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Christ the King

The Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe – November 20th

This Sunday marks the close of the Jubilee Year of Mercy, a year spent celebrating the wondrous mercy of God and the many ways we share his mercy with those around us. At the beginning of this Jubilee Year, Pope Francis wrote: “Mercy is a key word that indicates God’s action towards us. He does not limit himself merely to affirming his love, but makes it visible and tangible. Love, after all, can never be just an abstraction. By its very nature, it indicates something concrete: intentions, attitudes, and behaviours that are shown in daily living. The mercy of God is his loving concern for each one of us. … This is the path which the merciful love of Christians must also travel. As the Father loves, so do his children. Just as he is merciful, so we are called to be merciful to each other.” Though this Jubilee year is ending, the need for mercy in our world is not. Carry these words and the graces of this past year forward through the Christian witness of your life. Be merciful to each other. Continue to celebrate God’s mercy with us at mercy.adw.org and catholiccharitiesdc.org.

Do You Give of Your Time, Talent and Treasure?

Beloved parishioners,

You will see a copy of the parish financial report in this week’s bulletin. As you will notice, we are very blessed to be in a solid financial situation. I said in my homily last week that everything we have comes from God. This is true for us as a church, as a parish, and as individuals. God has abundantly blessed us with resources, and we praise Him for that. A few points to make that might address questions or concerns that you have:

1. Offertory collections were down about $7,000 from the year before. I’m not aware of a significant decline in Mass attendance, so this reduction is perplexing. All I can ask you to do is to contribute as generously as you can. If we continue to see a drop-off in weekly offertory, then we might have to go with a new program such as Faith Direct.

2. The huge difference in “other income” from the year prior is due to the large amount that Fr. Ivany raised for our facilities in 2015, especially the Pope Francis Outreach Center. On that note, it’s utterly amazing how much Fr. Ivany did to improve the physical and financial conditions of our parish. Again, praise God!

3. The increase in “rectory and parish clergy” expenses is not a result of extravagant parties at the rectory, I promise you! It’s because the parish is paying my salary and benefits in full, whereas the Archdiocese was paying half of Fr. Ivany’s salary and benefits because he was working part-time for them (in the seminary and vocations).

4. “Liabilities” might be decreasing soon as the Archdiocese is forgiving past debts to many parishes during the Year of Mercy. They have scheduled a meeting with Joseph Hughey (Chairman of our finance council) and me to discuss next week. It won’t be a full forgiveness, but could be a significant reduction of debt.

Over the next year, I will work to increase the contributions that come into the parish and Outreach Center. My hope is to add more parishes as “partners” with us, appealing to pastors I know to help us with contributions, food drives, and volunteers. I’ll also be on the lookout for organizations, foundations, businesses, and individuals who can serve as partners with Assumption going forward. Of course, I’m open to any suggestions that you have!

Today’s readings are good for us in light of this. We might see our bottom line on the financial report and think that we are doing comfortably as a parish. But, hear what the Lord says through the prophet Amos: “Woe to the complacent in Zion! …yet they are not made ill by the collapse of Joseph!.” Let us not be complacent or comfortable to the point where we think that the parish is doing fine and doesn’t need our (individual) help. I fell into that trap at times in my first year here, and now realize that I can no longer be complacent. I need to be more proactive as a pastor and steward in the ways I mentioned in the paragraph above. I ask each and every one of you to be generous to the parish with your time, talent and treasure. It wasn’t until it was too late that the rich man in the Gospel parable realized he should have been more generous. I don’t anticipate anything catastrophic here like that or “the collapse of Joseph,” but the point is still made for us: God is calling us to be generous now.

May you know the peace of Christ,

Fr Greg

Reflections on Mercy

“Which of these three, in your opinion, was neighbor to the robbers’ victim?’ He answered, ‘The one who treated him with mercy’” (Lk 10:37).

Now is a good time for us to reflect on mercy, and what Christ’s call for mercy looks like, especially in this Year of Mercy. The Church gives us some guidelines to treat our neighbor with mercy. They are called “the corporal and spiritual works of mercy.” Can you name all seven of each? Pope Francis and many in the world beautifully focus on the corporal works of mercy (feed the hungry, give drink to the thirsty, shelter the homeless, visit the sick, visit the imprisoned, bury for the dead, and give alms to the poor). So, let’s take a look at the ones that aren’t as well known – the spiritual works.

Dr. Robert Stackpole, STD, has written some specific thoughts for each of the seven spiritual works of mercy as one of “a 14-part series to help inspire parish cenacle and study groups who are looking for ways to make a difference in this troubled world. We invite you to review the entire series” (www.thedivinemercy.org). I will be elaborating more on these works of mercy in the coming weeks, especially with practical examples.

May you know the peace of Christ,

Fr Greg

First: Admonish Sinners

This work of mercy — “tough love,” you could call it — is one of the hardest to practice in the western world today. Why? Because we live in the “I’m-OK-you’re-OK” culture. As such, I have my own personal set of values, and you have your own personal set of values, and we are each free to practice those values to our heart’s content just as long as we do not do grievous bodily harm to others in the process (although that limitation is waived when the “others” in question are unborn children, the chronically ill, and elderly)…

Second: Instruct the Uninformed

This means, first of all, accepting our God-given responsibility to be the primary source of religious education and formation for our children. Some Catholics may be surprised to learn that it is not the local Catholic school or CCD program upon whom this responsibility primarily rests. Rather, it is the parents…

Third and Fourth: Counsel the Doubtful and Comfort the Sorrowful

You can become that person for others if you learn to really listen to the Holy Spirit in your own life first with the help of a spiritual director. Read the New Testament every day… Then, having learned to listen, you will be ready and able to listen deeply to others…

Fifth: Be Patient With Those in Error

In God’s merciful love, we certainly ought to share the Catholic Faith with those who are far from Him because they need His mercy so badly. (Don’t we all!) It is an act of merciful love to share the faith with those who need it and to pray for them…

Sixth: Forgive Offenses

In short, we are not to curse the darkness, but to pray for those in darkness. (See Mt 5:44.)…

Seventh: Pray for the Living and the Dead

Every day we are to bring our needs, the needs of our loved ones, and the needs of the whole world into the merciful Heart of Jesus…