratulate:

• Christian “José Sanchez” Arellano
• Anna “Rita of Cascia” Ferraro
• Eric “Joseph of Cupertino” Montalvo
• Zackery “Sebastian” Montalvo
• Giannina “Fatima” Obando
• Madeline “Augustine” Peters
• César Uriel Cortés-Cortés
• Mayra Graciela Vera-Ramos
• Anthoni Yanel Flores-Arellano
• Candace “Bernadette” Cooper

They have all participated in our parish program over the course of the past year and endured with patience and understanding all of the irregularities
that that entailed. While all of them have pledged to support and promote the faith with the newly received gifts of the Holy Spirit, Candace has taken the extra bold step of converting to the Catholic faith and making us her new family in Christ. It is always a pleasant reminder of the great treasure
that so often we take for granted in the Catholic Church.

Next year’s faith formation is already in the works. We have been reminding parents of the need to register their children for the new year, but I am also considering the need to plan RCIA again in English and Spanish. So far, I have six adults interested in English and one in Spanish. When I say RCIA, this can be convert-class, Catholics adults who need sacraments class or adult members of the parish who just want a refresher course. Please, call the parish office to notify us of your interest or the interest of an associate, and I’ll start planning when and where. The most likely start date is after Columbus Day.

This means that I’ve got to get some vacation time in between now and then. So, you won’t see me this week. As I hope that you are aware, our parish never really “shutdown” during the pandemic, Masses were available  even if they were not scheduled. Nevertheless, it has thrown everybodies’ schedules off and it has finally caught up with us. We’re finally shutting the Masses down. This week Monday – Saturday morning we won’t have Mass. The church will be open during business hours when there is staff to manage it. With all the irregularities, I can’t find a substitute priest to cover for my family’s trip to Virginia Beach this week. As Our Lord responded to His blessed mother’s request to attend a wedding feast, so Mrs. Murphy wouldn’t be too understanding if I was a “no-show” for the family’s vacation.  You’ll be in my prayers as I take the Mass on the road.

Christ’s Peace,

Fr. Murphy

Sunday Mass at Four Hills Farm

We are pleased to share that a parish family has graciously offered their family barn as a temporary home for us to celebrate Mass!  We have been working out the details and are overwhelmingly thankful for this opportunity.  As you know, PWC intends to keep schools closed for awhile making it obvious we are without a Spiritual Home.  It is so sad that we have had no place to worship.

Thankfully, we now have a new temporary home! The joy of again seeing the families of SKD while praising our Lord, will be wonderful.  We have truly missed you!

 So, here are the important details:

Time:  9:00AM
Four Hills Farm
4610 Sudley Road
Catharpin, VA 20143

  • Please stay home , if you feel sick, have a fever, sniffles, or cough.
  • Parking – for most will be down the hill and to the left after passing through the entry gates.  For those who require assistance, drive up the hill and park near the barn entrance.  A ramp is located on the left side of the barn.
  • Wearing a mask.  Bishop Burbidge expects it.  Governor Northam wants it worn but makes allowances for health (mental or physical).  And,  Fr. Murphy will don one for the distribution of Holy Communion.
  • Hand Sanitizer is located at both entrances for your use upon arrival and departure from Mass.
  • Seating – We will do our best to keep everyone seated  6’-0” apart.  Families can be seated in close proximity.  Our Ushers will help shift chairs as needed.
  • Seating – inside will be limited.  Please consider the reduced occupancy when planning your arrival. We encourage you to pack up your lightweight spectator chairs so you can take advantage of sitting outside when necessary.
  • Restrooms are available-wash hands for at least 20 seconds.
  • Collection baskets – will be at each entry to prevent contact as baskets passed around.
  • No Air Conditioning – The barn has ceiling fans that keep the space comfortable during the morning hours.
  • Exiting the Farm – Please exit to the right, toward Manassas.  Visibility is reduced as the road curves just before the driveway.  This will also allow for a smoother departure.  You can turn around at the Alvey Store/ gas station on your left or take a right on Pageland and follow it to Rt. 29 / Gainesville.Father Jon O’Brien Knights Knights of Columbus Council are vigilant about set up and sanitizing all chairs. Indoor seating is set up as follows: single chairs, pairs of 2 and family group of 4, all properly distanced. For outdoor seating, the Knights are setting up a tent. Parishioners may bring lawn chairs and attend Mass outside near the barn. The sound system is excellent.  You may also contact Jeff Carnicelli, Grand Knight, Father Jon O’Brien Knights of Columbus with questions at (703)407-0979.

