Second Sunday of Lent

Don’t be Afraid to Go to Confession! Our daily confessions have started out well, as we’ve had a steady flow every day. Glad to see it. But there’s still room for you! Please remember to come during Lent, and to come early avoiding the long lines during Holy Week—if for no other reason, out of charity to your priests.

I know some people are afraid to go to Confession and so haven’t been in years. Some are afraid because they are embarrassed by their sins. But remember, you can confess behind the screen, so the priest won’t even know who you are (and we almost never recognize a voice).

Others are afraid because they think their sins can’t be forgiven. But remember, Jesus says: “Truly, I say to you, all sins will be forgiven the children of man…” As long as you are truly sorry for your sins and want to stop sinning, the priest, with the power of Jesus, will forgive you.

Some are afraid because they think the priest will be angry with them. But that’s just not true. In all my 42 years of going to Confession, I’ve only had one truly unpleasant experience. Okay, priests have bad days like all of us, but even on a bad day priests won’t get upset with you. Priests love forgiving sins—the bigger the better. And just because a priest seems stern in the pulpit doesn’t mean he’s that way in the confessional. A father may sometimes be stern when he teaches his children to behave, but when an apologetic child comes to him in tears, that same father opens his arms in tenderness. “A lion in the pulpit, a lamb in the confessional.”

Some think they will shock the priest by what they’ve done. As Ecclesiastes tells us: “what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun.” I’ve heard over 25,000 Confessions in the last 23 years, and I have heard almost every sin imaginable—really. Nothing shocks me anymore.

And finally, some are afraid the priest will tell someone about their sin. This just doesn’t happen. In all my life I have never heard a priest reveal the sins of anyone in Confession. Priests are forbidden, under pain of automatic excommunication (that can only be lifted by the pope himself), from ever directly or indirectly revealing the particular sins of a particular penitent. This is called the “seal of Confession,” and extends even to revealing things that are not sinful that are discussed in the Confession. A lot of priests, including myself, pray and try to forget what they hear in Confession and avoid even admitting that a particular person came to Confession. (A great movie dramatizing this is Alfred Hitchcock’s “I Confess.”)

So don’t be afraid. Come to Confession! Soon!

Defunding Planned Parenthood. From LifeSiteNews, March 12, 2019:

The state of Ohio may proceed with its efforts to defund the Planned Parenthood abortion business, a majority of the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled as the legal battle over a 2016 law enters its third year. Last April, a three-judge panel of the 6th Circuit ruled that the state could not forbid the distribution of federal health subsidies to any entity that commits or promotes elective abortions…On Tuesday the full 6th Circuit disagreed.…In the majority ruling, Judge Jeffrey Sutton concluded that the “affiliates do not have a due process right to perform abortions.”

“Governments generally may do what they wish with public funds, a principle that allows them to subsidize some organizations but not others and to condition receipt of public funds on compliance with certain obligations,” Sutton explained, unless it does so “on a basis that infringes [a recipient’s] constitutional rights.”

“This ruling is a major victory for pro-life Ohioans and all Americans fighting to keep their own tax dollars from being used to prop up the abortion industry,” Susan B. Anthony List President Marjorie Dannenfelser responded. “The American people have repeatedly expressed their opposition to taxpayer funding of abortion businesses like Planned Parenthood, which destroys more than 332,000 innocent unborn children a year – funding that could be redirected to life-affirming care providers, such as the growing number of community health alternatives that outnumber Planned Parenthood facilities at least 20 to one nationwide.”

Parish Expenditures on Charitable Works. Someone recently wrote me suggesting that the parish should give more money to charities, those in need. I appreciate this, but let me take this as an opportunity to explain some things about our parish finances.

First of all, the parish itself is a “charity” that has a life and needs of its own, like a family, that has to be sustained, and nourished to flourish. So my primary obligation, as pastor, is to see that we have money to fund the various activities of the parish itself, and so the vast majority of our expenditures goes to pay for the parish staff, religious education (for both children and adults), liturgies, maintenance, electricity, etc.. While I try to be careful and frugal, I also think it unwise to scrimp on spending that will genuinely be helpful to the parishioners’ spiritual and religious growth.

But we also see the parish as a family that gives to others, supporting the special needs of our members, our “relatives” (other Catholic groups), and also strangers who are in need.

So, last year we voluntarily spent a total of $166,482.11, or 8.6% of our total ordinary expenditures, on what we call “Charitable Works.” This included $47,700 in emergency assistance to families and individuals, $52,410 in parishioner scholarships to Catholic grade and high schools, $36,000 to Angelus Academy, and $29,534 to other Catholic groups (including: Catholic Charities, Divine Mercy Care, St. Dominic’s Monastery, Fellowship of Catholic University Students, Hard as Nails Ministries, Guadalupe Free Clinic, JMU Catholic Campus Ministry, Our Lady of the Blue Ridge Parish, Pakistani Missions).

In addition to that, the Bishop assessed us $ 46,284 for tuition assistance for needy children around the Diocese. So, adding that to our “Charitable Works,” that means last year we gave away $212,766, or about 11%, of our annual ordinary expenditures, to outside charities and the needy.

