Twenty Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Choir and Schola. Welcome back to our Choir at 10:30 Mass. You know summer’s over when you hear the beautiful strains of choral singing showering down on us from the choir loft. I hope the choir members had a restful summer and look forward to their assistance at Mass. Also, I know they are looking to increase their numbers, so anyone with any interest in joining them is welcome and encouraged to contact Elisabeth Turco at music@straymonds.org.

Also, welcome back to our Schola at 8:45—they add so much to the solemnity and reverence of that Mass.

Fix Climate Change: Eliminate Poor Babies. At a campaign stop a week ago Democrat Presidential Candidate Bernie Sanders suggested a unique way to fix Climate Change. Here is his exchange with an audience member:

Audience member: “Good evening. Human population growth has more than doubled in the past 50 years. The planet cannot sustain this growth. I realize this is a poisonous topic for politicians, but it’s crucial to face. Empowering women and educating everyone on the need to curb population growth seems a reasonable campaign to enact. Would you be courageous enough to discuss this issue and make it a key feature of a plan to address climate catastrophe?”

Sanders: “The answer is yes. And the answer has everything to do with the fact that women in the United States of America, by the way, have a right to control their own bodies and make reproductive decisions. The Mexico City agreement, which denies American aid to those organizations around the world that allow women to have abortions or even get involved in birth control, to me is totally absurd. I think especially in poor countries around the world where women do not necessarily want to have large numbers of babies and where they can have the opportunity through birth control to control the number of kids they have, it’s something I very, very strongly support.”

So, the answer to climate change is fewer poor babies, so let’s get rid of them. Satan hates mankind, and God has a particular love for the poor. Whose side is Bernie on?

More Bishops’ Scandals. Last week I had an update on the continuing scandals among the Bishops. This last week 2 more stories hit the news. First, as was widely reported, Buffalo’s Bishop Richard J. Malone was caught on tape admitting to covering up a homosexual priest’s harassment of a seminarian. According to LifeSiteNews, (Sept. 4, 2019):

“On August 2, Malone had a private conversation with his secretary Fr. Ryszard Biernat …Unbeknownst to Malone, Biernat was taping the exchange….‘We are in a true crisis situation,’ Malone told Biernat. ‘…And everyone in the office is convinced this could be the end for me as bishop. It could force me to resign if in fact they make a story…’

“In May, Boston’s 7 Eyewitness News had reported allegations that Fr. Jeff Nowak, a parish priest, had made romantic overtures to seminarian Matthew Bojanowski and even attempted to blackmail him with information heard in the confessional.

“‘I think we’re gonna blow this story up into something like an atom bomb if we start talking about that. You know?’ Malone told Biernat. ’Cause then it sounds like, it sounds like a soap opera. It sounds like a love triangle. And you know what the media can do with that.’

“‘The simple version here is we’ve got victims and we have a perpetrator, and the perpetrator is Jeff Nowak, and he’s done things that are clearly wrong, and I think he’s a sick puppy,’ the bishop said.

“….Nowak was not removed from ministry until August.”

Second, the Ted McCarrick scandal continues to unfold. According to Cruxnow.com, (Sept 5, 2019):

“A yearlong investigation by Seton Hall University confirmed that Theodore McCarrick, the laicized cardinal who had been archbishop of Newark from 1986 to 2000, had sexually harassed seminarians during his tenure as head of the archdiocese.

“‘McCarrick created a culture of fear and intimidation that supported his personal objectives. McCarrick used his position of power as then-archbishop of Newark to sexually harass seminarians,’ said the 700-word “update,” dated Aug. 27.…‘Individuals, communities and parishes across the country have been affected by former archbishop McCarrick and others who have profoundly and forever negatively altered so many lives.’

“McCarrick, as Newark archbishop, was president of the board of trustees at Seton Hall, which is sponsored by the archdiocese. The seminaries are located on the Seton Hall campus.”

Rev. Cornelius O’Brien, RIP. Last Saturday we were informed of the sad news that Fr. Cornelius O’Brien had died at his home in Ireland, at age 87. Some of you may remember him from his many post-retirement summer vacations spent with Fr. Gould at St. Raymond’s. He was a good friend of and mentor to Fr. Gould, and to so many of the priests of the Diocese, including me.

Ordained in Ireland, in 1955 he immediately came to the United States where he served as a priest of the Diocese of Alexandria, La. until 1975, when he joined the Arlington Diocese. After graduate studies at Catholic University, he taught philosophy at various colleges and seminaries in the area.

He became the first chaplain at Christendom College in Front Royal in 1977, and was assistant director of the Notre Dame Institute from 1976 to 1979. He also served as parochial vicar at the Cathedral of St. Thomas More (1975-79), St. Agnes (1979-80), and St. Lawrence (1980-83).