Pastor’s Piece – July 18

Excerpts from From Married Love and the Gift of Life.

Men and women considering marriage yearn for certain things. They want to be accepted unconditionally by each other. They want their marriage to be filled with love and happiness. They want a family. In short, they want their marriage to be a source of joy and fulfillment their whole life long. God’s plan for marriage, from the time he first created human beings as male and female, has always included all this and more.

Read more from Married Love and the Gift of Live

Homily – The Solemnity of Pentecost

A little background as to what makes the Pentecost event remarkable. “Then they returned to Jerusalem … Peter and John and James and Andrew, Philip and Thomas, Bartholomew and Matthew, James son of Alphaeus, Simon the Zealot, and Judas son of James. All these devoted themselves with one accord to prayer, together with some women, and Mary the mother of Jesus, and his brothers.” (Acts 1:12-14) Following the Lord’s instructions they went to Jerusalem and waited in prayer at the foot of the Blessed Virgin Mary. The most qualified person on earth who had the greatest expertise on the Holy Spirit and the Son of God.

They didn’t sit idle. They went about the work of Church ministry. “‘You, Lord, who know the hearts of all, show which one of these two you have chosen to take the place in this apostolic ministry from which Judas turned away to go to his own place.’ Then they gave lots to them, and the lot fell upon Matthias, and he was counted with the eleven apostles.” (Acts 24-26)

That is the prologue to today’s events in SS. Everything that they were doing, praying with Mary, teaching SS, and ordaining a successor to the Apostles was ratified today as we read, And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit. It was approved. Everything they had done was in accord with God’s will and endorsed by the Holy Spirit. We have now a new entity in the world, the Church. Jesus sent the Paraclete, Counselor, Advocate, His Spirit, on this day 1,987 years ago. Our Lord promises that it is to be here till His return.

Most clearly the power of this entity is manifests itself in the institutional Church. The hierarchical structure designed to draw the world together and lead the world to heaven. Christ prayed that we might all be one. We mustn’t think that such a prayer is pie-in-the-sky. He gave us the means to accomplish His desire at Pentecost.

According to the Annuario Pontificio, the Statistical Yearbook of the Church, Between 2013 and 2018, there was an increase of about 6% of Catholics worldwide. We now number at 1,329,000,000, an increase of 75 million people. (https://press.vatican.va/content/salastampa/it/bollettino/pubblico/2020/03/25/0180/00411.html) Some estimate that we are nearly 18% of the world population. That seems to be an increase from 2010 whereby it was estimated that we were 16%. (https://www.livescience.com/27244-the-world-s-catholic-population-infographic.html)

What accounts for this?

This growth should remind us of the power of the Holy Spirit that is still active. We’ve had some rough times as of recent. And quite literally the Church wasn’t there for us. Historically there are times of crisis where the institutional Church isn’t available. (interdict, war, pestilence) Nevertheless this doesn’t mean that Christ has reneged on His promise to be with us always. St. Paul explained what the Holy Spirit is to the Romans, “The Spirit helps us in our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes with sighs too deep for words.” (Rom 8:26) Hopefully without the Church to help you keep holy the Lord’s Day in the usual manner you engaged in some of your own formal prayers. The Holy Spirit is available to help you form the domestic church too.

God needs to return to a prominent place in our lives. When I say God, I speak of Father, Son and Holy Spirit, yet on this day I explicitly remember that God the Holy Spirit, as promised by God the Son and sent by the Father, has birthed the Church. We must avoid considering the Holy Spirit, Christ, and the Church as separate powers going in different directions. The Holy Trinity is three persons yet one, similarly, the Church is one with Christ.

