Friday, September 27, 2013

Matthew Kelly Coming to the Diocese of Arlington

Acclaimed writer and speaker Matthew Kelly is coming to the Arlington Diocese for a special event -- "Living Every Day with Passion & Purpose." Co-hosted by Blessed Sacrament and other parishes, this morning-long celebration of faith will take place on March 22, 2014, from 9 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. at Saint Mary's church in Alexandria.

"Are you thriving or just surviving? Are you ready for more energy? A deeper sense of purpose? More joy? A clearer understanding of God’s plan for your life?"
-- This program seeks to help you to become a bold and dynamic Catholic, "living with passion and purpose."

So, save the date, tell your friends, and watch for news on how to get tickets to this exciting event.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Bishop Loverde Invites You to Our Diocesan Pilgrimage on October 12

Bishop Paul S. Loverde
Diocese of Arlington
It is the grace of God and His Son's sacrifice on the Cross that enables us to reach the finish line of eternal life, but we must be willing participants. This means more than just fulfilling our Sunday obligation, though this is certainly essential; it means putting Christ first in our life. To train, we must set aside time for prayer, for spiritual reading, for learning more about the rich deposit of our faith. The Lord is waiting for us to respond to His invitation to delve deeper into a personal relationship with Him. . . .

I invite you to set aside Saturday, October 12 in order to participate in our biennial Diocesan Pilgrimage. This is a concrete way to grow in faith, a day when thousands of diocesan parishioners make the journey to the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, D.C. The pilgrimage will consist of Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament with a guided meditation, the celebration of the Holy Eucharist and the availability of the Sacrament of Penance, all spent in the magnificent Shrine dedicated to Our Lady, our first model in faith and discipleship.

During this year's pilgrimage, we will not only have the opportunity to pray with the members of our diocesan Church, but also with Catholics around the world. On the afternoon of October 12, we will participate in an international simulcast wherein ten Marian Shrines around the world will pray the Rosary. This afternoon of prayer with the universal Church will include a message from Pope Francis, uniting himself with us during this Year of Faith.

I encourage you to make this Pilgrimage the first step in your recommitment to an intentional faith, whereby the Lord Jesus is the center of your life. Remember, the Lord cannot be outdone in generosity. The sacrifices that you make in spending time with Jesus and in other activities will bear great fruit in your spiritual life. The Diocesan Pilgrimage is one small journey in the larger pilgrimage that each one of us is making — the pilgrimage to join Mary and the saints at the finish line: in Heaven with the Lord!
Find out more information here. This pilgrimage of faith will encourage families to commit to praying together daily, an essential practice that will help create much-needed peace and stability within the foundation of society, the family. Please join us at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception at 9:30 a.m. on October 12, the vigil of the feast of Our Lady of Fatima. If you would like transportation from Blessed Sacrament to the Basilica and back, please contact Susan Doyle by clicking on this e-mail link before October 6 to receive further information.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Theology on Tap at Blessed Sacrament:
Father Dyer and Perfect Love Casting Out Fear

Fear. Life often brings with it all sorts of fears. Fear of dangers, fear of worldly things, fear of losing worldly things, fear of ourselves, fear of God or at least fear of our conception of God. Are these fears justified, are they reasonable, or are some or all of them irrational? What can be done about our fears?

For Theology on Tap this week, Father Rich Dyer explores the question of fear and suggests an answer with his talk "Perfect Love Casts Out Fear." Please click on the link to this mp3 podcast to listen or right click to save it to listen later.

Father Dyer is another in a line of exceptional new priests that we are blessed to have. He was first assigned to Blessed Sacrament as a transitional deacon and then ordained to the priesthood in December 2011. Ever since he has been a bright light of faith. But the journey wasn't always easy - there were fears about what to do in his life, about what God was really calling him to do. Along the way, though, he sought the guidance of a saint, Thérèse of Lisieux, and she helped him to learn and understand that the answer to fear, as it is the answer to all other things, is love - the love of God, the love for God. As is said in the letter of Saint John from which the title of the talk is derived, "There is no fear in love, but perfect love drives out fear" (1 John 4:18).

To be sure, this lesson was impressed upon Father Dyer in a very profound way. Normally, ordinations in Arlington are held in the spring, not December, but Bishop Loverde ordained Father Dyer early so that his father, who was seriously ill at the time, could attend. It was feared that his father would not make it to the spring and, in fact, his father died the day after the ordination. And so, the birth of his priesthood was an occasion of both happiness and mourning, joy and suffering. It was a time of love -- love of the Lord, love for the Lord, and love for one another.

Note: On Monday, September 30, Father Dyer will be appearing in the "live and in person" version of Theology on Tap at 3207 Washington Blvd., across from St. Charles Borromeo in the Clarendon neighborhood of Arlington. He will be speaking about St. Thérèse to kick-off the fall 2013 series, "Want to be Truly Great? Come, follow Me," focusing on the lives of the saints and how we can practically apply their lived heroic virtues in our time. So come and see and listen to Father Dyer and have some food and a pint too!

