Spiritual Resources

May 31, 2020 – Pastor’s Keyboard

Pastors column: I recently read this about the Eucharist from one of my favorite mystics Catherine De Bar.

“All must remain in the silence of admiration. A God makes Himself our food! O astonishing prodigy! What are all the miracles worked by Jesus Christ during the course of His earthly life in comparison to this one? What a spectacle! What bounty! What charity! A God who gives Himself to us! O love! He who with three fingers sustains the universe is held by the priest. He who commands all of nature obeys a being who is nothing. He who is all-powerful makes Himself so dependent that He is in the power of His creatures; they carry Him, they bring Him wherever they choose. This is too much. Your charity, my Savior, goes even to excess! O incomprehensible miracle! Mystery forever inconceivable! No, the thought of man would not know how to attain it. “

How privileged we are to receive our Lord once again. Maybe one of the best things that could come from the long Eucharistic fast you have endured will be an even greater hunger to receive Him more often. Many are now home every day! Why not come to a daily mass or two? Temporarily, many no longer drive to work, so why not stop by at St. Peter Claver convent chapel or at St. Cecilia church to visit Jesus, who awaits us in the Blessed Sacrament? We are so privileged to have this chance once again to visit with the Lord. Let us pray that more people will come to enjoy and bask in the Eucharistic Presence of the Lord.

Your Father and Brother in Christ,
Fr. Scott Woods

May 17, 2020 – Pastor’s Keyboard

Pastor’s Keyboard: One of the greatest blessing of this time of quarantine has been the number of family and friends who have begun to reach out to check in on me.  Several them I have not heard from in a long time, so it has been nice catching up with everyone.  What has really amazed me are the number of parishioners that call, stop by, bring food (for the hungry seminarians), and send texts just to bring encouragement as well as to see if the parish needs anything.  Some have even called to offer part or all of their stimulus check to the parish, food pantry, or the First District Catholic Aid Society.  Many are bringing food by weekly to the food pantry and often ask what they should look for when they go shopping.

I feel like the most blessed pastor on the planet because of the incredible kindness and charity given to our parish, those in need, and to me and the seminarians.  Every time I offer the Mass, I intentionally lift up on the paten (the gold plate that holds the bread to be consecrated) for each one of you. Sometimes the Lord even brings to mind certain individuals and families, especially the ones I know are in the most stress or strain or the ones HE knows need it.

My hope is that with the Diocese of Arlington starting to offer public Masses starting this weekend, we are not far off from reopening.  Keep praying! Keep making spiritual communions! Keep reaching out to family, friends and fellow parishioners! And most of all, keep trusting and loving the Lord and those you are staying with!

Know you are in my prayers and the seminarian’s prayers. Please keep us in yours.

 

Your Father and Brother in Christ,

Fr. Scott Woods

May 10, 2020 – Pastor’s Keyboard

Pastors keyboard: If someone were to ask me what question I get asked the most, I would have to say it is, “When will public Mass resume again”?  It is the question that me and my brother priest ask each other the most and the one answer that we are most anticipating.  The short answer I have received from the archdiocese is the same answer that they have received from the Governors faith based working group, which is this:

“The key milestones that need to be met in Maryland before starting to lift any restrictions: (1) Adequate PPE (185 countries are trying to obtain PPE from limited suppliers. Maryland goes through 11 million gowns per two weeks and many more million in masks); (2) Have surge capacity in ICU and acute care hospital beds (Maryland has 4,800 beds but needs 6,000 to handle potential surge after reopening. Twenty-two triage units along with opening of Laurel Hospital, Adventist Hospital in Takoma Park and the Baltimore Convention Center will get to the 6,000 beds soon.); (3) Enough testing capability; and (4) Flattening the curve (following Federal guidelines needing 14 days of decreasing deaths and hospital stays, and Maryland is not there yet. “

I know, you are thinking “where is the good news”?  The good news is that Jesus is Risen! He still loves us and works to bring about our highest good. He can do “All Things”!  Also, many good people in the state and government are working hard to meet these goals. So, the hope is that sometime in the near future, churches will begin to open again in Maryland.  Until then, I encourage you to continue to pray and, if possible, fast and offer up penances for this pandemic.