He was pastor of St. Timothy Church in Chantilly from 1983 to 1999, and of St. James from 1999 until his retirement in 2006.

In 1992, he was also co-founder of CREDO, an organization of priests and scholars dedicated to the proper translation of the Roman Missal, which significantly influenced the eventual retranslation of the Missal in 2011. He also co-founded of the Adoremus Society for the Renewal of the Sacred Liturgy in 1995, which still publishes the Adoremus Bulletin.

Fr. O’Brien was one of the most brilliant and erudite men I’ve ever met. He was an expert in philosophy, especially Aquinas, and could talk at length about subjects from Shakespeare, to construction, to sheep farming. I always thought he would have been a great Shakespearean actor if he hadn’t gone into the priesthood. His rich deep voice and his eloquence in speech reminded me of an intellectual Peter O’Toole. All this combined to make him one of the best preachers, both in content and in delivery, I’ve ever heard in my life.

I was honored to serve with him twice, first as a seminarian at St. Timothy’s, and later as his last vicar before he retired from St. James. He was very kind, supportive and encouraging to me, and I was truly saddened when he announced he was retiring and moving back to County Cork, to live with his dear sisters in the “wee hoos” he had helped construct during his annual month-long summer vacations.

Requiem aeternam dona ei, Domine, et lux perpetua luceat ei. Requiescat in pace.

Oremus pro invicem. Fr. De Celles

Volunteers Needed!

Please consider supporting our parish teens who want to start their Friday’s off with Mass, breakfast, and Christian fellowship before they head off to classes. By helping in this ministry, you are a vital part in strengthening these youth on their walk with Christ. Knowing that you made this effort for them, the teens will be emboldened and strengthened in their faith even while the surrounding culture tells them to just follow the crowd. Click here to sign up.

Twenty Third Sunday in Ordinary Time

Mary’s Birthday. Today, September 8, is the Feast of the Nativity of Mary, Mary’s birthday. Of course we don’t celebrate this liturgically today, because it’s Sunday, “The Lord’s Day,” but that does not mean we can’t celebrate it otherwise. So have a piece of cake, or maybe a piece of blueberry pie (I hear that’s Mary’s favorite).
On my Mom’s birthday all her children used to try to spend time with her. Today, spend time with your Blessed Mom, Mary. Of course by praying to her and with her (a family Rosary would be a great idea!), but also by recognizing her presence with you, and thinking, “what should I being doing in this particular situation, knowing the Blessed Mother is here with me. How should I be acting? “
Also, give her a birthday gift. Maybe a prayer, a Rosary, an act of kindness to someone, going out of your way to avoid temptation and sin… Make this a beautiful day for our Blessed Mother.

More Bishop Scandals. The scandals will continue as long as the Vatican and Bishops refuse to recognize the corrupt bishops still in their midst who continue to exercise power and influence.
Bishop Zanchetta, Vatican. According to an article on cruxnow.com, by Inés San Martín, Aug 28, 2019. “Despite being investigated for allegations of having sexually abused two seminarians, an Argentinian bishop close to the pope has once again been allowed by a judge to travel to Rome. The judge said that Bishop Gustavo Zanchetta …has a document from the Vatican saying he must return to Rome “to continue with his daily work” – even though he has been suspended from his job. Crux can confirm that the document…is a certificate signed by Venezuelan Archbishop Edgar Peña Parra, the Substitute for the Vatican’s Secretariat of State….”
Bishop Joseph Hart, retired Bishop of Cheyenne. According another article by Christopher White, on that same website, same date: “….[P]olice in Cheyenne, Wyoming recommended to prosecutors that [Bishop Hart]…face criminal charges for the sexual abuse of minors. Prior to being named a bishop, Joseph Hart had served in the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph …Although his ecclesial career has spanned over five decades, serving in two states where he was widely popular, he has been trailed by allegations of serial abuse…
“Now…he not only faces criminal charges, where he could become the first U.S. bishop ever to face criminal prosecution for abuse, but also the possibility of being stripped of his title of bishop and removed from the clerical state as a church trial in the Vatican is also underway. Hart turns 88 in September…By 2019, the diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph had settled 10 cases of abuse against Hart. In two settlements alone – one in 2008 and another in 2014 – the diocese has paid out nearly $20 million dollars to more than 50 plaintiffs ….”
Mr. Ted McCarrick. Catholic News Service, Sep 3, 2019: “In an interview last month with Slate… Theodore McCarrick said he doesn’t believe he committed the acts of which he has been accused….McCarrick, 89…was dismissed from the clerical state in February 2019, after [a Church court] found him guilty of solicitation in the confessional, and sexual abuse of minors and adults, aggravated by abuse of power. ‘I’m not as bad as they paint me…I do not believe that I did the things that they accused me of.’”
The interview took place at, “the St. Fidelis Friary in Victoria, Kan….where he resides…[A] condition of his residence is that he remain on the grounds of the friary. …[H]e offered to pay out of pocket [for his room and board]…Fr. John Schmeidler…declined McCarrick’s offer.”
Ted still refuses to admit what everyone knows. According the article on Slate, he’s supposed to be living a “life of prayer and penance,” but an essential part of “penance” is admitting your sin! And why is he still living on Church property at the Church’s (i.e., parishioners’) expense? The Church never does this for any ordinary priest found guilty of abuse and de-frocked/laicized. Why the special treatment? The corruption continues.

