Dear Brothers and Sisters of St. Andrew the Apostle,

Some upcoming events (for the full schedule, please see the bulletin or the parish website):

  • We have two parish events this Sunday in addition to our Masses:
  • At 2:00 PM, we will host the next talk in our series on Marian Apparitions, as Lee Granger and Steve Hemler from the Catholic Apologetics Institute of North America present Our Lady of Lourdes and the miraculous cures that have occurred there. Please see the event flyer for more details.
  • At 3:30 PM after the talk, we will pray a Holy Hour for the end of abortion and respect for the dignity of human life. January 22 is the 50th anniversary of the Roe vs. Wade Supreme Court Decision legalizing abortion for the nation. Thanks be to God it was overturned last year, but we continue to pray.
  • Next Saturday, January 28, Mark Sobczynski will be ordained a permanent deacon by Bishop Burbidge at the Cathedral of St. Thomas More at 11:00 AM. The Mass of Ordination is open to the public and I encourage you all to go to support Mark and the Church in the Diocese of Arlington. For those who cannot attend, the ordination will be live-streamed on the Diocese of Arlington's Youtube page. Whatever you will be doing that morning, please join me in praying for the faithfulness and fruitfulness of his ministry.
  • On Sunday, January 29, newly-ordained Deacon Sobczynski will be the assisting deacon and homilist at our 12:30 PM Mass. Following the Mass, we will have a reception in his honor in Hannan Hall. Please join us in thanking God for Mark's faithful service to the parish and Church and his vocation to the Permanent Diaconate.

Yesterday we took two buses to the March for Life in Washington. I have to admit that I was surprised by how many people were there considering that the Roe vs. Wade Supreme Court Decision was overturned last year. Many who used to come from long distances to attend the March are now focusing on pro-life marches in their states, of which there will be ten this year. So while the great majority of the people were from the East Coast and the Midwest, there were still many people marching for the protection of human life in the womb.

While the reason that we gather for the March for Life is a grave one - opposing the terrible practice of taking the life of our children in the womb - there is an underlying joy when people of faith gather together. While the March for Life is not a Catholic event, per se, the Catholic presence is certainly there, evident by our own Bishop Burbidge leading the opening prayer at the March for Life, and the numbers of Catholic groups, from parishes to Catholic universities, present among the marchers. It seems odd to say that a protest against evil is one of your favorite events of the year, but for me and for many, it is. It helps us be among thousands of people who are on the side of good, who want to protect the life of the vulnerable child in the womb, and who witness their Christian faith with pride. Each March for life is a source of encouragement and hope for all who attend. The encouragement that in a culture where too many voices shout down the promotion of life and faith, there are great numbers of people who stand up for it with joy. The hope that when these people gather and pray, progress will be made toward building up the kingdom of God here on earth.

On February 1 in Richmond, we will have our state Pro-Life Rally. Now that the Dobbs decision has overturned the legal right to abortion on a national scale, the fight goes to the state level. If you are interested in attending this event, please contact Mike Spicer, our parish Pro-Life Coordinator.

The Baltimore Ravens lost the playoff game to the Cincinnati Bengals last Sunday, 24-17. They were much more competitive than I thought they would be. The game turned on a rather flukey play as the Ravens were on the Cincinnati goal line trying to score a touchdown when a fumble fell into the hands of a 265-lb defensive player who ran it 98 yards in the other direction to score a touchdown for the Bengals. That put them up by 7 points and neither team scored again.

The player who fumbled was the backup quarterback, Tyler Huntley. He also threw an interception on his first pass of the game. While he played better than he has played, he does not have the talent of the injured starting quarterback Lamar Jackson. Jackson won the Most Valuable Player award in 2019 and is still only 26, so it's not an exaggeration to say that he is one of the best players in the league. He has an amazing ability to run the football, something most quarterbacks in history have lacked, and because of this, the offense of the Ravens is designed around his specific skills. Unfortunately, since his skills are so unique, when he is injured, there is no one who can replace him, and he's been injured a lot in the past two years, missing 10 games total during that span.

Now the Ravens are trying to sign him to a long-term contract. Lamar Jackson is also unique in that he does not have an agent. He will be representing himself as he works with the general manager of the Ravens to negotiate the terms of his contract. As you can imagine, this conversation will include the Raven's GM telling him personally all of the reasons he should not get the amount of money that he wants, primarily because of his injury record, although I'm no football expert. There may be different issues at play.

Whatever the case, there are two men, one who wants what is fair for him and one who wants what's fair for the team, disagreeing with each other about who is right. And they are two of the most important people on the team. And that seems like the recipe for a disaster or at least some very damaged feelings. But I have hope that they can come to an equitable agreement, one where both sides feel like the other sacrificed to get to the final result.

Interacting with people who disagree with us takes a tremendous amount of charity, patience, and humility. I admit that I get anxious when I know a situation will be confrontational and I often do not act with the mercy and respect that I should as a pastor and a Christian. My pride becomes an obstacle as I try to convince the other person why I am right while not listening to why they disagree. I know I'm not unique in this, but it seems it's more and more common to just talk past each other and not listen to why he believes what he does. This confrontational approach never changes someone's mind because of what is lacking - respect and charity. One or both people walk away feeling unheard, unsatisfied, and no closer to an agreement.

At this time of the year when we commemorate our respect for human life in the womb, it is important to remember that all human life, even those who disagree with us, is sacred. This is why Jesus can command us to pray for those who persecute us and to love our enemies. Let us pray for the grace to grow in humility and charity so that we may have hearts open to know and live the truth. Then, open to truth and love, may we be fit instruments to guide others to salvation.

Be assured of my continued prayers. Please pray for me, for each other, and for the mission of St. Andrew's parish!

´╗┐In Christ,
Fr. Wagner