Rejoice in the Lord Always!

12-16-2018Pastor's LetterRev. Gregory B. Wilson, VF

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

The third Sunday of Advent is the Sunday of joy. The official entrance text for the Mass comes from St. Paul’s epistle to the Philippians, “Gaudete !... Rejoice in the Lord always. I shall say it again: rejoice! Your kindness should be known to all. The Lord is near” (4:4-5). The vestments that the priest and deacon along with the third candle of the Advent wreath are colored rose, the color of hope and anticipation since it is the color of the sky just before the dawn.

We as fervent disciples of Jesus Christ, called to live as His light in the midst in the world, have many reasons to be joyful. With His Body and Blood as our spiritual food, we can find His joy even in the midst of hardships and uncertainty. Utilize these last days of Advent to slow down and prepare spiritually to receive the Lord.

I wanted to share the results of the recent survey to determine interest in a columbarium for St. Mary’s. (Thank you Bernie for reminding me!) First, a little primer on what we believe and why. Burial is important for a Christian. We bury our departed loved ones in imitation of Christ and His burial as we await the Final Judgment. Saint Paul reminds us that on the Last Day, when all things will end, the Lord Jesus “will change our lowly body to conform with His glorified body (Philippians 3:21).” In imitation of Jesus, the Church has a preference for the body, at least present for the funeral rites themselves. However, knowing that costs for full body burial have unfortunately skyrocketed, the Church recognizes that many people choose cremation forfinancial and other good reasons, and our cremated remains receive the same honors due the body. It is simply the body in another form as water, ice, and steam are still H2O. So we do not scatter ashes as if the body were not important. It was for Jesus and it is for us. We await the Resurrection of the body. A columbarium will give us a consecrated place to inter our loved ones. (If you’ve already chosen another columbarium, no worries! Individual niches are blessed at the time of burial.)

And so: Of the 901 surveys completed, 58% were considering cremation and 22% were a “maybe.” (Due to cultural differences, this rose to 62% considering and 19% maybe in our Anglo community; and 21% considering and 45% maybe in our Hispanic community.) In total 52% of respondents would consider a niche here at St. Mary’s. With this information, we will go forward with the columbarium. Many thanks to all who participated in the survey! As a final reminder, this creates no debt for the parish. Like our cemetery, it is paid for by the people who purchase niches.

Enjoy your Sunday of joy! In the words of St. Paul, let us all remember, “Your kindness should be known to all.”

Fr. Wilson