Thirty Second Sunday in Ordinary Time

Fr. Charles Smith. By now I assume you have all heard that effective Monday,
November 18, Fr. Charles Smith, our Parochial Vicar, will be transferred and promoted
to be the new Pastor at St. John the Evangelist Parish in Warrenton. There he will take Fr.
Jim Gould’s place, as Fr. Gould becomes Pastor at St. Francis de Sales in Purcellville. Fr.
Smith has done great job here these last 3½ years, a huge help to me, and I know to all of
you as well. I know you join me in thanking him, and are as confident as I am that he will
be a great Pastor.
All transfers are difficult for priests, but especially for first-time pastors. It’s a
very different job than being a vicar, and so, while exciting, it’s also a little nerve-
wracking. Plus, this transfer has two added complications: first, it is very short notice,
and second, Fr. Smith will be out of town on a long-planned trip to Rome the week
before the transfer.
Fr. Smith will be gone all this week, but he will be back to say his last Mass here
next Sunday, November 17, at 12:15. After that Mass we will have a going away
reception for him in the parish hall, and all are invited.
Some have asked me if they can give Fr. Smith a gift. It is not at all necessary, but
it is kind and a lot of people do it, so “yes.” Then they ask me what they should give him.
That’s harder. Honestly, the best thing to give a priest to make sure it’s actually useful to
him (he already has 20 rosaries in his drawer) is to give him a nice card with cash or a
gift card (maybe to Amazon). I know that sounds crass, but priests don’t make a lot of
money and these will go to help him buy things he really wants or needs.
But above all, keep him in your prayers.
 
Fr. Jordan Willard. Taking Fr. Smith’s place at St. Raymond will be Fr. Jordan Willard.
Fr. Willard was ordained in June 2017, and has been the Vicar at St. Theresa’s in
Ashburn since then. I don’t know Fr. Willard very well at all, but priests who do know
him well, tell me he is a very kind, pious and hardworking priest. And he’s only 30 years
old, so that will bring a different youthful perspective and energy to our rectory. Here is
his Bio from the St. Theresa website:
“Fr. Jordan Willard grew up in Hillsboro, Virginia as the third in a family of
twelve brothers and sisters, attending the parish of St. Francis de Sales in Purcellville.
He attended High School at an Opus Dei institute, The Heights School, in Potomac,
Maryland, and graduated in the spring of 2009.
“Thereafter, he entered military school at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State
University to study chemical engineering while in the NROTC program for the U.S.
Marines. Then, having felt God’s call, he transferred from Virginia Tech into seminary
for the Diocese of Arlington in the fall of 2010.
“Fr. Willard was sent to the Pontifical College Josephinum, where he completed
his undergraduate studies, obtaining a B.A. in Philosophy in the spring of 2013. He
continued theology studies at the Josephinum, and was ordained by Archbishop William
E. Lori of Baltimore to the Diaconate, June 4th, 2016. For his diaconate year, Fr.
Willard worked at St. Charles Borromeo Parish. The following year, he completed
studies at the PCJ seminary with a [Master of Divinity] in a class of 19 other

seminarians.
“On June 10th, 2017, Fr. Willard was ordained to the priesthood by Bishop
Michael Burbidge of Arlington, and thereafter was assigned to St. Theresa Parish.”
And another interesting fact taken from an article in the Herald before his priestly
ordination: “
“Deacon Willard…was born to Glenn and Joanna Willard in Lansing, Mich., in
1989. The whole family converted to Catholicism in 1996 after years of attending
Episcopal services.”
We will have a reception welcoming Fr. Willard in the next few weeks. Stay tuned
for details. Please keep him in your prayers as well—transferring will be hard for him
too.
 
Election Results. Last week’s election results were very disappointing, to say the least,
as pro-abortion and anti-family candidates won most of the local elections as well as
control of the Virginia House of Delegates and Senate. Look out for radical changes. It is
a sad day in Virginia.
But thank you all who voted well in the election, and those who worked so hard to
promote life and family. God bless you all. And keep your heads ups: as Jesus tells us so
often, “Be not afraid.” And continue the fight.
 
New Missalettes. For years I have been unhappy with the missalettes we use, especially
with the many “commentaries” they add (before Sunday readings, etc.), which are often
weak and misleading, and sometimes even factually erroneous or doctrinally heretical. So
for the last few years, I’ve been informally looking for a new missalette to use, and this
last year tasked Eva Radel, our parish secretary, with the job of researching and
evaluating all the missalettes out there. In the end we concluded that there are some
interesting choices out there, but all have their weaknesses. So we decided to go with a
slightly different version published by the same company.
The two main changes you will find are; 1) we will use only ONE missalette for
the whole year, versus 4 seasonal missalettes, and 2) the commentaries are gone. In
addition, the new missalette has larger print and includes more music options. You will
also find a few other small differences that will be helpful, I think, like having the
entrance and communion antiphons on the same page as the readings. We have also
purchased hard covers so that the missalettes will hold up better. The biggest downside to
them is that they are bulkier than the old versions.
We will begin using the new missalettes on December 1, the first Sunday of
Advent. They will take some getting used to, so be patient, after a few weeks of use, I’d
like you to start giving me your feedback. Again, this is the best we could find, and I
hope it will work well, but maybe it won’t. I need your help and patience. Thanks.
 
