Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament is an integral part of the spiritual life of St. Francis Parish. A eucharistic procession winds through the streets of Staunton on the feast of Corpus Christi. An active adult education program in the parish offers speakers on liturgical, spiritual, and theological topics. Every year in January a substantial number of St. Francis parishioners travel to Washington to witness for life. Icons located in the Blessed Sacrament chapel remind visitors of the company of heaven surrounding them. On the left, the steeple of the church undergoing renovation in 2015-2016; on the right, the completed project Each January members of Youth for Life travel to Washington to witness in the March for Life. The St. Francis Choir leads the congregation in praise at the Saturday vigil Mass and the Sunday liturgies. CCD catechists offer their time and talents to educate the children of the parish in the Catholic faith. In 2007 the Respect Life Committee built a prayer garden in honor of Our Lady of Guadalupe, patroness of the unborn. At left, a view of St. Francis sometime between the 1920s and the 1960s; at right, the church since the 1988-89 renovation Each summer vacation church school offers St. Francis youngsters opportunities to learn about the faith, pray, and play together. Monsignor Mark Lane administers the sacrament of confirmation for youth of St. Francis and neighboring parishes. St. Francis Church decorated for the celebration of Christmas Msgr. Andrew Cassin and Fr. Joseph Wamala greet parishioners at the front door of St. Francis Church. The choir and musicians offer special music on the occasion of the completion of church renovation in 2016. The Catholic Daughters (with Fr. Joseph Wamala) celebrate the 80th anniversary of the chapter's founding. Francis DiLorenzo, former Bishop of Richmond, reconsecrates St. Francis church after the exterior renovation in 2015-2016. The convocation of diocesan deacons was held in Staunton in 2014, with a special Mass and reception at St. Francis. Members of the Haiti Outreach greet parishioners of Our Lady of Pointe-à-Raquette, the twin parish of St. Francis in Staunton. Pilgrims from the Diocese of Richmond join a vigil before the closing Mass of World Youth Day 2016 in Poland. The new paint and gold leaf on the organ pipes was designed and applied by Natalie Bono in 2015. The Most Rev. Barry Knestout, named Bishop of Richmond in 2017, visited St. Francis in 2014 to celebrate Monsignor Cassin’s ordination anniversary. Members of St. Francis Youth for Life participated in 2017 in the 40 Days for Life witness outside an abortion clinic.
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NEWS HIGHLIGHTS



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St. Francis altar
MASS ON FEBRUARY 27-28

Signup for Mass for the weekend of February 27-28 at St. Francis is now open to all parishioners and guests. Once the limit for seating in the church is reached (approximately 70 people), Assisi Hall will be available for others wishing to attend Mass. For those in the hall, Mass will be livestreamed from the church, and Holy Communion will be distributed. The deadline for signing up to attend Saturday Mass is 3 p.m. Saturday; the deadline for both Sunday Masses is Saturday at 7 p.m.

To sign up:

  1. After you select one of the Mass times listed below, a signup page will appear. Click on the signup button and enter the number of people attending and, if requested, your name and email address (if you are a member of St. Francis Flocknote, your name and email will be recorded automatically).
  2. You will receive an email confirming your signup and offering an opportunity to change or cancel the reservation.
Begin the process by selecting the Mass you wish to attend:

Signups for this weekend’s Masses were closed on Saturday at 7 p.m. The form to sign up for Masses next weekend will be posted on Wednesday at noon for parishioners and on Friday at noon for all.

For those unable to attend Mass in person, the liturgy from St. Francis will be livestreamed on the parish Facebook page at 8 a.m. on Sunday, and the video will be available afterward. A document to accompany the livestreamed Mass, which includes the day’s readings and parish announcements, is available.


Note the restrictions required for those attending Masses:

  • Please arrive 20 minutes early for checkin. Once the church has reached capacity, worshippers will be offered a seat in Assisi Hall.
  • Masks are required for everyone age 5 and up.
  • Worshippers must practice prescribed social distancing.
  • There are no missals or other materials in the pew racks.
  • Communion will be under the form of bread only.


