Thirty second Sunday in Ordinary Time

Elections. Well, the 2018 mid-terms are over. I guess that means the 2020 campaign begins today. Sigh.

I am terribly saddened that the voters turned over majority control of the U.S. House of Representatives to pro-abortion, anti-marriage, anti-religious freedom politicians, but I am relieved that they strengthened majority control over the Senate by pro-life, pro-marriage, pro-religious freedom politicians. The latter meaning that like-minded judges will continue to be approved by the Senate, which will go a long way in righting, or at least slowing, the moral decay of our nation.

 

Adoration and the American Bishops. This week all of the American Bishops will meet in Baltimore for their Fall General Assembly. The almost exclusive topic of discussion will be the Church abuse scandals, and how to deal with bishops who either abuse or coverup other’s abuse.

It’s about time. 16 years ago when they came up with extremely severe rules on how to deal with priests accused of abuse (the “Dallas Charter”), they were asked why the new rules did not extend to bishops. As Archbishop Wilton Gregory said at that time: “The question of accountability of bishops is a burning issue, and I have every reason to believe that particular topic will receive significant debate…I clearly agree that topic will be a matter that needs discussion.” 16 years later they are finally having that discussion. Sigh. (By the way, AB Gregory is now rumored to be on the Pope’s short list to replace Cardinal Wuerl in DC).

As I have stated several times publicly, like many of you I am extremely angry over the handling of the abuse by some bishops, and by the moral corruption I believe is behind it, especially the so called “lavender mafia,” the subculture of active or sympathetic homosexual priests and bishops in the hierarchy (i.e., ex-cardinal McCarrick).

But what can we do about? You and I are greatly limited in the effect we can have on changing things, but what we can do we must do. We can write letters, sign petitions, and perhaps redirect our donations. But the greatest thing we can do is PRAY.

I believe strongly in the power of prayer, and I believe that prayer is even more powerful when we do it together for a righteous cause: “For where there are two or three gathered together in My name, there am I in the midst of them.”

And so, to this end, we will have  Exposition and Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament throughout the 3 days of the bishops’ assembly: beginning after the 6:30am Mass this Tuesday and ending with Benediction at 7pm this Thursday. That’s 60 hours of continuous Adoration, except during Masses.

My dear sons and daughters in Christ, I beg you to join me in praying together before the Blessed Sacrament. Please sign up for at least 1 hour  before our Lord, to beg the Lord for the conversion of sinful and weak bishops and priests, and for the consolation of victims.

You can sign up by going to the parish website (straymonds.org), clicking on “60 HOURS OF ADORATION DURING USCCB ASSEMBLY NOVEMBER 13-15” at the top of the page, and then following the instructions on the new page. Or you can call the office and talk to Eva. We need at least two people to sign up for every hour, and we still have some hours with only one signed up. But I don’t just want 2 people, I want lots of people for every hour! 10, 20, 100! I want to, as St. Catherine of Siena once said, “lay siege to heaven” with prayers! So, please sign up, but also feel free to come by any time day or night to join in the prayers.

Friends, we have to fight the corruption: wield the holy sword of devout prayer and adoration!

 

Armistice Day. 100 years ago today, at 11am, on November 11, 1918, “the 11th hour, of the 11th day, of the 11th Month,” World War I came to an end. It had been called “the War to end all wars,” and had resulted in the deaths of some 40 million. Sadly, it did not end all wars, and millions more have died in battle since then.

Since 1919 America has celebrated November 11 as a national holiday, first as Armistice Day and from 1947 forward as Veterans Day, which also honors all American war veterans.

On this 100th anniversary of the peace of the first Armistice Day, many places will observe this by the ringing of church bells at 11am. Unfortunately, since this falls right during the middle of the 10:30 Mass, I don’t think we’ll be doing that. I wish I could, but I don’t want to disturb the Mass. But I ask you all to remember to pray for all the souls lost in WW1, for the wellbeing of all American Veterans, and for the end of war altogether. May God grant peace among all peoples and nations.

 

Requiem Mass. Thanks to the 200 or so folks who attended the Extraordinary Form Sung High Requiem Mass in the evening of All Souls Day. The choir did a magnificent job, the servers were excellent, and the priest didn’t mess up too much. Special thanks to Eva Radel who organized so much of it, especially assisting Elisabeth Turco and the choir. The Sung High Mass is truly beautiful, something everyone should experience from time to time, and the Requiem (“Mass for the Dead”), is a truly moving way to pray for the Holy Souls. I wish you all had been there. Maybe next time…

 

Our “Baby” Sofi. November 14 is the 8th birthday of Sofi Hills. As many of you will recall, as a newborn baby she was left in our parking lot, where she was found by a parishioner and rushed to the hospital. For a while I called her “Baby Mary Madeleine,” until she was placed with a loving family which soon adopted her and named her “Anna Sofia Rae,” or “Sofi.” We continue to give praise to the Lord Jesus for saving her life that day, and that she has grown into a healthy vivacious little girl. And in celebration we’re having a birthday party for Sofi in our Parish Hall, next Sunday, November 18, after the 12:15 Mass. All parishioners are invited and encouraged to come and say hello to our little Sofi!

