Third Sunday in Ordinary Time

[I was out of town last week, so, in light of Friday’s March for Life, I thought this text might be interesting to you. Oremus pro invicem. Fr. De Celles]

Evangelium Vitae (The Gospel of Life)
Pope John Paul II
March 25, 1995

62. The more recent Papal Magisterium has vigorously reaffirmed this common doctrine. Pius XI in particular, in his Encyclical Casti Connubii, rejected the specious justifications of abortion.[65] Pius XII excluded all direct abortion, i.e., every act tending directly to destroy human life in the womb “whether such destruction is intended as an end or only as a means to an end”.[66] John XXIII reaffirmed that human life is sacred because “from its very beginning it directly involves God’s creative activity”.[67] The Second Vatican Council, as mentioned earlier, sternly condemned abortion: “From the moment of its conception life must be guarded with the greatest care, while abortion and infanticide are unspeakable crimes”.[68]….
Given such unanimity in the doctrinal and disciplinary tradition of the Church, Paul VI was able to declare that this tradition is unchanged and unchangeable.[72] Therefore, by the authority which Christ conferred upon Peter and his Successors, in communion with the Bishops–who on various occasions have condemned abortion and who in the aforementioned consultation, albeit dispersed throughout the world, have shown unanimous agreement concerning this doctrine–I declare that direct abortion, that is, abortion willed as an end or as a means, always constitutes a grave moral disorder, since it is the deliberate killing of an innocent human being. This doctrine is based upon the natural law and upon the written Word of God, is transmitted by the Church’s Tradition and taught by the ordinary and universal Magisterium.[73]
No circumstance, no purpose, no law whatsoever can ever make licit an act which is intrinsically illicit, since it is contrary to the Law of God which is written in every human heart, knowable by reason itself, and proclaimed by the Church….

99. In transforming culture so that it supports life, women occupy a place, in thought and action, which is unique and decisive. It depends on them to promote a “new feminism” which rejects the temptation of imitating models of “male domination”, in order to acknowledge and affirm the true genius of women in every aspect of the life of society, and overcome all discrimination, violence and exploitation.
Making my own the words of the concluding message of the Second Vatican Council, I address to women this urgent appeal: “Reconcile people with life”.[133] You are called to bear witness to the meaning of genuine love, of that gift of self and of that acceptance of others which are present in a special way in the relationship of husband and wife, but which ought also to be at the heart of every other interpersonal relationship. The experience of motherhood makes you acutely aware of the other person and, at the same time, confers on you a particular task: “Motherhood involves a special communion with the mystery of life, as it develops in the woman’s womb . . . This unique contact with the new human being developing within her gives rise to an attitude towards human beings not only towards her own child, but every human being, which profoundly marks the woman’s personality”.[134] A mother welcomes and carries in herself another human being, enabling it to grow inside her, giving it room, respecting it in its otherness. Women first learn and then teach others that human relations are authentic if they are open to accepting the other person: a person who is recognized and loved because of the dignity which comes from being a person and not from other considerations, such as usefulness, strength, intelligence, beauty or health. This is the fundamental contribution which the Church and humanity expect from women. And it is the indispensable prerequisite for an authentic cultural change.
I would now like to say a special word to women who have had an abortion. The Church is aware of the many factors which may have influenced your decision, and she does not doubt that in many cases it was a painful and even shattering decision. The wound in your heart may not yet have healed. Certainly what happened was and remains terribly wrong. But do not give in to discouragement and do not lose hope. Try rather to understand what happened and face it honestly. If you have not already done so, give yourselves over with humility and trust to repentance. The Father of mercies is ready to give you his forgiveness and his peace in the Sacrament of Reconciliation. To the same Father and his mercy you can with sure hope entrust your child. With the friendly and expert help and advice of other people, and as a result of your own painful experience, you can be among the most eloquent defenders of everyone’s right to life. Through your commitment to life, whether by accepting the birth of other children or by welcoming and caring for those most in need of someone to be close to them, you will become promoters of a new way of looking at human life.
100. In this great endeavour to create a new culture of life we are inspired and sustained by the confidence that comes from knowing that the Gospel of life, like the Kingdom of God itself, is growing and producing abundant fruit (cf. Mk 4:26-29). There is certainly an enormous disparity between the powerful resources available to the forces promoting the “culture of death” and the means at the disposal of those working for a “culture of life and love”. But we know that we can rely on the help of God, for whom nothing is impossible (cf. Mt 19:26).
Filled with this certainty, and moved by profound concern for the destiny of every man and woman, I repeat what I said to those families who carry out their challenging mission amid so many difficulties:[135] a great prayer for life is urgently needed, a prayer which will rise up throughout the world. Through special initiatives and in daily prayer, may an impassioned plea rise to God, the Creator and lover of life, from every Christian community, from every group and association, from every family and from the heart of every believer. Jesus himself has shown us by his own example that prayer and fasting are the first and most effective weapons against the forces of evil (cf. Mt 4:1-11). As he taught his disciples, some demons cannot be driven out except in this way (cf. Mk 9:29). Let us therefore discover anew the humility and the courage to pray and fast so that power from on high will break down the walls of lies and deceit: the walls which conceal from the sight of so many of our brothers and sisters the evil of practices and laws which are hostile to life. May this same power turn their hearts to resolutions and goals inspired by the civilization of life and love.

