April 2021
St. John Neumann Catholic Community
Staffed by Oblates of St. Francis de Sales
Current Mass Times
Saturday: 5 p.m.
Sunday: 9 a.m., 11:30 a.m., 2 p.m. (español)
Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday: 9 a.m.


Confession
Saturday: 10-10:30 a.m. (English)
Sunday: 3-4 p.m. (español)
Pastor’s Perspective
Dear Friends,
 
I write this letter on the eve of Palm Sunday as we get ready to enter into the holiest time of our year. As I do so, I remember preparations for Holy Week and Easter one year ago during a time of crisis. The challenges of COVID-19 had entrenched themselves at the center of daily life. We knew that our Holy Week and Easter celebrations would look and feel different.
 
Fortunately a year later, we can see the light as we prepare for living a “new normal.” With limitations still in place, we are nevertheless preparing to celebrate Holy Week and Easter with some sense of normalcy. I have been thinking of the image of the tomb with the stone rolled back and the light shining through as it lay empty. This image is a good one to discern these days as it challenges us in a positive way to reflect upon what has happened to us personally and communally this past year. I invite us to imagine what we might rediscover at the empty tomb, allowing the light and fresh air of new life that has replaced the darkness of death to guide us as Easter people. This does not mean that we ignore the great devastation and sadness that the pandemic has caused. We need to revere the lives that were lost and acknowledge the havoc wreaked on millions of lives throughout the world. We need to take with us lessons learned and a new resolve to solve problems and care for one another as a global community.
 
Perhaps some areas of discernment for us who believe in the Resurrection could center on how our lives have been transformed and how we are being called to be instruments of new life and hope. On that first Easter Sunday, by the power of God’s love, the stone was rolled away and light came shining through in a place believed by many to be one of perpetual darkness. How can you be the light of Easter Day in a world that is suffering and yet desirous of healing and new possibilities?
 
Easter and Spring Blessings,
Fr. Joe
Reflection Question
How has your life been transformed in the past year? How are you being called to be an instrument of new life and hope?
Catechetical Corner
Praying with Young Children
By Angela Davis

Prayer can be challenging even for adults. Take a moment to think about how you learned to pray during your younger years. Did your family pray together? How did that look? How did it feel? In what ways did it build a foundation for a life of prayer? How do you want your children to answer these questions once they are adults? Here are three areas to focus on to increase the prayer in your domestic church.
 
Focus Area #1: Live a Life of Visible Prayer
 
Prayer should permeate our entire lives and children learn best by following our example. So the first step is to model a life of prayer for them by living a life of prayer ourselves.

Wherever we are in our individual prayer journeys, we need to make sure our prayer lives are visible to our children. There is certainly great value in finding quiet times away for prayer without children using your body like a jungle gym, but it shouldn't stop there. Our children need to be able to see and hear us pray. Try speaking spontaneous prayers aloud such as, "God, thank you for this time with my kids I'm really enjoying it." "Lord, we're running late please help us to stay calm and move quickly." "Jesus, I love you." Even during your quiet silent prayers, let your kids witness some of these moments. Let them see you pray with your spouse, let them witness you engaged in the rosary, the Divine Mercy chaplet, or centering prayer. Let them witness that prayer is something you prioritize.
 
Focus Area #2: Frequent Prayer Interjections
 
It's important to expose kids to a variety of prayer from a young age. We'll talk about creating formal family prayer routines in a moment, but spontaneous, frequent, and relatively unplanned and unstructured prayer helps to remind us that God is with us always and should be a part of everything we do.
 
Consider trying some of these times with your children throughout the day:
  • When leaving or entering the home, give thanks for your house and pray for those who are homeless.
  • When starting the car, give thanks for your access to transportation and pray for safety for your family and the other cars on the road.
  • When you hear a siren or see an ambulance or fire truck, pray for the people who may be in danger or sick right now and for the first responders in your community who help keep people safe.
  • When frustrations and tempers run high in your home, pray for forgiveness and ask for patience and understanding.
  • When cleaning or doing housework together, thank God for your able bodies.
  • When struggling to learn something new or to make a family decision, ask God for guidance.
  • Consider praying St. Francis de Sales' Direction of Intention when transitioning to new activities.
 
Focus Area #3: Creating Consistent Family Prayer Routines
 
There are some times of the day that lend themselves well to formal prayer times. The most common are probably before meals and before bed. If you don’t already, consider adding in a morning prayer when you first wake up. These more formal prayer times are great opportunities to have various members of the family take turns leading the prayer. Try giving everyone a chance to share what they are thankful for, what they need help with, and who they want to pray for. These are also great times to teach basic Catholic prayers like the Sign of the Cross, the Our Father, and the Hail Mary.