 

Oremus pro invicem. Fr. De Celles

 

 

 

 

Thirty First Sunday in Ordinary Time

ELECTION. This Tuesday, November 6, is Election Day. Much is at stake, especially in voting for the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives. As the Catechism of the Catholic Church reminds us: “co-responsibility for the common good make[s] it morally obligatoryto exercise the right to vote…” [2240]. In my opinion, when someone is eligible to vote, failure to vote is usually grave matter (i.e., the stuff that mortal sins are made of) when the issues are as important as they are in this election.

Key Issues. There are many important issues today, including the economy, heath insurance, illegal immigration, etc.. But as with any moral choice we make, we always start with the most fundamental issues. Today these should be clear: protecting the right-to-life (without which all rights are forfeited), protecting traditional marriage (the cornerstone of civil society) and religious liberty (without which there are no “God-given rights,” only “government-given rights.”) These are truly non-negotiable and disqualifying issues.

Under the current administration, much positive headway has been made in these areas, especially in the appointment of federal judges who support these traditional values. But because of this success, some of us may tend to relax in our fight  to defend these rights, etc.. And they may lead some of you not to vote.

But remember, there are two parties in this country, and one party clearly publicly defends life and marriage (and religious liberty), and the other party clearly publicly opposes them. That’s just the facts, not a partisan endorsement. This election will decide which party, i.e., the pro-life, etc., party, or the pro-abortion etc. party, controls the Senate and the House.

So remember: EVERY VOTE MATTERS! We’ve seen this over and over again. Just last year Philip Hatchett (R) and Shelly Simonds (D) TIED in their race for a seat in the Virginia House of Delegates, and the winner was chosen by drawing of a name from a bowl! And that determined which party would have control of the state House. If one more vote would have been cast, that one voter would have decided who would control the House!

Vote, and vote like Catholics, protecting the most fundamental rights and principles.

Prayers. With that in mind, I ask that today, tomorrow and Tuesday all of you pray the Rosary and the Prayer to St. Raymond of Peñafort, and perhaps offer up some small sacrifice, for the Lord’s will to be done on Tuesday.

 

60 HOURS, 3 DAYS OF ADORATION. As I wrote last week, the American Bishops will be meeting from Tuesday, November 13, to Thursday, November 15, to address the sex abuse cover-up, including how to discipline lying or abusing bishops. With this in mind, St. Raymond’s will have Exposition and Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament throughout the 3 days of the bishops’ assembly: from 7am on Tuesday to 7pm on Thursday. And as your spiritual father, I beg all of you to sign up for at least 1 hour before our Lord, to beg the Lord for the conversion of sinful and weak bishops and priests, and for the consolation of victims. So please sign up. See the insert today for more info.

 

NOVEMBER: PRAYING FOR THE DEAD. Last Friday we celebrated All Souls Day. But actually the whole month of November is set aside by the Church as a month to pray for the dead, for all the souls in Purgatory, who are being prepared for their entrance into Heaven.

Many Catholics nowadays wrongly think Purgatory is an outdated remnant from the Middle Ages, even though Christian belief in Purgatory is rooted in Jewish doctrine (2 Maccabees 12), and was well established in the early Church. Many other Catholics, in their grief, prefer to think of their departed loved ones as already being in Heaven, and can’t bear the thought that they might be in Purgatory.

But the doctrine of Purgatory is not something to fear, because it is a doctrine of God’s mercy, and reflects the reality that none of us are perfect. All of us sin or cling to things of this world—however small or seemingly insignificant. But Scripture tells us “nothing imperfect shall enter” into Heaven (Rev. 21:27)—and rightly so, since Heaven is about perfect happiness, perfect love, etc… Given this, and confident in Our Lord’s desire for all to be with Him in Heaven, Christians have always believed that between death and Heaven there is a purification, or purgation, where we’re cleansed from all imperfections, i.e., made perfect. This state, or “place,” we call Purgatory.

Now, we must remember that Purgatory is NOT anything like Hell, and all the Souls in Purgatory are good and “worthy” of eternal joy in Heaven—we call them the “Holy Souls.” So thinking of them as in Purgatory is not an insult but praise. Moreover, these Souls are certain they are going to Heaven, so they are filled with a joy beyond anything experienced on earth.