Parish Hall Reopened as of Wednesday, January 17

THE PARISH HALL AND BASEMENT
ARE OPEN AS OF
Wednesday, January 17

Based on the emergency repair work that was completed on Monday, the Fire Marshal has lifted our operational restrictions and the Parish Hall and Transept
are re-opened
with the 8am Mass on Wednesday.
All events scheduled for Wednesday forward can proceed as planned provided there is no inclement weather in which case we follow St. Raymond Policy for Weather Closings.

Thank you to all for your prayers and patience as we worked through this situation.

Second Sunday in Ordinary Time

Parish Hall and Basement Closure. By now you’ve all heard about the problem we’re having in our basement. Let me try to briefly explain.
The concrete outside of the doors leading into the basement was originally laid in such a way that fails to provide adequately for rain water run-off. This leads to excessive amounts of moisture/water gathering in the soil under the concrete. Due to the extreme cold, this underground moisture has frozen, and when water freezes it expands, in this case lifting up the surface concrete a small amount—about an inch in some places. This is called “frost heave.”
This would not be a problem except that the concrete runs right up to the doors of the basement, so that when it lifts up an inch or so it blocks the door from opening outward, so that none of our basement entrances or exits will open. Since these are all fire exits, the Fire Marshal has ordered us to not use the basement until the doors will open.
We’ve had this frost heave problem before, and we know that as the weather warms up the concrete will fall back down, and the doors should open. But it’s never been this bad. We’re thinking this year’s severity is a result not only of this year’s frost heave, but also of the cumulative effect of prior years’ frost heaves—every year it rises a bit and then falls back, but not all the way, so that the concrete rises higher every year.
But as we wait for the assistance of warmer weather, we know there’s still a lot of winter left, so we are diligently looking for an immediate short-term solution so we can open the basement for next weekend. But we will also have to come up with a long-term solution, which will be rather costly. We think that our insurance will pay for most of this.
In the meantime, thank you for your patience. And please pray for all of this, especially pray to St. Raymond that he will come to the aid of his church.

March for Life. This coming Friday, January 19, hundreds of St. Raymond’s parishioners will join hundreds of thousands of pro-life folks from around America gathered on the Washington Mall for the 45th annual March for Life. The parish is sponsoring four buses to take us down to the Mall, so please sign up and join us (sign-up sheets are in the narthex). Or join us down there, taking the metro or coming from your workplace in DC. And if you can’t come down to the Mall, join us in spirit and prayer wherever you are. Perhaps you can start discussions at work or school, always with charity, about the right to and dignity of human life. Or maybe you can watch the March live on EWTN (the global Catholic cable network), while saying the Rosary. Or maybe the best alternative to attending the March: while we’re marching you spend time in Church praying before the Blessed Sacrament.
Love him or hate him, President Trump’s election has been a huge win for the pro-life cause, from his lifting of the onerous contraception regulations of Obamacare, to his appointment of pro-life judges, especially Justice Gorsuch to the Supreme Court. But this kind of good news can sometimes cause us to take our eye off the ball, especially as we are surrounded by all sorts of other social ills we have to deal with. But we can’t let down our fight. We must continue to do everything we can to peacefully and charitably fight to defend the right to life of the innocent, especially innocent unborn babies.