Just thought you should know. And thanks for your generosity.

Energy Savings. It looks like the lighting change is saving us money in energy costs. The numbers show a savings of about $1,300 a month for the last nine months, compared to last year. That’s about $16,000 annualized.

Reminders. The first ever Virginia March for Life, at the State Capitol building in Richmond on April 3. St. Raymond’s will be taking 2 buses down for the March. Sign Up sheets are in the narthex. Please join us.

Please join us every Thursday during Lent, for our Lenten Series and Holy Hour, meditating on “The Agony in the Garden.” We’ll begin with Exposition, then I’ll give a half-hour talk, followed by praying the Rosary and then Benediction.

And don’t forget Lenten Soup Suppers and Stations of the Cross, every Friday at 5:00pm and 6:30pm respectively. All are welcome.

Oremus pro invicem. Fr. De Celles

First Sunday of Lent

NEW! Virginia March for Life on April 3: Mark Your Calendars. Thanks be to God, the U.S. Supreme Court (SCOTUS) now has a majority of solid pro-life justices, and it seems very likely that sometime in the next few years the Court will reverse, in whole or in part, its 1973 “right to abort” decision in Roe vs. Wade. As the pro-abortion forces face this probability, they recognize that one likely result of a SCOTUS reversal will be to return the issue to the individual state governments to deal with. This is why we’ve seen such a flurry of attempts by state legislatures to create broad pro-abortion rights or overturn state restrictions on abortion, for example, consider the New York law that passed a few weeks ago, and the recently Virginia bill proposed by Springfield’s own State Delegate Kathy Tran.
To kick-off our counter effort, several pro-life groups have joined forces to organize the first ever Virginia March for Life, at the State Capitol building in Richmond on April 3. There will be a Rally at the Capitol at 11am, with the March around the Capitol square at noon.
St. Raymond’s will be taking 2 buses down for the March. Sign Up sheets are in the narthex. Please join us. For more information contact the office.

Lenten Series and Holy Hour. When I was thinking about my topic for this year’s series, “The Agony in the Garden,” and Jesus’ question to His apostles in the Garden came to mind: “Could you not keep watch for one hour with Me?” So it occurred to me to give my talks in the church during a Holy Hour of Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament, so we could “watch for one hour” in prayer and meditation with the Lord. We’ll begin with Exposition, then I’ll give a half-hour talk, followed by praying the Rosary and then Benediction.
Please join us every Thursday during Lent, beginning this Thursday, March 14, and continuing through April 11, from 7pm to 8pm. If you’ve never been to a Holy Hour or to one of the Lenten Series, please come—you’ll be glad you did. See the insert in this bulletin.

Confessions Every Day in Lent. Fundamental to a fruitful observance of Lent is the reception of the Sacrament of Penance (also called “Confession” or “Reconciliation”). I am very happy to say that you can go to confession at St. Raymond’s every day during Lent. So, please: go to confession!
But, I remind you that Sunday morning is not the best time to go to confession, since the lines are long, and only one priest is hearing confession and he normally stops once Mass begins. Moreover, Sunday confession times are provided not as a mere convenience but mainly to meet the real needs of those who truly cannot confess on other days or are otherwise in need of the sacrament. So, for example, when there is a line on Sundays, this would not normally be the time for: “devotional” confessions, or families going to their regular monthly confession together, or for little children to go to confession. This is just general guidance, but use your good judgment. And if no one is in line, go to confession.
Don’t get me wrong: we welcome all confessions, but some folks need Sunday morning times more than others. So, consider this in charity…

Making a Good Confession. A few years ago I published a small purple pamphlet called “Making a Good Confession: A Brief Examination of Conscience and Guide to Going to Confession.” Copies of this pamphlet can be found by all the doors of the church and near the confessionals. I hope you will find it helpful in preparing for and making a good confession. Below follows the introduction to that pamphlet. Maybe it will lead you to grab the pamphlet and read the rest of it….

MAKING A GOOD CONFESSION:
A Brief Examination of Conscience
and Guide to Going to Confession

(Parents: consider if this is inappropriate for your children)

How do we make a “good Confession”? We begin by prayerfully, and with honesty and humility, looking at our lives to recognize the sins we’ve committed since our last Confession, i.e., we make “an examination of conscience.” In particular, we need to look for mortal sins, i.e., sins that involve all three of the following criteria: 1) grave matter, 2) full knowledge of the sinful character of the act, and 3) complete consent. If any one of these is lacking it is not a “mortal sin,” but may be a “venial sin.”
“Grave matter” means the act involves some very serious moral evil, found either in 1) the act itself or 2) the intention behind the act. Grave matter can be difficult to identify, but not always.
Note that some sinful acts are grave matter when they involve circumstances that are serious or very important, but are not grave matter if they involve only small or trivial things. These acts that can be either grave or not are said to “admit of parvity” (smallness). Many of the sins listed below would “admit of parvity,” unless the word “serious” accurately describes them. For example, a lie is always a sin, but lying under oath is grave matter while lying about whether you like someone’s outfit is not grave matter.
Also, in Confession you must distinguish the “kind” of mortal sin committed: be clear about what the sin was, but avoid graphic or long explanations. So it is not enough to merely say “I had bad thoughts” or “I acted inappropriately,” rather one should more specific, e.g. “I had lustful thoughts,” etc.
You must also give the number of times you committed particular mortal sins. Sometimes this is very difficult or even impossible to remember, in which case, try your best give the priest some idea of the frequency or number; e.g., “at least once a month for several years,” etc.
Besides mortal sins, we should also consider confessing (but are not required to confess) vices (sinful habits) or other venial sins that are particularly problematic.