But we must also remember that there is suffering in Purgatory. The simplest way for many of us to understand this is to think of the suffering related to change. All change is difficult. Consider the person who is trying to lose weight, or exercising for an athletic competition. The effort involved in change is painful, but as you see progress you are also invigorated and happy, seeing your goal approach.

Even so, since 1) Purgatory involves pain, and 2) we want our beloved dead to swiftly enter the joys of Heaven, we should never neglect praying for them. And if they are already in Heaven, no prayer is wasted, since every prayer is an act of love, and they hear each prayer as telling how much we love them.

So in love, let us pray for our beloved dead this month, and for all the Holy Souls in Purgatory, especially the “most abandoned,” the souls who no one else remembers to pray for.

“Eternal rest grant unto them, O Lord, and may perpetual light shine upon them. May their souls, and all the souls of the faithful departed, rest in peace.”

 

Synagogue Shooting and Security Concerns. Last weekend the nation once again mourned the deaths of Americans caught in a mass shooting at a religious service. Please pray for those killed and wounded, and for an end of this insane violence.

As I wrote last year, I have discussed our own security with various priests, parishioners and law enforcement folks, but most suggestions for improvements seem impractical, or risk stirring up undue fears. After all, the odds of something happening in any particular church are infinitesimally small. Even so, we will try to take those precautions which seem reasonable. And I always encourage you to be vigilant, and report anything clearly suspicious. And I know I can count on many of our parishioners who are current or former law-enforcement officers or trained military veterans, to be constantly prepared to render proportionate forceful defense of their fellow parishioners. But above all I trust and pray that Jesus will send His angels to protect and defend us at all times.

Oremus pro invicem. Fr. De Celles

 

TEXT: 30th Sunday in Ordinary Time, October 28, 2018

30th Sunday in Ordinary Time

October 28, 2018

Homily by Fr. John De Celles

St. Raymond of Peñafort Catholic Church

Springfield, VA

 

Forgive me if I make some mistakes today.

I had another homily ready to go,

but last night I decided I had to say something else

—so this is not as well-crafted as I’d like.

But that is the nature of speech:

it often fails to communicate adequately,

and sometimes communicates poorly.

Which I will talk about later.

 

The events of this last week,

with the mail bombs and then the synagogue shooting,

along with the past shooting of congressmen at their baseball practice,

and mailing of ricin or anthrax to public figures,

all remind us of the sorry state of affairs in our country:

of the divisions that more and more radically separate us from each other.

 

In today’s Gospel, we find the story of Bartimaeus,

whom Jesus cured of blindness.

It seems to me this is the same problem so many Americans

and so many human beings around the world have today: blindness.

Not physical blindness, but a kind of mental and spiritual blindness.

They are blinded by their ideologies, by their unjust prejudices, their hatred,

and even by their corrupted religious views.

This can then lead to all sorts of distortions of political and social action,

to extremes of speech, then to grossly unacceptable physical encounters

—such as harassment of public officials in restaurants—

and even to the kind of extreme physical violence we’re seeing all too often.

 

The response to all this seems to be a near universal call

to calm down the rhetoric:

to scale back the harsh language we find in today’s public discourse,

especially in politics.

The idea is that such harsh speech leads to physical violence.

And I agree, but I also disagree.

 

Let me explain.

 

In Scripture Jesus twice repeats and affirms the 5th Commandment:

“you shall not kill.”

But Scripture makes clear, and the Church has always taught,

that this is not an absolute ban on killing human beings

in every single case.

For example, the Church has always taught in the case of self-defense,

and even just war,

we can morally use physical violence, and even kill an unjust aggressor.

But at the same time, the Church teaches this must be only as a last resort,

only when it’s truly necessary,

when all other non-deadly efforts have been exhausted or aren’t possible.

And it must only be used as a proportionate response:

if someone slaps you, you might be justified in slapping him back,

but not in killing him.

But if he comes at you with a knife, you could be killed, so you could shoot him.

Still, you should try to only wound him, if possible.

 

And again, you can only use physical force when other means don’t work.

Which means you first use words.

You discuss, debate, even argue, before you use physical violence.

 

But there’s a problem there too.

Remember in the Sermon on the Mount, when Jesus says, “‘You shall not kill…’”

He immediately adds,

“whoever is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment,

and whoever says to his brother, ‘Raqa,’

will be answerable to the Sanhedrin,

and whoever says, ‘You fool,’ will be liable to fiery Hell.”

So does that mean we can’t have a heated argument with each other,

or never use harsh words?

 

Not really.

For example, even though Jesus tells us not to call our brother a “fool”,

He Himself calls the Pharisees “fools” and “vipers” and “snakes”

Because that was what was necessary to get their attention,

that only thing that would make them understand the trouble they were in,

and also probably to communicate that to the people.

So it falls under the same logic as using physical force:

you can use the force that is truly necessary, and proportionate,

to defend yourself, or others.

