American Novena

At St. Joseph’s this week, we have composed an American Novena; it is brief and its emphasis is on the intercession of our eleven canonized saints.  It will be on our website on Monday and I am having cards printed up which I will send to the Chaplains of the House and Senate for distribution.  If you are willing please pray this prayer between now and January 20th.

Father of Providence,

Grant us the courage to extend mercy and respect to those with whom we disagree.  Grant us a heart to love this country according to Your Will, seeing in every human person a son or daughter of the One who wants to be called “our Father.” We ask this through Christ, Our Lord, Amen.

St. Elizabeth Ann Seton  —  Pray for us.
St. John Neumann  —  Pray for us.
St. Marianne Cope  —  Pray for us.
St. Katherine Drexel  —  Pray for us.
St. Damien of Molokai  —  Pray for us.
St. Junipero Serra  —  Pray for us.
St. Kateri Tekakwitha  —  Pray for us.
St. Mother Theodore Guérin  — Pray for us.
St. Isaac Jogues and Companions —  Pray for us.
St. Francis Xavier Cabrini  —  Pray for us.
St. Rose Philippine Duchesne  —  Pray for us.

May God bless our parish, may God bless our city, and may God bless the United States of America.

Baptism of the Lord and attack on our Capitol

I have baptized you with water; 
he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.”

All three synoptic gospels tell us about this.

Baptism gives a supernatural outlook

In the gospel this Sunday, we hear that Jesus is baptized.  In his usual brief, historic way, Mark gives us the basic facts. He doesn’t tell us that John the Baptist tried to demure because of unworthiness and or that Jesus was the Lamb of God.  But he does tell you that Jesus’ baptism, the baptism the Church continues, gives the gift of the Holy Spirit.

When we were young and learning our faith, we learned that when we were baptized, we were washed of original sin and became members of God’s family.  Absolutely true!  But we cannot forget that we were given the Spirit of God through Jesus’ baptism whether a dove appeared in the sky or not.  At that moment, our soul came to life in an invisible way.  We were blessed with a supernatural vision not fully functioning, but potent nonetheless.

One of the most important things we can do in our life is to nurture and remain aware of our supernatural outlook.  You have heard me say before, “Gifts are given for the building of the Kingdom.”  The purpose of this is to remind us and keep us focused on what really matters, our eternal salvation. 

When we go for a job interview, one of the things we do to prepare is to take a mental inventory of the things we can do to help that company.  We want to be able to say, “I can do the task you give me, because I have the talent and resources needed.”  We do that because we want the job, we want to be able to provide for ourselves and our loved ones.  But do we take an inventory of our gifts for spiritual purposes?  Do we even know why God has ultimately given us these gifts?  As human beings, we are created for heaven.  Our decisions and actions should reflect that end.

To site just one example of having a supernatural outlook, we look to the gospel of Matthew.  St. Peter is asked at Caesarea Philippi who Jesus was.  He answers correctly, “You are the Christ.”  Jesus says in response, that Peter is blessed because he did not know that because he was really smart or that he had a degree from a prestigious university or that he looked it up on Google.  He was blessed, because God revealed something to him that Peter needed to live his life in a way that reflected his eternal calling.

But of course, Peter, is like us, he lost his supernatural outlook, and in this case, pretty quickly.  When Jesus revealed he must suffer, Peter directly contradicts his supernatural responsibility.  He says, no, I don’t want that.  Peter placed his will above that of God, and he was rebuked for it, “Get behind me Satan.”

When we prefer ourselves to God, we take an earthly view over a supernatural outlook.  The results are always ruinous.  Some of you may remember the Russian dissident, Alexander Solzhenitsyn, A man imprisoned for calling for human dignity for his countrymen.  He once wrote,

More than half a century ago, while I was still a child, I recall hearing a number of older people offer the following explanation for the great disasters that had befallen Russia: “Men have forgotten God; that’s why all this has happened.”

Since then I have spent well-nigh 50 years working on the history of our Revolution; in the process I have read hundreds of books, collected hundreds of personal testimonies, and have already contributed eight volumes of my own toward the effort of clearing away the rubble left by that upheaval. But if I were asked today to formulate as concisely as possible the main cause of the ruinous Revolution that swallowed up some 60 million of our people, I could not put it more accurately than to repeat: “Men have forgotten God; that’s why all this has happened.”

