Tag Archives: Fr. Robert Rippy

Let’s make this a merciful Lent

We’ve entered that special time of the liturgical year when we, as followers of Christ, seek to experience an intense spiritual renewal. It should be a time of grace and conversion for each of us.

Fr. Robert Rippy

Medieval Europeans saw Lent as a time for prolonged prayer, severe bodily discipline and generous almsgiving. From this history, we can see the origins of our three traditional Lenten practices — prayer, penance and almsgiving. While these practices need to be maintained, we also need to focus on repentance and baptism.

Lent helps us and catechumens to be better disposed to celebrate the great paschal mystery. The Rite of Election, the scrutinies, and catechesis lead catechumens to the sacraments of initiation. As followers Jesus, we need to listen more intently to the Word of God and devote ourselves to prayer to prepare ourselves, through a spirit of repentance, to renew our baptismal promises at Easter.

A good way for us to listen intently to the Word of God is to attend daily Mass during Lent. The first readings allow us to reflect on God’s covenant with his people, his promise and gift of the Suffering Servant, and his call to repentance and conversion. The Gospel readings help us to reflect on the major events in Jesus’ life and ministry — his temptation and his transfiguration. After reflecting on the readings, we must ask ourselves: “How am I going to apply them to my life?”

In grade school the good sisters used to make sure that we were giving up something for Lent. They also reminded us that it had to be something that we liked. As a child, I wanted to give up Brussels sprouts (I hate them), but was reminded that wasn’t a good idea. We must look into ourselves to understand what foods, drinks, habits, etc., are controlling us. Therein lies the problem. We should be controlling these things and not vice versa. During Lent we need to rid ourselves of things that pull us away from God rather than bringing us closer to Him, but don’t set the bar so high that at the end of Lent we lament not achieving our goal.

Lastly, during this Jubilee Year of Mercy, we are given a wonderful opportunity to grow closer to the Lord, experience his mercy, and put mercy into action. How many of us remember the corporal and spiritual works of mercy? Corporal: feeding the hungry, giving drink to the thirsty, sheltering the homeless, clothing the naked, visiting the sick, visiting the imprisoned, burying the dead. Spiritual: admonishing the sinner, instructing the ignorant, counseling the doubtful, comforting the sorrowful, bearing wrongs patiently, forgiving all injuries, praying for the living and the dead. Just think for a moment how you can put these works of mercy into practice in your daily life!

As Catholic businessmen and women, would it be appropriate to incorporate the spiritual works of mercy into your everyday business life? Ask yourselves: Do I instruct the ignorant? Counsel the doubtful? Bear wrongs patiently and forgive all injuries? The corporal works of mercy give each of us the opportunity to practice almsgiving by feeding the hungry and giving drink to the thirsty, clothing the naked, and providing shelter to the homeless. Let’s find new ways to improve our spiritual lives this Lent. Many graces can come to us if we but open our minds and hearts to the Lord.

Let us keep before our eyes the words of the prophet Isaiah: “All who are thirsty, why spend your money for what is not bread; come to the water! You who have no money, heed me, and you shall eat well. Come, receive grain and eat; you shall delight in rich fare. Come, without paying and without cost, come to me heedfully. Drink wine and milk! … So shall my word be that goes forth from my mouth; it shall not return to me void, but shall do my will, achieving the end for which I sent it” (Isa 55:1-3, 11). May your Lent be fruitful and may you experience the great mercy of our God!

FATHER ROBERT RIPPY  is the rector of the Cathedral of St. Thomas More in Arlington, Va., and chaplain of Legatus’ Northern Virginia Chapter.

Virginia chaplain baptized his own father

Northern Virginia chaplain FR. ROBERT RIPPY’s father was in the Marines . . .

Fr. Robert Rippy

Fr. Robert Rippy

Fr. Robert Rippy
Northern Virginia Chapter

Father Robert Rippy has served as rector of the Cathedral of St. Thomas More in Arlington, Va., since 2005. Ordained in 1984, he pursued Canon Law studies at the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome, receiving his licentiate of Canon Law (JCL) in 1988. He’s held many positions during his 31 years as a priest. He has served as chaplain to the Arlington County Police Department; he’s served on the board of directors of the Arlington Catholic Herald; and he was chancellor of the Diocese of Arlington. Father Rippy spoke with Tim Drake.

Tell me about your family.

I’m an only child. My father is deceased, and my mother still lives here in Virginia. She is very independent and comes from tough Italian stock. I was born in Cherry Point, N.C. My dad was in the Marines and we stayed in North Carolina until he retired in 1965. He and my mother met while he was assigned to Quantico, Va.

What led you to consider the priesthood?

My mother had told me that I used to tell her that I was going to be a priest when I was four or five years old. I would go to Mass with her during the week, and she said that I would follow along in my missal during Mass. I began to think about the priesthood in sixth or seventh grade.

The example of my home pastor, the late Monsignor Francis Bradican, was a strong influence in my life. He would come over to dinner at our house several times during the year and I got to know him. He would serve as the master of ceremonies during the big Masses in my parish for many years even before I entered the seminary.

Has there been a highlight for you as a priest?

One of highlights of my priesthood was studying in Rome and meeting a future saint of the Church. I was sent to the Gregorian University to obtain my license in Canon Law from 1986 to 1988. Many times we priests living at the graduate house of the North American College had the opportunity to distribute communion at the various papal Masses that occurred during the year. I also had the privilege of concelebrating Mass with St. John Paul II in his private chapel on three different occasions.

What makes Legatus’ Northern Virginia Chapter stand out?

I would say that it’s both a blessing and a curse to be in the Northern Virginia area where all the high-ranking government officials live and worship. It’s definitely a challenge to preach to those who like to separate their Catholic beliefs from their political life. It’s a blessing for our chapter to be able to draw great speakers for our chapter events.

Tell me something most people wouldn’t know about you.

While a deacon, I had the joy of baptizing my father. My dad was not a Catholic as I was growing up. In my later years of grade school and high school, he started attending Sunday Mass with my mother and me.

Once again, my mother reminded me that I once said that my dad would eventually become Catholic. Unbeknownst to me and my mother, he took “convert classes” from my home pastor during my diaconate year in the seminary. When I was home for Christmas that year, my pastor called to tell me that my dad was ready to be baptized into the Church and that he thought it would be a good idea if I did it. I’ve remarked to some people that he was the biggest baby I’ve ever had to baptize in my priesthood!

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