Transgender Ideology in Schools. One of those other “social ills” we’re concerned about is the growth of transgender ideology, especially in our public schools. Some parents and students have told me that they don’t see this much in their schools. I hope not. But I worry that it’s there, but just subtle enough to escape immediate attention. Or perhaps we’ve just gotten so used to the leftist sexual propaganda that we don’t notice what’s going on, like the old story of the frog boiling in water.
But sometimes it’s not so subtle. Last month kids at George Mason High School in Falls Church were apparently forced to listen to a speaker giving the hard sell of the transgender ideology. I quote from a January 5 article about the talk written by Austin Ruse in Crisis Magazine (http://www.crisismagazine.com/2018/tall-trans-tales-gullible-age):
“Amy Ellis Nutt is a reporter for the Washington Post who wrote a book about a boy named Wayne who from the age of two was said to believe he was a girl. How did he express this? How does a two-year-old express anything more than a desire for the breast and a dry diaper? Nutt claims the boy actually asked his mom when will he get to be a girl and when will his [deleted] fall off. Does anyone really believe that a two-year-old would say such things?…
“Nutt delivered a mini-lecture on what she called “gender 101” in which she propagandized those poor kids on these new and utterly made up terms “transgender” and “cisgender.” …. She says language matters. It certainly does. All monstrous and even totalitarian lies begin with the lies of language….
“Nutt goes on to say, …“Everything to do with how you present yourself to the world, what genitals you have, what reproductive organs you have, what gender you identify with, and who you are sexually attracted to was imprinted on your brain by way of two things, hormones and genes when you were still in your mother’s womb.” Forget that there are no scientifically rigorous studies that back this claim (emphasis added) ….
“This is pretty much all they have, fake science and emotion….
“This is what government schools are teaching impressionable young people, some of whom, without any doubt, are going through confusing times and will listen to this siren song and will one day allow themselves to be mutilated….
“Do these schools teach that puberty blockers, such as Wayne was given, stunt your growth, growth that will never come back? Are these kids taught that there has not been a single clinical trial for the use of puberty blockers on gender confused kids? Are they taught that an overwhelming number of gender confused children, something on the order of 80 percent, come around to accepting their biological sex in their twenties? Are they taught of the growing number of adult men and women who deeply regret the extreme measures of amputating otherwise healthy organs like [deleted] and [deleted]? Are they taught that the suicide rate for post-op transsexuals is 10 times higher than the general population even in trans-friendly Sweden? To ask is to answer…”

Parents: please don’t just go along to get along, or be lulled to sleep on this issue that could have a hugely devastating impact on your children’s mental, physical and spiritual health. And let us all pray for parents and kids as they meet the oppressive challenges of modern society.

Oremus pro invicem. Fr. De Celles

No Religious Education This Weekend 13-15 January 2018

ALL EVENTS

IN THE PARISH HALL AND BASEMENT

ARE CANCELED

until further notice

by order of the fire marshal

due to freezing weather conditions

causing “frost heave” issues

with the parish hall/basement entrance doors.

(Freezing has caused the outside pavement to rise, causing the outside hall/basement doors to be stuck closed creating a fire evacuation hazard).

All other events in the Church or Rectory will follow the normal St. Raymond’s Policy on Weather Closings.

