February 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.

Saturday: 10-10:30 a.m. (English)
Sunday: 3-4 p.m. (español)
Pastor’s Perspective
Dear Friends,

In a couple of weeks, we will celebrate Valentine’s Day and then right on its heels is Ash Wednesday and the beginning of the Lenten season.

In many ways, I have always seen Valentine’s Day as a nice gesture but really one of those “Hallmark” kind of celebrations. Upon further reflection, Valentine’s Day is an opportunity to reflect on the heart and my relationships. One of the main functions of the heart is to love. For me, for any relationship to thrive in authentic love, it needs somehow to reflect my relationship with God.

This brings me to Lent, a time to reflect on both our personal and communal call toward our journey to God and ultimately our being one with God. I recently read a short article entitled “Our Struggle in Faith – Between Knowing It Is True and Believing It!” by Ron Rolheiser, OMI. He states that at the heart of our faith is a fundamental truth: We are unconditionally loved by God. “You are my beloved child, in you I take delight!” We hear this over and over in different contexts and environments and know its truth, yet we can’t believe it or allow ourselves to fully live it. There may be a number of reasons why, but I would like to suggest two. The first is that, over time, I think we develop inner voices, perhaps demons, that tell us we are not worthy. Perhaps our past failures or mistakes, misunderstandings, or an addiction enhance our internal low self-image or lack of confidence. Second, and I think related to the first, is that so often in our life, we experience love with conditions, whether they are perceived by us or real.

Lent can be the opportunity to go deep within and recognize those inner voices that keep us from experiencing more fully God’s unconditional love and our ability to both experience that love and to celebrate it. This is often not an easy task, but if we are open to being honest with ourselves and realize it might mean some hard work ahead and perhaps even seeking counseling, it can also be a freeing experience. I believe it is when we are free that we are able to reap the grace of authentic relationships, especially with ourselves and with God.

May our Lenten journey be one that renews our baptismal identity where we have been welcomed into his holy people and anointed with the chrism of salvation. “As Christ was anointed priest, prophet, and king, so may you live always as members of his body, sharing everlasting life.”

May our Lenten journey be fruitful and may we encourage one another in the faith.

Live Jesus,
Fr. Joe

Reflection Question
What inner voices are keeping you from experiencing more fully God’s unconditional love?
Catechetical Corner
Should Young Children Receive Ashes?
By Mickie Abatemarco

The answer to this question is not a simple yes or no. The rite for Ash Wednesday is not merely a reminder of physical death but a communal acknowledgement that we are all sinners. It stems from the ancient rite of public penance when those who committed public sin were marked with ashes and expelled by the church. They would stand outside the church in sackcloth and ashes asking for forgiveness. They would be brought back into the church on Holy Thursday.

The present rite is a penitential rite. The first prayer is a blessing of those marked with the ashes that they be moved to penance and purified of their sins so that they are worthy to celebrate Christ at Easter. In the eyes of the liturgy, we are acknowledging before each other that we are sinners and need to repent of our sins and embrace the Gospel life that Christ has taught us. Therefore, it is not necessary for young children under the age of reason, which the church recognizes as younger than 7 years of age, who do not understand sin to receive ashes. The children without the ashes are a reminder of who and what we are called to be: holy and innocent in God’s sight.

Receiving ashes is a communal act and connects us to our sacramental life that we began in baptism. If you choose to present your child for ashes, help them understand that they are part of a sacramental community that shares and supports each other in a life of faith.

Each of our homes is a domestic church, and within that church, we make informed decisions for the faith life of our family. I hope this helps you make the best decision for your family as we approach Ash Wednesday and Lent.
Lenten Sacrifices Jar
By Megan Gibson

The Lenten season is a time of preparation for Christ’s death and resurrection, with a focus on the three pillars of Lent: prayer, fasting, and almsgiving. This activity aims to create a visual understanding of how we prepare for Easter and grow closer to Christ through these three pillars. Though geared especially toward families, the heart of the activity is for all ages! 

Lenten Sacrifices Jar 
Materials: Mason jar or glass vase, beans or stones, jelly beans 

Directions: During Lent, encourage your children to participate in good works or sacrifices. These can include special Lenten prayers, completing chores with a happy heart, being kind to a sibling or family member, giving up dessert, etc. Every time a child does a good work, take a bean or stone and put it in the jar or vase. Continue throughout Lent, hopefully filling the jar with a visual of your family’s good works offered for Jesus. On Easter, replace the beans with jelly beans (or another type of candy) and explain how Jesus transforms our good works and hearts.