New Year Begins. As summer ends all sorts of parish activities start up again. The coming days tell the tale and help us all begin on the right foot.
Parish Picnic. Next Sunday, September 15, we’ll have our annual Parish Picnic from 1-4pm here on the Parish grounds, behind the church. There’s Lots of food and fun for kids and adults alike—a great way to meet and get to know your fellow parishioners. For new parishioners (and visitors) this is a great opportunity to meet people and learn more about the parish; for the rest of us, this is one of the best chances we will have all year to welcome others into a deeper participation in the life and fellowship of our parish—don’t pass it up!
Religious Education (CCD). CCD begins this evening, September 8. Parents, don’t forget to bring your kids this evening, or on Monday or Tuesday, whichever day you’ve signed up for. If you haven’t registered yet, it’s not too late, but time is running out. Please see the bright green registration forms in the narthex, go to the parish website or call the RE office ASAP.
And Parents, remember CCD is meant to supplement the work you do with them at home. Parents are the primary educators of their children—especially in the Faith. CCD is just here to help you do that. But do not use CCD as an excuse to neglect your part. Instead take this as a time to renew your own personal commitment to teach your kids the Faith. Life is hard, but it’s a lot harder without Jesus and His Church. And in the end, the odds are they will not retain their faith when they grow up if you and we don’t do our very best to teach them the Faith when they are young.
I’m particularly looking forward to teenagers coming to our High School program, where they will encounter some especially talented, experienced and knowledgeable teachers. My goal for this program is to be informative, inspiring and challenging, but not a burden to the kids or parents. So, while I’m confident the classrooms will be lively and challenging, I also discourage assigning homework.
RCIA (“Convert Class”). Another program set to restart is the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (RCIA). Classes begin this Monday (tomorrow), September 9, at 7:30pm in the Rectory classroom (the “Maurer Room”).
If any adult you know is interested in becoming a Catholic, or is a Catholic in need of the sacrament of Confirmation (or First Communion and Confession) this is the course for them. Bob Ward, himself a convert many years ago, leads an information-packed discussion of the basics (and more) of the Catholic faith, and during the second semester Fr. Smith and I will join in teaching a few sessions. You can contact Bob and Bev Ward at 703-644-5873 or biblestudy@straymonds.org with any questions.
But the class is also designed to be a refresher course for all adult Catholics. So please consider joining this class—even on a week-to-week/topic-to-topic basis.

Oremus pro invicem. Fr. De Celles

Twenty Second Sunday in Ordinary Time

Happy Labor Day. This weekend our nation celebrates “Labor Day.” For some, this weekend is merely the end of Summer. But for many it’s a celebration of the hard work of so many Americans that has made our nation so successful in so many ways. We should rightly celebrate this, as “work” is one of the original gifts given to Man by God, as He gave Adam and Eve dominion (“lordship”) over all the earth and commanded them: “fill the earth and subdue it.” That “subduing” of the earth is the work/labor of Man, who was created in the image of the Creator. Man shares in God’s creative work by his labor, and when he works in ways consistent with God’s will, he grows in holiness.
Often, however, we don’t work in ways consistent with God’s will. Too often we work motivated by envy or greed. Sometimes we deceive or cheat our customers, co-workers, employers or employees. Sometimes we don’t give an honest day’s work for our wages, or we don’t pay fair wages to our workers. Sometimes we work too much and neglect our family and God, and sometimes we force our employees to do that. Some neglect work to engage in criminal activities or simple dependence on governments. Of course, some are retired after years of hard work, and some can’t work for a good reason—God bless them, and may they work in whatever way they can (volunteering, assisting friends, etc.) so that they may always participate in God’s creative work!