Birthday Party for Sofi TODAY. This Thursday, November 14, will be the 9 th 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. 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, TODAY, November 10, 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

Candidate Forum. Our Candidate Forum on October 24 was well attended, with about 125 folks. They tell me this is a lot for an event like this, much larger than most. But frankly, I was really hoping to fill the hall. I’m guessing that some folks didn’t show up when they heard that one of the candidates, incumbent Delegate Kathy Tran, would not attend. I just hope it was not a sign of a lack of interest in this election, which would be a huge mistake, since this is a very important election.
In any case, thanks to candidate Steve Adragna, who did attend and answer questions for 2 hours. And thanks to all who worked so hard to make the evening a success, especially Mychele Brickner who planned and organized everything for us, to Kathy Campbell who managed the evening, to Bob Laird who did an excellent job as master of ceremonies, and to the parish staff for once again making the boss look good.

Elections Adoration. As I said above, this is a very important election. In consideration of that, we will have 24 hours of Exposition and Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, beginning at 7pm on Monday, November 4, and closing at 7pm on Tuesday, November 5, Election Day. Our prayer intention will be for the Commonwealth of Virginia and to beg the Lord Jesus for Godly elected officials.
As always, we need folks to commit to cover all these hours, especially late-night/early-morning hours. To volunteer please either call the office or go to the sign up page on our website: straymonds.org/ElectionsAdoration/.

Different Forms of Child Abuse. Most of you have heard by now, that a couple of weeks ago the pastor of St. Andrew’s parish was removed from his ministry after confessing to having sexual contact with a minor 25 years ago. It was a sad day for the diocese, especially for many of us who know that pastor well. But the Bishop did the right thing, removing him from ministry. Even though the abuse happened only one time, and so long ago, we need to take this very seriously, not only to see justice done for the past, but to strive to assure that all of our children are always protected. We must protect our children.
It’s strange, though. I have been, and will continue to be, an outspoken advocate for strictly punishing priests found guilty of abusing children, as well as the bishops who cover up for those priests. But now a friend of mine has confessed. I never would have dreamt it, having always known him to be such a good man and priest. Yet he confessed it.
So, I will pray for him, and may God have mercy on him, but get him out of ministry and let justice be meted out to him as he deserves.
A hard thing. But necessary. Because we must protect our children, especially from this kind of corruption.
But as I thought about all this over the last few days, it came to me: “if that is the case, and it is, why don’t we protect our children from others in authority who seek to harm them?”
I want you to think about this with me. What greater abuse is there than killing a child? And yet, how many people have willingly voted for men and women who tell us they think it’s a good thing to kill the youngest most innocent of children —babies, before they’re born. How is that not abuse of children!?
And another example. For the last 3 or 4 years we’ve been struggling with folks who instead of helping a boy or girl get over any confusion about their gender, they promote that transgender confusion, and even to go so far as to give them drugs or to mutilate their bodies with surgery that will only change a few outward appearances, but not the fundamental biological life-long reality that boys are boys and girls are girls. And when another child objects to sharing a locker room with a transgender member of the opposite sex, they are told that there is something wrong with them. How is all this not abuse of children!?
And yet, how many Catholics have willingly voted for men and women who support the transgender agenda in our schools?
And another example. What about officials who say parents can’t be trusted to pass on moral values, even how a family should live, not to mention how society should function. And so they develop their own “family life education” that teaches the kids “family values” that run directly contrary to what their own family actually does value, like chastity and traditional morality and marriage.
Now, some may object to me comparing pro-abortion and pro-LGBTQ politicians to people who sexually abuse children. And, honestly, I hesitate to do so. But I don’t know what else to say. What is worse, the sexual abuse of a teen, or the killing of an unborn baby? Or the mutilation of a young body, or the psychological damage done to a child by a LGBTQ activist? It’s all abuse.
Now, I will give these politicians the benefit of the doubt, assuming they are confused, and genuinely think they’re doing the right thing. We cannot not judge their hearts, but we have to protect children from their actions. Because they are STILL WRONG.
And like a bishop who covers up for an abusive priest, voters are the ones who are enabling these politicians to continue their abuse. So when I say that there is almost no way a Catholic can vote for a candidate who is pro-abortion, or pro-transgender, or pro-gay marriage, I understand that these candidates might be otherwise talented people with a lot of good ideas, just like abusive priests might otherwise be very kind and well loved by their parishioners. But FIRST, WE MUST PROTECT OUR CHILDREN.
This week Virginians go to the polls to elect state and local officials, especially our own local state delegates and 4 members of the Fairfax County Public School Board. I can’t tell you the names of people to vote for. So you have to find out before you go into the booth. There are many voter guides out there. Or ask you friends. But find out.
And resolve with me today not to stay home on election day, but to vote. And to vote to protect our children from all who would abuse them.

