Holy Week Schedule 2018


Holy Week Confessions


Holy Thursday, March 29: No Confessions

Good Friday, March 30: 11:00am – 12:00pm/4:45pm–6:00pm (after the 3pm Liturgy)

7:30pm (until the line runs out)

Holy Saturday, March 31: 1:00pm–3:00pm

(Note: There are no Confessions on Holy Saturday at 5pm & no Confessions on Easter Sunday)


Holy Thursday, March 29

No Masses during the day at St. Raymond’s

(10:30am Chrism Mass at St. Thomas More Cathedral)

No Confessions on Holy Thursday

7:00pm “Mass of the Lord’s Supper”

  • After Mass, Night Watch is kept until Midnight in the Parish Hall


Good Friday, March 30

(a day of mandatory fasting and abstinence)

11:00am – 12:00pm: Confessions

3:00pm: “Celebration of the Lord’s Passion

(Veneration of the Cross & Communion Service)

4:45pm–6:00pm: Confessions (Confessions begin after the 3pm Liturgy)

7:00pm: Stations of the Cross

7:30pm: Confessions (until the line runs out)

 Holy Saturday, March 31

(a day of voluntary fasting and abstinence)

12:00pm: Blessing of the Easter Baskets

1:00pm–3:00pm: Confessions

8:30pm: Easter Vigil Mass


Normal Sunday Mass Times: except no 5:00pm Mass

7:00am, 8:45am, 10:30am and 12:15pm

There will be no confessions on Easter Sunday


TEXT: Palm Sunday of the Passion of the Lord, March 25, 2018

Palm Sunday of the Passion of the Lord

March 25, 2018

Homily by Fr. John De Celles

St. Raymond of Peñafort Catholic Church

Springfield, VA


One day they shouted:

““Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!.”

But only a few days later they shouted: “crucify Him!”


The crowd cheering their messiah one day,

is the same crowd crying for is blood, or abandoning Him to the cross

only a few days later.


Today you are here worshiping your beloved Jesus…

but this week will you abandon Him?

Will you, by your sins, join the crowd shouting “crucify Him!”,

or simply leave Him to the crowd because you’re too important or too busy.


Or will you make this week, truly a Holy Week?

In the original Greek Scripture the word that we translate as “holy”

literally means “set apart.”

So let this week be truly holy—set apart—

radically different from every other week of the year.


Every day, take time to think and pray, if ever so briefly, but constantly,

about the Lord’s Passion.

Feel compassion for His terrible suffering,

and sorrow for your sins that cause it.

And think: let your intellect, guided by faith and grace,

lead you to understand more fully the mystery of God’s love

and the depravity of our sins.


But this week is not just about mere feelings or reason.

As St. Paul reminds us today, it is about, how God the Son

“emptied Himself,” of divine glory and came “in human likeness,”

–in human flesh.

And how He allowed that flesh to be torn by whips, thorns, nails and a sword,

and even to die “on a Cross.”


This week, then, we must live out our sorrow for and understanding of

the Lord’s suffering in our own flesh:

by saying a kind word rather than a cruel word;

by giving a helping hand, rather than the back of our hand;

by being chaste, rather than yielding to lust.


And all this week the Church offers us unique beautiful liturgies

that help us to walk with Jesus in His hour of need

and to stand at the foot of His Cross.


Today St. Paul tells us:

“Jesus…did not deem equality with God something to be grasped at,”

or “clinged to.’

This week, what will you grasp at as more important than your suffering Jesus?

Will you cling to work, or busy schedules or even school?

Or this one week, will you humbly cling to Christ?


So I ask you right now, in your hearts, will you promise Jesus

to come to one or more of the holy week liturgies or sacraments?

If you haven’t been this Lent, will you finally come to confession?

Will you come daily Mass at on Monday, Tuesday or Wednesday—or all 3?

Will you promise Jesus to come to the Mass of the Lord’s Supper on Thursday,

commemorating His institution of the Eucharist and the Priesthood,

and to watch and pray afterwards with the Lord

like the apostles in the garden of Gethsemane?