St. Frances Cabrini Isn’t Good Enough. Let me quote an article in the New York Post, on August 10:
“She was America’s first saint, a tireless advocate who founded an upstate orphanage, a school for girls in Washington Heights and 67 organizations for the needy in the late 1880s. But she wasn’t good enough to be named one of New York’s seven most important women.
“Francesca Xavier Cabrini and other female icons were denied honorary statues after a group controlled by First Lady [of New York City] Chirlane McCray tossed out the revered Catholic sister in favor of …a drag queen-turned-LGBTQ activist. This despite Cabrini getting the most votes in a poll of New Yorkers on who should be included. [Emphasis mine].
“‘The whole process was a charade,’ said Harriet Senie, who served on the panel that weighed the poll results and recommended to McCray that the city honor groups over individuals….
“The She Built NYC project, which started last summer when McCray set out to balance the male-female mix of statues of prominent New Yorkers, asked for the public’s input — and more than 1,800 suggestions poured in, with some 320 women nominated….
“Cabrini — who was known as Mother Cabrini and whose remains are entombed in a shrine at the former Mother Cabrini HS in Washington Heights — got 219 votes, which was tops.
“McCray, the wife of Mayor de Blasio, then formed a blue-ribbon panel to review the results and make its own recommendations on the seven winners, who will be memorialized by six monuments in the city, funded by about $5 million in taxpayer money.”
What more can I add to that. Imagine, an immigrant woman—one of the most prominent Americans of the 19th century, when women couldn’t even vote. A woman who worked untiringly to help other immigrants progress and assimilate into the American culture and economy. But she was a pious Catholic nun. She isn’t good enough for New York.

Cardinal Pell. Last week Cardinal George Pell, former Archbishop of Melbourne (Australia) and former Prefect of the Secretariat for the Economy (Vatican) lost his appeal of his criminal conviction on a charge of child abuse in 1990. He has announced that he will appeal this decision to Australia’s highest court.
I am publicly on record as having no patience or leniency for priests who sexually abuse children. My gut level (pre-reason) response tends to be beat them with a baseball bat and then call the police. Now, this is hyperbole, and emotional, not my last best moral judgment in sound reason. That judgment would be to try them, and then thrown them in prison for the rest of their lives.
But I also believe that some priests are erroneously accused, and some for malicious purposes. I could be wrong, but I think Cardinal Pell falls into this category.
In support of this let me cite the decision of the appellate court, which voted 2 to 1 for upholding the trial court’s conviction. Which means 1 appellate judge, Justice Mark Weinberg, voted to find Pell “not guilty.” I can’t reproduce his entire 200+ page dissent (almost twice as long as the opinion of the rest of the court), but consider some of Justice Weinberg’s remarks:
“From … the complainant’s evidence, it can be seen that there was ample material upon which his account could be legitimately subject to criticism. There were inconsistencies, and discrepancies, and a number of his answers simply made no sense…
“An unusual feature of this case was that it depended entirely upon the complainant being accepted, beyond reasonable doubt, as a credible and reliable witness…Yet the jury were invited to accept his evidence without there being any independent support for it.”
“All of these witnesses [defending Pell] were important, but there were some whose evidence was critical…It can fairly be said that their evidence, if accepted, would lead inevitably to acquittal…The same result would follow, even if the only finding that could be made was that their evidence, as regards the events in question, was a ‘reasonably possible’ account of what had occurred.”
As Chief Justice Anne Ferguson summarized from the bench: “In Justice Weinberg’s view, there was a significant body of cogent and, in some cases, impressive evidence suggesting that the complainant’s account was, in a realistic sense, ‘impossible’ to accept. To his mind, there is a significant possibility that the Cardinal may not have committed the offences. In those circumstances, Justice Weinberg stated that in his view the convictions could not stand.”
To see the full opinion: https://www.austlii.edu.au/cgi-bin/viewdoc/au/cases/vic/VSCA//2019/186.html

More Scandal. As reported by LifeSiteNews, August 15, 2019 [Emphasis mine]:
“The Archdiocese of Washington and the Diocese of Scranton have launched a “comprehensive investigation” into Monsignor Walter Rossi, the rector of the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception….
“The investigation was announced just one day after a young man asked D.C. Archbishop Wilton Gregory at an August 13 Theology on Tap event about misconduct allegations against Rossi and why they haven’t been investigated…
“Rossi is [a priest of] the Diocese of Scranton but has been the rector of the basilica since ex-cardinal Theodore McCarrick appointed him to that role in 2005. Rossi replaced now-Bishop Michael Bransfield….Earlier this year, accusations that Bransfield was a serial sexual harasser of young men were deemed “credible…Rossi has been working for the shrine in various capacities since 1997, according to his bio on its website.”
The article also reminds us that in June 2019, Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò accused Rossi of being, “without a doubt, a member of the ‘gay mafia.’”
Oremus pro invicem. Fr. De Celles