Through the Church we are more able to give God His due and build our lives in a Christian manner. A life of faith, hope and charity that is infused with supernatural grace from regularly participating in the sacraments.

Recently, I was asked by a diocesan bureaucrat, how might we repackage the church? You know the jive: mission statement, corporate logo, branding, marketing, blah, blah, blah. The idea is that we need to reinvent ourselves to conform to something formed by the corporate world or the market. I stated clearly that we needed the model established by Christ: a parish.

The Apostles today, get the inspiration of the Holy Spirit to proclaim the Gospel. They also got His special charismatic gifts to speak to the multinational group in their own languages. But this isn’t the model that sticks. With that commencement, they established churches in all parts of the world. They didn’t just preach inspirationally to a large group in a variety of languages. They baptized, confirmed, offered Mass, forgave sins, anointed the sick, sanctified marriages and ordained local men in these various locations to keep the believers in contact with the Spirit and His power, not just His inspiring stories.

This is the basic model of our Catholic Church: diocesan and parochial. It is a physical place, where people can come hear the Word of God, be sanctified by the sacraments and take solidarity in follow believers, those who are members of this Mystical Body of Christ. We might do well to nuance it a bit for each different community, but that is the basics that we need to start with. We need that for our SKD community and we at SSM need to get back to that model a.s.a.p.

In the midst of this disruption and anxiety we need the Holy Spirit’s consolation that comes through His gifts of Wisdom, Knowledge, Understanding, Counsel, Fortitude, Piety and Fear of the Lord. You say to yourself that you remember a vague lesson in catechism class that spoke of those. How to we get them? Or rather, better said, how do we activate them?

Don’t overlook the great gift that the Apostles had and treasured, the Blessed Virgin Mary. On the first day of the Month of Mary our nation’s bishops invoked her intercession when they re-consecrated the US to the BVM and her protection. Here we are gathered for a our first Public Mass on the last day of May, a day that providentially has the double significance this year of being not only the day that we traditionally celebrate Our Lady’s Visitation, May 31, but also the day that marks the birth of the Church, a day that she helped midwife, Pentecost.

Pray the Rosary. It is the prescription for our age. Live-stream Masses are great, but don’t be a passive couch potato in prayer. Pick up the beads and get involved in the Mysteries of the Rosary, the mystery of our faith, the fruit, the evidence of the Holy Spirit at work in our world. Let her help you bring Him into your home.

Pastor’s Piece – SSM Open for Public Masses

Pastor’s Piece – May 30, 2020

In accord with the Governor Northam’s and Bishop Burbidge’s permission, we are going public this Sunday at St. Stephen the Martyr Church. As you know this is not back to normal. There are many new instructions. Due to the constant barrage of information these past two months there are many who suffer from anxiety. As a consequence they may regard certain present instructions as a matter of life and death and falsely think that to depart from such guidelines is to actually place one’s wellbeing in mortal danger. The following graph I find helpful for perspective.

Such information does not give license to ignore prudent guidelines, yet those who equate such guidelines with the gravity we should have toward mortal sin are not welcome to make a fuss. If you or those for whom you care are vulnerable to infection or the serious effects of coronavirus, please, stay at home. Those who are “vulnerable” are over the age of sixty five (once more, no i.d. needed), those who have existing heart or lung conditions, have diabetes, and or are otherwise immune-compromised. Others who should consider staying home are those who simply feel sick.

Bishop Burbidge expects facemasks to be worn and Governor Northam’s rules regarding such practice are clear about their use at church. Nevertheless those not wearing mask should not receive our reproach. The following are from the governor’s Executive Order 63:

  • A – 6 “Face coverings may be removed to participate in a religious ritual.”
  • D 6 – “Nothing in this Order shall require the use of a face covering by any person for whom doing so would be contrary to his or her health or safety because of a medical condition. Any person who declines to wear a face covering because of a medical condition shall not be required to produce or carry medical documentation verifying the stated condition nor shall the person be required to identify the precise underlying medical condition.”