Wedding Assistants. We are in need of women of the parish to help coordinate weddings at St. Raymond’s. This involves helping brides plan their wedding Mass and attending the rehearsal and wedding to help make sure everything runs smoothly. Please contact Pam Rinn at 703-690-4420 or prinn@verizon.net if you are interested.

Oremus pro invicem. Fr. De Celles

Thirtieth Sunday in Ordinary Time

A HOLY WEEK. With all the attention on “Halloween” this week, most people will forget what this week is really about: All Saints’ Day and All Souls’ Day. These days are particularly important because they remind us that the Church of Jesus Christ is more than just the people we see at Mass, or even the 2 billion plus Christians on Earth. Because countless numbers of Christians have lived and died before us, and many of those are in Heaven, or on their way there.
This is what the Church means when it speaks of the “Communion of Saints”. Remember, the one Church has three states, or parts: first, all Christians on Earth (“The Pilgrim Church” or “The Church Militant”), second, all those in Heaven (“The Church in Glory” or “The Church Triumphant”), and third, all the souls in Purgatory (“The Church Being Purified” or “The Church Suffering”).
All Saints Day, Friday, November 1, is a Holy Day of Obligation (you must go to Mass, under pain of mortal sin) which reminds us of our unity with the Church in Heaven. Throughout the year we celebrate the feasts of particular “saints” whom the Church officially recognizes as “canonized saints”. But on ALL Saints’ Day we also remember ALL the other countless number of souls who have gone to Heaven, including many of our deceased parents and grandparents, and so many of our little children who have gone before us. This is their feast day! So, we honor them, and pray to them, asking the whole multitude in Heaven to assist us on our way to join them.
All Souls Day, Saturday, November 2, remembers our unity with the Church in Purgatory. Unfortunately, nowadays even the mention of Purgatory often triggers reactions of disbelief or even ridicule—even among Catholics. Yet this dogma goes back to the Old Testament (see 2 Maccabees 12:39-46). And as St. John tells us in Rev. 21:27 that “nothing imperfect shall enter into” Heaven. The thing is, almost all of us have at least some venial sin we cling to, or have some inordinate attachment to earthly things. We are not perfect. But in His great love and mercy, the Lord takes all of us who die with any imperfections (but having, before dying, properly repented of any mortal—“deadly”—sins) and He perfects, or purifies, us. This is what we call “Purgatory.”
And we must pray for the Souls in Purgatory—because even while they rejoice as they see themselves becoming more and more perfect, and drawing closer and closer to heaven, they do suffer the pains involved in change: much like an athlete rejoices as he becomes stronger and faster even as he endures the grueling pain of exercise and training. So, even though it is not a Holy day of obligation, the Church encourages us to go Mass on All Souls Day to offer that greatest prayer possible for the “Holy Souls.” With this in mind, I invite you to join us either at the regular 9am Mass or the additional noon Mass next Saturday.

ELECTION. State and local elections are now only 9 days away, Tuesday, November 5. Sadly, many Virginians will not vote in this so-called “off year election,” even though it will decide who write most of the laws and policies that govern our daily lives, and especially the lives and learning of our children in the public schools. Especially important this year are the races for our State Delegate (District 42) and Fairfax County School Board, where we have a chance to elect 4 of the 12 seats on the board.
So, I ask all of you to join me in voting, and also praying from now until November 5, begging Our Lord to give us the best leaders possible. I have also decided to have 24 hours of Exposition and Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament from 7pm Monday, November 4, until 7pm Tuesday, November 5—before and during Election Day. Please see today’s insert for more information and join in this powerful prayer.
It is a grave sin not to vote in this election: we cannot let the leftists and secularists destroy our culture, society and families. We must elect officials who will represent us, and defend the principles that have made our state and nation great.