 

So, where does this leave us?

Clearly we have to  use physical violence against those

who use physical violence against us:

so the guy who shot up the synagogue yesterday

was justly subdued by the cops who shot him.

 

But that is clearly and absolutely not necessary in our political discourse today.

Even the physical confrontation of public officials and their families in restaurants

is clearly over the top, and not necessary or proportionate.

 

You see, we have this great country that enshrines, right from the beginning,

in our foundational principles and laws,

the safety value against violence.

As our founding fathers wrote

in the very first article of the Bill of Rights of our Constitution:

“Congress shall make no law ….abridging the freedom of speech….”

And so we can fight our fights, we can defend ourselves with speech, with words.

 

Can speech be hurtful?

Of course.

But there’s a lot to the old adage, most of us learned when we were children,

“sticks and stone may break my bones, but names will never hurt me.”

Now, certainly words can hurt us, but usually only if we let them.

And a reasonable mature person doesn’t have to let them.

 

And can hurtful words incite others to physical violence?

They clearly can, if the words actually call for actual physical violence.

Otherwise only the mentally ill are triggered to violence by harsh words.

So, we have to be careful and prudent, or proportional, in our choice of words.

But on the other hand we have to use the words we need

to communicate clearly, even if those words are hurtful.

Otherwise we’d all just have to remain silent,

lest we say something that might trigger a violent response

in some deranged person.

 

___

Again, just like in war or physical self-defense,

we should words proportionate with the words our opponents use.

 

Now, in the current political climate,

have the various sides always used proportionate language to fight with.

Certainly not, not always—some are way out of bounds.

But what’s worse: to compare someone Adolf Hitler,

or to call them “ugly” or “stupid”?

Is it worse to call someone a “bigot” or to call them a “liar”?

I don’t know.

 

But I do know that the protection of free speech

has allowed Americans to fight for what we believe in

without resorting to physical violence

and has held our country together for 242 years

—except with when ran out of words to argue for and against

human slavery,

and then we had to go to war with each other:

and 625,000 Americans died.

 

So let’s not be afraid of battling with words, now—even harsh words.

Because it seems to me that if freedom of speech is suppressed,

there will once again be nothing left

to defend yourself with,

or defend the opinions and beliefs of both or all sides,

nothing but bloody civil unrest, violence and even war.

 

____

The key seems to be never to speaking when we are blinded by

ideologies, unjust prejudices, hatred, or corrupted religious views.

And so the answer for us, for all Americans and for the whole world

is to be like Bartimaeus, who, after the disciples told him “to be silent,”

filled with faith in Jesus, begged him,

“Master, I want to see.”

And then, after he received his sight, it says, he then, “followed him on the way.”

 

The answer to all the violence is to follow Jesus.

To follow him and his teaching about violence, and about speaking.

To remember that our opponents may be our enemies,

but that Jesus calls us to “love our enemies.”

This won’t, can’t and shouldn’t force us to never say a harsh word

about them or to them,

but it will force us to never say anything that doesn’t really need to be said.

 

Of course, in the heat of anger, it’s pretty hard to control our words.

But if the love of God, and the reason and justice of God,

govern our tongues, it gets easier.

And with the grace of Jesus Christ,

who spoke the truth at all times,

even using harsh language when it was necessary,

all things are possible.

 

____

Now, I know that I’ve said this clumsily,

and the someone might here this and be offended.

That’s probably my fault for choosoing the wrong words.

Words are like that, and human beings are like that.

Which reminds us of another thing to remember about speech:

always listen to others with love and reason in Christ,

and charitably try to understand

even the most poorly articulated thoughts of others.

 

____

As we move more deeply into the mystery of the Mass,

let us ask our Lord to shower our nation with his grace and love.

Let us pray for our politicians that they may fight boldly for what they believe,

but fight only with words that are truly necessary,

and subject to the judgment of Christ.

And let us pray for each other and all Americans,

that we may never resort to physical violence to defend our beliefs,

but rather always forcefully speak up for what we hold dear,

never being blinded by the false values of the world,

but always seeing with the eyes of faith in Jesus.

Thirtieth Sunday in Ordinary Time

VACATION. Just got back from a week playing golf in Williamsburg. It had been awhile since I’d be able to get away: I stayed close to home all summer just in case I could help move the lighting project along, which wound up being unnecessary. Just so you know, we priests get 4 weeks of vacation plus 5 days of retreat every year. Since we work 6 (and sometimes 7) day weeks, the breaks are important to our physical and mental health. I know it is to me.

Something unplanned always happens on vacations. This time it was a tooth emergency. While eating dinner one night I bit down on my hamburger and heard a “pop” in my mouth—a tooth (with a 30-year-old filling) had cracked. Long story short I wound up driving back here the next day to have my dentist pull the tooth. So when you notice a gap in my handsome smile over the next few months, you know the story. In any case, I went back to golfing the next day and had a very relaxing time.