A BRIEF EXAMINATION OF CONSCIENCE

This brief examination of conscience is not all inclusive or exhaustive, but is a useful tool to help you prepare for Confession. Remember, as you go through your examination consider if any of your sins are mortal. Also, remember to confess how many times you committed particular mortal sins.
Note, to help you identify mortal sins, sins that always involve grave matter are marked with an “A” and sins that very often or usually involve grave matter (so should be considered very carefully) are marked with an “O/U”. This does not mean that sins not marked never involve grave matter, as discussed above.
[The pamphlet then continues with a detailed review of each of the 10 Commandments, and a detailed “how-to” of what to say and do in the confessional. Happy reading!]

Oremus pro invicem. Fr. De Celles

Volunteers Needed for Meal at Christ House March 29

PART_1552 (2)Our parish Christ House Committee will host the next meal on Friday, March 29 and will serve up to 70 BAGGED MEALS from 5-6pm. Click here to sign up.

For the items NOT part of a BAGGED MEAL you can plan to deliver your items to the parish hall kitchen window BEFORE 3pm on Thursday.

See PERFECTPOTLUCK.COM for details and to sign up here

Eighth Sunday in Ordinary Time

LAST WEEK’S NEWS. A lot of interesting news last week. Let’s look at some of it
briefly.
Vatican Summit. The Summit on child abuse ended last Sunday without
producing any important results. While it might have been helpful to bishops from
countries where child abuse issues haven’t been addressed, in my opinion it really did
nothing but waste time in solving the problem in the U.S.. Recall that the Pope had
ordered the U.S. Bishops wait to see what this Summit came up with before proposing
new rules to apply to lying and abusing Bishops. Okay, so with no results, the Bishops
have wasted the last 7 months or so. Now what?
Bishop Zanchetta. Under the cloud of allegations of sexual abuse Bishop Gustavo
Zanchetta resigned as Bishop of Orán, Argentina, in August 2017, and was appointed by
Pope Francis to a newly-created position in the Vatican. The Vatican has repeatedly
denied knowing about the accusations at the time of the appointment, but this week an
Argentine newspaper has published documents purporting to show the opposite. Did the
Summit really matter?
Cardinal Pell. It was announced this week that an Australian jury had found
Cardinal George Pell, (the Cardinal in charge of Vatican finances) guilty of sexually
abusing two 13-year-old boys in 1996. However, grave doubts surround the conviction,
which Pell is appealing. For example, it rested almost entirely on the testimony of one of
the alleged victims, the second alleged victim had died in 2014, after telling his mother,
that Pell had not abused him. Moreover, as an Australian priest writes, “The proposition
that the offenses charged were committed immediately after Mass by a fully robed
archbishop in the sacristy with an open door and in full view from the corridor seemed
incredible to my mind.” Also, this was the second trial on these charges: the first trial
ended with a hung jury, with 10 of 12 jurors voting to acquit.
If Pell is guilty, he’s guilty, and he should be thrown into prison for a long time.
But many Australians believe the conviction completely unfounded and rooted in anti-
Catholic bias, and that the verdict will be overturned by the higher court.
Monsters Among Us. The “Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act” was
rejected in the US Senate along a mainly party line vote, with only 3 democrats voting in
favor of the bill. The legislation would have required that "any health care practitioner
present" at the time of a birth "exercise the same degree of professional skill, care, and
diligence to preserve the life and health of the child as … to any other child born alive at
the same gestational age." It should be noted that all the Democratic Senators running for
president in 2020 voted against the measure, including Senators Sanders, Harris, Booker,
Gillibrand, Klobuchar and Warren. Imagine, voting to allow a doctor to just let born
babies die on the table, or even be killed. What kind of monsters are these Democrats?
Abortion Clinics. Meanwhile, the Trump Administration announced it will bar
groups that provide abortions or abortion referrals from participating in federal family-
planning program. The new rule will redirect money from Planned Parenthood and
toward faith-based providers.
LENT. The Season of Lent begins this Wednesday with Ash Wednesday. As you know,