Speaking of Secularist Destruction. U.S. Attorney General, William Barr, a devout Catholic, gave an amazing speech at the University of Notre Dame on October 12. Let me quote from an article in the Wall Street Journal by William McGurn, on Oct. 14:
… The attorney general advanced two broad propositions. First, the waning of religion’s influence in American life has left more of her citizens vulnerable to what Tocqueville called the “soft despotism” of government dependency. Second, today’s secularists are decidedly not of the live-and-let-live variety.
“The secular project has itself become a religion, pursued with religious fervor,” he said. “It is taking on all the trappings of religion, including inquisitions and excommunication. Those who defy the creed risk a figurative burning at the stake—social, educational and professional ostracism and exclusion waged through lawsuits and savage social media campaigns.”
Right out of central casting, critics stepped forward to prove his point. ….Paul Krugman accused Mr. Barr of “religious bigotry” and described his words as a “pogrom type speech.”…Richard Painter… saying Mr. Barr sounded like “vintage Goebbels.” …Lawrence Wilkerson…[compared] the attorney general …to the Spanish Inquisition’s grand inquisitor.
This is what we have come to expect when someone in public life mentions religion in a positive light. Many didn’t like Mr. Barr’s blaming secularism for social pathologies such as drug addiction, family breakdown and increasing numbers of angry and alienated young males. Yet few engaged his more arresting contention, which is that all these problems have spiritual roots. Whereas religion addresses such challenges by stressing personal responsibility, Mr. Barr argued, the state’s answer is merely to try to alleviate “bad consequences.”
“So the reaction to growing illegitimacy is not sexual responsibility, but abortion,” he said. “The reaction to drug addiction is safe injection sites. The solution to the breakdown of the family is for the state to set itself up as an ersatz husband for the single mother and an ersatz father for the children. The call comes for more and more social programs to deal with this wreckage—and while we think we’re solving problems, we are underwriting them.”
The speech is easily findable online, both in video and text. Check it out.

ON A LIGHTER NOTE: Children’s Choir, “Schola.” I’m very excited to announce that we are starting a Children’s Schola, and invite all children in grades 3 – 8 to join. Now, our plan is not to entertain the children, or for the children to entertain us. Rather, this will be a serious experience in learning how to sing liturgical music, especially Gregorian Chant. When the children are ready they will join us at Mass, again, not to entertain, but to provide beautiful music to assist us in worshiping Our Lord. All those interested are invited to contact Eva Radel in the parish office.

Oremus pro invicem. Fr. De Celles

Twenty Ninth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Welcome Bishop Burbidge. We are pleased to welcome our Bishop, the Most Reverend Michael Burbidge, to St. Raymond’s to celebrate today’s 10:30 Mass as the Diocese’s annual Respect Life Mass. We also welcome other guests from around the Diocese, especially members of the Northern Virginia guild of the Catholic Medical Association, headed by Dr. Marie Anderson, OB/GYN. Membership in the CMA is open to physicians, medical students, dentists, nurse practitioners, physician assistants, nurses, psychologists, and other allied health professionals. See their website for more information: https://www.novacathmed.org.

Parents Beware. We had a great turnout, over 175 folks, on October 9th for our presentation on the social engineering going on in our Fairfax County Public Schools. Cathy Ruse, Erin Lobato, and Laura Murphy gave excellent talks on the Family Life Education program, libraries and proposed boundary policy changes. Videos of the talks can be found on the parish website: click “FCPSB FLE PARENT TALK – Oct. 9” at the top of the home page. Thanks for all who helped make that such a success, especially Mychele Brickner.

CANDIDATE FORUM HERE THIS THURSDAY. As I mentioned last Sunday, our Religious Freedom Committee will be sponsoring a Candidate Forum for Virginia House District 42, this Thursday, October 24, at 7pm in the Parish Hall. Both candidates have been invited to participate; so far Steve Adragna (Republican) has accepted and incumbent Delegate Kathy Tran (Democrat) has been invited and is trying to rearrange her schedule to attend. I very much hope Del. Tran can participate, so we can all hear her views and positions, but if she is unable to attend, the Forum will still be held with Dr. Adragna.
November 5 is Election Day in Virginia, for state and local offices. Turn out for these “off year elections” (when a president or governor is not being elected) is typically about 29% of registered voters; compare that to 72% in the 2016 presidential election. And yet, in this election we are choosing the people who will have a direct impact on our daily lives on a local level. So we need to go out and vote, and I strongly encourage you all to attend this event so you can vote intelligently on Nov. 5.
As you know, the Church does not endorse individual candidates, and this forum will be conducted on a strictly non-partisan basis, granting equal respect and time to both candidates. We are inviting our neighboring parishes and other churches in the area to attend, and encourage you to bring your neighbors along.