 

THREE DAYS OF ADORATION. From Tuesday, November 13, to Thursday, November 15, all the American Bishops will meet in Baltimore for their Fall General Assembly. With the exception of a few minor administrative matters the entire session will be devoted to addressing the sex abuse cover-up, including how to discipline lying or abusing bishops.

While the bishops have to step up and take responsibility and reform themselves, it is clear to me that the laity have a huge role in making this happen. There are various ways you can do this: letters or petitions to bishops (and the pope), funding, awareness, etc. But one key thing we can all do is PRAY. We are Christians, and we believe in the power of prayer. So use the power of Jesus dwelling in you from your baptism and pray constantly for reform.

With this in mind, I’ve decided St. Raymond’s will have Exposition and Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament throughout the 3 days of the bishops’ assembly: from 7am on Tuesday to 7pm on Thursday. That’s a total of 60 hours straight, except during Holy Mass. And as your spiritual father I beg all of you to participate, signing up to spend at least 1 hour before our Lord on the altar. I’m very serious: it is important that we do this as a parish, coming together to beg the Lord to intervene for the conversion of sinful and weak bishops and priests, and for the consolation of victims.

So please sign up. In the next few days we’ll put a sign-up page on the parish website (straymonds.org), or you can email or call the parish office.

What do I do in Adoration? There really aren’t a lot of rules for what you do at Adoration. Basically you come, sit or kneel quietly, and pray. Bring your Rosary, your Bible or some other good spiritual book (even an interesting biography of a saint) to read between prayers. We’ll also have some prayer books available if you want to use those. But mainly come and be with Jesus.

An hour sounds like a long time, but it’s not really, if you split it up between praying the Rosary, reading, and just talking and listening to Jesus. As St. John Vianney once said, “Him looking at you, and you looking at Him.” It’ll do you great good, and joined with all the others adoring over the 60 hours it will be a mighty prayer for the greater good of the Church.

 

A HOLY WEEK. This Thursday, November 1, is All Saints Day, a Holy Day of Obligation. Since all Catholics are required (under mortal sin) to attend Mass, we have our usual extra Masses scheduled (see below).

The following day, Friday, November 2, is the Commemoration of All Souls, when we pray for all the souls who are awaiting entrance into Heaven as they are being purified in Purgatory, especially our loved ones. I invite you all to pray for the dead every day, but especially on this day and throughout the month of November. Even though this is NOT a Holy Day of Obligation, all are encouraged to attend Mass. In particular, I invite you to join me and our choir for a special Sung High Requiem Mass according to the Extraordinary Form (Traditional Latin) that evening at 7pm. If you’ve never been to the EFM, don’t worry—just come. Even if you think the EFM is not your “cup of tea,” you will not regret having experienced this different, but very beautiful, form of Catholic worship. It will be a very prayerful experience. Trust me. (This is not the “low” Mass we offer on the 1st and 3rd Fridays, but Mass chanted by the priest, choir and congregation from beginning to end).

Of course, all this is proceeded by Wednesday, October 31, which is “Halloween.” As you know, I am not a fan of this day, since it not only tends to distract us from and trivialize the meaning of the important days that follow, but it is also used as a feast day by those that serve the devil (including Satanists, witches, etc.). Still, I understand the innocent fun, especially for kids, of dressing up in costumes and going trick-or-treating. But keep it balanced, and be careful not to let it, in any way, lead you or yours away from Christ, the Saints, or the Holy Souls.

 

VOCATION. I am overjoyed to announce that parishioner Jacquelyn (Jackie) Parman, daughter of parishioners, Don and Claudette Parman, has entered into the first stage of religious life as a postulant with the Cistercian Nuns of The Valley of Our Lady Monastery in Wisconsin. This is a very demanding vocation, so Sister will need our prayers—so please pray for her! And I’m sure she will also pray for us!

 

Parish Finance Report. Please find the Finance Report of the year ended June 30, 2018 inserted in this bulletin.

Operating Income (mainly from offertory and debt-reduction collections, and other donations) was $2,413,223, up $62,092 (or 2.6%) over the prior year, while Operating Expenses were $1,935,456, up $20,775 (or 1%) from the prior year, leaving us a Net Operating Income of  $477,767, up $41,317 from the prior year.

We also had Extraordinary Income of $248,383 and Extraordinary Expenditures of $167,562, both related to the Lighting and Mural Project (except for $8,059 of other expenditures). This left us with a Net Surplus (the bottom line) of  $558,588.