this is my favorite time of year, as it gives us the opportunity to meditate on the immense
love of God that would lead Him to suffer and die for our sins. At the same time, then,
it’s also a time to consider our sins and to work to overcome them, through our diligent
efforts and cooperating with His grace. In short, it can be a time of intense growth in our
personal relationship with Jesus Christ.
Lent, of course, brings a much busier parish schedule, which we’ve laid out in
detail in this week’s “Lenten Schedule” insert. Please keep this insert in a central place
in your home—maybe on your fridge door—to remind you of the many opportunities for
spiritual growth the parish offers this Lent.
Ash Wednesday. Ashes will be distributed at all Masses on Ash Wednesday (see
below). Since ashes are merely symbolic (a “sacramental” not a “Sacrament”) they may
be received by anyone who wishes to repent their sins, Catholic or not, in “good
standing” or not. Note: There are no confessions scheduled on Ash Wednesday.
Fasting and Abstinence. Ash Wednesday and Good Friday are days of both
fasting and abstinence, and every Friday in Lent is a day of abstinence. Failure to
“substantially” keep these penances is grave matter (e.g., potentially a mortal sin). The
law of abstinence requires that no meat may be eaten on these days, and binds all
Catholics who are 14 years old or older. No other penance may be substituted. The law of
fasting binds those who are between the ages of 18 and 59. The Church defines “fasting,”
for these purposes, as having only one full meal a day, with two additional smaller meals
permitted, but only as necessary to keep up strength and so small that if added together
they would not equal a full meal. Snacking is forbidden, but that does not include drinks
that are not of the nature of a meal. Even though these rules do not bind all age groups,
all are encouraged to follow them to the extent possible, including children. The sick,
pregnant and other folks with special physical circumstances may be partially or totally
exempt from these rules.
Doing Penance. Of course, all Catholics are encouraged to do personal acts of
penance throughout the season of Lent, traditionally of three types: almsgiving
(including acts of charity), sacrifice (what you “give up”), and prayer. Please choose
your penances carefully, considering your health and state in life. Challenge yourself, but
pick things you can actually do, rather than things that are so difficult that you may easily
give up on them.
Sacrament of Penance. Confession is key to a fruitful Lent. I strongly encourage
that you take advantage of our extended Lent confession schedule—confessions are
scheduled every single day in Lent, except Ash Wednesday and Holy Thursday (see
today’s “Lenten Schedule” insert for exact times—they’re a little different this year).
Lenten Series—A Little Different. When I was thinking about my topic for this
year’s series, “The Agony in the Garden,” and Jesus’ question to His apostles in the
Garden came to mind: “Could you not keep watch for one hour with me?” So it occurred
to me to give my talks in the church during a Holy Hour of Exposition of the Blessed
Sacrament, so we could “watch for one hour” in prayer and meditation with the Lord.
We’ll begin with Exposition, then I’ll give a half-hour talk, followed by praying the
Rosary and then Benediction.

Please join us every Thursday during Lent, beginning next Thursday, March 14,
and continuing through April 11, from 7pm to 8pm. If you’ve never been to a Holy Hour
or one to the Lenten Series, please come—you’ll be glad you did.
 
Oremus pro invicem. Fr. De Celles

Seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time

List of Accused Priests. Last week Bishop Michael Burbidge, Bishop of Arlington,
released a list of 16 priests of the diocese who have been at least, as he says, “credibly
accused” of abuse of minors. I hope you know that I believe strongly that priests who are
guilty of these sins are despicable, and deserve every punishment they get in this world
and in the next. As Jesus says: “whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in
me to sin, it would be better for him to have a great millstone fastened around his neck
and to be drowned in the depth of the sea.”
But as you consider that list, it’s important for your own wellbeing of spirit, your
own peace of heart, to remember a few things. First, a “credible accusation” is not the
same as being found “guilty”—it might be compared to a civil judge saying there’s
enough evidence to begin a trial, it is not a final verdict of “guilty” in that trial. But about
half of the priests on the list never had any kind of trial in the church or in civil courts,
because they were accused after they had already died, and so never had a chance to
defend themselves. And there is at least 1 on the list who maintains his innocence and his
case is still being considered (i.e., no “verdict” yet). And there is 1 on the list that Rome
has decided that there’s not enough evidence to find him guilty, and they have allowed
him to take medical retirement, as a priest, albeit without any public ministry–case
closed.
Nevertheless, I’m not making excuses for anyone, and some of those on the list
were found guilty by the Church. Again, if they are guilty, let them be punished on earth
and in hell or purgatory, according to God’s justice and mercy.
 
Vatican Summit on Abuse. As I write this on Wednesday, the leaders of the Bishops’
conferences from around the world are assembling in Rome for their summit meeting
with the Pope to discuss clerical sex abuse. The meeting runs from Thursday, February
21 to Sunday, February 24. You will remember that when the American Bishops were
assembled last November, to put into place rules addressing abusive or lying bishops, at
the last-minute Pope Francis ordered them not to pass any rules, but to wait for the
outcome of this week’s summit in Rome. Well, after so much delay in addressing the
open and bleeding wound, the summit now takes place.
Sadly, as I remarked last week, it doesn’t look like this will be a very productive
meeting, if for no other reason that many of the bishops come from countries where
sexual abuse hasn’t become an open issue as it has in the U.S., and so it seems to me that
a lot of time will be spent on convincing them that this is a huge problem, instead of
spending necessary time on fixing the problem. Even the Pope has told us that
"expectations need to be deflated.”
Nevertheless, we need to pray that the Lord brings something out of this
conference. And that the purification of the Church will continue to expand in the coming
months.
St. Peter Damien. Importantly, the summit begins on February 21, the Feast day
of St. Peter Damien, the great reformer of the clergy in the 11 th century. His letter to Pope
Leo IX, sometimes called “The Book of Gomorrah,” is a full-throated attack on the
sexual depravity, especially homosexuality (“sodomy”), of the clerics of his day.