One of the last things Patricia Ball texted me before she died was that the Lord is trying to tell us something.  Not just as a culture, but as individuals. It is a good time to look at the opportunities for spiritual growth that can still take place now in this new normal. Some questions we should ask ourselves are:

 

1) What is most important in my life?

 

2) What can I live without and what can I not live without?

 

3) Who do I wish I could most visit with at this moment?

 

4) When things do start to open again, are there important changes I need to make in my mind set, life, and how I spend my time and waste my time?

 

5) Was there any good I got out of this experience that led me to trust in the Lord more?

 

How we answer these questions can tell us a lot about where we have been and where we are heading.

May the Lord help us to be honest with ourselves and with Him.  May we learn many good lessons that will help us to appreciate every day of life and good health. Remember that every day is a blessing!  May we recognize it and strive to use what we have been given.

Your Father and Brother in Christ

Fr. Scott Woods

April 26, 2020 – Pastor’s Keyboard

Pastors Keyboard: As many of you know, I am now offering Mass live streamed on Facebook and then leaving it taped on our parish Facebook page every day of the week. For a long time, I resisted doing this, fearing that it would be a distraction from true worship within the Mass, and for me. I have never liked being on T.V. or in photos. My own insecurities come out. Yet after persistent requests from parishioners, college students and others, along with an offer to do all the technology part from Cookie Pontzer (one of our Latin Mass parishioners from St. Peter Clavers), I finally decided to do it two Saturdays ago ( the Easter Vigil). The response was incredibly positive, and so many have said how much they appreciated it (even though it was tough since we had not worked out the kinks). I realized that we should do more.

 
When I called Cookie to ask if she would be willing to air more, maybe even daily mass and twice on Sunday, she immediately said “Father, that is exactly what I was going to ask you”. This seemed to be Divine Choreographer. Since then Cookie and her husband have found better ways to live stream and to get the sound and quality improvements that some were asking for. Mass last Sunday at Peter Claver had over 600 views as of Monday morning! Far more then attend all my Sunday masses put together. We do not know how many watch the whole Mass, just check out the Homily, or click in and click out. But after hearing from you the faithful how thankful you are to be able to see Mass at your parishes, I now see how the Lord once again arranged everything for your good and mine dispute my initial misgivings.

 
Please continue to pray for me and for the seminarians during this time. They are deep into their online classes while also taking on some of the task of helping me where they can with pastoral work. Know that we are praying daily for you and for your families. I am still offering the Masses daily for the Mass intentions, so let me know if you would like me to offer Mass for anyone.

 
Know that “The Lord is with you”! And He will see you and me through this extraordinary time. Let us be faithful, prayerful, generous, and trusting in the Lord.

 

Your brother and father in Christ,
Fr Scott

April 19, 2020 – Pastor’s Keyboard

Pastor’s Keyboard: The Easter Season has finally come! Now we have 50 days in which to dive more deeply into deep prayer and study and meditation on the Resurrection of Jesus.  So grate, so magnificent, so consequential-is this event, the church actually gives us 50 days to enter more deeply into it.  Yet we should not leave all the penances of Lent behind.  Recently a good priest friend of mine, who is often led by the Holy Spirit, sent a powerful message out to his Parishioners that I felt was truly inspired by the Lord.  One that we should all embrace and strive to live.  He wrote the following:

“I believe that we are at halftime of this pandemic battle. The Triduum was the Coach’s pep talk. But now comes LENT II. That is right all you LENT LOVERS. I feel in my heart that for the first time in my 31 years of life (LOL), I now see Lent differently. I believe that the evil one is going to mock Christians more than ever after today. WHY? Here is what I hear in my prayer: “If your Christ is so great and can come out of a tomb, how come you still have to wear a mask?”