On the Balance Sheet side of things, we had cash of $148,352 in checking and $1,237,547 in savings, with $16,419 in Accounts Payable and a $0 balance on our Building Loan (down $387,917 from the prior year). We also had Restricted Assets of $88,881, i.e., Capital Campaign funds dedicated to paying for the Lighting and Mural Project.

Please feel free to contact me or Kirsti Tyson in the parish office with any questions about the report.

 

Oremus pro invicem. Fr. De Celles

 

 

Twenty eighth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Justice Kavanaugh. Well, thanks be to God the hearings are over. The country moves forward with a great new Supreme Court Justice, one who I’m confident will, to the best of his abilities and in keeping with the Constitution, uphold the traditional values dear to America for centuries, including the right to life, the meaning of family and marriage, religious freedom and the dignity of women.

Thank you for all your prayers during the hearings. I have been hearing, however, that the Kavanaugh family is still receiving unpleasant feedback from opponents. I am particularly worried for his 13 and 10-year-old daughters—imagine what suffering they’ve endured. So I encourage you to pray for the family, especially invoking St. Raymond and St. Thomas More (patrons of lawyers), St. Michael, St. Mary Magdalene, and Our Blessed Mother. Also, St. Agnes and St. Maria Goretti, patron saints of young girls.

 

Going Forward. The Kavanaugh hearings dramatically revealed a deep fissure in American society. I’m not sure exactly where the boundary of one side and the other begin or end, and I’m not sure what to call the various factions. In any case, there is a growing acrimony and bitterness in our country, and it is making itself manifest in more and more public violence, either in rhetoric or action. I am afraid it will only get worse.

I do not know the answer, except the grace of Jesus and a return to the Christian values that have made us great. Beginning with loving God above all things, and loving our neighbor as ourselves, and even loving our enemy. We must learn, as our founders did, to patiently tolerate—not “accept” or “embrace” or “acquiesce to” —the differences in ideas and opinions, and work within the system of debate, persuasive dialogue, elections and laws that has helped make our nation a peaceful and great nation.

Last week one politician said, “You cannot be civil with a political party that wants to destroy what you stand for, what you care about. That’s why I believe, if we are fortunate enough to win back the House and or the Senate, that’s when civility can start again.” God bless them, but no, that won’t work. We can’t be civil with each other just when we are in power. There is a sense in which we can be “too civil,” too accommodating to opponents. But basic civility, basic respect for your opponents has to return to public life. If not, I’m afraid that civility will give way to uncivility, which will give way to something like a civil war. And this civility must begin with Christians, especially us Catholics. Again, this doesn’t mean rolling over, or not fighting for what we believe in. But fighting fairly, governed always by reason and charity.

Let us pray for our nation, for our friends and for our foes.

 

Children at Mass. Being a parent is incredibly challenging, especially these days, and especially at Mass. For example, sometimes you just can’t stop a newborn or a two-year-old from doing what they so often naturally do—make noise. This problem is often compounded in larger families: parents try to deal with the crying newborn, while the 4 and 6-year-old talk to each other. I don’t know how they manage, God bless them.

Many of these parents are torn between not wanting to disturb others and wanting to come to Mass as a family. And many understandably think: “well the Church and the priests encourage us to be pro-life and open to life—and we were!” Some warn that if we’re not careful we’ll chase these families away from the parish or from Catholicism altogether.

But there are others we have to be very careful not to “chase away.” Years ago a young man told me a story I’ve heard innumerable times since, from scores of young people: as a teenager he stopped going to Mass because week after week he found himself completely distracted by the little children around him. So he thought, “why bother?” and stopped going. Not a good excuse, but that’s the way a lot of teenage boys’ minds work.

On the other hand there’s the story one mother told me of how her young family had been away from Mass for a few years and decided to come back, but after just few weeks they stopped, embarrassed by their little two-year-old’s behavior at Mass. Or the story of the mother who was up all night with a colicky baby, and didn’t notice her 3-year-old run up into the sanctuary. Or the father of an autistic little boy who suddenly laughed out loud at Mass, only to be scolded by the people in front of him, and he broke into tears.

Back and forth. What do we do? The only answer seems again to be a combination of Christ’s grace, and practicing the virtues of patience and charity—by all parties. All of us who might be distracted should try our very best to charitably empathize and be patient, “offer up” the distraction, and/or if necessary (and possible) move to another seat. But in the same way, those with disruptive children should be charitable to those around them, and patient with their frustration—and try to take steps to ease the situation when possible.

One solution is to have Mom (or Dad) stay home with the fussy baby while Dad takes the other children to Mass, and then vice versa. It worked for my Mom and Dad. But, for many families today family dynamics are very different than they used to be. We have to understand this, and I leave it to the parents’ good judgment.

And there is another simple solution: at St. Raymond’s we have lots of places parents with fussy children can go to avoid distracting others during Mass: we have the “Family Room,” and we have a huge narthex—the vestibule at the main entrance.