Twenty First Sunday in Ordinary Time

Back to School. Most of our kids are going back to school this week, so we need to keep them in prayer. Pray especially for the kids in public schools, schools which do not share many of our values and so often teach that our Catholic values are wrong, or even hateful.
Parents, remember to keep a watchful eye on what your kids are learning: do not abandon your precious children to strangers. Ask them what they’re learning, look at their assignments, participate in parent-teacher meetings. Remember to constantly reinforce Catholic values and teachings, especially be aware of the subtle ways some teachers can try to undermine them: e.g. the English paper about the “injustices against transgenderism.” But also, be supportive of good teachers and administrators who are trying to live their Christian faith in the schools.
For those of you in Fairfax County Public Schools, remember to “OPT OUT” of Family Life Education (FLE). You will find a link to this and other important forms on our website. As Bishop Burbidge wrote last year:
“As a community committed to proclaiming the truth about human life, dignity and sexuality, the Catholic Church in the Diocese of Arlington will continue its efforts to educate the public regarding the content of the FLE curriculum and encourage parents to exercise their God-given right to ‘opt-out’ their children from those lessons that distort the truth and are morally offensive.”
And remember to sign your kids up for CCD/Religious Education, and make sure you and they take this seriously. This is the most important school they will attend—learning about God, and how to live just lives, and how to get to heaven! Call to register today, or signup online at straymonds.org!
To “Kids.” I hope and pray that all of you “kids” have a wonderful year of growing in knowledge and wisdom. Apply yourself to your schoolwork, and to a reasonable amount of extracurricular activities, and strive to reach your God-given potential as best you can. But remember that as important as grades and victories, etc., are, it is even more important simply to learn. And to learn not just what’s in the books, but to learn how to think, using reason and good judgment. Always respect authority, but remember not to accept everything on face value, even if it might be written in a book or even taught by a nice teacher. Most especially, respect the authority of your parents, and the authority of Christ and His Church. I’m sorry to say, sometimes people (teachers, coaches, friends) with all good intentions, will tell you things that are just not right. Make sure you talk to your parents about what you’re learning in school, and what the people at school are doing and saying. God created us to live and learn first and foremost in the family, and our parents are our primary teachers. The family is the house of love: your parents love you more than any teacher or friend (as good as they are) could ever dream of—and Jesus loves you even more!

Remember what was said of our Lord when He was a 12-year-old: “Jesus advanced in wisdom and age and grace before God and men.” It’s not just about academics or sports: really growing requires advancing in wisdom and grace, becoming the great men and women God created you to be. So, let this be year of staying close to Christ and growing in holiness and your Catholic faith. Do good, and avoid all that is evil. Pray, and know that Jesus wants to give you all the grace you need. And have a great school year!

Name Calling. When I was a child my parents taught me the saying, “sticks and stones can break my bones, but names will never hurt me.” This doesn’t mean so much that it’s impossible for name-calling to ever hurt us, but rather that name-calling never really should hurt us. What do I care if someone is mean enough to use words to try to hurt me—why let them hurt me? if someone threw a punch at me, I would dodge it or block it—I wouldn’t let them connect. So why is it that if someone calls us hurtful names, more and more nowadays it seems we go out of our way to insist on being hurt by them?
This is especially the case when such words are thrown around in emotional fits of anger that often express merely the name-caller’s frustration, and not their true feelings about the other person. So, you get in an argument with your spouse, and they call you some ugly name—but they don’t mean it; they just mean, “I’m really frustrated with you right now.” So let’s not allow words to hurt us, especially when they clearly don’t mean what is said.
On the other hand, let’s be careful about calling other people names. Jesus tells us, “Anyone who says to a brother or sister, ‘Raca,’ is answerable to the court. And anyone who says, ‘You fool!’ will be in danger of the fire of hell” (Mt. 5:22). I understand that sometimes we have to use strong language to make your point, to be heard, so to speak (Jesus Himself did this, calling the Pharisees “vipers,” etc.). But sometimes strong language, especially name-calling, can have the opposite effect: it closes off all further communications.
Right now our country is very divided over many issues. I don’t know how to solve this (except everyone convert to following Christ and living in true charity with each other). But the solution to these divisions definitely does not involve name-calling or cutting off communication.
Now, sometimes name-calling isn’t done so much in anger, as it is an effort to identify a problem. For example, if someone is being a bigot, perhaps calling them a “bigot” draws attention to a real problem. But we have to be so careful here not to rush to rash judgments and find people guilty of wrongdoing (e.g., bigotry) without a due consideration, including considering the other person’s true perspective. For example, John may tell Mary that her behavior is wrong, even bad for Mary herself. But Mary might think, through rash judgment, that what John is doing is hating her/Mary, when in fact John loves Mary. Maybe John is wrong, but not out of hate. So Mary should not call John a “hater”—because that just hardens both of their hearts to each other.
Today we throw around words like “hater” and “bigot” and “racist” as if they were no more hurtful or uncalled for than saying someone is tall or short. If someone calls us a name like this, let’s not let it hurt us. But let’s also not be calling people names like this, or at least be very careful in doing so. Maybe, they can help identify a problem and facilitate solutions, but often we just use them simply to hurt someone, to vent frustration, or out of rash judgment.