(Note: Masses and Confessions

are never cancelled due to weather

The Epiphany of Our Lord

Thanks for a Beautiful Christmas. I always underestimate
the goodness of my people. As we approached the Christmas
“weekend” this year I was nervous that some of you might
either skip one of the two Masses required (Sunday and
Christmas) or approach the double obligation with some
“reticence.” I should have known better. It truly made
Christmas extra “merry” for me to find that not only were the
crowds for the Sunday Masses larger than our average
Sunday, but all the Masses for Christmas seemed to be
somewhat larger than in prior years. And more than that, there
was not one hint of reticence or complaint—everyone was as a
cheerful as the days called for.
That also carried forward to the next weekend (last
weekend). Since the Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God was
not a holy day of obligation this year, I had no idea how many
folks would come to Mass on Monday, January 1. I figured,
after all, it was New Year’s Day and people might
understandably take the opportunity to sleep in, etc. but I was
very pleasantly surprised to see good crowds at all three
Masses on Monday—as large as the average Sunday Mass.
God bless you for your devotion and love for Jesus
and His Mother. And thank God for giving me such good
parishioners.
More Thanks. As the Christmas Season comes to an end, I’d
like to add a few more Christmas “thank you’s” to those from
prior weeks. First, I want to thank all of you for your
generosity in the Christmas collections. Second, I want to
thank all who contributed gifts to the Giving Tree; because of
your kindness we were able to help 41 families celebrate
Christmas, 11 from Our Lady of the Blue Ridge, and 30 from
our parish. Third, on behalf of Fr. Smith and myself, I want to
thank all of you who dropped off baked goods and other treats
and gifts for us in the rectory. Your kindness is overwhelming.
And last but not least, I want to thank 8-year-old
Anna McDermott who represented all of you at Christmas
Midnight Mass, as she carried the statue of the Baby Jesus in
procession for the Blessing of the Christmas Crèche.
Epiphany and the End of the Christmas Season. Today we
celebrate the Epiphany of the Lord, commemorating the visit
and adoration of the magi to Christ in Bethlehem. It has
historically been celebrated on January 6th since at least the 3rd
century, but is celebrated in the U.S. on the Sunday falling
between January 2nd and January 8th (inclusive). In the
Orthodox Church and many of the Eastern Rite Catholic
Churches it also, effectively, celebrates the birth of Our Lord,
i.e., Christmas. This year it also represents the last Sunday of
the Christmas season, which ends tomorrow, Monday, with
the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord.
The visit of the magi is rich in symbolic meanings for
Christians, in particular those relating to the revealing
(“epiphany”) of the Christ to the gentile world. As we think
about this, it reminds us that that the Church is the Body of
Christ on Earth, and so is called to continue the Christmas/
Epiphany revelation of the coming of the Messiah to the
world. But this is not just a responsibility for the Pope,
bishops and priests: each of us is baptized into Christ and
members of Christ’s Body, and so each of is called to go out
to the gentiles of today—those who do not share our Christian
and Catholic faith—and reveal Christ to them. This can take
various forms, but it begins with living our lives as if we
believe in Jesus ourselves. So we live lives in keeping with the
moral teaching of Christ, especially when it comes to chastity
and charity. But we also must speak to others about Jesus, and
His Church. Again, this can take various forms, considering
prudence, our own particular talents, and the particular
opportunities the Lord gives us to share our faith.
As we come to the end of our Christmas season, ask
yourself and ask the Lord: how is He calling you to reveal Him
to the world you live in this year? To your friends, your family,
your co-workers, and to strangers? Ask Him, and listen
carefully for His answer.
Feast of St. Raymond of Peñafort. Today, January 7, is
normally the feast of our parish Patron, but since it falls on
Epiphany Sunday, the liturgical celebration of his feast is
suppressed this year. Which would probably suit the humble
St. Raymond just fine. But it is fitting that we not forget the
feast entirely.
For those of you who don’t know much about St.
Raymond, I invite you to read the 32-page biography we
published about a year and a half ago. If you don’t have one,
come by the parish office and pick one up.
As a brief reminder…Raymond was born of a noble
family, near Barcelona, in 1175. At the age of 20 he became
professor of canon law. In 1210 he left teaching to complete his
studies in civil and canon law at the University of Bologna. He
went on to hold a chair of canon law at that university for three
years. (The date of his priestly ordination is uncertain, but it
would seem to be around 1195).
On August 1, 1218 Raymond received a heavenly
vision in which the Blessed Mother (“Our Lady of Ransom”)
instructed him to help St. Peter Nolasco found the Order of
Mercedarians, which would be devoted to the ransom of
Christians taken captive by the Moors (Spanish Muslims).
Raymond did not, however, join that order but rather entered
the Order of Preachers (“Dominicans”) in Barcelona in 1222.
As a Dominican, Raymond continued to teach and preach, and
devoted considerable effort working to convert Moors and
Jews, coaxing St. Thomas Aquinas to write his Summa Contra
Gentiles to help in his efforts.
At the request of his superiors Raymond published the
Summa Casuum, a book on cases of conscience for the
guidance of confessors and moralists, the first guide of its kind.
This work eventually led to his appointment as confessor and
theologian to Pope Gregory IX in 1230. The Pope soon
directed Raymond to re-arrange and codify the canons
(juridical laws) of the Church, which required him to rewrite
and condense centuries of Church decrees. The Pope published
Raymond’s work in 1231, and commanded that it alone should
be considered authoritative. From then on St. Raymond would
be known as the “Father of Canon Law.”
In 1238 he was elected Master General of the
Dominican Order, the second successor to St. Dominic, but he
resigned two years later, claiming that at 63 years old he was
too old for the job. He continued his writing, preaching and
pastoral work, as well many important responsibilities
entrusted to him by various popes, for another 37 years until
his death in Barcelona on January 6, 1275, at the age of 100.
He is the patron saint of lawyers, both canon and civil.
St. Raymond of Peñafort, pray for us!
Oremus pro invicem! Fr. De Celles