While the facemask maybe de rigueur, the bishop gives me permission to not wear mine. Nevertheless I shall don one for the distribution of Holy Communion.

In compliance with Executive Order 63 and the integration of Phase 1, we have permission to fill our church to 50% capacity. The reality is that we will no where near approach 140 persons seated (maybe if you count the guardian angels who attend to us). Once we calculate social distancing measures as currently recommended, we can expect a minimum of 20 people in the nave. If persons arrive from the same household or vehicle we could have up to 48 people in church. So, we must sit six feet apart from individuals, unless from the same house or car, and sit six feet from the aisles. Look for the dark blue tape on the floor to of the pews. Sit between them.

The nave is not the only venue. We can seat minimally 4 and possibly 16 in the narthex. In the parish hall I’ve placed 30 seats and two pews where we could possibly have 38 people. Along with the speaker in the parish hall, I’ll be broadcasting the Mass on FaceTime. I don’t think that there is a county code that regulates how many can sit outdoors. Social distancing and one’s ability to hear the outdoor speaker system may be the only factors that determine the number that gathers there. There will be 30 chairs available and weather permitting the front doors of the church will be open. Or feel free to sit in your car and tune into 89.5 FM “The Martyr”. Please note, the procedure has changed for those attending Mass via vehicle. At the time for Holy Communion, I invite you to approach the altar rail.

We are expected to disinfect our hands for things like Holy Communion. I’ll have some hand sanitizing stations available. You are welcome to BYOB. If you wish you may bring an empty bottle for some home brew, small batch Holy Water. This newly controlled substance is in the usher’s closet. Help yourself. Remember that the password is “Wuhan”.

Besides the fact that there is no longer an obligation to attend Mass (until further notice), there are some changes to the Mass:

  • No holding hands during the Lord’s Prayer.
  • No exchange of peace.
  • No distribution of the Precious Blood.
  • Only Priests & Deacons distribute Communion.
  • Only those in a state of grace may receive Communion, but those who have health concerns are not obliged.
  • One is encouraged to disinfect his hands immediately before receiving Communion.
  • Please maintain social distancing in the Communion line.
  • One retains the right to decide how to receive, whether on the tongue or in the hand.
  • Holy Communion cannot be received in the hand with gloves.
  • I am to disinfect my hand immediately if accidental contact is made with a communicant.

Procedures at SSM to be aware of:

  • Ushers will maintain roughly the 140 person number and social distancing in the church. Please, follow their instructions.
  • All this social distancing allows for extra people to enter the church to receive Holy Communion. I invite those attending in the church nave, narthex, front porch and parking lot to come to Communion at the altar rail.
    • Please, queue up single-file in the main aisle.
    • Follow the tape markers on the floor for the spot to wait.
  • Regarding the altar rail:
    • There are six Communion stations.
    • They provide proper spacing, time for preparation and recollection, and speed.
      • Each properly spaced Communion station at the rail has a pad for kneeling.
      • One has the option to receive standing or kneeling but the pad is the location from which to communicate.
      • One may receive on the hand or on the tongue regardless of posture.
      • Look for tape on the floor for guidance as to where to stand while waiting for the communicant ahead to receive.
    • Wearing a mask for Holy Communion will require extra time that the altar rail provides, such as:
      • The removal and reapplying of masks.
      • A moment extra to recollect oneself for the great unique privilege of sacramentally receiving Our Lord.
      • I ask that the mask be lowered from one’s mouth when I present the Eucharist.
        • It would be impossible to receive Holy Communion on the tongue if it isn’t.
        • For those receiving on the hand, I fear that one may drop the Sacred Host while engaging in this unfamiliar action of holding the Sacred Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Our Lord and Savior in one hand and deftly extricating one’s mask with the other hand.
      • Counter-intuitively the altar rail will be faster because I am the one moving and therefore the whole congregation doesn’t depend on the speed of one individual communicant.
    • Those in the parish hall, please, wait for me to bring Communion to you at your place.