Oremus pro invicem. Fr. De Celles

Twentieth Sunday in Ordinary Time

SUMMER WINDING DOWN. The end of summer is approaching. I, for one am sad to
see it go. I know most of the kids agree with me, although maybe some of you parents
don’t. I know for most of you school begins a little earlier this year. I hope you can have
one last week before that to rest and recreate a bit.
But I also know there’s lots of preparation to be done for the coming year. It’s
easy to let some things slip in this regard, especially aggravated by a certain sense of
denial and longing for the summer peace to continue. And then you find yourself in a
panic trying to get ready at the last minute.

Religious Education. One of the areas this affects the most is planning for our children’s
Religious Education, CCD. Every August I panic a bit as the RE/CCD office tells me that
registrations for the coming year are very low… And every September they shoot up to
more or less “normal” levels. But why would you put your poor Pastor through this?
Mary Salmon and Vince Drouillard have been hard at work for weeks preparing for the
new CCD school year which begins on Sunday, September 8. I am very excited about the
new year, especially our High School program.
Remember, parents are morally obliged to not only teach their children to love
Jesus but also to teach them what Jesus and His Church teach, to teach them about
Scripture and the Catechism. It’s very difficult for most parents to do this on their own in
any systematic and comprehensive way. Also I know many parents send their kids to
public schools. The problem is that the public schools present an environment and culture
that is in many ways antithetical to Christianity.
I know some of you parents went to public schools when you were younger and
don’t think they are so bad. But public schools have radically changed in the last 20
years—they are not the religiously neutral place they might have once been. I know this
is a particular problem for some of our immigrants from Catholic countries, some of
which actually taught Catholic doctrine in the public schools—public schools are not
like that in America, at all.
This is why I strongly encourages all Catholic parents to either homeschool their
kids or send them to Catholic schools. But, sadly, both of these are often too expensive or
otherwise impractical for parents. So they send their kids to public schools.
Fine, I respect your choice. But that still leaves you with the grave responsibility
to teach your children the faith in a comprehensive and systematic way, either at home
(with a real organized and thorough approach) or by sending them to CCD/Religious
education. And this obligation doesn’t end after 8 th grade: we have a great high school
CCD program.
Ask yourself: am I doing everything I can to get my kids to heaven, and keep them
out of hell? If you don’t educate them in the faith then the answer is almost certainly
“no,” which means you are risking not only the salvation of your children’s souls, but
your own soul as well..

Please, understand, I’m not trying to scare you. I just want you to know how
serious this is.

So many times I have parents complaining to me that when their kids grow up
they leave the Church and even fall into sinful lifestyles. Some of this is due to free will:
kids grow up and they can choose. But parents must do everything they reasonably can
do to make sure they have the tools and information to make a wise and informed choice.
So: SIGN YOUR KIDS UP FOR CCD NOW!!! Please. You can call or email
the office, or you can register online on our website.
And also—we can’t teach if we have no teachers!! We are in urgent need of
several catechists and aides. With all the problems in the world,

Nineteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Two More Mass Shootings. I know you all join with me in prayer for all the victims of the mass shootings in El Paso and Dayton last weekend. May the Lord grant eternal rest to those who were killed, and healing to those injured, and peace to all those effected by the attacks.
After yet another inexplicable vicious shooting, how can we not ask the question: what are the causes of this problem? Sadly, the initial reaction of many, especially leftist politicians and commentators, was not to ask that question, but to come with ready-made answers: it is the rise of “white nationalism” encouraged by President Trump. What a convenient, if wrong, answer for those folks who seem to have a completely knee-jerk hatred for the President.
So let’s begin with the question first: what is at the root of this problem? An excellent article by Valerie Richardson in the Washington Times last Monday, August 5, 2019, addressed this issue.
Is the cause of all these shootings white racism/nationalism? Richardson writes: “A May 2018 policy brief by the Rockefeller Institute of Government at the State University of New York…found that the perception that whites are responsible for nearly all mass shootings is a myth.…[T]he findings indicate that while a majority are [white], this proportion is just over half of the perpetrators (53.9 percent)…More than one in four shooters is black and nearly one in ten is of Hispanic descent…. The FBI has reported 850 domestic terrorism investigations, 40% of which involve racially motivated violent extremism, and most of those involve white supremacists….”
Is the mental illness the cause? “Amy Swearer, senior legal policy analyst at The Heritage Foundation, said about two-thirds of shooters are found to have serious mental problems but that the media coverage has focused on those with an ideological bent such as racism or nativism.”
What else is to blame? “…the uproar over white nationalism has shifted the focus from what some researchers describe as the biggest drivers of mass shootings, including family breakdown, childhood trauma, mental illness, workplace crises, access to weapons and a fascination with previous shooters glorified in the media.”
What do almost all these acts have in common? “The Rockefeller study found that 96% of shooters were male, which is in keeping with other research.”
Does this mean there’s something wrong with being a male? No. It means there’s something wrong with the way we’re raising young males. “Warren Farrell, author of “The Boy Crisis,” said boys with minimal or no father involvement, or with “really messed-up families,” represent the vast majority of mass shooters, Islamic State recruits and the male prison population. ‘Boys without a sense of purpose start searching for other senses of purpose, and that may be in the form of God, and then it’s constructive usually, or that may be in the form of, ‘I want Americans to be America and I don’t want any immigrants to come into the country,’…’”
The fundamental problem, in my opinion, is not the president, or racism or even guns. The problem is our culture, and the loss of the sense of purpose, and order, and of God. A problem aggravated in young males by the constant barrage of sexual/gender confusion thrown at them by the left, including treating masculinity almost as a disease (e.g., “toxic masculinity”).
Historically, young men and boys were taught by fathers and other male role models to focus their masculine energy on socially and morally productive ends: working hard to provide for a family, defending the nation, serving God in religion, etc. But now the number of boys raised in fatherless homes has soared, and masculinity is under assault from every angle.
What is the solution? Stronger families headed by a father and mother. Rebuilding the culture to respect the natural family structure, and a just authority and order, as well as the recognition of the real difference between males and females. Respect for free speech, and respectful free speech, so that we can vent our grievances calmly without feeling we have to resort to violence in speech or action. And above all, and undergirding all this, a return to recognition that God has created and ordered things a particular way, and we should reverently follow His direction.