Image by Priscilla Du Preez on Unsplash
Reflection Question
How can you be a model of prayer for the children in your life?
Catholic Mass Explained: Liturgy of the Word in the Easter Season
By Fr. Don Heet, OSFS

The lectionary is one of the more complex elements of the Mass; in this issue, we focus on the Easter readings, beginning with Easter itself. I have always found it fascinating that both at the Easter Vigil and the Masses on Easter morning (the first Sunday of Easter), the one person who does not appear is the risen Christ. Instead, we are given the ambiguous reality of an empty tomb and are invited, along with the women and Peter, to place our faith in the good news that Jesus has been raised. The Sunday after Easter is always John’s account of Jesus appearing to the eleven in the upper room, giving them the power to forgive sins (hence the title of Divine Mercy Sunday) and inviting Thomas to “do not be unbelieving, but believe.” The third Sunday of Easter always gives us another appearance of the risen Christ, either from Luke or John, and the fourth Sunday’s Gospel is always one of the Good Shepherd readings. Then, as the church moves towards the Solemnity of the Ascension and the end of Jesus’ earthly ministry, the various Gospels are all taken from the farewell discourse of Jesus at the Last Supper, as recorded by John. We are meant to reflect on how we are to live as Christians, knowing that our Redeemer is loving us from heaven.

The first readings during this season are all about the history of the early Church as found in the Acts of the Apostles. Each of the three years follows its own semicontinuous reading, each beginning with the early Jerusalem community and continuing to Paul’s ministry in the Roman empire.

In Year A, the second reading is taken from the Letter of Peter; in Year B (this year), from the first Letter of John; and in Year C, from the Book of Revelation, sometimes called the Apocalypse. Although we often associate this book with predictions of the end of the world, ultimately it is a promise of the New Jerusalem coming in glory and triumph. It is a promise of our future happiness, our sharing in the resurrection of Jesus.
“Humble yourself loving before God
and your neighbors, for God
speaks to ears that are bowed down.”
St. Francis de Sales
Ministry Leader Spotlight
Amanda McClernand
How long have you been a parishioner at SJN?
I was a parishioner at SJN for two years, and we have since moved this past year to Ashburn, so I am no longer a parishioner, but I have continued to serve the SJN community in the Young Adult Ministry as the Small Group Bible Study Coordinator and Core Team Leader.

What ministries have you been involved with at SJN?
I have been primarily involved with the Young Adult Ministry, but prior to the pandemic, a few young adults and I baked cookies for the Kairos Prison Ministry regularly.

What is a memorable moment from your ministry work?
We hosted a Young Adult Thanksgiving potluck in the parish basement in 2019, and we had a fantastic turnout! It was great to have the opportunity to reach many new young adults in the community for the first time to get to know them and introduce them to what our regular weekly ministries have to offer. 

What is your favorite thing about being Catholic?
My favorite thing about being Catholic is having the privilege to access the graces in the sacrament of Confession as well as having so many prayer resources to seek Our Lady's intercession for our needs.

A fun fact about yourself:
I attended World Youth Day in Kraków, Poland, a few years ago while I was finishing my Ph.D. at Princeton University. 

Learn more about the SJN Young Adult Ministry (for Catholics aged 21 to 39) and the Kairos Prison Ministry.
Parish Events & Announcements
Please pray for our young parishioners receiving the sacrament of First Eucharist this month!

Access the livestream for all Triduum services, morning prayer on Good Friday and Holy Saturday, and the Easter Masses at 9 a.m. in English and 2 p.m. in Spanish on our website or on our Facebook page.

The parish office is closed on Monday, April 5.

Exposition and Adoration: Contact the Liturgy Office (703-860-6151) or add your name to the sign-up sheet outside the chapel for a half-hour slot on April 8.

You can find the electronic SJN weekly bulletin on our website, both on the homepage and on the bulletin webpage. Or, sign up to have it delivered directly to your email inbox.
Divine Mercy Sunday
The Divine Mercy Sanctuary in Lagiewniki Basilica_Mazur-catholicnews-org-uk_Flickr.jpg
“All grace flows from mercy, and the last hour abounds with mercy for us. Let no one doubt concerning the goodness of God; even if a person’s sins were as dark as night, God’s mercy is stronger than our misery. One thing alone is necessary; that the sinner set ajar the door of his heart, be it ever so little, to let in a ray of God’s merciful grace, and then God will do the rest.” -St. Faustina

Divine Mercy Sunday is April 11, 2021, one of the special celebrations during the 50-day Easter Season.

According to the USCCB: "Mankind’s need for the message of Divine Mercy took on dire urgency in the twentieth century, when civilization began to experience an 'eclipse of the sense of God,' and therefore, to lose the understanding of the sanctity and inherent dignity of human life. In 1931, Jesus appeared to Sr. Faustina [now St. Faustina] in Poland and expressed his desire for a feast celebrating his mercy. The Feast of Mercy was to be on the Sunday after Easter and was to include a public blessing and liturgical veneration of His image with the inscription 'Jesus, I trust in You.'"

St. Faustina Kowalska was born near Lódz, Poland, on Aug. 25, 1905. She experienced several visions of Jesus, including one in 1924 that prompted her to leave home to join a convent. Her first Divine Mercy vision of Jesus was on Feb. 22, 1931. The now-familiar image of Jesus wearing a white robe with red and pale rays coming from his heart is a representation of that vision. She had several other Divine Mercy visions throughout her life until her death in 1938.

The Divine Mercy Novena begins on Good Friday and continues until Divine Mercy Saturday (you can still join).

You can also mark the day by praying the Divine Mercy chaplet.

Photo of the Divine Mercy Sanctuary in Lagiewniki, Poland © Mazur/catholicnews.org.uk
“To him all the prophets bear witness,
that everyone who believes in him will receive forgiveness of sins through his name.”
Acts 10:43