By the age 25 Peter Damian was already a famous professor at the Universities of
Parma and Ravenna. But, he could not endure the scandals and distractions of university
life and decided (about 1035) to retire from the world, entering the hermitage of Fonte-
Avellana, where he became prior in 1043 until his death in 1072. In 1057 he was
reluctantly made Cardinal-Bishop of Ostia.
Living in the seclusion of the cloister, he watched closely the fortunes of the
Church, and strove for her purification in those deplorable times. From 1045 till his death
he cajoled and worked with the various popes for the purification of priests and bishops.
And in 1051 he published the “Book of Gomorrah,” which caused a great stir and aroused
widespread enmity against Peter, and still does today. Although sometimes harsh in
rhetoric, it is also compassionate, especially to innocent victims and truly repentant
sinners. It is filled with penetrating insights and lessons that would seem to apply aptly to
the Church today.
So I encourage you to pray to St. Peter Damien, today and in the future, for the
purification of the priests, bishops and cardinals of the Church.
Some quotations from the Book of Gomorrah:
— “For God's sake, why do you damnable sodomites pursue the heights of
ecclesiastical dignity with such fiery ambition?”
— “Listen, you do-nothing superiors of clerics and priests. Listen, and even though
you feel sure of yourselves, tremble at the thought that you are partners in the guilt of
others; those, I mean, who wink at the sins of their subjects that need correction and who
by ill-considered silence allow them license to sin.”
— “But if the doctor fears the virus of the plague, who will apply the cauterization?
If he is nauseated by those whom he is to cure, who will lead sick souls back to the state
of health?”
— “It is not sinners, but the wicked who should despair; it is not the magnitude of
one’s crime, but contempt of God that dashes one’s hopes.”
 
Security Cameras. For years I have been increasingly concerned about the safety and
security of parishioners and visitors to our church. I especially worry about unattended
children being in the downstairs hall and hallways, especially during Sunday Mass. Also,
as time has gone on, I have been made aware that there are sometimes drug deals done in
our parking lot at night, and I worry that a parishioner might stumble upon these or other
unsavory activities. So, after an extensive process of consultation with police, insurers
and other security experts, and evaluating several bids from reputable security
companies, I have signed a contract to install multiple security cameras on our property.
Cameras will cover almost the whole outside property, as well as most of the interior of
the public spaces of the buildings.
For security purposes, I am not inclined to reveal more information about the
system, lest any “bad guys” find out information useful to them. Suffice it to say, we will
have the cameras, and they will be on 24 hours a day. If any parishioners want more
information, or have any concerns, please feel free to contact me or Tom Browne in the
office.

I will make a further announcement about this at Masses once we have the
cameras in place.
 
Oremus pro invicem. Fr. De Celles

Lenten Recommendations from Formed

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Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Washington. Tomorrow, Monday, 2/18, is the national holiday most people seem to call “President’s Day,” but which is actually officially called “Washington’s Birthday.” It’s sad that we forget this, because we should celebrate the birth and life of the Father of our country. He was a remarkable man. An intelligent man, largely self-educated, an industrious and successful farmer, business man and entrepreneur, a loving husband and father, a loyal friend, a victorious general and unrivaled statesman. But above all, he was a patriot—he loved his native Virginia and the new nation he helped found, making great sacrifices for both. And while certainly being an ambitious man, after winning the Revolutionary War the victorious and beloved general could have contrived to have himself named king. But instead, he worked for the establishment of a federal republic. And while achieving so many great things for his country, he repeatedly and strongly credited the intervention of God for the success of the Revolution and Founding.
It is true that he was a slave owner. But he also advocated for the abolition of slavery. Like many well-meaning men of his times, he struggled to find a solution to the issue that would be just for the slaves and still not rip apart the peace and unity, and so the very survival, of the fragile new nation.
Humble, dedicated, industrious, loyal, intelligent, courageous, moral, and God-fearing, but also flawed like all of us. He stood head and shoulders above his peers, literally and figuratively, and so became the only American president elected unanimously by the electoral college, without an opponent.
I wish the leadership of our nation today would take their example from him—in all parties and all branches of government. And I hope that we all remember that example as we celebrate his birthday, and pray for our leaders today.