Will you come on Good Friday at 3 o’clock, the hour of the Lord’s Death,

–the holiest hour in all history–

for the powerful liturgy of the veneration of the cross,

to stand in line to kiss the cross of Christ,

and then to receive His crucified Body in Communion?


And, finally, how many will commit in their hearts right now, to come

to the most beautiful Mass of the Year Saturday night

—the Easter Vigil: the first celebration

of the light of the Resurrected Christ piercing the darkness?


Do not leave Christ behind in the church today,

or alone with the crowd this week.

Be with Him all week, at every moment—in your minds and hearts,

and in your bodies as well: at work, at home, and here in church.

Do not let this let this most sublime week of love ever in human history

be just like any other week of the year.

Let this week be different, set it apart, and let it be for you a truly HOLY WEEK.

Fr. Mark Pilon (1943 -2018) Requiescat in Pace

Fr. Mark A. Pilon (1943-2018)


 Eternal rest grant unto him, O Lord.

And let perpetual light shine upon him.

May he rest in peace.

Fr. Pilon served as the parochial vicar of St. Raymond’s from 2009 -2012.



Date: Thursday, March 22nd

Time: 4:00pm to 7:00pm

Vigil Prayers will be offered at 7:00 p.m.

Location: St. Raymond of Penafort Catholic Church,  8750 Pohick Rd. Springfield, VA 22153


Date: Friday, March 23rd

Time: 10:30am

Location: St. Raymond of Penafort Catholic Church, 8750 Pohick Rd. Springfield, VA 22153

(All are invited to attend, please plan on carpooling)


Date: Friday, March 23rd

Location: Fairfax Memorial Park 

Time: Immediately Following the Funeral Mass 

Reception to Follow in the Parish Hall after the Burial


TEXT: 5th Sunday of Lent, March 18, 2018

Fifth Sunday of Lent

March 18, 2018

Homily by Fr. John De Celles

St. Raymond of Peñafort Catholic Church

Springfield, VA


Today’s Gospel is taken from St. John’s account of the last week of Jesus’ life.

And it’s clear that Jesus knows that this is going to be no ordinary week,

that He’s going to suffer and die this week, as He says,

“I am troubled now.”

But it’s equally clear that He must and will endure it:

“Yet what should I say?… it was for this purpose that I came to this hour.”


He had waited for this hour all His life.

But in reality, the whole of creation had waited for this hour

from the beginning of the world.

Because only He—at this hour—

could restore to creation what it had lost in its beginnings:

only He could restore creation’s obedience to its creator.



The book of Genesis tells us that in the beginning

everything God created lived in perfect harmony and peace,

there was no discord.

In short, there was nothing bad, there was no evil

–everything, as Genesis tells us, “was very good.”


Genesis also tells us that God had entered into a covenant with Adam and Eve,

giving them His love and everything He created in the world,

except for 1 thing:

the tree of knowledge of good and evil.

And all He asked for in return was their love,

and in the context of that love, obedience.

Unfortunately, Adam and Eve failed to love Him: they broke the covenant.

And so placing their will above God’s will,

they disobeyed Him and ate from the forbidden tree.

And they discovered what they had never known before:

the difference between good and evil.

And from that moment on, everything God had given them

would never again be exactly as it was supposed to be:

Disharmony and confusion, pain and sorrow, sin and evil,

would reign in the world.


But God did not create man for sin, but for His love,

so right from the beginning God promised he would send someone

to restore order to creation: a Savior.

Eventually, in order to prepare the way for the Savior,

He again made a Covenant with a group of human beings—the Israelites:

as we read in today’s 1st reading, He promised:

“I will be their God, and they shall be my people.”

He would protect them, give them a home,

and give them a law that would teach them

how to live in harmony with each other, and with Him—how to love.

And in return they promised to love and obey Him, without reserve.


Yet time and again His people broke the covenant.

Until finally things got so bad that He told his prophet Jeremiah:

“The days are coming,

when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel…”

But this covenant would not be like the old one:

it would not be something to read on blocks of stone,

but it would be written in the very hearts of His people:

it would actually change them and make it possible for them

to overcome the confusion of sin.


And He kept His promise.

Last week we read:

“God so loved the world that He gave His only Son.”

And the Son came into the world to undo what Adam and Eve had done.

