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First Sunday of Lent

Dear friends in Christ,

In this winter-without-winter we now find ourselves at the beginning of Lent. Last Wednesday we were marked with blessed ashes, an outward reminder of our mortality. This realization should make us appreciate the gift of life, its shortness, and the urgency of making sure our relationship with God is what it should be. To put it simply, during Lent we make an even greater effort to be holy.

This is where it’s easy for things to become unbalanced. We can erroneously believe that if we do a bunch of religious things – giving stuff up for Lent for example – then we automatically become holy. That’s exactly backwards. We know it’s a bad approach because we can’t wait for Lent to be over so we can go back to what we gave up. The balanced approach is simple: I realize that God created me to be a saint; to be holy. I want to be everything God made me to be. I can’t possibly achieve it by my own merit – it’s only possible because of God’s grace. Overwhelmed with gratitude and conscious of my own voluntarily failings (sins), I want to offer something to God during Lent. This motivates me to do the things God has said He finds acceptable: prayer, fasting, and almsgiving. When Easter comes, we don’t want to give these practices up; we don’t want to go back to our old ways. In the joy of the Resurrection, we want to stay away from sin and live the new life of the Risen Jesus.

This time of year also conjures up images of spring cleaning and plans for the year ahead. This is true in our Parish as well. Here are a few things you might want to know about:

  • Church floor – the goal is to put new flooring throughout the Church building just as soon as school closes in June. Right now we are finalizing designs and materials, and working through the processes to get the necessary permissions from the Archdiocese of Washington for the project. This oversight, while sometimes irksome, is important and tremendously helpful. Oversight makes sure we plan wisely, use our resources responsibly, and make fewer mistakes. The flooring will be beautiful when finished and will serve the Church building well for decades to come. As we get closer we will keep you informed about the project. Right now there are too many loose ends subject to change to provide you with details. What’s important is the reality that new flooring is coming soon!
  • Landscaping and trees – as you may remember, when we finished the parking lot we did the first phase of landscaping: trees in the islands and the beds near the Church doors. The plan was to finish the islands to make a more beautiful property. It’s already drawn out. When the weather settles into spring for sure, we will have it done. We also will be adding trees to the property to replace some that were mistakenly (though probably providentially) cut down last year and those that have fallen in storms over the years. We aren’t planting a forest, but we will get a little more shade and some beauty to the spaces here.
  • Saint Peter’s Cemetery – we have been in touch with Catholic Cemeteries about making our cemetery, the resting place of our beloved dead awaiting the Resurrection on the Last Day, more decorous. Right now the woods that surround the graves looks quite scruffy and unkempt. Perhaps a border of beautiful evergreens will provide a more finished look to the property. We want to work with Catholic Cemeteries since their trucks need to move and store dirt around the graveyard. We will also explore the possibility of installing a columbarium (the stone “building” with niches for the inurnment of cremated remains) in the cemetery. With more people (including many Catholics) choosing cremation it seems fitting that the Church would provide a resting place for the cremated remains of her children within the parish cemetery. Costs are always an issue in matters like this, but we will see what we can discover.
  • Odds and ends – there are other things too that will get spruced up in the days ahead. We will be getting a new set of vestments and casket pall for funerals since the set here is very worn out. We will have the statue of the Sacred Heart of Jesus restored and its niche made a more devotional space. This statue was in the former Saint Peter’s Church and is part of the Parish’s history and heritage. Several new signs are on their way to replace deteriorating signs along the road and at the old Saint Peter’s Cemetery. I have been provided with a personal gift to be spent on the residence I now occupy. In the next few months we hope to get a washing machine and dryer (there is none in the white house) and to have some public rooms on the first floor painted since a few of them have not been painted in over 20 years.

On behalf of the whole Parish, I want to thank all of those who continue to support the good works of the capital campaign. Together we’ve done some lovely things over the past few months to build on the good works of my Predecessors. Just the other day we received a touching note from someone who said they knew there were more things that needed to be done and they wanted to contribute to those efforts. That was very sweet of them. Our whole Parish benefits from your generosity and we are committed to using your gifts wisely and prudently.

During the holy season of Lent we ask Almighty God to increase our holiness and to use our Parish to call those who do not yet know Jesus and His Church. We approach everything with humility and zeal that the Holy Spirit might work through us to accomplish His work. A few people have asked about attendance at the Sunday evening Mass. We started out with about 50 people attending. Now we’re upwards about 80 people or so most weekends (less on a holiday weekend obviously).   We hope that this Mass will be helpful to many in the area who work on Sunday mornings, to college students who would rather not get up early on Sunday, to families with young or sick children, and to travelers who are away for the weekend.

Please be assured of the prayers of our Priests for each of you and your family at Lent and always. We ask Our Blessed Lady and our holy patron, Saint Peter, Prince of the Apostles, to intercede for you always before God’s Throne. Begging God’s blessing on you, I am

Sincerely in Christ,