McCarrick. As I write this on Wednesday, the rumors abound that sometime in the next few days—maybe before you read this—the Vatican trial of former cardinal Theodore McCarrick, will conclude, finding him guilty of various charges of sexual misconduct/abuse. Word is that his punishment will be the harshest penalty the Church can give a priest: laicization/defrocking. The rumors seem to come from every credible source in Rome, and so I can’t help but think they’re true.
If this IS true, thank God! If he has been found guilty and defrocked, the damage this villainous priest has perpetrated be finally be recognized, and he will be driven from the ranks of active priests. And the Pope would have taken decisive action against one of the powerful leaders of the homosexual cadre of priests, bishops and cardinals that have had so much influence behind the scenes in the halls of power in the Church.
However…Much is left to be done. McCarrick may have been a leader of the “lavender mafia,” or “gay mafia,” but he was old, 88. It may turn out that he is merely a sacrificial goat, and his punishment may end any further investigation into the other members of the cadre, which will go on, unhampered in power and influence. Recall that the sexual accusations against McCarrick came with three other accusations: that 1) Vatican officials knew and covered up his sins and crimes, 2) Pope Francis undid the punishment/sanctions that Pope Benedict had imposed on McCarrick and restored him to powerful influence in the Church, 3) McCarrick had influenced the Pope in promoting other homosexual (or homosexual-friendly) priests to become bishops, and cardinals.
Will there be any follow up investigation to these accusations? Whenever Pope Francis has spoken about McCarrick he has treated it as an isolated case, as if it has no consequences beyond this one offender. And as if there has been no coverup, and no cadre behind him.
Since 2002, when the American bishops came up with new rules under the so-called “Dallas Charter,” the bishops have largely dealt with the problem of abusive priests relatively effectively (note: the vast majority of the cases in last summer’s Pennsylvania Grand Jury report were cases arising before 2002). But their effort hasn’t been entirely successful with regards to offending priests, and it has not been successful at all with regard to bishops and cardinals who are themselves predators or have protected predators. Literally, the rules that have applied to priests since 2002 in no way apply to bishops.
Vatican Summit, This Week. Many hoped that would change when the American bishops met last November in Baltimore, specifically to enact rules to punish offending bishops and cardinals. But that hope was dashed on the night before the bishops’ conference, as the Pope ordered them not to vote on any changes, but to wait for the results and conclusions of a special summit of bishops from all over the world that he was convoking in Rome from February 21 to 24—this coming week.
Since then, however, hopes have dimmed that that summit will yield any immediate meaningful changes. In November, Pope Francis announced that Cardinal Blase Cupich would be one of the leaders of the summit; recall that it has been alleged that Cupich was appointed Cardinal-Archbishop of Chicago through the efforts of none other than McCarrick. Cupich also publicly stated about the accusations surrounding McCarrick: “The Pope has a bigger agenda. He’s got to get on with other things, of talking about the environment and protecting migrants …”
Moreover, in the last few weeks Pope Francis himself has made it clear that not much is going to happen at the summit. On his flight back from Panama on January 27, the Pope told reporters: “The expectations need to be deflated…The problems of abuse will continue. It is a human problem, everywhere….We felt the need to give a ‘catechesis’ on this problem to the bishops’ conferences.” Not very encouraging.
Let us pray that the Holy Spirit intervenes to bring some good out of the summit this week. And let us pray, and advocate, that a full investigation be done into the web of sins and lies exposed by the McCarrick case. Enough is enough.

Correction. Last week I referred to “Senator Harry Byrd” of West Virginia as being a former leader of the KKK. That was my typo: I meant to write “Senator Robert Byrd”. My apologies.

Clarification. Three weeks ago, in my homily on volunteering, I made the claim, “I don’t need your help.” Since then, several parishioners have made it clear to me that they were so stunned and upset by that isolated statement that they didn’t hear very clearly what I said right after that. And that’s my fault: I was probably not very prudent in the way I presented it.
But when I said, “I don’t need your help,” I immediately went on to say, essentially, that my request for volunteers isn’t about helping me to make my life easier, it’s about making the parish better. And I then concluded, by saying, “And for that, I do need your help!”
So, to be clear: I ABSOLUTELY DO NEED YOUR HELP to make this the best parish possible. My apologies if wording or approach was clumsy.

Oremus pro invicem. Fr. De Celles
Washington. Tomorrow, Monday, 2/18, is the national holiday most people seem to call “President’s Day,” but which is actually officially called “Washington’s Birthday.” It’s sad that we forget this, because we should celebrate the birth and life of the Father of our country. He was a remarkable man. An intelligent man, largely self-educated, an industrious and successful farmer, business man and entrepreneur, a loving husband and father, a loyal friend, a victorious general and unrivaled statesman. But above all, he was a patriot—he loved his native Virginia and the new nation he helped found, making great sacrifices for both. And while certainly being an ambitious man, after winning the Revolutionary War the victorious and beloved general could have contrived to have himself named king. But instead, he worked for the establishment of a federal republic. And while achieving so many great things for his country, he repeatedly and strongly credited the intervention of God for the success of the Revolution and Founding of our nation..
It is true that he was a slave owner. But he also advocated for the abolition of slavery. Like many well-meaning men of his times, he struggled to find a solution to the issue that would be just for the slaves and still not rip apart the peace and unity, and so the very survival, of the fragile new nation.
Humble, dedicated, industrious, loyal, intelligent, courageous, moral, and God-fearing, but also flawed like all of us. He stood head and shoulders above his peers, literally and figuratively, and so became the only American president elected unanimously by the electoral college, without an opponent.
I wish the leadership of our nation today would take their example from him—in all parties and all branches of government. And I hope that we all remember that example as we celebrate his birthday, and pray for our leaders today.