I believe that now you and I have to make the decision to live this Lent differently. Before it was an obligation, but now is it LOVE. In the first Lent, I chose my sacrifices and mortifications. In Lent II, Christ is choosing. In Lent 1, it was 40 days and I wore purple. In Lent II, it will be 50 days (to Pentecost) and I will wear white. Lent I – no Gloria at Mass and very subdued. Lent II must be lived in the joy of the GLORIA and great hope. I hope I am clear. More than ever, the choice to love Christ and His Church is no longer just an obligation but a choice. And in my heart, I hear – to be a saint, you must choose Christ, love, joy and hope.

So, to answer the question that many have asked … Now what? For me – I am not stopping. I hope you won’t either. The evil one is very patient. He wants us to give up our mortifications and spiritual programs. Don’t. It is only halftime. I’m choosing to continue. Now it’s up to you. What will you choose?

Thanks, Jesus – what a great Lent. Thank you, Jesus, for finding a WAY for your Mercy to be shown, TRUTH communicated, and LIFE poured out.

In Christ,

Fr. Dan”

So, I, too, as your pastor, invite you to enter Lent II.  Maybe continue some Lent practices and take on some new ones or to change it up choose some new ones you can unite to the cross as we ask the Lord to get us and those we love safely through this pandemic and that He will help us become more trusting, more faithful, more peaceful in it and through it.  It will not be easy, but since the Lord has allowed it, we can be assured that He will offer sufficient grace to make it through.  Pray much, read more scripture (especially the gospels and Paul’s Letters), and make a good plan of life that includes exercise, spiritual and leisure reading, family time (if possible), and a good sleep and wake up time.  These two will help you be healthy in mind, body, and spirit

Your brother and father in Christ,

Fr. Scott Woods

April 12, 2020 – Pastor’s Keyboard

Pastor’s Keyboard: Blessed Easter! The Lord is Risen! The Lord has Risen! And at every moment, He calls us to “Rise with Him and In Him!” The circumstances of this Easter Morning are not as they have ever been in our lifetime before and, most likely, they are not what they will ever be again. Yet for those who Know the Lord “All things work together for good to those who love God, for those who are called according to His purpose” Romans 8:21. Not some things but ALL things! Though we don’t understand and though we experience suffering and, perhaps, doubt, He does not leave us or abandon us or those we love.

Today, we celebrate that the Lord rose from the dead, and He desires that we arise with him. But how can we arise with Him daily? We can do so by dying to our will, to our way, and to sin as well as to anything that distracts us from trusting in Him completely in ALL circumstances. We are reminded by our Lord’s death and resurrection that this life and everything in it is finite. We were made for the Infinite. If we cling tightly to this life and the things of this life, we are bound to suffer and despair when they are taken away from us. But if our hope and desire is tied to God to the glory and joys of eternity with Him who is unending Love personified, and to all those united to Him, then we will have a joy that shines out even in the deepest darkness and circumstances of this life.

So yes, this Easter Sunday is not like any we have or ever will experience again. Yet its message of promise and hope-filled encouragement is the same as ever. God is eternal and He offered us hope for eternity with Him and all those we love who accept His invitation to be with Him. The adventure of this life will continue now, yet it will never be as it was. We know now like never before that as powerful as our nation has been, as technologically advanced as our world is today compared to the past, as wealthy and healthy as our economy may seem, and as much as we take care of our health through eating right and exercise, something can come along, even from another part of the earth, and take it all away.

In the end, there is only one Rock that we can stand on, only one Source of endless life and joy that we can hope in, only one Hope worth investing everything in, and it is not a country, a technological advance, a bank account or job, nor any other man made thing. It is the Risen Christ! He is the One, who loves us into existence and who is always calling us to rise in the expectation and hope of eternity with Him! This Hope is why we can rejoice, sing and laugh in ALL circumstances.

Let us make a recommitment to invest most in our relationship with Him. Then, we will become the saints He made us to be and who will lead others to also have this hope and faith. The Lord is Risen today! May we do the same!