Religious Liberty and Next Year’s Election. Too many people are focused on the 2020 election which is over a year away. Personally, I’m not paying a lot of attention to it yet, except to notice that the socialists are trying to take over the Democrat Party, which I hope doesn’t happen, since socialism has been repeatedly condemned by the Catholic Church. One of the reasons socialism is condemned is because it tends toward authoritarianism and has its own moral order which it tries to enforce. This, in turn, often leads to the oppression of religion, especially the Catholic Church.
Some read this and say, “Oh no, Father! That’s not what Socialism is about today!” Really? Consider this from candidate “Beto” O’Rourke last week during CNNs “Equality Town Hall.” O’Rourke was asked by the moderator, “Do you think religious institutions like colleges, churches, charities — should they lose their tax-exempt status if they oppose same-sex marriage?” He responded, “There can be no reward, no benefit, no tax break for anyone, or any institution, any organization in America that denies the full human rights of every single one of us.”
So, if you oppose the new Leftist/Socialist morality, you will be punished. Or, in the context of the “Equality Town Hall,” “all animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.”

Saint John Henry Newman. Last Sunday several of our parishioners were on hand in Rome as Pope Francis proclaimed Cardinal John Henry Newman, a Saint of the Catholic Church. He is truly a saint for our times.
Newman was the 19th-century’s most important English-speaking Roman Catholic theologian, although he spent the first half of his life as an Anglican (Church of England, Episcopalian) and the second half as a Roman Catholic. He was a priest, popular preacher, writer, and eminent theologian in both churches.
Born in London, England, he studied at Oxford’s Trinity College, was a tutor at Oriel College, and for 17 years was vicar of the university church, St. Mary the Virgin. He eventually published eight volumes of Parochial and Plain Sermons as well as two novels. His poem, “Dream of Gerontius,” was set to music by Sir Edward Elgar.
After 1833, Newman was a prominent member of the Oxford Movement, which emphasized the Church’s debt to the Church Fathers and challenged any tendency to consider truth as completely subjective. Historical research made Newman suspect that the Roman Catholic Church was in closest continuity with the Church that Jesus established. In 1845, he was received into full communion as a Catholic. Two years later he was ordained a Catholic priest in Rome and joined the Congregation of the Oratory. Returning to England, Newman founded Oratory houses in Birmingham and London and for seven years served as rector of the Catholic University of Ireland.
Newman eventually wrote 40 books and 21,000 letters that survive. Most famous are his book-length Essay on the Development of Christian Doctrine, On Consulting the Faithful in Matters of Doctrine, Apologia Pro Vita Sua, The Idea of a University and Essay on the Grammar of Assent.
To the surprise of many, especially considering his Anglican background and his status as a mere priest (not a bishop), Newman was named a cardinal in 1879, taking as his motto “Cor ad cor loquitur”—“Heart speaks to heart.” He died on August 11, 1890, 11 years later. [Cf., www.franciscanmedia.org).
Newman was a key inspiration to many of the greatest theologians of the 20th century, especially Joseph Ratzinger, Pope Benedict XVI, who wrote of him:
“The characteristic of the great Doctor of the Church, it seems to me, is that he teaches not only through his thought and speech but also by his life, because within him, thought and life are interpenetrated and defined. If this is so, then Newman belongs to the great teachers of the Church, because he both touches our hearts and enlightens our thinking.”

Oremus pro invicem. Fr. De Celles

Twenty Eight Sunday In Ordinary Time

Bishop Burbidge at St. Raymond’s. Next Sunday, October 20, our Bishop will be here to celebrate our 10:30 Mass. We’ll also probably have a few other guests, as this will be the Diocese’s annual Respect Life Mass. As you know, October is the Respect Life Month, so we are particularly honored to have His Excellency with us for this special Mass. We are also happy to be joined by members of the Northern Virginia guild of the Catholic Medical Association, headed by the eminent Dr. Marie Anderson, OB/GYN. But it is still our parish Mass, so don’t hesitate to attend as usual.

CANDIDATE FORUM AT ST. RAYMOND’S. As you know, November 5 is Election Day in Virginia, for state and local offices. Of particular and important attention to us are the races for seats on the Fairfax County School Board, and the race for State Delegate to represent Virginia House District 42, the district our parish is located in. Last week we sponsored a talk on some of the issues involved in the school board election. Thanks for all who took part.
Now, I am very pleased to announce that our Religious Freedom Committee will be sponsoring a Candidate Forum for Virginia House District 42, on Thursday, October 24, at 7pm in the Parish Hall. Both candidates have been invited to participate; so far Steve Adragna (Republican) has accepted and incumbent Delegate Kathy Tran (Democrat) has been invited and is trying to rearrange her schedule to attend. I very much hope Del. Tran can participate, so we can all hear her views and positions, but if she is unable to attend, the Forum will still be held with Dr. Adragna.
This is an important event, and I strongly encourage you all to attend—so you can vote intelligently on Nov. 5. As you know, the Church does not endorse individual candidates, and this forum will be conducted on a strictly non-partisan basis, granting equal respect and time to both candidates. The schedule is tentatively this: Each candidate will make a five-minute opening statement. Then questions will be presented to the candidates, with 2-minute answers from each candidate and a 1-minute rebuttal by each. At the end there will be a 3 minutes closing statement from each candidate.
Right now the plan is that some of the questions will be prepared beforehand by our Religious Freedom Committee (RFC), but others will be selected by members of the RFC from those submitted in writing by the audience during the event.
We are inviting our neighboring parishes and other churches in the area to attend. Please come and learn about the candidates.