Now, let’s be clear. Babies and small children just sometimes make noise—that’s just part of what they do. A baby will start to fuss, and Mom whips out a bottle and the baby is happy again. Or a 5-year-old suddenly starts to talk out loud, and Dad gives him “the look,” and it’s under control. Or a special needs child may blurt out a loud noise all of a sudden, and then stop. All of us need to accept those largely uncontrollable situations—with patience and charity.

But where a child continues to make a prolonged disturbance that is genuinely distracting to others (crying, talking, noise-making, etc.), out of charity, parents must consider what action they can take.

With the grace of Jesus, let us all truly strive to love one another as He has loved us, especially by practicing the virtues of patience and charity. And thanks again for your patience and charity with me.

 

Oktoberfest. Thanks to all who made our Oktoberfest dinner last week a great success. Especially Pat Franco and the Knights of Columbus, and particularly Cindy Leaf and Michael Welch who worked so hard in supervising the food preparation.

 

Oremus pro invicem. Fr. De Celles

 

 

TEXT: 27th Sunday in Ordinary Time, October 7, 2018

27th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Respect Life Sunday)

October 7, 2018

Homily by Fr. John De Celles

St. Raymond of Peñafort Catholic Church

Springfield, VA

 

This last year the topic of sexual abuse has been a dominant theme in the news.

Of course, in the Church,

this has taken on particular disgusting and sinister dimensions,

and we’ve spent a lot of time thinking and talking about that.

 

But sexual abuse isn’t the exclusive problem of the Church.

In the last year, society at large has become more acutely aware

that sexual abuse is a huge problem for all of us,

particularly the sexual abuse, including sexual harassment, of women.

 

And so we’ve seen the rise of the so called “me-too” movement:

women coming forward to reveal

that they have been sexually harassed or worse.

This was sort of initiated or at least publicized by Hollywood actresses

coming out about how powerful men in Hollywood had abused them.

 

Of course, this is kind of ironic, sadly, since Hollywood has been

one of the main promoters of the sexual abuse of women for decades

—just look at almost any movie and most tv shows,

and we see women constantly exploited for their sexuality.

 

But the thing is, Hollywood and it’s—for lack of a better word—“leftist” friends,

are turning to their unique set of values to solve the problem.

But they wind up making even greater problems,

because those values are largely morally bankrupt.

 

So for example, they’re promoting the idea

that we must now always believe the accusations of women,

and that men should never be trusted.

As one politician said recently,

“Guess who’s perpetuating all these kinds of actions?

It’s the men in this country.

And I just want to say to the men in this country, just shut up….”

 

Of course, we do need to listen to women who claim abuse.

But the idea of always trusting the women and never trusting the man

only aggravates the problem

by turning man and woman further against each other.

 

___

The real solution is actually very simple, well known and ancient.

And it comes from Jesus Christ and His Church,

which for 2000 years has clearly and strongly upheld

the dignity of women

and the mutual respect and love male and female

should always, without exception, have for each other.

 

Actually, this goes back to the roots of our faith in Judaism.

In today’s first reading we literally go back to the beginning,

to the story of how God created man and woman

recorded in beginning of the Bible in the Book of Genesis.

In Chapter 1 of Genesis it tells us that God

“created man in His own image…male and female He created them.

Then in Chapter 2, that we read today,

it says that God created Adam first,

but that it wasn’t “good” that he be alone.

So God created the animals, but none of them could fill his loneliness,

none was a suitable partner for Adam.

And so God created Eve, from the very flesh and bones of Adam.

Adam looks at her in awe and says,

“This one, at last, is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh.”

And it says, “a man clings to his wife, and the two of them become one flesh.”

 

All this is to say, in part, that women are not animals to be used

for man’s needs or selfishness.

They are made of the same stuff as males, equal to him in dignity.

But also made different, so as to complete mankind—so two can become one—

they are partners.

Different but equal, so that their equality must be mutually loved and respected

through their differences.

 

Jesus picks up on this theme in today’s gospel.

He quotes both Chapter 1 and 2 of Genesis, in his defense of marriage.

And in that defense he points out that women are equal in dignity to men,

first by citing Genesis’ teaching that both are made in the image of God,

and the 2 become 1 to complement or complete each other.

But also notice how he defends women from a terrible abuse:

men abandoning and divorcing their wives.

Not only does this leave the woman penniless,

but more fundamentally when the man marries another woman

he abuses the sexuality of his ex-wife:

in effect, he has used her sexually,

and now cast her aside as if she were trash

—that is at the heart of adultery.

 

And remember that Jesus makes it clear that adultery, this demeaning of women,

it isn’t just limited to bodily acts.