THE SEASON OF LENT

The Crucifixion

The Gospels speak of a time of solitude for Jesus in the desert immediately after his baptism by John. Driven by the Spirit into the desert, Jesus remains there for forty days without eating; he lives among wild beasts, and angels minister to him. At the end of this time Satan tempts him three times, seeking to compromise his filial attitude toward God. Jesus rebuffs these attacks, which recapitulate the temptations of Adam in Paradise and of Israel in the desert, and the devil leaves him “until an opportune time”. The evangelists indicate the salvific meaning of this mysterious event: Jesus is the new Adam who remained faithful just where the first Adam had given in to temptation. Jesus fulfills Israel’s vocation perfectly: in contrast to those who had once provoked God during forty years in the desert, Christ reveals himself as God’s Servant, totally obedient to the divine will. In this, Jesus is the devil’s conqueror: he “binds the strong man” to take back his plunder. Jesus’ victory over the tempter in the desert anticipates victory at the Passion, the supreme act of obedience of his filial love for the Father. Jesus’ temptation reveals the way in which the Son of God is Messiah, contrary to the way Satan proposes to him and the way men wish to attribute to him. This is why Christ vanquished the Tempter for us: “For we have not a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tested as we are, yet without sinning.” By the solemn forty days of Lent the Church unites herself each year to the mystery of Jesus in the desert.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church

The season of Lent is an annual 40-day period preceding the celebration of Easter (it actually lasts 46 days, but the Sundays in Lent do not count as part of the penitential season). Lent, which begins on Ash Wednesday and ends with the Saturday of Holy Week, is characterized by the three practices of prayer, fasting, and almsgiving, and the readings for the season are often organized around them, particularly in the Office of Readings, part of the Church’s Liturgy of the Hours, said by all clergy and religious and by many laypeople as well.

Throughout the scriptures there are echoes of the number 40, which is central to Christian revelation: On two separate occasions Moses was on Mount Sinai for 40 days and nights, receiving God’s laws. The Hebrews spent 40 days in the wilderness before entering the Promised Land. The prophet Jonah powerfully warned ancient Nineveh for 40 days that its destruction would come because of its many sins. Jesus spent 40 days fasting in the desert before beginning his public ministry. He also appeared to his disciples and others for 40 days after his resurrection from the dead.

During Lent, Christians are invited to become closer to God through the Church’s sacraments and other devotional practices, such as attending weekday Mass, following the Way of the Cross, observing abstinence from meat required on Fridays and fasting on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday, and going to confession in the sacrament of reconciliation.

Baptism

Lent is also a season of preparation for catechumens and, by extension, for all Christians. Catechumens are those unbaptized persons seeking to become Christians and enter the Church through the sacrament of baptism. The period of preparation (called the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults, or RCIA) begins well before Lent but intensifies during the penitential season as the day of the candidates’ baptism draws closer. Often included in the preparation for Easter are those who were baptized in Christian denominations but seek to enter the Catholic Church; these persons are not baptized again but affirm their belief in all that the Catholic Church teaches as revealed by God and, on the basis of that profession, receive the sacrament of confirmation. Baptism and confirmation are conferred at the Easter Vigil (which takes place on the Saturday evening before Easter Day) on the adults who have gone through the period of preparation.

Lent is unofficially divided into two parts. The first section, which stretches from Ash Wednesday up to the Fifth Sunday of Lent, emphasizes the traditional practices of Lent, self-denial, attention to the needs of those less fortunate, confession of sins, and growth in the faith. The last two weeks of Lent stress the passion and death of Christ, and appropriately the “mood” of the liturgy becomes more somber. Preceding the liturgical changes made after Vatican II, this period was referred to as Passiontide, and the crosses and statues were veiled in purple (a practice that has been revived in many parishes). With Palm Sunday (officially “Palm Sunday of the Passion of the Lord”), the Church turns its attention to contemplating the events leading up to the crucifixion and burial of Jesus.