I’m obliged to disinfect the church and hall after each Mass. Volunteers are welcome. We need to wipe down pews and chairs after Mass to prepare for the next one. Lamentably this may cut into the time of those who prefer a lengthier thanksgiving after Mass. Please, be flexible. We are trying to serve as many as possible.

In compliance with the bishop’s instructions that the church be well ventilated I am opening the windows and doors this Sunday. The forecast appears very amendable to such a practice, but I don’t know for how long we can keep that up.

In preparation for Mass this Sunday, look for a QR code posted outside of the church and on our website. This will provide your smartphone with the lyrics to the hymns that we’ll be using. In addition we have limited disposable copies of these hymns printed for your use.

Mass times for Pentecost, May 31: 8:00 & 10:00am in English and 12:30pm in Spanish. There is no Saturday evening Mass of anticipation for Sunday. Daily Mass will resume at its scheduled time of 8:30am with the addition of Saturday morning Mass (8:30am). Also, we’ll return to Wednesday evening Mass at 6:30 in Spanish before the Eucharistic Holy Hour starting at 7:00.

 

Christ’s Peace,

Fr. Murphy

Homily – Feast of the Ascension

I understand that one of the many casualties of the Coronavirus is that our beloved graduates don’t get a graduation ceremony. They are deprived of some VIP and the valedictorian give commencement addresses. In their place I offer them Our Lord and Savior. Today’s gospel account was our Lord’s commencement address to the Apostles who were the first graduates of the messianic school of divinity. His words are quite simple and to the point. Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations …  teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.

Traditionally, the feast of the Ascension reminds us of the humanity that Jesus brings to heaven, kind of like Neil Armstrong on the moon, “one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.” But there is more to this feast than the Apostles marveling about what Jesus did. It isn’t about the followers of Christ waiting around till we have our chance to join Him in heaven. The point of this commencement address is about their mission and how He will be with them. Simply put, they and their followers, us, are to share the faith. Our faith teaches that God Almighty in His Omniscience has placed us, with our particular gifts and talents for this time, space and people. He has freely chosen us for this task to do the right thing, that which is in accord with truth, justice & charity. In so doing we become a sign of hope for the world.

No doubt that we often feel inadequate, unfamiliar or even afraid. Next Sunday we celebrate how the Holy Spirit ignited the conflagration of Christianity in the world. We particularly celebrate how that same Divine Force bestowed the gifts of Wisdom, Understanding, Knowledge and Counsel. Through our Baptism and Confirmation we have our own personal Pentecost. We too receive these gifts for the divine mission.

After the Ascension of Our Lord the Apostles head to Jerusalem to pray and wait as Jesus instructed. But after Pentecost, they don’t remain there. After our full initiation into the faith by Confirmation & Holy Communion, we mustn’t stagnate. It’s contradictory to the Christian life. At the end of each and every Mass we are reminded of this mission, Ite misa est. Not merely, “Go forth the Mass is ended”, or “Go and announce the Gospel of the Lord”, or even, “Go in peace, glorifying the Lord by your life.” It is rather ‘Go y’all, it is sent.’ That is, the Holy Spirit sent by Jesus and His Father is at the lead. We merely follow His prompting.

“One of the more serious temptations which stifles boldness and zeal is a defeatism…. Nobody can go off to battle unless he is fully convinced of victory beforehand. If we start without confidence, we have already lost half the battle and we bury our talents. While painfully aware of our own frailties, we have to march on without giving in …” (Pope Francis, Evangelium Gaudium, #85)

We are assured of victory. Jesus gives us the end of the story. Meanwhile before that triumphant moment, we are called and equipped to do our part for Our King Who wishes to expand His Kingdom on earth in the hearts and minds of mankind. Sister Janet Erskine Stuart says, “If you look to Sacred History, Church History, and even to your own experience … you will see that God’s work is never done in the ideal conditions, never as we should have imagined or chosen.” (Legion of Mary Handbook, #24, p. 301) I.e. Our human estimate of poor conditions or lack of talent is not an obstacle for God. In fact we hear Our Lord tell St. Paul, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is made perfect in weakness.” (2Cor 12:9) No excuses! Our limitations are not obstacles. Rather they are required for success. It is how God works. He takes great pleasure in adding His Divine Grace to our human nature. So we have to do our part to cooperate.