In the Sermon on the Mount he warns us:

“…that everyone who looks at a woman with lust

has already committed adultery with her in his heart.”

 

And so the Catholic Church promotes the dignity and rejects the abuse

of women.

It calls us to look at woman not as sexual objects to be used,

either by our eyes or with our bodies,

but to always treat them with love, chastity, and respect.

 

____

So, the Church has been right about this all along,

and the Church has the solution for the sexual abuse of women today.

 

But if the Church has been right on that moral problem for 2000 years,

what other moral problem might she have gotten right?

 

What about an equally, if not worse, kind of abuse of women,

that involves a different but still fundamental aspect of their sexuality:

motherhood?

And that is the abuse of women we call abortion.

 

Think about this.

We tell a woman, it’s not a baby so there’s nothing wrong with it.

But of course, it IS a baby, and in her heart she knows it’s a baby,

and that she has killed her baby.

 

But we tell her she’ll be fine afterwards, and she can move on with life.

But the reality is she will never forgive herself,

and she will be burdened, even crippled,

by guilt and even self-loathing for the rest of her life.

 

And we pretend it will empower her.

but in reality most of the time it only further subjects women

to the power of men, the fathers of their babies,

who so often force the woman to have an abortion

either directly or through fear of abandonment.

 

And we tell her it’s her free choice,

but then we don’t tell her about any of the other choices she has,

choices that are not deadly to the baby or traumatic to her.

 

___

It seems to me, that abortion is painfully similar to sexual abuse:

both take the woman’s sexuality

and turn it from an expression of joy, love and life,

to an experience of pain, hatred and destruction.

And the scars of both stay with them and effect everything they do

for the rest of their lives.

 

But the thing is, if we were honest with ourselves, as terrible as sexual abuse is,

abortion is even worse:

sexual abuse only injures,

but abortion always kills…a child—and not just any child,

but the woman’s baby girl or boy.

Given the right care, a woman can be greatly healed

from the traumatic effects of both sexual abuse and abortion,

but no one can bring the aborted baby back to life.

 

Sexual abuse must be stopped

God forbids it, reason shows it, and justice demands it.

And the abuse of women through abortion must also be stopped,

for the very same reasons—God, reason and justice.

 

____

3 months ago, the President nominated Judge Brett Kavanaugh

to the Supreme Court.

To many of this, it was seen as a God-send:

we knew that Kavanaugh was a strongly pro-life judge

who would work to protect women and their children

from the terrible abuse of abortion.

We had been waiting, working and praying for him for 50 years.

 

But for the exact same reason, many others immediately decried his nomination.

One of the pro-abortion leaders called him “evil,”

and another promised that he would

“oppose him with everything I got.”

Because you see, abortion was on the line

—no matter what other qualification he has,

that was all that mattered to them.

 

And they did throw everything they could at him to stop him.

And in the end, when all else failed, they threw one final horrible accusation

that they thought would end his nomination.

The irony is thick here:

they accused him of sexual abuse of a woman

in order to protect their abuse of women in abortion.

 

In the end however, even though her testimony was compelling, his was too.

Who should we believe, when they both seemed believable?

Again, some said we should believe her no matter what,

and assume that he was guilty because, after all he is a man.

Thanks be to God, clearer heads prevailed,

and again turned to God, reason and justice for an answer.

When no corroborating evidence was presented,

we remembered the fundamental maxim of American Justice that

we must always assume someone innocent

until they are proven guilty.

And some us remembered the words of God the Son himself, Jesus:

“If your brother sins, ….take one or two more with you,

so that by the mouth of two or three witnesses

every fact may be confirmed.”

 

And in the end a majority of the senate voted yesterday

to confirm Judge Kavanaugh’s appointment to the Supreme Court.

And we will finally put an end to 50 years of a Supreme Court

that has sanctioned the abuse of women through abortion.

So that, thanks be to God, we will finally have

a truly pro-life, and pro-woman majority on the Court.

 

____

Sexual abuse of women is a despicable thing,

an abomination before God, reason and justice.

But we cannot show respect for women by throwing out our respect for men.

We can only do so by remembering that

we are created in the image of God as male and female,

meant to cling to each other in love:

to mutually respect and love each other in every aspect of life.

And by appreciating and standing in awe of

the God-given differences between male and female,

especially the sexual differences,

and never use them to exploit or abuse each other.

 

But all that means we must also respect the dignity of a woman’s sexuality

that is expressed in motherhood.

And we must end the abuse of women that comes through deception

and the rejection and distortion of that great gift through abortion.

____

As we continue more deeply into the mystery of this Holy Mass,

let us ask our Lord Jesus to pour out His grace upon us,

so that we may truly understand and appreciate the gifts He has given us. Most especially that we may always respect and truly love women,

and protect them from any abuse

of the great and multifaceted gift of their sexuality.