For the Solemn Feast of the Assumption and the 100th anniversary of Assumption parish
“My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord;
my spirit rejoices in God my Savior for he has
looked with favor on his lowly servant”
– Lk 1:46-48
On behalf of the Anniversary Committee, I hope that you truly enjoyed our celebration of the parish’s 100th anniversary. Our ancestors would be happy with what we did, I think, as we tried to honor them and our history as fittingly as we could. Cardinal Wuerl seemed to represent them and you so well in his words; people were very pleased with His Eminence and the spirit he brought. All in all, it was a beautiful and glorious event, thanks be to God!
The three lines at the top of the page are from the Gospel at Mass on the Feast of the Assumption. They are the opening words of our Lady in her famous “Magnificat” (Lk 1:46-55), the canticle at the Visitation. These words sum up so well the history, tradition, and spirit of the past 100 years at Assumption as well as our jubilee celebration last Sunday.
“My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord”
For 100 years, souls at Assumption have been proclaiming the greatness of the Lord. In good times and in bad, in sickness and in health, for richer or for poorer, parishioners have filled these pews every Sunday to worship and praise the Lord in Holy Mass. And, you have specifically said “God is great” time and time again. Last Sunday, there were resounding proclamations of “Amen” and “God is good…all the time”. Like Mary at the Visitation who had a rough journey to visit Elizabeth, you and your ancestors have continued to proclaim the greatness of the Lord even in the midst of hardship or suffering.
“My spirit rejoices in God my Savior”
If we had to sum up the spirit of Assumption throughout our history in one word, it might be joy. In fact, when a friend of the parish recently viewed our anniversary video, all he talked about afterwards was joy. That is the theme of the past century here: folks filled with joy and rejoicing in God our savior. From this, you have taught me a valuable lesson to smile more. So, when I watched myself on the video, I literally said out loud, “smile!”.
“For he has looked with favor on his lowly servant”
People have been saying here for 100 years that God has blessed them abundantly and looked with favor on them. Blessed by the Best! In particular, last Sunday, the Lord looked with favor on us, His lowly servants. How amazing was it to have the Cardinal and all those priests there at Mass! And, the Church was full, with many familiar friends and parishioners making their return. The reception was spectacular with an extravagant hall and excellent meal. What incredible favors God bestowed on us!
One last word about Mary’s canticle that coincides with our history.
At the Visitation, she was pregnant with the Lord. She literally had Jesus with her. So, Assumption, too, has had Jesus with us here for 100 years. The Catholic Church has had Jesus with Her for 2,000 years, especially in the Eucharist. This is what the Cardinal preached about last Sunday. We have been walking together with Jesus and Mary on the way to Heaven. And, like our patroness, we’ve been proclaiming the greatness of the Lord and rejoicing in God our savior for He has looked with favor on His lowly servants.
May you know the peace of Christ,
Thirty-fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time
This is a big weekend in our parish. First, we distributed over 200 Thanksgiving baskets with turkeys to families in our neighborhood yesterday through the generosity of St. Pius and Our Lady of Mercy parishes. Second, today is the awesome feast of Christ the King! Third, Cardinal Wuerl installs me today as your pastor. Last but certainly not least, my Mom is here this weekend! (I think parishioners are most exciting about that).
I’ve written before that it’s an incredible honor to be stationed at Assumption as your pastor. Today, it becomes official as the Church presents me as pastor through the Archbishop. One of the things I will do is renew the promises I made at my ordination to the priesthood. These words were significant then but are even more so now because they are specifically related to you.
Here is one of the questions the Cardinal asks me to which I answer, “I do”:
Are you resolved that you will bind yourself ever more closely to Christ the high priest who for us offered himself to the Father as a spotless victim, and that with Christ you will consecrate yourself to God for the salvation of your brothers and sisters?
Like vows in Holy Matrimony, these promises are intimidating. With the help of God, I am to be so bound to Christ the High Priest that I am consecrated (“set apart”) for the salvation of your souls! His mission is now my mission here. We hear in today’s Gospel for the feast of Christ the King that Christ’s mission on earth was to “testify to the truth”. That‘s what his mission was. That’s what his kingdom on earth looks like. May his mission be fulfilled here, and may He make our parish into a kingdom (Rev 1). Specifically, may He help me to testify to the truth, and may you belong to the truth and hear my voice.
None of us priests are worthy or capable of this, and those of you who have gotten to know me know that it is most true in my case! But, God is good, and He knows who He has called. Someone said the other day that God has blessed us with many graces even before I was installed as pastor. These were left over from Fr. Ivany! Seriously, though, in these first few months here especially, I have tried to continue his great work of the past three years…the work that God did through him. God has blessed us indeed throughout our Jubilee Year, and the graces will hopefully continue. On top of all of this, Thursday is Thanksgiving Day! But, really, as disciples of Jesus Christ, every day should be thanksgiving (especially if we are daily Massgoers). I give thanks to Almighty God every day for my life, faith, family, vocation, and now being pastor at Assumption. I give thanks to God for each one of you, and for being not only part of this extraordinary parish family, but its father.
–Sincerely in Christ,
This is a historic week in our beloved city of Washington, and particularly for the Archdiocese. If you are not able to be with Pope Francis physically on Tuesday, Wednesday, or Thursday, be with him spiritually.
PRAY that God will protect him and keep everyone safe during the events. PRAY that God will inspire his words, and that he will speak the truth in love.
PRAY that all Americans will be open to the Holy Spirit through his words and actions of Pope Francis.
PRAY that our city and country will receive many graces this week!
Below are some excerpts from Cardinal Wuerl’s interview with the Catholic Standard which prepare us well for the Holy Father’s visit.
–Sincerely in Christ, Fr Greg
“While I do not know what Pope Francis will say when he speaks to the President or addresses Congress and the United Nations, I suspect that whatever it is, it will be pastoral in tone, challenging in content and engaging in its delivery. Pope Francis will have an opportunity to speak to the political leaders of our nation and representatives of political leaders around the world. Already this pontificate is marked with the pope’s call for respect for human dignity, our need to care for one another as members of the human family and at the same time our obligations towards the environment, the care of our common home. I would not be surprised to find any or all of these as part of his messages. Just as important as what the Holy Father says – or perhaps even more important – is what we do in response.
“There are many ways to prepare for the visit of Pope Francis, the Successor of Peter who, above all else, brings to us Jesus Christ. Spiritually, I hope we will all take advantage of this moment to renew our own faith conviction, frequent the sacraments, especially Reconciliation and the Eucharist, and at the same time share our own enthusiasm for our Holy Father and our faith in the Church he represents with our neighbors. The Walk with Francis Pledge is also a way of saying to the pope that we recognize his message, embrace it and try to live it. The best way we can prepare is by that interior, spiritual conversion to which we are called every day as Christians…
“(After) the Holy Father leaves the Archdiocese of Washington, I hope part of his legacy will be that afterglow that continues to warm our hearts, challenge our consciences and deepen our faith. Not only will this be a time of grace in which we ourselves are renewed, but this visit van be a leaven in the whole of society. It is an important opportunity to evangelize those who perhaps do not really know what Christ and his Church are all about. Touched by the Gospel love and truth in this way, through Pope Francis and us in communion with him, our city and nation can grow and take just a few steps toward God’s kingdom.”–Cardinal Wuerl
Fr. Greg Shaffer
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