McCarrick. As I write this on Wednesday, the rumors abound that sometime in the next few days—maybe before you read this—the Vatican trial of former cardinal Theodore McCarrick, will conclude, finding him guilty of various charges of sexual misconduct/abuse. Word is that his punishment will be the harshest penalty the Church can give a priest: laicization/defrocking. The rumors seem to come from every credible source in Rome, and so I can’t help but think they’re true.
If this IS true, thank God! If he has been found guilty and defrocked, the damage this villainous priest has perpetrated will finally be recognized, and he will be driven from the ranks of active priests. And the Pope would have taken decisive action against one of the powerful leaders of the homosexual cadre of priests, bishops and cardinals that have had so much influence behind the scenes in the halls of power in the Church.
However…Much is left to be done. McCarrick may have been a leader of the “lavender mafia,” or “gay mafia,” but he was old, 88. It may turn out that he is merely a sacrificial goat, and his punishment may end any further investigation into the other members of the cadre, which will go on, unhampered in power and influence. Recall that the sexual accusations against McCarrick came with three other accusations: that 1) Vatican officials knew and covered up his sins and crimes, 2) Pope Francis undid the punishment/sanctions that Pope Benedict had imposed on McCarrick and restored him to powerful influence in the Church, 3) McCarrick had influenced the Pope in promoting other homosexual (or homosexual-friendly) priests to become bishops, and cardinals.
Will there be any follow up investigation to these accusations? Whenever Pope Francis has spoken about McCarrick he has treated it as an isolated case, as if it has no consequences beyond this one offender. And as if there has been no coverup, and no cadre behind him.
Since 2002, when the American bishops came up with new rules under the so-called “Dallas Charter,” the bishops have largely dealt with the problem of abusive priests relatively effectively (note: the vast majority of the cases in last summer’s Pennsylvania Grand Jury report were cases arising before 2002). But their effort hasn’t been entirely successful with regards to offending priests, and it has not been successful at all with regard to bishops and cardinals who are themselves predators or have protected predators. Literally, the rules that have applied to priests since 2002 in no way apply to bishops.
Vatican Summit, This Week. Many hoped that would change when the American bishops met last November in Baltimore, specifically to enact rules to punish offending bishops and cardinals. But that hope was dashed on the night before the bishops’ conference, as the Pope ordered them not to vote on any changes, but to wait for the results and conclusions of a special summit of bishops from all over the world that he was convoking in Rome from February 21 to 24—this coming week.
Since then, however, hopes have dimmed that the summit will yield any immediate meaningful changes. In November, Pope Francis announced that Cardinal Blase Cupich would be one of the leaders of the summit; recall that it has been alleged that Cupich was appointed Cardinal-Archbishop of Chicago through the efforts of none other than McCarrick. Cupich also publicly stated about the accusations surrounding McCarrick: “The Pope has a bigger agenda. He’s got to get on with other things, of talking about the environment and protecting migrants …”
Moreover, in the last few weeks Pope Francis himself has made it clear that not much is going to happen at the summit. On his flight back from Panama on January 27, the Pope told reporters: “The expectations need to be deflated…The problems of abuse will continue. It is a human problem, everywhere….We felt the need to give a ‘catechesis’ on this problem to the bishops’ conferences.” Not very encouraging.
Let us pray that the Holy Spirit intervenes to bring some good out of the summit this week. And let us pray, and advocate, that a full investigation be done into the web of sins and lies exposed by the McCarrick case. Enough is enough.

Correction. Last week I referred to “Senator Harry Byrd” of West Virginia as being a former leader of the KKK. That was my typo: I meant to write “Senator Robert Byrd”. My apologies.

Clarification. Three weeks ago, in my homily on volunteering, I made the claim, “I don’t need your help.” Since then, several parishioners have made it clear to me that they were so stunned and upset by that isolated statement that they didn’t hear very clearly what I said right after that. And that’s my fault: I was probably not very prudent in the way I presented it.
But when I said, “I don’t need your help,” I immediately went on to say, essentially, that my request for volunteers isn’t about helping me to make my life easier, it’s about making the parish better. And I then concluded, by saying, “And for that, I do need your help!”
So, to be clear: I ABSOLUTELY DO NEED YOUR HELP to make this the best parish possible. My apologies if my wording or approach was clumsy.

Oremus pro invicem. Fr. De Celles

Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Pro-Life Rally at South County. Last week I wrote about Springfield State Delegate
Kathy Tran’s barbaric proposed legislation which would have essentially legalized
abortion on demand up to full term. After I wrote that on Wednesday, the folks at the
Susan B. Anthony Foundation (SBA) sent out the word that Tran had scheduled a
Townhall meeting for that Saturday. Long story short, the word got around and pretty
soon it seems so many pro-lifers would be there that Tran cancelled the meeting
(although she said it was for safety and security reasons, as if pro-lifers are a risk to
safety). In any case, SBA went on with the press conference they had scheduled before
the townhall, and between 700 and 1000 pro-lifers showed up, standing outside the
school in freezing temperatures for almost an hour, to support them and speakers from
various other pro-life organizations in the Commonwealth. Thanks to all the St. Raymond
parishoners who showed up. We cannot back down from our defense of life against of the
radical agenda of so many of the extremists in Richmond and Washington.