March For Life 2018

The 45th annual March for Life is on January 19 in Washington, D.C.

“Life is the Loving, Empowering and Self-Sacrificial Option”

Come and be inspired by dynamic speakers and the sight of tens of thousands of like-minded individuals who have traveled from across the country. Please bring your family to give witness to Our Lord and reject the culture of death that is so prevalent in our society.

Buses leave after 10:30am Mass
Buses return between 4:30 and 5pm.
Join us in the parish hall for a
warm Chili Dinner!

Support those that March for Life: Crock pot specialties, Mac & Cheese, rolls, cookies and fruit are all needed to support those who will visibly stand for life in D.C. on Friday, January 19th. We need at least 25 crock pots of chili to feed the 4 busloads of parishioners attending the event. Kitchen helpers are needed too! Please sign up via Signup Genius by clicking here or contact Sheri Burns at burnsfamily77@verizon.net to let her know how you can help.

Feast of the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph

New Year’s. Tomorrow, January 1, 2018, is of course,
New Year’s Day and the Solemnity of Mary, Mother of
God. Together with the priests and the staff of St.
Raymond’s, may I wish you a happy, blessed and holy New
Year.
Normally, Mary, Mother of God is a Holy Day of
Obligation. But since it falls on a Monday this year it is
not a Holy Day of Obligation, and you don’t have to go
to Mass. I would still recommend you do so, to honor Our
Mother and to begin the year on the right foot. We will
have Masses on Monday at 12 midnight, 8:45, 10:30 and
12:15 (there will not be a 7am or 5pm Mass).
Merry Christmas! The celebration of the Birth of God the
Son, Jesus Christ, is too great an event to celebrate on only
one day, so Christmas continues well past December 25th.
First, we have the “Octave of Christmas”, eight days of
celebrating, ending tomorrow, as if it were still the Lord’s
birthday. Beyond that we have “the twelve days of
Christmas” running from Christmas day until January 6,
which in most of the world is the Solemnity of the
Epiphany. In the U.S., however, the liturgical celebration of
Epiphany is always moved to “the Sunday occurring
between January 2 and January 8.” Then, normally we
continue to celebrate “Season of Christmas” for an extra
week, until the following Sunday which is usually the
Solemnity of the Baptism of the Lord. This year, however,
just as we had the shortest Advent possible, we also have
the shortest Season of Christmas possible, with the Baptism
of the Lord falling on Monday, January 8. Even so, we are
still celebrating Christmas, so “Merry Christmas.”
Volunteer Dinner. This coming Saturday, January 6, is our
annual dinner in appreciation for all those who volunteer
their time to support the activities of the parish. If that
should include you, and you haven’t rsvp’d yet, please
contact the parish office or your committee chairman asap.
Year End Donations. Every year at this time we get
inundated with requests for donations. Unfortunately, many
so-called “charities” are not doing work consistent with
God’s will, and others may have good intentions, but are
inefficient or ineffective in using their resources. So, we
don’t have to give to every group who asks for help, and I
recommend you give mainly to those groups you have
confidence in. The groups I give to and would recommend
for your consideration include: the Little Sisters of the
Poor, Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Arlington, House
of Mercy, Project Rachel, Gabriel Project, Mary’s Shelter
(Fredericksburg), the Poor Clares, Angelus Academy and,
my personal favorite, St. Dominic Monastery in Linden,
VA, our dear cloistered Dominican sisters who pray for us
every day. And of course, St. Raymond’s parish is a very
worthy charity…
Oremus pro invicem, Fr. De Celles
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Pope St. John Paul II
Homily, Holy Family Sunday, December 31, 1978
The deepest human problems are connected with the
family. It constitutes the primary, fundamental and irreplaceable
community for man….The Church wishes to bear a particular witness
to that too during the Octave of Christmas, by means of the
feast of the Holy Family. She wishes to recall that the fundamental
values, which cannot be violated without incalculable harm of a
moral nature, are bound up with the family…It is necessary to defend