Tragedy in our neighborhood

This week, I think we saw the tragic consequences of what happens when individuals and a nation loses its spiritual outlook.

I believe leaders in government and outside of government cynically manipulated people for their own selfish reasons.  Many who came to Washington thought they were engaging in an historic event to secure freedom and fairness for this country.  Many were carrying signs proclaiming Jesus as Lord and had a Bible in their right hand.  No doubt in the crowd were veterans of the Right to Life March who had in years past peacefully proclaimed the need to protect the unborn.

On Wednesday, those assembled were told that they should fight, that they should enter into combat and prevent the theft of something given to them by God.  A crowd of protesters were incited into a mob and they were fueled with a rage that told them they were being denied their rights.  Instead, they stole the rights of others.  Five people died and countless others were trampled or injured.  We look at the instigators and present to them the words of our Lord, “What does it prophet a person to gain the whole world and lose their soul?” (Mark 8:36)

Democracy was assaulted from within and our elected leaders were temporarily prevented from discharging their duty.  Thankfully, the People’s House was restored and their work finished.

I want to thank all those who are serving honorably in government and do the People’s business day in and day out.  I want to thank those who protect our freedoms and put their life in harm’s way day in and day out.  And I want to offer my condolences for those who grieve for deaths that did not need to happen.

We need to recommit ourselves to a supernatural outlook.  One which calls us to love our enemies, to forgive those who harm us and to work respectfully and firmly to proclaim the truth in season and out.

American Novena

At St. Joseph’s this week, we have composed an American Novena; it is brief and its emphasis is on the intercession of our eleven canonized saints.  It will be on our website on Monday and I am having cards printed up which I will send to the Chaplains of the House and Senate for distribution.  If you are willing please pray this prayer between now and January 20th.

Father of Providence,

Grant us the courage to extend mercy and respect to those with whom we disagree.  Grant us a heart to love this country according to Your Will, seeing in every human person a son or daughter of the One who wants to be called “our Father.” We ask this through Christ, Our Lord, Amen.

St. Elizabeth Ann Seton  —  Pray for us.
St. John Neumann  —  Pray for us.
St. Marianne Cope  —  Pray for us.
St. Katherine Drexel  —  Pray for us.
St. Damien of Molokai  —  Pray for us.
St. Junipero Serra  —  Pray for us.
St. Kateri Tekakwitha  —  Pray for us.
St. Mother Theodore Guérin  — Pray for us.
St. Isaac Jogues and Companions —  Pray for us.
St. Francis Xavier Cabrini  —  Pray for us.
St. Rose Philippine Duchesne  —  Pray for us.

May God bless our parish, may God bless our city, and may God bless the United States of America.

Ash Wednesday Begins the Season of Lent

Ash Wednesday, February 17, 2020

Schedule of Masses:

8:00 a.m., 12:10 p.m. and 5:30 p.m.

Ashes will be distributed at all Masses.

Lenten guidelines – Fast and Abstinence

All Catholics from their 14th birthday until and including their 59th birthday are obliged to fast on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday. One full meal is allowed on the days of fast. Two other meatless meals, sufficient to maintain strength, are allowed. Together the two meals should not exceed the full meal. Drinking of ordinary liquids does not break the fast.  Catholics over the age of 14 are obliged to abstain from meat on Ash Wednesday, Good Friday and the Fridays of Lent.

Statement from Cardinal-designate Gregory

As Archbishop of Washington I naturally began reading the long and difficult report on the Vatican’s investigation of Theodore McCarrick with a keen personal interest in how our beleaguered Archdiocese would be portrayed. Almost immediately, though, as anxious as I had been to learn what might be revealed about this local Church I have come to love so much, I realized this was exactly the wrong approach. 

In the end, this tragic chronicle is not primarily about individual dioceses. It is about unconscionable human violation and the pain that too many people endured at the hands of a deceitful man who only pretended to want what was best for them in order to get what he wanted for himself. Further, it is about leaders – Catholic leaders – who upon their ordination promised our Heavenly Father that they would always put His precious people first; yet, through failures of competence, communication and culture, they seem to have completely mismanaged what they came to know about this devious man. 