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Blessed Sacrament School

Blessed Sacrament School has established a new Facebook page for its Annual Fund. They have also put together a delightful video of students thanking everyone for all of their support of the school.

Also, on October 4, 2013, there will be an "BSS Annual Fund Back to School Parents Night Out" at Samuel Beckett's Irish Gastro Pub in Shirlington, 2800 S. Randolph St., across from the parking structure. They say that it will be a fund way to gather with BSS friends and colleagues, to catch up with friends, meet new families, and get to know one another better, and to toast Blessed Sacrament's blue ribbon school. (Blame them for the bad pun.)

Our Catholic schools play an indispensable and irreplacable role in the education and formation of our young people. They are also a crucial component of the New Evangelization by being a bridge between the Church and the wider community, helping to make our world better by bringing the love and truth and light of Jesus Christ to others.

Unfortunately, the days are gone when parents could send their kids to a Catholic school for nominal cost. Due to factors in the economy beyond the Church's control, education expenses have gone up and up and up since many of us older people were in Catholic schools. Notwithstanding the enormous efforts of the diocese and the parish to keep costs down, including providing financial assistance themselves, more help is needed for families to be able to send their children to a Catholic school rather than be at the mercy of secular public schools, all too many of which do not share our Catholic values. The communities of Blessed Sacrament and Alexandria are no exception to this.

During his visit to the United States, His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI made an appeal for the entire Catholic community to contribute generously to the financial needs of our Catholic institutions of learning.
Their long-term sustainability must be assured. Indeed, everything possible must be done, in cooperation with the wider community, to ensure that they are accessible to people of all social and economic strata. No child should be denied his or her right to an education in faith, which in turn nurtures the soul of a nation. . . .

Only in faith can truth become incarnate and reason truly human, capable of directing the will along the path of freedom (cf. Spe Salvi, 23). In this way our institutions make a vital contribution to the mission of the Church and truly serve society.
If you can help with your financial support, not only would families, students, and the Church be grateful, you would be making an investment in building a better, more just and more caring world. Please go here for more information on how you can support the Annual Fund.

Friday, September 13, 2013

Theology on Tap at Blessed Sacrament:
Father Hurd and Forgiveness

With the anniversary of September 11 still fresh in our minds, and as we learn more about horrors and evils like chemical warfare, the question arises of what to do about such things? One response is to retaliate, to take "punitive action" against the wrongdoers. Another response is far more radical and one that is often as misunderstood as it is avoided - forgiveness. Forgive? Forgive that?? For many the very idea of forgiving is to provoke outrage and the objection "what about justice???"

The idea of forgiveness, especially the forgiveness that our infinitely merciful Lord offers us, has been a big theme for Pope Francis, and it is one that our world greatly needs at this time.

The urge is great that if you injured me, then I'll make you sorry for it and injure you back and call that justice. Of course, when we hit back, then they might say the same thing and hit us back in return, and the cycle of violence and hate goes on and on. Or maybe we don't counterattack, but simply hold grudges and nurse the resentments, saying to ourselves that what was done is "unforgiveable." All the while, thinking that we are somehow getting back at the wrongdoer by being resentful, we are actually allowing all of that anger and bile to destroy us from within.

This week on Theology on Tap we have Father Scott Hurd on "Forgiving Others: A Catholic Approach," which is both the title of his talk and his recent book. Please click on the link to this mp3 podcast or right click to save it to listen later. A native of Alexandria, together with his family, Father Hurd is a member of the parish of Blessed Sacrament, but a priest for the Archdiocese of Washington. He also serves as Vicar General of the Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of Saint Peter, having previously been an Episcopal priest who in 1996 entered the Catholic Church. In 2000, Father Hurd was ordained a Catholic priest under the Pastoral Provision, which permits married former Anglican clergy to be ordained Catholic priests.

"The forgiveness we are called to offer is a decision, a process and a gift. It’s a decision because by forgiveness we choose to let go of any desire for revenge or retaliation, and we free ourselves of the bitterness and resentment that harden our hearts," says Father Hurd. "Forgiveness is a process because letting go of resentment takes time; we may need to make the decision to forgive over and over again! Finally, forgiveness is a gift of love that we give freely, without expectations, exceptions or limits. It is neither earned nor deserved. When we love the ones we forgive, we wish them happiness, not harm; well, not woe; heaven, not hell."

Note what Father Hurd says here: not "when we forgive the ones we love," but "when we love the ones we forgive." Jesus calls us to forgive and forgive and forgive -- forgive even the people we don't like, even those who have done us great harm, just as we ask Jesus in all humility to forgive us for all the bad and harmful and, yes, evil things we have done. The evil that has been done to us or by us is done and cannot be undone, but if prospective danger and evil remain, we can rightly take steps to prevent it. Forgiveness does not preclude justice, but tempers it with mercy and prevents the perpetuation of the evil, all while remembering that Jesus took all that justice upon Himself on the Cross, transforming death to new life.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Remembering September 11

O God of love, compassion, and healing,
look on us, people of many different faiths and traditions,
who gather today to remember the attacks on our nation,
that day of incredible violence and pain twelve years ago.