Northam Troubles. Of course last week I also wrote about how our governor had made
a gruesome statement about what happens when a late-term abortion fails, and the baby is
born alive. How he basically said the decision to let it live outside the womb was up to
the mother—which is pretty much an endorsement of infanticide.
But soon after that, news came out of a picture in his medical school year book
supposedly depicting him as wearing “black face” or a KKK costume. Of course, in the
eyes of the leftist media a 30-year-old horribly racist joke is much worse than last week’s
endorsement of killing a baby on the operating table, so that latter story took over the
news, pushing infanticide to the side.
It seems unnecessary, except in these hypercritical times, for me to state the
obvious: this kind of racist activity, whether joking or serious, is disgusting and
unequivocally unchristian, and to remind you that racism is a sin, and often a mortal sin.
And a racist should not be given a place in modern representative government.
But it does worry me a bit that a sin or mistake someone committed 30 years ago,
is used so readily as a bludgeon to attack any politician. I recall that when former Senator
Harry Byrd died in 2010 he was treated as a venerable statesman, even though he had
been an actual leader of the KKK in West Virginia in the 1950s. In this case, he had
repented long ago, and his sin had largely been forgiven by virtually everyone. Which
goes to show that people change over time—I know I have. And when that change shows
in the way they live, I think they deserve some credit for that, and forgiveness of the old
sin.
That is not to say that I am minimizing Northam’s bad behavior of 30 years ago.
Rather, I am simply encouraging us all to consider that people can change. I am certainly
not supporting him, especially considering his embrace of abortion and infanticide. In
fact, it occurs to me that his indifference to the dignity of some human life may have,
over time, simply switched over time from targeting African Americans to targeting
another vulnerable group: unborn babies.

Lieutenant Governor Justin Fairfax. With calls for Governor Northam’s resignation

pouring in from all sides, especially from his own Democratic Party, attention shifted to
the possibility of Lt. Gov. Fairfax stepping up to take his place. But then it came out that
Fairfax has been accused of sexually assaulting a woman 15 years ago, when he was a
young lawyer and Democratic Party operative. It’s interesting to compare that case to
another similar case: when Judge Brett Kavanaugh was accused of a similar offense that
had happened 35 years ago, when he was an 18-year-old. Both charges are leveled by
very credible women, both college professors, but it is strange how the leaders of the
Democratic party have responded so differently to the 2 allegations. In Kavanaugh’s case
we kept hearing senators and congressmen say, “I believe the accuser,” even before
hearing any evidence or testimony. But in Fairfax’s case, we hear nothing like that.
Instead, the Democratic Party of Virginia issued a statement saying only that the
allegation against Fairfax, should be "taken with profound gravity….We will continue to
evaluate the situation regarding Lieutenant Governor Fairfax.”
Why would they be treated so differently? Could it be their different stands on
abortion? Clearly that was why they attacked Kavanaugh so severely. Perhaps the
opposite is true with Fairfax, who is a strong supporter of abortion and in 2016 served as
the board vice-chair of the Planned Parenthood Metropolitan Washington Action Fund.

Altar Rail and Pulpit. I want to reiterate my request for comments about my proposal to
install a permanent altar rail and replace the current pulpit with a smaller but beautiful
new one. See last weeks column for more details. But I really would like your comments
and advice. My mind is not made up, and I want to know what your thinking, email me at
fr.decelles@gmail.com.

Vestments. I mentioned a few weeks ago that I would be discussing the vestments of the
priest at Mass. Today I’d like to discuss the amice.
The amice is the first vestment the priest puts on for Mass. It is a piece of linen or
cotton cloth, about 30” by 20”, that is draped over the shoulders and wrapped around the
neck, usually tucked in to cover the collar. It is then tied in place by two attached
cords/ribbons that wrap around the back and tie in front of the chest.
The origins of the amice date at least to the 10 th century, and various sources
propose that it was introduced either to cover the regular clothing of the priest, to protect
the costlier vestments from the perspiration of the face or neck, or as a winter muffler
protecting the throat of those who had to take care of their voices for singing the Mass.
These are all still part of its practical purpose.
From the middle ages the amice was also often ample enough to be used to cover
the head of priest at certain points of the Mass like a hood (later this would normally be
replaced by the biretta) or a helmet. This practice is still in place in some religious orders.
From this it derives its spiritual symbolism as a spiritual helmet of the “armor of God.”
Today this is seen in the custom of the priest to lay the amice first over the head before
sliding it to his shoulders, as he prays, the prayer, “"Impone, Domine, capiti meo galeam
salutis, ad expugnandos diabolicos incursus" –Place upon me, O Lord, the helmet of
salvation, that I may overcome the assaults of the devil.”

Note the amice is required, unless the alb is designed to “completely cover the
ordinary clothing at the neck” (i.e., the black and white “roman collar” of the priest’s
normal shirt or cassock should not be visible).

Oremus pro invicem. Fr. De Celles