The Vatican’s report demands to be viewed through the eyes of the survivors and their loved ones without prejudice to where they may have first encountered Theodore McCarrick or where they may be today. As has happened too often in recent history, it revealed to me and to you dark corners of our Church of which I am deeply ashamed and profoundly angry – again. It pushed into sunlight a culture that has too often served not to build up our cherished Catholic Church – Jesus Christ’s greatest Gift to us – but to undermine it, far beyond the amoral ecclesiastical tenure of a single fallen cleric. Those of us in leadership have too often failed to understand, to acknowledge, to respond to, and to prevent the damage done to our innocent faithful – minors and adults.

In the report there were mercifully no revelations of sexual abuse alleged to have been perpetrated in this Archdiocese, and while I am of course grateful for that, it provides little comfort. I promise you with all my heart that our vigilance in the Archdiocese of Washington will continue – we will support the healing of those who have been harmed, our protocols for reporting and responding to these crimes will continue unabated and with renewed vigor, our safe environment efforts on behalf of those of every age will reflect the very best practices available. 

Even so, as I read the Vatican text I felt such deep sorrow for those who should have been able to rely on the ministers of Christ’s Church to protect and respect them. Instead they found themselves abused by a man who may have been outwardly charming and gregarious, but who allowed himself to be motivated by his own sinful gratification rather than the diametrically opposite Gospel call to go and make disciples for Jesus Christ. For a priest of His Church there can be no greater failing, except possibly to be aware of such incongruity and, in response, do nothing.

Persons who communicated anonymously about McCarrick’s behavior must have feared retribution from the structures and persons that shielded him. When harm is being done in the Name of the Holy Catholic Church, one must never again feel constrained to come forward and speak out. Pope Francis has already put into place procedures designed to uncover the truth in such cases of clerical and hierarchical wrongdoing.

The Church has taken a step forward, albeit much delayed, in looking honestly at both this particular case and at the future of ecclesial accountability. How large and how enduring a step remains to be proven to the countless people we have disappointed. There are challenges to our integrity that must be overcome before we can move forward, and yet paradoxically it seems we can’t move meaningfully forward until that integrity is restored. This will require time and transparency, contrition and commitment, prayer and reconciliation, authenticity and humility. I humbly beg for God’s Mercy for myself and for my brothers in the episcopacy. I implore our Heavenly Father to shower His Grace upon all whose faith has been tested too often by what we have done and what we have failed to do.

Oh my God, I am heartily sorry for having offended Thee, and I detest all my sins because of Thy just punishments, but most of all because they offend Thee, my God, who art all good and deserving of all my love. I firmly resolve, with the help of Thy grace to sin no more and to avoid the near occasion of sin. Amen.

Our Candlelight Vigil for Victims of Racism

We want to bring healing to our community and nation.  So, we held a candlelight vigil on Sept 1st for victims of racism.  Most Rev. Dorsonville, Rev. Glasgow and Rev. Gurnee along with 90 other parishioners and community members participated in this event.  A list of action items was created to help bring about change.  Please contact the rectory if you would like to support our efforts.

Lord, Jesus Christ

Who reached across ethnic boundaries
Between Samaritan, Roman and Jew;
Who offered fresh sight to the blind and freedom to captives,
Help us to break down the barriers in our community and
Enable us to see the reality of racism and bigotry,
And free us to challenge and uproot it from ourselves, our society and our world.

Candlelight vigil on 9.1.20
8 minutes and 46 seconds of silence
Opening prayer for the vigil

Vigil for those lost to Racism

Posted by St. Peter's DC on Tuesday, September 1, 2020

Confessions Schedule

Fr. Gurnee is available to hear confessions 7:40 – 8:00 am and 11:45 am – 12:05 pm Monday – Friday, and on Saturday from 4:45 – 5:15 pm. He will be in the church by the Christ the King statue (on the left as you walk in the back).

He will also be available if anyone wants to come by at another time, please call the rectory at 202-547-1223 or email Fr. Gurnee to set up an appointment and he will be happy to meet you.