He came not to be disobedient, but to obey His Father.

He did not reach up to the tree to pick a forbidden fruit,

instead He came down from heaven, like a fruit falling to ground to die.

He did not try to lift Himself up like Adam and Eve, to be glorified like God,

but rather allowed Himself to be lifted up from the earth on a Cross,

in humiliation and suffering.


But as Jesus says in today’s Gospel:

when I am lifted up from the earth,

I will draw everyone to myself.”

By obediently suffering and dying out of love

He gives Himself to the Father, and to us.

He undoes the disobedience of Adam

and undoes the disharmony between the Father and mankind.

He comes to us from the Father, so we can come to the Father through Him .

We need never again be separated from Him, never live in the disharmony of sin.



But Christ did this 2000 years ago.

How do we now, today, share in His great act of obedience?

How are we given the grace of his love for the Father?

Today’s Gospel tells us:

unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies,

it remains just a grain of wheat;

but if it dies, it produces much fruit.”

Jesus doesn’t compare His death on the Cross

to the death of “a grain of wheat” by accident.

To the Jews wheat meant only one thing:

the most basic and staple food of their existence: bread!

For over 12 hundred years God’s prophets had promised the chosen people

that the Savior would bring with Him bread from heaven

—food that would be so wonderful and powerful that they would, in effect,

never again hunger for Adam’s tree of knowledge of good and evil.

And just month’s before Jesus was lifted up on the Cross,

He promised that He would somehow give them Himself

as this bread to eat.


And so on the night before He was lifted up on the Cross,

He took bread made of wheat and said to His 12 apostles:

“This is my body which is given for you.”

And then He took a cup of wine, fruit of the vine, and said:

“This is the chalice of My blood, the blood of the new Covenant.”


The promise of the Savior made to Adam is fulfilled in Christ.

And the promise of the new covenant made to Jeremiah is fulfilled on the Cross:

Jesus gives Himself to the Father by giving His body and blood

—His whole life—on the Cross.

And He gives Himself to us

—to each of us and all of us, whether living in the year 33 AD,

or the year 2018 AD

He gives Himself to us by giving His body and blood in the Eucharist.

And by receiving this Eucharist,

eating the wheat which has fallen to the ground to die,

we are lifted up into this perfect life:

He does not remain outside of us

like a stone with the law carved on it,

but rather enters into us, really and truly,

to give us new hearts of love.

And uniting Himself to us in this Holy Communion,

making us one with Him in His perfect obedience and love for the Father,

He restores the perfect harmony between God and man, even 2000 later.



But there is a catch:

just as Adam and Eve freely chose to act in disobedience to God’s will,

we must also freely choose to act in obedience to God’s will.

Neither the Cross or the Eucharist is magic—they are part of the Covenant.

To participate in this Covenant we must not only

accept the free gift of Himself that Christ offers to us,

we must also give Him ourselves in return.


So as Christ gives Himself to the Father by obediently accepting His will,

we must also give ourselves to Christ

by obediently accepting His will for us,

even if it means changing our hearts to love Him,

even if it means giving up our old lives dominated

by the world of confusion and evil.

And so Jesus tells us that:

“Whoever …hates his life in this world will preserve it for eternal life.

Whoever serves me must follow me, …

The Father will honor whoever serves me.”

And St. Paul tells us that in his obedience to the Father, Jesus:

“became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him.”



All  Lent we practice obedience through the various sacrifices we make.

Yet as we struggle even with these small things,

we realize we really have very little strength to be obedient to ourselves,

much less to God.

But just as all of Lent points to the Cross of Christ, it also points to Eucharist.

Without the Eucharist Christ cannot come to us, He can not unite Himself to us.

But with the Eucharist He can transform our feeble efforts

and unite them to His own:

–uniting our sacrifices to His, our obedience to His, our love to His,

our whole life to His.

And in the Cross’s mystery of OBEDIENCE,

we find not demeaning humiliation,

but the glory that Adam and Eve sought and lost

through disobedience.

Jesus asks:

“Father, glorify your name.”

–and Father responds: “I have glorified it and will glorify it again.”

So in the Eucharist, Jesus offers to unite us not only to his obedience,

but also to his glory.