Fr. Peter Odhiambo Okola, AJ. Many of you will fondly remember Fr. Peter Okola, a priest from Kenya who was in residence here for several years (2009-2011) and is now vicar at Holy Spirit in Annandale. I’m sad to report Fr. Peter has been diagnosed and is being treated for cancer. With faith in Jesus, I am hopeful of his full recovery, but I ask you to please keep him in your prayers.

Welcome to New Parishioners. Summer is always a time we lose and gain parishioners, especially those in the military. So I’d like to welcome all who have joined us in the last few months. I hope you find St. Raymond’s’ to be a welcoming parish, and encourage you to get involved in our many liturgies, committees, and activities.
One thing to know about our parish is that we place great importance on the Grace and Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist. Flowing from this you will find a pronounced emphasis on reverence, especially during Holy Mass, what I call “emphatic reverence.” Nowadays reverence is a lost virtue. The word “reverence” comes from the Latin for “fear,” “revere,” and scripture tells us, “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom.” But this kind of fear is not like being in terror or afraid, but rather of being in “awe”: recognizing that God is the all-powerful Creator and sustainer of the whole world, and I am just a little tiny speck in comparison—and yet, He loves me. So Christian reverence is fundamentally rooted in love.
So we go out of our way here in our liturgies to be reverent, to remind ourselves we are in presence of God, the God who loved us so much He became one of us and died for our sins on the Cross, and gave us the Eucharist to be with us always, even to enter into us, especially in the mystery of His Sacrifice.
To encourage this reverence we follow some ancient customs of the Church that set the liturgy apart as radically different from the mundane world we live in. For example, we sing traditional Catholic hymns, which are different than most contemporary liturgical music that incorporates so many aspects of modern secular music. And we use the ancient language of the Church, Latin, to remind us we’re doing something very different, in union with the Church all the way back to time of Jesus. And we incorporate beautiful vestments and vessels to remind us that Mass is a participation in the heavenly banquet come down to earth. And at many Masses the priest turns with the people, so that facing in the same way as them he leads them in prayer before the Most High God.
It’s a little different. But then again, so is God. Welcome to St. Raymond’s.

Oremus pro invicem. Fr. De Celles

Eighteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Prayers Before and After Mass. It is a good and very helpful practice to arrive a little early before Mass to pray in preparation, and also to remain a while afterwards to pray in thanksgiving. Of course, you can pray in whatever words you want, but to assist us, the Church has handed down various prayers we might want to say. In particular, these two beautiful prayers of St. Thomas Aquinas are commended to us in the Roman Missal (feel free to cut these out and save them, these can also be found in the back of the St. Michael Hymnal):

Before Mass. Almighty eternal God, behold, I come to the Sacrament of your Only Begotten Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, as one sick to the physician of life, as one unclean to the fountain of mercy, as one blind to the light of eternal brightness, as one poor and needy to the Lord of heaven and earth.
I ask, therefore, for the abundance of your immense generosity, that you may graciously cure my sickness, wash away my defilement, give light to my blindness, enrich my poverty, clothe my nakedness, so that I may receive the bread of Angels, the King of kings and Lord of lords, with such reverence and humility, such contrition and devotion, such purity and faith, such purpose and intention as are conducive to the salvation of my soul.
Grant, I pray, that I may receive not only the Sacrament of the Lord’s Body and Blood, but also the reality and power of that Sacrament.
O most gentle God, grant that I may so receive the Body of your Only Begotten Son our Lord Jesus Christ, which He took from the Virgin Mary, that I may be made worthy to be incorporated into His Mystical Body and to be counted among its members.
O most loving Father, grant that I may at last gaze forever upon the unveiled face of your beloved Son, whom I, a wayfarer, propose to receive now veiled under these species: Who lives and reigns with you for ever and ever. Amen.