October is “Respect Life Month.” Every October, the American Bishops call us to remember that almost 2,500 innocent Americans are killed every day by abortions, almost 900,000 a year, for a total of over 61 million dead since 1973.
But even as horrible as that death toll is, we can’t forget that abortion has other consequences as well—consequences that have been eating away at the moral and legal fiber of our nation and culture.
Of course, we cannot forget the consequence of abortion’s devastating effect on women. Especially the women who have been lied to and told, “it’s okay, it’s just a formless clump of cells.” But deep inside they know, or come to know, the truth of what they’ve done. These are the 2nd victims of abortion, but they are ignored and ridiculed for expressing their pain and feelings of guilt. We must not forget them, we must love them and do everything we can to help them heal, and to make sure that the evil of abortion will not continue to plague future generations of women. We must put an end to the real “war on women”—born and unborn.
But the consequences of abortion go beyond even that, as the establishment of a constitutional right to abortion is like a virus injected into the body politic slowly corrupting every other right, and the freedom that is the life’s blood of our great nation. Because there cannot be any human rights if human beings don’t have a right to life. If you’re not alive, you have no rights at all.
This is why, in 1776, when Virginian Thomas Jefferson wrote the Declaration of Independence, the only rights he felt it necessary to list were the most fundamental: “the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness”—with the right to life being first.
To this some say, “what about the separation of church and state?” When most of us think of the separation between church and state we think of the Bill of Rights. What does it actually say? “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof…” Notice, it’s not about protecting the government from the church, but protecting the individual and religions from the government.
Just as the “right to life” is the first listed in the Declaration, the right to freely practice our religion is the very first right listed (in the very first words of the very First Amendment) in the Bill of Rights. And rightly so. Because the freedom of religion is essential to the freedom of thought, to decide for oneself what one believes to be true, right and good. How can we defend any rights if we don’t have that right? And how can we defend any rights as being given to us from God Himself, as the Declaration states, unless we have a right to believe in God as we see fit?
But since the right to life necessarily precedes all other rights and liberties, when someone embraces a theory of man and society that rejects the right to life, he thereby perceives all other rights and liberties as not fundamental, natural or God-given, but simply invented by political expediency and political power. So, that when those in power find that the exercise of a certain right or freedom is not politically expedient to their agenda, they will quickly dismiss that “freedom” or “right.”
All too often our Catholic religion has come under assault not only by politicians, activists and pundits, but even by members of our government. Even under the present religion-friendly presidency, members of congress still beat the drum of religious prejudice and oppression. They tell us our religion can’t affect our public and civic lives or our political choices. For example, remember the words of Senator Dianne Feinstein calling into question how Amy Coney Barrett’s Catholicism might adversely affect her decision making as a federal judge, tell Barrett in her confirmation hearing in 2017: “When you read your speeches, the conclusion one draws is that the dogma lives loudly within you.”
So what do we do? There are many ways we can effect change. First, we can still exercise our First Amendment right of free speech to tell our neighbors the truth about what’s going on. And in 3 weeks we can exercise our right to vote, not ashamed or hiding our faith-formed consciences, but exercising our God-given freedom of religion and voting like well-formed and well-informed Catholics.

Oremus pro invicem. Fr. De Celles

Twenty Seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time

Parochial Vicar’s Corner.

Prayer Before God: There is an oft repeated story that has numerous iterations, but basically is as follows. A rather shabby man is seen to go into the church daily around noon and spend a few minutes inside before exiting and going about his day. Finally, someone has the courage, or temerity to ask the man, “what is it that you do in the church for those few minutes daily around noon?” The man responds, “I merely go in and say Jesus, it’s Jim.” Depending upon the version, this is followed by some simple, heartfelt prayer that reveals a man of deep and pure faith. Finally, Jim is hurt, gets sick what have you, and winds up in the hospital. The staff are perplexed and edified by his cheerfulness and joy even as he is dying. When queried, he responds, it’s due to his daily visitor. The staff haven’t noticed anyone ever visiting Jim while in the hospital. Jim explains, every day Our Lord shows up in his room around noon, and tells him, “Jim, it’s Jesus.”

Cute story that it is, it hopefully, reminds us of the value of frequent visits to Jesus Real Presence in the Eucharist as contained in every tabernacle in every Catholic church. The red sanctuary light is a visible reminder that Jesus is present and we are in His house.