As we continue the celebration of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass,

in a few moments I’ll ask you to “lift up your hearts to the Lord.”

When I say that, you’re supposed to do that!

So when I say that, lift your hearts and your whole self,

up to Christ in obedient sacrifice,

just as Christ Himself was lifted up in obedient sacrifice on the Cross.

And later, when I lift up the body and blood of Christ for you to see and adore,

open your hearts to receive Him, to become one with Him.

And remember the promise He made of the New Covenant:

“when I am lifted up from the earth,

I will draw all men to myself.”

TEXT: 4th Sunday of Lent, March 11, 2018

Fourth Sunday of Lent

March 11, 2018

Homily by Fr. John De Celles

St. Raymond of Peñafort Catholic Church

Springfield, VA


Today is Laetare, or “rejoice”, Sunday,

which comes from the opening antiphon at the beginning of Mass

“Rejoice, Jerusalem, and all who love her.

Be joyful, all who were in mourning….”

But these joyful words stand in stark contrast

to the sad words of today’s responsorial psalm:

“By the streams of Babylon

we sat and wept

when we remembered Zion.”
These words from today’s psalm, these words of mourning and lamentation,

are almost 2600 years old.

But in a sense, they are timeless: they belong to every age,

from the time of Adam and Eve, even till today.


This psalm was probably written during the Babylonian Captivity of Israel,

sometime between the year 586 and 538 B.C.

We read about this in the first reading:

“Those who escaped the sword were carried captive to Babylon,

where they became servants of the king of the Chaldeans

and his sons.”

In 586, Babylonian King Nebuchadnezzar, attacked and conquered Judea

and in the process destroyed Jerusalem—which is also called Zion

—and in particular, he leveled the Temple located in Zion.

And when he left Jerusalem he took almost all

of the educated and noble Jews, including the priests and scribes,

back with him to Babylon,

leaving only the poor and uneducated Jews behind.

In effect the Jewish nation was destroyed.


And so you can see how the exiles would mourn

and long for a return to their home.

But it wasn’t only their home they missed:

they missed the Temple of Jerusalem, which was God’s home.

As the 1st reading today reminds us:

“the LORD’s temple which he had consecrated in Jerusalem …

[was] His dwelling place.”


The thing is, they knew that their exile was a punishment for their sins.

But now, how could they be reconciled to God,

since they couldn’t go into his Temple,

and worship the way He demanded?

And so, they sing not only of weeping as they remember their home,

but they mourn specifically because, as the psalm says:

“How could we sing a song of the LORD in a foreign land?”

How can they worship God where He does not live?

And all of this, because they sinned.



But as I said, this psalm really belongs to every age,

because it is a psalm lamenting sin and the consequences of sin:

lamenting the loss of our home with God because of sin.

So it belongs to all men, back to the age of Adam and Eve,

because by their sin they lost their home in God’s paradise,

and since then all of us, their sons and daughters,

have longed to return to that home.


But as we read in today’s 2nd reading: “God…is rich in mercy.”

And He would not abandon man to his sins,

and so He has, from the beginning had a plan to bring man home to him.

Of course, this plan began with the establishment of a special people,

His very own “chosen people,”

from whom would come forth the savior of the whole human race.

And so this song of lamentation for the home lost by sin

belongs particularly to Abraham and his ancient descendents

—the Israelites, the Jewish people of ancient times.


But even though they were the people whom God had chosen

to bring about the reconciliation of all men to himself,

the Israelites themselves repeatedly broke their own covenant with God,

and suffered for their sins—even to the point of loosing their home.


We see this, perhaps most dramatically in the Babylonian exile

that we read about today.

For almost 700 years they had lived under the law of Moses:

the explicit instructions given by God to Moses,

by which He taught them like a caring and patient father

exactly how to live with and love each other,

and how to love and worship Him.

But time and time again they broke His commandments and laws,

and they worshipped him with false acts of piety.

As today’s 1st Reading tells us:

“In those days, all the princes of Judah, the priests, and the people

added infidelity to infidelity,

practicing all the abominations of the nations

and polluting the LORD’s temple

which he had consecrated in Jerusalem.”