 

Your Father, brother, and fellow disciple,

Fr. Scott Woods

April 5, 2020 – Seminarian Introduction

Hello Everyone!  This here is Nicholas Morrison.  I am the seminarian who has been assigned to the parish with Fr. Scott for the summer.  With all the virus craziness, I have returned from school and have come to the parish here a few weeks early.  I am super excited to be here at the parish, and look forward to meeting you all and serving you all in the months to come.

As a way of introduction, here is a little about myself.  I come from a family of seven kids in Montgomery County, MD.  I was born into a family of dentists, as both my parents and multiple other family members are dentists.  I was homeschooled growing up, all the way through high school.  Despite all odds, I would judge my homeschooled family maintained some normalcy and were quite socialized.   We were very involved in sports and numerous activities growing up.  Swimming was my family’s main sport, although I enjoy playing just about everything.  I studied music, playing piano and picking up various other instruments along the way.  I have enjoyed being member of numerous choirs over the years, both church choirs and others.  To round it all out, I was also in a Shakespeare drama group and would put on performances with many of my friends in high school.  The parish has always been pretty central in my life and in that of my family.  Youth group was something I really enjoyed being apart of growing up, as well as serving Mass and being part of the church choir.

I began studying in the seminary right after high school.  I attended St. John Paul II Seminary, following on the heels of my older brother (Dcn. Jamie Morrison, who is currently preparing for priestly ordination), and later also being joined in seminary by our younger brother (Danny Morrison).  As part of seminary formation, I studied philosophy at Catholic University for four years.  After completing my courses at Catholic University, I was sent to Rome to begin tackling courses in theology.  It has been a huge blessing to study in Rome, right there in the heart of the Church.

I currently have now finished nearly seven years in formation, and have just over a year left before priestly ordination.  This summer will be a big step for me, as I hope to be ordained a deacon in just a few short weeks.

Thanks for reading!  I hope you all remain safe and healthy.  I am thrilled to be here at the parish, and hope to meet you all soon enough!  Know of my continued prayers for you, and please don’t forget to keep me in your prayers as well!

– Nicholas Morrison

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March 29, 2020 – Pastor’s Keyboard

Pastors keyboard: By now I think we are all tired of even hearing the word “Coronavirus”.  Yet it’s pretty much the topic of conversation of every news story, every conversation, and it often invaded our minds, even when we have other important topics we need to concentrate on.  Recently, I have had several parishioner’s and college student a ask me if this is a sign that we are in the End Times?  The answer is yes!  Ever since Jesus Resurrected, we have lived in the End Times.  It’s just that we often forget, don’t want to think about it, and that leaves many in our world unprepared for times like these.

An Exorcist friend of mine recently said that today the evil one and his minions are using these circumstances to their full advantage.  He said there is a lot if activity by demons of fear, gluttony, and destruction. He said that we all need to be aware of how they try to tempt us.  We can see this in our world today.  Sadly, fear has led several people to become paranoid to the point of trusting no one, not even God.  Gluttony has led people to by far more food and toilet paper then they could ever use, even knowing they are making it harder for others to have the bare necessities.  And destruction is the sickness. The hatred, anger and frustration that can come from getting sick, fear of sickness, and anxiety.  We need to be aware of these temptations and turn constantly to the Good Lord who has everything in hand.

Many have asked what I’m doing now that I am no longer celebrating public Masses… Saint John Paul II Seminary had to close, so they sent us four seminarians to live and work in our parish until the crisis is over. The seminary wants them to spend time in prayer and to help around the parishes. I want to thank all those, who upon hearing the news, came by with homemade food and groceries for us. We are blessed.  Three of these young men, who are studying for the priesthood, found their vocations here in the county while students at St. Mary’s Ryken High School. And these three seminarians, Christopher Feist, Joseph Brown, and Marcus Lloyd, have all served a Summer or two in our parish before.