With your family, you can read or display the following Bible verse: “And whatever you do, in word or in deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him” (Colossians 3:17)

Photo by Jung Ho Park on Unsplash
Catholic Mass Explained: Preparation of the Gifts
By Fr. Don Heet, OSFS

The part of the Mass we now call “the Preparation of the Gifts” used to be known as “the Offertory.” The change in name reflects the fact that the action of offering takes place later in the liturgy, at the end of the Eucharistic prayer, when the gifts we offer our heavenly Father are not bread and wine but rather the consecrated Body and Blood of our Lord. That being said, the preparation of those gifts to be transformed is a significant part of our liturgical action for several reasons. In the prayer of preparation, the presider refers to both the bread and wine as “work of human hands.” As I am fond of pointing out, we don’t prepare wheat and grapes to be consecrated but bread and wine, realities that are “manufactured;” as such, they represent what we as members of the congregation have done when we were not at Mass during the week: the actions we have taken, the decisions we have made, the work we have accomplished. In that sense, not only will the bread become the bread of life and the wine become our spiritual drink, but our work, our efforts, our lives will be consecrated as well.

This reality is also symbolized by the collection. We know in earlier days of the church, members of the congregation would bring fruits, vegetables, and grain to be offered; that is the origin of the priest washing his hands at the end of this part of the Mass. In our world, money is a powerful symbol of what we have accomplished and so we offer it both for the upkeep of the church and the needs of the poor, and, again, it represents what we have been doing during the week.

As the preparation of the gifts concludes, the priest invites the congregation to join him in prayer that our very human offerings will be accepted and transformed by God; the final prayer expresses that hope in words that reflect the current liturgical season.
“We must do all by love, and nothing by force.”
St. Francis de Sales
Ministry Leader Spotlight
Danielle Fant
How long have you been a parishioner at SJN?
I have been a parishioner since about 1999. Twenty plus years does go by fast!

What ministries have you been involved with at SJN?
Over the years, I have been involved with the 9:30 a.m. choir, the Women’s Ensemble, RCIA (Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults), and most recently the Liturgy Committee.

What is a memorable moment from your ministry work?
There have been so many. Certainly being involved in the music for Holy Thursday is always moving. One specific memory though is from about 2004 when I was involved with RCIA for children. The kids were asked to draw pictures of what they thought heaven looked like. Most drew pictures of angels and clouds, but one drew a picture of an eye. He felt that heaven was whatever you saw it as. I always learned so much from them.

What is your favorite thing about being Catholic?
Definitely the celebration of all of the sacraments, but especially the Eucharist! It is such a gift. Also, I have always loved the music.

A fun fact about yourself
My husband and I love cats, and we have four!

How do you share God’s love with other people?
I have always approached everyone I interact with one simple rule: "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you." I don’t think I’ve ever met someone who didn’t return that.

Learn more about Music Ministry; Adult Liturgical Ministries, including the Liturgy Committee; and Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (RCIA) at SJN.
Parish Events & Announcements
Fr. Michael Vannicola, OSFS, will lead a virtual two-part review and discussion of Pope Francis’ recent encyclical Fratelli Tutti on Feb. 9 and on Feb. 11 at 10:30 a.m. This is one presentation in two parts. Sign up to receive login details.

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 Feb. 11.

The parish office is closed Monday, Feb. 15, in honor of President's Day.

Ash Wednesday, and the beginning of Lent, is Feb. 17. Read the parish bulletin for information on Lenten activities. A webpage of parish Lenten activities is to come on the SJN website.

Virtual Stations of the Cross are on Thursdays in Spanish beginning Feb. 18 and on Fridays in English beginning Feb. 19.
aerial view of a bowl of soup made with squash or similar ingredient
Soup's On!
We will not have our in-person soup suppers following Stations of the Cross during Lent in 2021. However, we invite you to join us for virtual Stations of the Cross (more information to come in the bulletin) and to submit a favorite soup recipe to share in a parish cookbook.

  • Soups must be completely meatless.
  • Recipes must be submitted via https://forms.gle/kpitkuegRA3dYwXU7 no later than Feb. 15 to be included in the cookbook.
  • If the soup is not an original recipe, please include the cookbook title or food blog where the recipe comes from even if you modify the recipe in any way.

Photo by Cayla1 on Unsplash
He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds. He tells the number of the stars; he calls each by name.
Psalm 147:3-4