Time and time again He punished them for their sins

–sometimes by great defeats in battle,

sometimes by having to flee from their enemies.

And finally, about 600 years after Moses died, He allowed the Babylonians

to conquer them and take them from their home in Zion.



But while their captivity in Babylon lasted only about 50 years,

the Hebrews would never really fully regain their home.

Because after the Persian king Cyrus conquered Babylon

and sent the Jews back to Zion,

they still remained subjects of the Persian King.

And when the Persians were defeated by the Greeks,

the Jews became subjects of the Greeks,

And when the Greeks were defeated by the Romans,

they became subjects of the Romans.


So we come to the time in the history of the world, about 540 years later,

a time which the Gospels refer to as “the fullness of time”:

the days when Caesar Augustus ruled

almost all of Western Europe, northern African and the middle East,

and his friend Herod the Great was his vassal king in Judea,

headquartered in Jerusalem.

The dwelling place on earth of the Most High

was held captive by pagans from Rome,

so that Christians of the 1st century would call Rome the new “Babylon.”

And so the people of that age also cried out in song:

“By the streams of Babylon

we sat and wept

when we remembered Zion.”


But God would still not abandon man to his sin.

As He had promised Adam, and Abraham and Moses, and all the prophets,

He would redeem his people

—He would bring them home to live with Him,

not merely in the earthly Zion

that can be corrupted by sin or destroyed by enemies,

but with Him in the eternal life of the heavenly Jerusalem

—God’s true home.


And so, we read in today’s Gospel:

“God so loved the world that He gave his only Son,

so that everyone who believes in Him might not perish

but might have eternal life.”

God the Son entered the world, being born in the midst of the chosen people.

Once again God revealed himself to His people:

but this time not through mere laws or the words of prophets.

This time God Himself, the Son, physically comes to His people.

And so we read today:

“God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world,

but that the world might be saved through him.”

Jesus came not to prolong mankind’s exile, but to bring man home to God.



But again, many chose not to serve God, but to sin.

And so Jesus tells us:

“the light came into the world,

but people preferred darkness to light,

because their works were evil.

And so, as we read in today’s Gospel, “the Son of Man [is] lifted up.”

–“lifted up”, up on a Cross,

a cross just outside of the city of Jerusalem,

a cross overlooking Zion.

And the song of lamentation belongs to those who killed him,

–the Romans and the Sanhedrin–

to those who watched Him die,

–the Blessed Mother, John, Magdalene and the Holy women–

and to those for whom He died

–you and I, and all sinful mankind:

“By the streams of Babylon

we sat and wept

when we remembered Zion.”

Throughout the long history of Israel, and even all the way back to Adam,

men and women have mourned their sins

and lamented losing their home with God.

This is the terrible fact of the history of mankind.


But the glorious fact of that history

is that for every time man has sinned and lost his home,

God has come back and offered them reason for hope.

So that in every age as he hangs his head in sorrow for his sins,

man also lifts his head to see God’s forgiveness.

So just as the Babylonians exiled God’s people

only to have the Persians send them home to Jerusalem,

in the same way,

just as Jesus is lifted up on the Cross to die for our sins,

he is also lifted up in the Resurrection to live eternally,

and to bring us all home to the heavenly Jerusalem.


Today, on this Laetare Sunday, Holy Mother Church reminds us that

even as we meditate on the darkness of our sins,

we remember that the light shines in the darkness,

and hope shines through our mourning.

Even as we fix our eyes during these 40 days of Lent on Jesus Crucified,

we also look through the Cross to see Him Resurrected.

And even as we lament our sins,

and mourn the loss of our heavenly home praying:

“we sat and wept when we remembered Zion.”
we also remember:

“God so loved the world that he gave his only Son,

so that everyone who believes in him might

…have eternal life.”

And so now, as we enter into the mystery of the Holy Eucharist,

the mystery of the Cross and Resurrection,

the mystery of the eternal sacrifice of the heavenly Temple,

the mystery of God giving us His only Son to and for the world,

the mystery of the eternal Jerusalem descending now to us on earth,

and lifting our hearts into heaven,

we sing:

Rejoice, Jerusalem, and all who love her.

Be joyful, all who were in mourning….”