How many today succumb to fear, complacency or false ideas about all religions being equal? Do we not believe that Jesus is the way, the truth and the life? We broadcast this loudly when our lives conform to the truth of His teachings. When we put our lives on His path of the moral way of life, we teach better than any talented or cleaver defense of the faith. This also gives us the courage to teach boldly. I wonder whether the popular compromise of our convictions has more do with the compromise of our life-style.

You know the lines of the ostensibly Catholic politician, ‘I’m personally opposed to abortion, but in a pluralistic society we don’t have the right to impose our beliefs on anybody. So, whatever the people want is what we have to accept.’ We wouldn’t accept a leader say that regarding racism, hunger, ignorance or injustice. The personally opposed argument is faithless and cowardly. This is blasphemy for one who has the Holy Spirit’s gifts of Fortitude, Piety and Fear of the Lord.

Before time began, God chose to place us here in this time and space, with these people and with these problems. We may not feel expert or up to the task, but that’s okay, neither did Moses. He told God that he didn’t know how to speak publically, or Jeremiah. He told the Lord that he was too young, or Peter. He told Jesus to leave him for he was a sinner, or even the Blessed Virgin Mary. She said to the archangel that she was a mere virgin.

The Lord’s Ascension challenges us to assent to our Lord’s command to share the faith and trust in His promise that He is with us until the end of the age. As we go forth each day and take on the task at hand in our lives with fidelity and love, we become a sign of hope in a desperate world.

Pastor’s Piece – May 23

I hear good reports regarding your health and the Coronavirus. The three persons of our communities that were roughed up a bit by COVID-19 are recovering well. I pray and hope that this trend persists. Although we can’t go “public” this Sunday we can prepare. God willing and Governor Northam & Loudoun County cooperating, we’ll be have Public Masses at St. Stephen the Martyr next Sunday, Pentecost, May 31. In order to get everyone ready with the expectations and procedures, I have sent you what Bishop Burbidge instructs for Phase I parishes. And as he has instructed me, here is how these guidelines apply to SSM.

Let’s start with the expectations. Firstly to gather for Mass at SSM we do so in a spirit of charity. Out of charity we mustn’t endanger the health of our neighbor. If you or those for whom you care are vulnerable to infection or the serious effects of coronavirus, please, stay at home. Those who are “vulnerable” are over the age of sixty five (I won’t be checking your i.d.), those who have existing heart or lung conditions, have diabetes, and or
are otherwise immune-compromised. Others who should consider staying home are those who simply feel sick.

According to the governor and the bishop we are able to fill our church and adjoining spaces up to 50%. That means for the nave of the church we have a maximum seating capacity of 140 rumps. This number will be diminished by social distancing guidelines whereby we are to leave six feet between each other, unless we’re from the same household. I will block off every other pew and ask you to use your judgment and, please, follow the instructions of our ushers to accommodate these guidelines.

The nave is not the only venue to attend Mass. We can seat up to 8 more people in the narthex. Theoretically I can seat 50 people in the parish hall, but I’ll need to place the chairs in there this week to see what that looks like. Similarly I’ll try to gather a number for those seated in front exterior of the church. I don’t think that there is a county code that regulates how many can sit outdoors. Social distancing and one’s ability to hear the speaker system may be the only factors that determine the number that gathers there. Or feel free to sit in your car. I’ll broadcast the Mass on 89.5 FM “The Martyr”.

The bishop’s guidelines mention expectations. There are expectations to wear facemasks (not requirements). And so you can expect Fr. Murphy not to wear one. You can expect to feel free to wear one (the bishop encourages it). You can expect that if your neighbor isn’t wearing one that it is the sin of rash judgment to consider him uncharitable. If you find these expectations troubling, it may be a good barometer to help you determine if you should attend. Generally speaking, I find that the mask is rather optional in Middleburg. If this makes you uncomfortable, then perhaps you’re not ready.