We ask you in your goodness
to give eternal light and peace
to all who died in Arlington, New York, and Pennsylvania -—
the heroic first-responders: our fire fighters, police officers, emergency service workers, and Port Authority personnel,
along with all the innocent men and women
who were victims of this tragedy
simply because their work or service
brought them there on September 11, 2001.

We ask you, in your compassion
to bring healing to those
who, because of their presence there that day,
suffer from injuries and illness.
Heal, too, the pain of still-grieving families
and all who lost loved ones in this tragedy.
Give them strength to continue their lives with courage and hope.

We are mindful as well
of those who suffered death, injury, and loss
in the days and years following in the on-going battle against terrorism.
Our hearts are one with theirs
as our prayer embraces their pain and suffering.

God of peace, bring your peace to our violent world:
peace in the hearts of all men and women
and peace among the nations of the earth.
Turn to your way of love
those whose hearts and minds
are consumed with hatred.

God of understanding,
overwhelmed by the magnitude of this tragedy,
we seek your light and guidance
as we confront such terrible events.
Grant that those whose lives were spared
may live so that the lives lost here
may not have been lost in vain.
Comfort and console us,
strengthen us in hope,
and give us the wisdom and courage
to work tirelessly for a world
where true peace and love reign
among nations and in the hearts of all.
--See Prayer His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI at Ground Zero, New York
Sunday, 20 April 2008

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Pope Francis: rebuild peace and harmony with encounter, not conflict

Pope Francis decisively denounced all forms of violence, during Saturday's vigil for peace at St. Peter's Square. Nearly 100,000 people joined him during the four hour prayer service to Our Lady.

Friday, September 6, 2013

Theology on Tap at Blessed Sacrament:
Father Workman and the Simple Truth

Next up on Theology on Tap is Father Jamie R. Workman, a beloved previous Parochial Vicar at Blessed Sacrament, but now in full-time ministry in the Office of Canonical Affairs and the Diocesan Tribunal, with residence at the Church of Saint Luke in McLean.

What is so interesting and exciting about Father Workman, besides his insightful knowledge of the faith, is his conversion story. It is a love story about his encounter with Jesus and then His Church, which led him to enter the Catholic Church and then answer the call to become a priest.

We at Blessed Sacrament first met Jamie Workman when he was still a transitional deacon and then a newly-ordained baby priest. He is still, as he was then, on fire for the Lord. Please click on the link to this mp3 podcast and listen to this wonderful witness, "The Simple Truth" (right click to save it to listen later).

Thursday, September 5, 2013

This Weekend:
the 25th anniversary of the Dedication of Blessed Sacrament Church

This weekend - September 6, 7 and 8 - the Blessed Sacrament community is celebrating the 25th anniversary of the dedication of Blessed Sacrament Church.

The weekend will open with our first concert of the season on Friday, September 6 at 8 pm. Our organist, Ann Carney will open the program with “Prelude & Fugue for Alexandria” a work she commissioned based on the communion song “Make Us One in Christ” (a piece commissioned by Blessed Sacrament for the dedication of our building in 1988). Mozart’s Piano Quartet in E Flat Major and the “Trout” Quintet of Schubert will also be performed by our resident ensemble, the Cecilian Players. All are welcome!

On Saturday, September 7, the Vigil of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, whom we invoke as Queen of Peace, Pope Francis has called for a Day of Fasting and Prayer for Peace in Syria, the Middle East, and throughout the world.

On Sunday, September 8, we are having our Ministries Fair in Quinn Hall. Come stop by after Mass and find a place to exercise your unique gifts and talents by serving the parish and our community! Involve yourself in Religious Education, Music, Baptism, Social Justice, Lectors, Greeter & Ushers, Legion of Mary - just to name a few!
All training and support included - all we require is a willing heart.

And on Monday, September 9, the year begins for CCD classes!

Monday, September 2, 2013

Emeritus Pope Benedict XVI Celebrates Mass with the Ratzinger Schuelerkreis

On Sunday, Pope Benedict celebrated his first public Mass since his resignation as Supreme Pontiff. Joining him on this joyous occasion were members of the Ratzinger Schuelerkreis, a group of his former students. This is their 38th annual meeting.

In his homily, Benedict was as beautiful as ever, saying that man cannot survive without gratuity in the Christian sense. "We cannot pay for the greatest things in life - love, friendship, goodness, forgiveness - we get them free, as God gives them to us. And so, even in the midst of fighting for justice in this world, in a continuous give-and-take, we must never forget God's gratuity."

Yes -- We cannot pay for the greatest things in life - love, friendship, goodness, forgiveness - we get them free or not at all. And we must give them for free in turn. So let us be generous in gratiuty, seeking the good of others in all humility before our own prestige and worldly desires.

Thanks to Teresa Benedetta at the Benedetto XVI Forum, where the rest of the story and homily may be read.

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Prayer Intentions of Pope Francis for September

For the value of silence. That people today, often overwhelmed by noise, may rediscover the value of silence and listen to the voice of God and their brothers and sisters.
For persecuted Christians. That Christians suffering persecution in many parts of the world may by their witness be prophets of Christ's love.