After Mass. I give you thanks, Lord, holy Father, almighty and eternal God, who have been pleased to nourish me, a sinner and your unworthy servant, with the precious Body and Blood of your Son, our Lord Jesus Christ: this through no merits of mine, but due solely to the graciousness of your mercy.
And I pray that this Holy Communion may not be for me an offense to be punished, but a saving plea for forgiveness. May it be for me the armor of faith, and the shield of good will. May it cancel my faults, destroy concupiscence and carnal passion, increase charity and patience, humility and obedience and all the virtues, may it be a firm defense against the snares of all my enemies, both visible and invisible, the complete calming of my impulses, both of the flesh and of the spirit, a firm adherence to you, the one true God, and the joyful completion of my life’s course.
And I beseech you to lead me, a sinner, to that banquet beyond all telling, where with your Son and the Holy Spirit you are the true light of your Saints, fullness of satisfied desire, eternal gladness, consummate delight and perfect happiness. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.

August: The Month of Saints. This time of year that falls between the great liturgical Seasons of Easter and Advent is called “Ordinary Time”. Some think we call it “ordinary” because nothing “special” happens during this time. But the term “ordinary” here refers simply to the fact that we count off the weeks of this part of the year according to their “ordinal number” (“first,” “second,” “third”… “eighteenth”).
In fact, there is nothing at all ordinary this time of year, especially this month of August, which is filled with more liturgical feast days (26 out of 31 days) than any other month.
Of course this coming Tuesday, the 6th, we celebrate the Feast of the Transfiguration, and later on we celebrate the Assumption of Mary (15th), and the Queenship of Mary (22nd). But the month also contains feasts of some of the Church’s most extraordinary and important saints.
Today (Sunday, the 4th) is the feast of St. John Vianney, patron of parish priests. (Pray for your priests especially today!)
Then there’s the great founders or reformers of religious orders. St. Dominic (8th): founder of the Dominicans and friend of our own Dominican, St. Raymond. There’s St. Claire of Assisi (11th), founder of the Poor Clares. And of course the great St. Bernard of Clairvaux (20th), Doctor of the Church, great reformer of the Benedictines and the whole medieval Church. Also: St. Jane Frances de Chantal (12th) founder of the Visitation Sisters; St. John Eudes (19th) (my name saint and patron), founder of the Eudists and first promoter of liturgical devotion to the Sacred and Immaculate Hearts; St. Cajetan (7th), founder of the Theatines; and St. Peter Julian Eymard (2nd), founder of the Congregation of the Blessed Sacrament.
We have the great saints of ancient times: St. Bartholomew the Apostle (24th), and St. Eusebius (2nd); and St. Lawrence (10th) who was martyred over a fiery pit, making light of his suffering: “I’m done on this side, you can turn me over!” And we have great saints of modern times: St. Edith Stein, also known as St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross (9th) and St. Maximilian Kolbe (14th)—both powerful witnesses to the truth and love of Christ, and martyred in the Nazi concentration camps.
Also the illustrious saintly kings: St. Stephen (16th) first king of Hungary, and St. Louis (25th), the pious king of France. And the holy Popes: St. Sixtus II (7th), St. Pontian (13th), and St. Pius X (21st). And lest we forget the tiny but magnificent flower of Peru, patroness of all Latin America, St. Rose of Lima (23rd).

And then there’s the Dedication of St. Mary Major (5th), honoring Mary under the title of Our Lady of the Snows; and St. Hippolytus (13th). who was the first anti-pope, but who repented, in the 3rd century.

And we close the month in a flourish: St. Monica (27th) patroness of parents whose children seem to be lost to sin, and mother of St. Augustine (28th) who was the worst of sinners before becoming the most revered Church Father and the Church’s greatest theologian. And finally, we celebrate the Beheading of St. John the Baptist (29th), of whom Christ said there was “no greater man born of a woman.”
There is nothing ordinary about “Ordinary Time”—especially August, this month of incredible saints. Each of them is our brother and sister in Christ, living in heaven with Christ—and from there loving, protecting and interceding for us. And each is teaching us something special and unique about what it means to follow Christ, and to love Him above all things. These holy ones call to us from the ages and from heaven to talk to them in prayer, study their lives and imitate their example. Take time to answer their call—each day in this extraordinary and holy month of August!

Oremus pro invicem. Fr. De Celles