As the Vatican II document Lumen Gentium so clearly stated, the Eucharist is “the source and summit of the Christian Life.” It is at the very center and heart of our faith as Catholics. That Real Presence remains in the tabernacle following Mass. Therefore, in church, we are in the “presence” of Our Lord and Savior. Time spent in church is time spent with Jesus, literally.

What an amazing gift to have Our Lord physically present with us. But, how often do we take advantage of that fact? How sad to never stop by and visit Our Lord. He waits for us with love beyond all telling, only hoping that we would come to Him and spend time with Him. It’s not even necessary to recite prayers in His presence, though commendable. Just being with Our Lord is consoling to Him and demonstrates a faith and love on our part. He knows our needs and what’s in our heart better than we do. Faith and love never go unrewarded by our God. The scriptures are filled with countless examples this. Stopping in and spending 15 minutes here, and half hour there, are invaluable to our spiritual life. Especially, when considering the hustle and bustle of life in Northern Virginia. Better still would be to give an hour, but come and give what one’s schedule allows.

How wonderful to have Eucharistic Adoration at St. Raymond every Wednesday following the 8:00 a.m. Mass, until Benediction prior to the 7:00 p.m. Mass. And, every Friday following the 8:00 a.m. Mass until Benediction at 3:00 p.m. To have Christ physically present in the Host in the Monstrance on the altar is a most excellent way to adore and spend time with Him. Please take advantage of the tremendous gift of graces offered by Our Lord when we spend time in His presence. Hopefully, we realize we are with our beloved. Our relationship with God is only authentic when it is seen and experienced as a profound love affair. When we truly love someone, we can’t wait to be with them. We look for reasons and excuses to spend more time with them. If we correctly see our relationship with Jesus as at the center of our being, and our heart, we would visit Him in His Real Presence in Church often.

Maybe, at first, we’re reluctant? We’re afraid of getting too close? We’ve been hurt and there is a “trust issue.” The idea of coming alone and sitting quietly with Our God could be intimidating or difficult for some. Maybe, I’m ashamed of my sins, and feel unworthy? The reality is, God’s love for us is perfect and He is so very pleased when we take the time to recognize His presence, thank Him, honor Him, worship Him, be with Him. In this society, we become so focused on doing, we could use the practice of just being with Our Lord. Remember, Mary chose the better part and it would not be taken from her.

St. Paul VI wrote in his Encyclical, “Mysterium Fidei:” “We beseech you to foster devotion to the Eucharist, which should be the focal point and goal of all other forms of devotion.”

As well as: “And they should not forget about paying a visit during the day to the Most Blessed Sacrament in the very special place of honor where it is reserved in churches in keeping with the liturgical laws, since this is a proof of gratitude and a pledge of love and a display of the adoration that is owed to Christ the Lord who is present there.”

And: . . . “just how worthwhile it is to carry on a conversation with Christ, for there is nothing more consoling here on earth, nothing more efficacious for progress along the paths of holiness.”

St. Paul VI notes in his Encyclical that the Eucharist is the ‘spiritual center” of the parish community, of the whole church and of all mankind.

St. John Paul II wrote in his Letter, “Dominicae Cenae:” “This worship must be prominent in all our encounters with the Blessed Sacrament, both when we visit our churches and when the sacred species are taken to the sick and administered to them. Adoration of Christ in this sacrament of love must also find expression in various forms of Eucharistic devotion: personal prayer before the Blessed Sacrament, Hours of Adoration, periods of exposition, . . . “

Take the opportunity: Our Lord and Savior is always present and waiting for us in His church. He provides us with a wonderful opportunity to be with Him and love Him. Our coming to Him demonstrates our faith and love and desire to be in communion. Participating at Mass on Sunday is the center of, and perfect start to each and every week. Throughout the week we may keep in contact. Doing so will provide many graces. If we or family members are experiencing difficulties, time before the Lord has a salutary benefit. Forming a habit of stopping by and placing ourselves before Our God truly is so very efficacious.

Oremus pro invicem. Fr. Charles Smith

Twenty Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time

PARENTS BEWARE. In these times of social and moral upheaval and confusion it’s crucial that parents, taxpayers and voters be aware of the social engineering going on in our public schools, the indoctrination of our children with anti/contra-Catholic values. With this in mind we will be sponsoring a talk on, “What Fairfax County Public School Board Has in Store for Your Child,” on October 9, 2019, at 7pm, in the Parish Hall. Our main speaker will be Cathy Ruse, Senior Fellow of Legal Studies at the Family Research Council. She will be joined by Erin Lobato, founding member of Voices of Fairfax (and an active FCPS Parent), and Laura Murphy, member of the FCPS Family Life Education Advisory Committee.
This meeting is open to all, and I strongly encourage parents, taxpayers and voters to attend.