We are expected to disinfect our hands for things like Holy Communion. I’ll have some hand sanitizing stations available. You are welcome to bring your own. Please, know that it should contain 60% alcohol. Speaking of hooch. Holy Water isn’t prohibited, but it is now a controlled substance. We stash it is the Usher’s Closet. BYOB (bring your own bottle) and help yourself.

Besides the fact that there is no longer an obligation to attend Mass (until further notice), there are some reminders and actual changes to the Mass as instituted by Bishop Burbidge:

  • No holding hands during the Lord’s Prayer.
  • No exchange of peace.
  • No distribution of the Precious Blood.
  • Only Priests & Deacons distribute Communion.
  • Only those in a state of grace may receive Communion, but those who have health concerns are not obliged.
  • One is encouraged to disinfect his hands immediately before receiving Communion.
  • Please maintain social distancing in the Communion line.
  • One retains the right to decide how to receive, whether on the tongue or in the hand.
  • Holy Communion cannot be received in the hand with gloves.
  • I am to disinfect my hand immediately if accidental contact is made with a communicant.

Procedures at SSM to be aware of:

  • I invite those attending in the church nave, narthex, front porch and parking lot near the front of the church to come to Communion at the altar rail.
  • Those in the parish hall or seated in a car near the parish hall, please, wait for me to bring Communion to the hall after those in the church receive.
  • Regarding the altar rail:
    • There are six Communion stations.
    • They provides proper spacing, time for preparation and recollection, and speed.
      • Each properly spaced Communion station at the rail has a pad for kneeling.
      • One has the option to receive standing or kneeling but the pad is the location from which to communicate.
      • One may receive on the hand or on the tongue regardless of posture.
      • Look for tape on the floor for guidance as to where to stand as one waits for the communicant ahead to receive.
      • Such tape indicators are found throughout the main aisle.
    • Many will have for the first time the experience of wearing a mask for Holy Communion. This will require extra time for:
      • The removal and reapplying of masks.
      • It will require a moment extra to recollect oneself for the great unique privilege of sacramentally receiving Our Lord.
      • I ask that the mask be lowered from one’s mouth when I present the Eucharist.
        • It would be impossible to receive Holy Communion on the tongue if it isn’t.
        • For those receiving on the hand, I fear that one may drop the Sacred Host while engaging in this unfamiliar action of holding the Sacred Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Our Lord and Savior in one hand and deftly extricating one’s mask with the other hand.
      • Counter-intuitively this will be faster because I am the one moving and therefore the whole congregation doesn’t depend on the velocity of one individual communicant.
    • Those in vehicles must come into the church or parish hall to receive.
    • Ushers will maintain roughly the 140 number and social distancing in the church during this time, so, please, follow their instructions.
    • Those in the Parish Hall can line up and follow the markings on the floor in order to maintain social distancing.

I’m obliged to disinfect the church and hall after each Mass, so I need some volunteers. We need to wipe down pews and chairs after Mass to prepare for the next one. Lamentably this may cut into the time of those who prefer a lengthier thanksgiving after Mass. Please, be flexible, we are trying to serve as many parishioners as possible.

Mass times for Pentecost, May 31: 8:00 & 10:00am in English and 12:30pm in Spanish. There is no Saturday evening Mass of anticipation for Sunday.

 

Christ’s Peace,

Fr. Murphy

 

P.S. This Sunday’s Private Mass (May 24) is the same as last week. If you have no idea what that means, ask around, we’re getting a reputation.

P.P.S. On May 29th, the Knights of Columbus will be collecting non-perishable food to replenish the Saint Lucy Project’s food warehouse. Donations will be accepted at the Food Lion parking lot off Washington Street in downtown Haymarket between 10AM and 2PM on Friday the 29th. If you can’t deliver your donation to the Food Lion parking lot on the 29th, you may bring any donations to Saint Stephens from May 11– May 28. There will be a bin labeled “St.Lucys” in the narthex for your donation.