these fundamental values tenaciously and firmly, because
their violation does incalculable harm to society and, in the last
analysis, to man….
What are these values? ….[T]rying to express ourself
concisely, let us say that here it is a question of two fundamental
values which fall strictly into the context of what we call “conjugal
love”. The first of them is the value of the person which is expressed
in absolute mutual faithfulness until death: the faithfulness
of the husband to his wife and of the wife to her husband. The consequence
of this affirmation of the value of the person, which is
expressed in the mutual relationship between husband and wife,
must also be respect for the personal value of the new life, that is,
of the child, from the first moment of his conception.
The Church can never dispense herself from the obligation
of guarding these two fundamental values, connected with the
vocation of the family…While maintaining respect for all those
who think differently, it is very difficult to recognize…that anyone
who betrays conjugal faithfulness, or who permits life conceived in
the mother’s womb to be wiped out and destroyed, behaves in a
way consistent with true human dignity. Consequently, it cannot be
admitted that programmes…which admit such behaviour serve the
objective well-being of man….
Pope Francis
Homily, Mary, Mother of God, January 1, 2017
“Mary treasured all these things and pondered them in her heart!
(Lk 2:19). In these words, Luke describes the attitude with which
Mary took in all that they had experienced in those days. Far from
trying to understand or master the situation, Mary is the woman
who can treasure, that is to say, protect and guard in her heart, the
passage of God in the life of his people. Deep within, she had
learned to listen to the heartbeat of her Son, and that in turn
taught her, throughout her life, to discover God’s heartbeat in
history. She learned how to be a mother, and in that learning process
she gave Jesus the beautiful experience of knowing what it is
to be a Son. In Mary, the eternal Word not only became flesh, but
also learned to recognize the maternal tenderness of God. With
Mary, the God-Child learned to listen to the yearnings, the troubles,
the joys and the hopes of the people of the promise. With
Mary, he discovered himself a Son of God’s faithful people.
In the Gospels, Mary appears as a woman of few words,
with no great speeches or deeds, but with an attentive gaze capable
of guarding the life and mission of her Son, and for this reason,
of everything that he loves. She was able to watch over the beginnings
of the first Christian community, and in this way she learned
to be the mother of a multitude. She drew near to the most diverse
situations in order to sow hope. She accompanied the crosses
borne in the silence of her children’s hearts. How many devotions,
shrines and chapels in the most far-off places, how many pictures
in our homes, remind us of this great truth. Mary gave us a mother’s
warmth, the warmth that shelters us amid troubles, the maternal
warmth that keeps anything or anyone from extinguishing in
the heart of the Church the revolution of tenderness inaugurated
by her Son. Where there is a mother, there is tenderness….
To celebrate Mary as Mother of God and our mother at
the beginning of the new year means recalling a certainty that will
accompany our days: we are a people with a Mother; we are not
orphans.

Fourth Sunday of Advent

My dear sons and daughters in Christ,

On this Christmas Eve I pray that as we begin to celebrate the birth of the Baby Jesus, Our Blessed Savior may draw you close to Himself, and shower you with every divine grace and heavenly blessing. May you share in the inexpressible joy of His Holy Mother, Mary, and may she bring you to Him, and teach you how to love Him with all your heart. May St. Joseph keep you in his strong and tender care, and teach us all how to serve Our Lord with the total devotion and self-sacrifice he did. And may the Holy Family bring peace and charity to your families as you contemplate the day that changed all of history: when God the Son stripped Himself of the glory of Heaven to become one of us to save us from sin and all evil, and open to us the gates of Paradise.
On behalf of myself, Fr. Smith, Fr. Daly, Fr. Scalia and all the priests who have ministered in our parish this year, I wish you all a very blessed and merry Christmas!