Reductio ad Absurdum. Sometimes in order to really understand how ridiculous an idea is we have to extend its internal logic out to its logical ends; when the logical end is proven to be absurd, we see the idea itself is absurd. We call this reductio ad absurdum, “reduction to absurdity.” So, for example, in the debate over climate change or environmental protection, some people believe that plants are living beings equal in status to human beings (the absurd “idea”). When we take the internal logic of this idea out to its logical ends, we conclude that plants should have the right to vote, and it is murder and grotesque to eat plants. Or…. that we should fill our sanctuary with a bunch of plants and then kneel before them begging for forgiveness for our sins against them. The end is absurd, so the idea (plants are equal to human beings) is absurd.
Unless you attend the Union Theological Seminary in New York, the oldest independent Protestant seminary in the country. As the Washington Examiner reported on September 18:
“Students at Union Theological Seminary prayed to a display of plants set up in the chapel of the school, prompting the institution to issue a statement explaining the practice as many on social media mocked them.
“‘Today in chapel, we confessed to plants…Together, we held our grief, joy, regret, hope, guilt and sorrow in prayer; offering them to the beings who sustain us but whose gift we too often fail to honor. What do you confess to the plants in your life?
“‘We are in the throes of a climate emergency, a crisis created by humanity’s arrogance …Far too often, we see the natural world only as resources to be extracted for our use, not divinely created in their own right—worthy of honor, thanks and care. We need to unlearn habits of sin and death. And part of that work must be building new bridges to the natural world. And that means creating new spiritual and intellectual frameworks by which we understand and relate to the plants and animals with whom we share the planet.’
“‘No one would have blinked if our chapel featured students apologizing to each other….What’s different …is that we’re treating plants as fully created beings, divine Creation in its own right—not just something to be consumed. Because plants aren’t capable of verbal response, does that mean we shouldn’t engage with them? So, if you’re poking fun, we’d ask only that you also spend a couple moments asking: Do I treat plants and animals as divinely created beings?’”
In response, Jesus issued a statement (we call it “Genesis 1”), “God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. …And God said, “Behold, I have given you every plant yielding seed which is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree with seed in its fruit; you shall have them for food;…everything that has the breath of life, I have given every green plant for food.”

Parish Finance Report. Please find the Finance Report of the year ended June 30, 2019, inserted in this bulletin.
Operating Income (mainly from offertory and long-term maintenance collections, and other donations) was $2,257,895, down $155,328 (or 6.4%) from the prior year, while Operating Expenses were $1,869,637, down $65,819 (or 3.4%) from the prior year, leaving us a Net Operating Income of $388,258, down $89,509 from the prior year.
The decline in Operating Income is mainly due to a noticeable decline in our offertory collection. From an analysis of the detailed accounts, I believe this is mostly due to some of our “larger” donors giving less this year because we paid off our debt at the very end of the previous year. That makes sense.
(Even so, some of the decline may reflect unhappiness with the Church’s response to the Bishops’ scandals (e.g., McCarrick), although I believe that was reflected more clearly in the decline in our donations to the Bishop’s Lenten Appeal, which was down by over $49,000 or 16%, from the previous year.)
We also had Extraordinary Income of $ 21,610 and Extraordinary Expenditures of $274,153, both related to the Lighting and Mural Project (except $27,787 for security cameras, and $22,264 for other expenditures). This left us with a Net Surplus (the bottom line) of $135,715.
On the Balance Sheet side of things, we had Cash of $134,852 in checking and $1,387,244 in savings, with $16,851 in Accounts Payable. Of the cash in savings, $256,611 is restricted, i.e., funds dedicated to paying for Long-Term Maintenance.
Please feel free to contact me or Kirsti Tyson in the parish office with any questions about the report.

Lighter Fare: Hats. I have a pretty small and drab personal wardrobe, a lot of black stuff, and a few things for golf. But one aspect of my wardrobe that is a more diversified and attracts some comments are my hats. I learned a long time ago I cannot survive without a hat: in the summer they protect my pale skin and bald head from burning, and in the winter they help keep me from catching the colds and sinus maladies I am so prone to.
The hats that provoke the most comments are my “clerical hats.” The “biretta” is the black square cap with three peaks, and a tuft on top, which can be worn both during Mass and outside of Mass with a cassock; I’ve been wearing this for years, especially when it’s chilly in the church. But a while back, a family member bought me a “cappello romano” (“Roman hat”), more commonly called a “saturno” because its wide, circular brim and rounded crown it looks a bit like the ringed planet Saturn. Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI used to wear theirs pretty frequently. In any case, it’s pretty different, so I don’t wear it very often. But when I do, it gets noticed and asked about. So now you know.

Oremus pro invicem. Fr. De Celles