The fourth Seminarian is Nicholas Morrison. He is assigned to us for the entire Summer and is currently studying at our flagship seminary in Rome, Italy.  He will be ordained a Transitional Deacon this Summer at the same mass with his older brother who will be ordained a Priest this year.  They also have a younger brother, Danny, who is a seminarian at Saint John Paul II Seminary.  I’ve known them since they were young children and I served as the spiritual director to their family for many years.  It’s a blessing for us, and pray God, we will be a blessing to them.

I don’t know what is to come in these strange Spring days leading into Summer.  I doubt we will have public Holy Week Services, so I encourage you to watch the Mass on EWTN or on the internet daily, if possible.

May these last weeks of Lent be an opportunity for us all to entrust everything (our health, wealth, families, friends, jobs, futures, nations, and world) into the Hands of Almighty God, who is still in charge and can bring so much good, even when there is so much bad going on.  Let us ask for a further outpouring of trust and hope every day!

Know that I’m still meeting with people every day for confessions, spiritual direction, counseling…. But that is if the outside weather permits these meeting, and we will be six feet apart.  The Lord will see us through, “Be Not Afraid”!

 

Your brother and father in Christ,

Fr. Scott Woods

March 22, 2020 – Pastor’s Keyboard

Pastor’s Keyboard: Recently, a Seminarian told me about a saint I had never heard of before; Saint Corona. St. Corona was a mere 15 years old when she became Christian during Aurelius’ persecution around the year 165 AD. When it was discovered that she was a Christian, she was out comforting another Christian who was being tortured for his faith. She was immediately imprisoned and tortured. St. Corona was tied to the tops of two palm trees bent down to the ground. When the ropes holding the trees down were cut, the trees sprang away from each other and back to their upright position. The force was so strong that Corona’s body was ripped in half. According to Roman martyr lore, this happened in today’s Syria. She lived around 177 AD and she is the Patron Saint against plagues!!! Her feast day is celebrated in Germany and it is celebrated on May 14!

I want to encourage you to ask through the intercession of St. Corona that this modern-day plague be overcome quickly.  Let us ask this every day. God places saints in our lives to aid and encourage us. While many may get sick, and some die, none of us will have to endure what she endured for the Love of God.

We do have to endure a lot during this difficult time. This is why we need to pray on our own, pray as a married couple, and pray as a family.  Prayer truly does move mountains and can have a powerful impact in ways that we cannot see. Let us pray hard, trust much, and do our part to stay well and keep others safe.

Your Brother and Father in Christ Jesus,

Fr. Scott Woods

March 15, 2020 – Pastor’s Keyboard

Pastor’s Keyboard: Nunc Coepi – this phrase made popular by Josémaria Escríva, translates to “Now, I begin”. What this means is that now I shall begin anew. Now is the time to begin again. If you have fallen in your Lenten fasts, that is alright; simply begin again. This is what Christ asks us to do. If we love Him, we will begin again, and again, and again. Never let yourselves be discouraged in any endeavor for God. The Father knows your heart. He understands that we are weak. He understands that we must fight our flesh in our fasting to separate ourselves from our attachments to this world and attach ourselves to God Himself.

Put your concerns, fears, and insecurities to rest in God. That inner voice that says since we have fallen, the rest of our days are now tainted; this is the voice that will distance us from God– whether it be from the evil one himself, or from our own insecurities. If the Father is truly a good Father, why would He get mad at His children for trying to do something good, even if they fall short the first time? He sees us all struggling and He knows our hearts. What He asks of us is devotion. What does devotion look like? It means that –whether we like it or not– we fulfill our tasks. Even if we don’t feel like praying, even if we don’t feel like fasting — we do it anyways.

It is good that we fight our attachments to worldly things to strengthen our will. When our will is strengthened, we put off less and begin to do more; whether that be staying away from the TV, calling a friend or going the extra mile or two in our work so that some else’s life is easier. This is a major part of God’s life in us, to show His love to others through us. This is the goal of our lives– to love. And if we do fall short, the solution is simple: begin again – Nunc Coepi.

Your brother in Christ,

Fr. Scott Woods