Thanks. I also want to thank all those who have worked so hard to make Advent and Christmas such a special time for our parish. In particular, Elisabeth Turco (our Music Director), the choir, cantors, and musicians (especially our organist, Denise Anezin) for all the beautiful music. All those who assisted in special ways at the Mass, especially our great altar boys, lectors (led by Brenda Doroski), extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion (led by Barbara Aldridge and Christine Spengler). The folks on our flower committee, especially Julie Mullen and her family, for so beautifully decorating the church and grounds. The ushers, especially Patrick O’Brien, who helped make everything run so smoothly. The Knights of Columbus, especially Pat Franco, for all they did in so many ways (sorry about the snowed-out Breakfast with Santa!). The various sacristans, especially Nena Brennan, for all their work in preparing the sanctuary for Masses. The Youth Group, for all the odd jobs they did around the parish. All who volunteered at with Senior Lunch (particularly Patty Miller). All those who volunteered in our Gift Shop, especially Maria Sanchez-O’Brien. All those who contributed so much in time and treasure to the Giving Tree. A special thanks to our dedicated staff, Jeanne Sause, Tom Browne, Kirsti Tyson, Eva Radel, Mary Butler, Mary Salmon, Vince Drouillard and Teresa Sierra, as well as our maintenance workers Laura Rodriguez and Luis Tapia, who worked so hard to serve us all. And finally, to Fr. Daly, Fr. Scalia and all the other priests helped out with Masses and Confessions; and most especially to Fr. Smith for his dedicated service to Our Lord and our parish. I know I’ve left out lots of folks that deserve special thanks; my apologies. Thank you all, and a blessed and merry Christmas to you.

And a Friendly Reminder. Remember, this weekend we are obliged to go to Mass for both Sunday (the 4th Sunday of Advent) and Christmas: that means two Masses.
Oremus pro invicem, Fr. De Celles

+ + + + + + +

His Holiness Pope Francis
“Urbi et Orbi” Message, Christmas 2016
Dear Brothers and Sisters, Happy Christmas!
Today the Church once more experiences the wonder of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Saint Joseph and the shepherds of Bethlehem, as they contemplate the newborn Child laid in a manger: Jesus, the Savior.
On this day full of light, the prophetic proclamation resounds: “For to us a child is born, To us a son is given. And the government will be upon his shoulder; and his name will be called “Wonderful Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” (Is 9:6)
The power of this Child, Son of God and Son of Mary, is not the power of this world, based on might and wealth; it is the power of love. It is the power that created the heavens and the earth, and gives life to all creation: to minerals, plants and animals. It is the force that attracts man and woman, and makes them one flesh, one single existence. It is the power that gives new birth, forgives sin, reconciles enemies, and transforms evil into good. It is the power of God. This power of love led Jesus Christ to strip himself of his glory and become man; it led him to give his life on the cross and to rise from the dead. It is the power of service, which inaugurates in our world the Kingdom of God, a kingdom of justice and peace.
For this reason, the birth of Jesus was accompanied by the angels’ song as they proclaimed: “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among men with whom he is pleased!” (Lk 2:14).
Today this message goes out to the ends of the earth to reach all peoples, especially those scarred by war and harsh conflicts that seem stronger than the yearning for peace….
Peace to all who, in different areas, are enduring sufferings due to constant dangers and persistent injustice….
Peace to all who have been injured or have suffered the loss of a loved one due to the brutal acts of terrorism that have sown fear and death in the heart of many countries and cities. Peace – not merely the word, but real and concrete peace – to our abandoned and excluded brothers and sisters, to those who suffer hunger and to all the victims of violence. Peace to exiles, migrants and refugees, to all those who in our day are subject to human trafficking. Peace to the peoples who suffer because of the economic ambitions of a few, because of sheer greed and the idolatry of money, which leads to slavery. Peace to those affected by social and economic unrest, and to those who endure the consequences of earthquakes or other natural catastrophes.
And peace to the children, on this special day on which God became a child, above all those deprived of the joys of childhood because of hunger, wars or the selfishness of adults.
Peace on earth to men and women of goodwill, who work quietly and patiently each day, in their families and in society, to build a more humane and just world, sustained by the conviction that only with peace is there the possibility of a more prosperous future for all.
Dear brothers and sisters, “For to us a child is born, to us a son is given”: he is the “Prince of peace”. Let us welcome him!

Oremus pro invicem. Fr. De Celles