 

Guide for the Lay Faithful from the Diocese of Arlington – May 13, 2020

Pastor’s Piece – May 15

Here is the latest update from our chief pastor:

It is great news that we are now beginning to offer public celebrations of the Mass in some areas of our diocese. While we would like to join together as quickly as possible, we must proceed cautiously, consistent with guidance from state and local officials and health experts, in an effort to continue protecting the health and safety of parishioners, volunteers, staff, clergy and all who serve throughout the Diocese.

As we move forward, portions of the Diocese will reopen at different times as the commonwealth takes a regional approach to Phase One of re-opening. Governor Ralph Northam originally announced that many areas of the commonwealth will enter Phase One of re-opening on May 15. At the request of local officials in Northern Virginia, the Governor has delayed Northern Virginia’s re-opening until at least May 29. The areas impacted are Arlington, Fairfax, Loudoun and Prince William Counties (and those cities located within that area) along with the City of Alexandria.

Parishes in Northern Virginia will not be able to celebrate public Masses at this time. However, all parishes in these Northern Virginia counties are permitted, but not mandated, to conduct Communion services, provided they are done in a manner consistent with existing social distancing protocols and health and safety guidelines. It is left to the prudential judgment of each pastor to determine if his parish is able to move in this direction. Please contact your local parish to see if it will be offering this liturgy.

Beginning May 16, parishes outside of Northern Virginia will be permitted, but not mandated, to resume public celebration of the Mass if the parish’s pastor feels confident that Masses can be celebrated safely and in accordance with diocesan protocols. As such, parishioners outside of Northern Virginia should contact their parish to know if Masses will be publicly celebrated. During this time and due to capacity limits, please do not plan to attend liturgies at any parish other than your own. Parishes will continue to livestream the Mass to the best of their ability.

Guidelines for celebrating the Mass in Phase One include gathering at no more than 50% of the lowest occupancy of the room or facility, ensuring proper social distancing and diligently maintaining cleaning schedules. Additionally, all parishioners are expected to wear face coverings while on parish property. Due to social distancing requirements, not all parishes will be able to accommodate 50% capacity. Pastors of parishes outside of Northern Virginia have the discretion to decide if they can safely enter Phase One. For the health of our priests and in order to allow for thorough cleaning between Masses, not all parishes will maintain a normal Mass schedule.

Until further notice, I am continuing the dispensation from the obligation to attend Mass on Sundays and Holy Days of Obligation. I encourage those who are 65 years old or older, as well as those with underlying health conditions, to avoid gatherings of the general public and attending public liturgies.

In laying out the details of how we move forward, I will continue to be assisted by the Diocese of Arlington’s Reintegration Working Group, which has been meeting regularly and is providing requirements, recommendations and resources to parishes as they begin to hold public Masses.

Key resources have been provided to help parishioners worship safely. In consultation with our pastors, I am confident we are responding to the best of our ability to the spiritual and physical wellbeing of the faithful and making appropriate progress in upholding with public health and federal, state and local directives. As this situation continues evolving, each phase will allow us the opportunity to take steps in a positive direction in unity and faith.

May we continue to pray for one another and all those who need our prayers, especially at this time. We will continue to keep the faithful updated as the situation evolves.

Sincerely in Christ,

Bishop Michael F. Burbidge

 

Christ’s Peace,

Fr. Murphy

 

P.S. Please, feel free to participate at SSM this Sunday as has been the custom. Nevertheless I am changing procedure for Holy Communion. For those who are listening to Mass on 89.5 FM “The Martyr” in their cars, don’t line up for Communion. I will distribute to those in the church, porch and hall, and then give the final blessing. Afterwards I will bring Communion to your vehicle. Please, be waiting outside of it if you wish to receive. This will avoid the large groupings.

 

P.P.S. On May 29th, the Knights of Columbus will be collecting non-perishable food to replenish the Saint Lucy Project’s food warehouse.  Donations will be accepted at the Food Lion parking lot off Washington Street in downtown Haymarket between 10AM and 2PM on Friday the 29th.  If you can’t deliver your donation to the Food Lion parking lot on the 29th, you may bring any donations to Saint Stephens from May 11– May 28. There will be a bin labeled “St.Lucys” in the narthex for your donation