January 27, 2013

Back from South Bend. As I wrote in my last column, I was out of town last weekend, officiating at a family wedding in South Bend, IN. It was a great weekend, not only because of the wedding, but also since I was able to visit with all my brothers and sisters and most of my nieces , nephews, grand-nephews and grand-nieces. But I have to apologize: it seems I brought the frigid cold weather back with me to NoVa. Sorry.

Fighting the Good Fight. This last week we witnessed 2 important events on the National Mall in Washington: on Monday it was the second inauguration of President Obama and on Friday it was the March for Life. It is a sad thing that these 2 events stand in opposition to each other, but they do, since the first involves the retaining of the most pro-abortion president in our nation’s history, and the second involved, necessarily, standing in opposition to that president.

But even though Christians may find themselves feeling discouraged at the inauguration of a this man who is not only strongly pro-abortion but also actively promotes contraception, “gay marriage,” and oppression of religious liberty, we should also take heart. First, we remember that every presidential inauguration also celebrates the peaceful passing of power according to the free election of the people. So that it refreshes our hope that the “game is not up,” and we redouble our efforts to win the hearts and minds of our fellow citizens, and look forward to seeing that bear fruit in future inaugurations. And second, with the gathering of hundreds of thousands of pro-lifers in the same location just 4 days after this inauguration we remember that we are not alone and are not defeated. Rather, with faith in Christ and in His grace, we begin again to “fight the good fight.”

“Call to Prayer for Life, Marriage and Religious Liberty.” As part of this “good fight” I am inviting all St. Raymond parishioners to join me in taking part in the United States Bishops’ “Call to Prayer for Life, Marriage and Religious Liberty.” This initiative involves 5 parts:

1) Monthly Eucharistic Holy Hour: Every Last Wednesday of the Month we will have a Holy Hour from 6pm to 7pm, and offer special prayers for life, marriage and religious liberty. This will take place during the last hour of the currently regularly scheduled Wednesday Exposition and Adoration. The first “Holy Hour for Life, Marriage and Religious Liberty” will take place this coming Wednesday, January 30, at 6pm.

2) Daily Rosary: All parishioners are asked to pray the Daily Rosary, either individually or as a family, for life, marriage and religious liberty.

3) Intentions at Mass: We will continue to include petitions for the protection of life, marriage and religious liberty in every Sunday’s Prayer of the Faithful, and I ask that those who attend weekday Mass keep these intentions in your prayers at those Masses.

4) Meatless Fridays: As I have often reminded you, the Lord taught his apostles that some terrible evils are conquered only through acts of penance: “This kind cannot be driven out by anything but prayer and fasting” (Mark 9:29). With that in mind, and following the Bishops’ current initiative, I encourage all parishioners to abstain from meat of any kind (other than fish) on all Fridays of the year. (Of course, Catholics are required to do some form of penance every Friday of the year. Traditionally, the penance normally offered on Fridays is abstinence from meat, although most Catholics either replace it with another form of penance [which is permitted] or neglect to offer any penance at all [not permitted]. During Lent abstinence from meat is absolutely required on every Friday for all Catholics over 13 years of age. Note, however, except in Lent, failure to do Friday penance does not constitute a mortal sin).

5) This summer we will observe a Second Fortnight for Freedom in the 2 weeks before the Fourth of July, much as we did last summer.

These are just a few small things we can do to help keep up the good fight for life, marriage and religious liberty in our parish and our country. I add to this list my own continuing invitation to parishioners to join me in abstaining from meat and praying the Rosary (at least) every Wednesday as well. And while all these small efforts will be effective in their own way, they also serve as reminders that we must constantly look for new ways to promote and encourage others in the truth, always charitably, respectfully and peacefully.

Next Sunday, Blessing of the Throats. As most of you know, every year on February 3, the Feast of St. Blaise, the Church provides a special “Blessing of Throats.” This year February 3 falls on a Sunday, so the Feast of St. Blaise is suppressed, but the Blessing of Throats will still take place in abbreviated form. Because of the large number of people at Sunday Mass, rather than giving individual Blessings with the candles, the Blessing will be given once for all present at each Mass as part of the final blessing at all Sunday Masses.

A Note from Deacon Barnes. Our good seminarian-deacon asked me to publish the following note to you all. Let us keep him in our prayers.

I am extremely grateful and humbled by everyone at St. Raymond’s for their prayers and support over these past six years as I near the completion of my formation for the priesthood. In particular, as some of you may know, I received the very generous and gracious offer from the parish to buy my first Mass vestment. Fr. De Celles has been so kind to me and has assisted me greatly in this process. A first Mass vestment is very special and important. You will see me use it when I, please God, celebrate my first Mass of Thanksgiving at St. Raymond’s on June 9. Celebrating Mass for the first time is something deeply treasured by anyone preparing for the priesthood, and it is made all the more special by this gift. Now that the vestment is finished and paid for, I wanted to express how thankful I am that the parish would do this for me. It is a stunningly beautiful vestment but more than that, it will be a great and undeserved honor to wear it and to pray with and for you as a priest of Jesus Christ. I will always think of all of you whenever I will use it. My hope is that my first Mass will also be an occasion which inspires more young men and women from our parish to answer the Lord’s tremendous call to serve Him and His Church as a priest or as a consecrated religious. Your generous support will certainly play a significant role in that regard. May God Bless you and thank you so much, Deacon Nicholas Barnes.

Oremus pro invicem, et pro patria. Fr. De Celles

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