Stations of the Cross

Interwoven with the Lenten themes just mentioned is the preparation of candidates for baptism (officially called “the elect” after the Rite of Election at the beginning of Lent), which becomes more obvious to the faithful beginning with the Third Sunday of Lent and continuing for two more Sundays, when the elect undergo the scrutinies, special prayers said for them at Mass, emphasizing their preparation for the most important religious moment of their lives. The readings at Mass, especially in Year A of the three-year cycle, are filled with baptismal themes (Jesus encounters the woman at the well, he heals the man born blind, and he raises Lazarus from the dead).

Events for Lent 2021 at St. Francis:

  • Lent begins with Ash Wednesday on February 17, and at St. Francis Church, Mass will be celebrated that day at 12 noon and 6 p.m. and includes the blessing and imposition of ashes during the liturgy.
  • Weekday Mass is ordinarily celebrated Tuesday through Friday and on the First Saturday of each month; the specific schedule of Mass for weekdays is available on this website.
  • On all the Fridays of Lent occurring before Holy Week, Stations of the Cross are held at 6 p.m. in the church.
  • The sacrament of reconciliation is offered each Saturday between 3 and 4 p.m.

All are invited to make the journey to Easter beginning with Ash Wednesday and to continue the 40-day pilgrimage in prayer, fasting, and almsgiving.

 

THE JOY OF THE CROSS

From the Catecheses by Saint Cyril of Jerusalem, Bishop

The Catholic Church glories in every deed of Christ. Her supreme glory, however, is the cross. Well aware of this, Paul says: God forbid that I glory in anything but the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ!

At Siloam, there was a sense of wonder, and rightly so. A man born blind recovered his sight. But of what importance is this, when there are so many blind people in the world? Lazarus rose from the dead, but even this affected only Lazarus. What of those countless numbers who have died because of their sins? Those five miraculous loaves fed five thousand people. Yet this is a small number compared to those all over the world who were starved by ignorance. After eighteen years a woman was freed from the bondage of Satan. But are we not all shackled by the chains of our own sins?

For us all, however, the cross is the crown of victory! It has brought light to those blinded by ignorance. It has released those enslaved by sin. Indeed, it has redeemed the whole of mankind!

Do not, then, be ashamed of the cross of Christ; rather, glory in it. Although it is a stumbling block to the Jews and folly to the Gentiles, the message of the cross is our salvation. Of course it is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. For it was not a mere man who died for us, but the Son of God, God made man.

In the Mosaic law a sacrificial lamb banished the destroyer. But now it is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. Will he not free us from our sins even more? The blood of an animal, a sheep, brought salvation. Will not the blood of the only-begotten Son bring us greater salvation?

Crucifixion

He was not killed by violence, he was not forced to give up his life. His was a willing sacrifice. Listen to his own words: I have the power to lay down my life and take it up again. Yes, he willingly submitted to his own passion. He took joy in his achievement; in his crown of victory he was glad and in the salvation of man he rejoiced. He did not blush at the cross for by it he was to save the world. No, it was not a lowly man who suffered but God incarnate. He entered the contest for the reward he would win by his patient endurance.

Certainly in times of tranquillity the cross should give you joy. But maintain the same faith in times of persecution. Otherwise you will be a friend of Jesus in times of peace and his enemy during war. Now you receive the forgiveness of your sins and the generous gift of grace from your king. When war comes, fight courageously for him.

Jesus never sinned; yet he was crucified for you. Will you refuse to be crucified for him, who for your sake was nailed to the cross? You are not the one who gives the favor; you have received one first. For your sake he was crucified on Golgotha. Now you are returning his favor; you are fulfilling your debt to him.

From the Liturgy of the Hours Excerpts from the English translation of The Liturgy of the Hours © 1974, International Commission on English in the Liturgy Corporation. All rights reserved.