Seventeenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

LITURGICAL CHANGES AT ST. RAYMOND’S. After prayerful consideration, and wide consultation, I have decided to make some adjustments to the celebration of Mass. Please understand, my own personal preferences may affect how I do things myself, but I won’t, and don’t, impose my personal preferences on what you do. So when I do introduce a change to what you do, it is only because I truly believe, it is best for the parish—for you.
Sign of Peace. Three months ago I asked for your input on the possibility of changing the way we exchange the sign of peace. This was motivated by my continuing concern that if the exchange is given, it should be done reverently and not distract our attention from the Eucharist.
One possibility would be to omit the exchange altogether. As an alternative I suggested: “perhaps we might turn only to the person on our left and right (so, just 2 people) and, with folded hands, give a slight bow of the head or shoulders, much like the servers do when they serve the priest at the altar. This might be a nice compromise…”
I was very pleased with the number and quality of the responses—thank you all! All told, I received about 70 emails, letters or phone messages, more responses than on any subject I’ve ever heard from you on. It was not a vote, but I can say that about one-quarter favored dropping the exchange altogether, and over one-half favored changing it to the bow I proposed. So, 77% favored some real change.
I have prayed and thought an awful lot about this, and although I am personally inclined to omit the exchange all together, I have decided that we will keep the exchange of the sign of peace on Sundays, but will adopt a new way of doing it. Effective Sunday, August 12, I ask and strongly encourage that from now on when the priest says “Let us offer each other the sign of peace”:
— Each congregant turn only to only two people, the persons on their left and right and (ideally, but not necessarily, with folded hands) give a slight bow of the head or shoulders.
— Although it will be discouraged, if someone feels moved to do something else (e.g., shake hands or hug their family members) they will not be ostracized or reprimanded at all; but they should also respect the choices of others to bow or not to respond to the offer of a handshake.
— The exchange of the sign of peace will cease immediately when the Agnus Dei begins.
— After a short period of adjustment, cards will be printed up and put in the pews to inform new parishioners and visitors of our practice.
This will take some time to get used to, I know. And for some it may be difficult. But I ask you all to try to cooperate in charity, as brothers and sisters in Christ.

Altar Rail. For the last year we’ve been using our portable altar rail for Communion at all the 8:45 Masses. Eight weeks ago, I asked for your input on extending the use of the altar rail to all Masses. The number of responses were considerably less than the numbers discussed above, but almost all were enthusiastically positive to my suggestion.
So, I have decided that effective Sunday, September 2, the portable altar rails/kneelers will remain in front of the sanctuary all the time for all the Masses. So that at every Mass for Communion the people will come up the main aisle as usual, but then spread out to the left and right at the altar rail, either kneeling or standing (their choice), to receive Communion. Communion will continue to be distributed in the transepts as usual, i.e., no altar rail.
As I’ve discussed before, my primary reason for this change is very simple: to accommodate the popular demand/desire that many people have to exercise their right to kneel to receive Holy Communion. Kneeling without a kneeler is difficult and time-consuming, and therefore discourages most people who would like to kneel to receive. This is unjust. Moreover, with up to 8 people at-a-time standing/kneeling at the long rail, there is no need to rush to get out of the next person’s way. So by adding the Communion Rail, everyone can receive comfortably the way they want, kneeling or standing.
But let me be frank: I believe there are also great spiritual reasons for kneeling to receive Our Lord. As Cardinal Sarah has written: “For if, as St Paul teaches, ‘at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth’ (Phil. 2:10), how much more should we bend our knees when we come to receive the Lord Himself in the most sublime and intimate act of Holy Communion!”
Ad Orientem. For the last year we’ve celebrated the 10:30 Mass on the First Sunday of every month using the “Ad Orientem” form—that is, the priest facing in the same direction as the people (“to the East,” or toward the apse/tabernacle). Effective Sunday, September 16, I have decided to extend this practice to the 10:30 Mass on every Third Sunday of every month as well (so, 1st and 3rd Sundays).
I remind you that this practice goes back to the early Christians’ custom of facing East when they prayed, symbolically waiting for the second coming of the Son of God, like the rising of the Sun in the East. This was soon incorporated into the Mass of the early Church and became the norm for most of Christian history, until the 1960s.
But the most important reason for facing “ad orientem” is that the priest turns with the people to face toward and pray to God together with them. As the second half of the Mass begins, the “Liturgy of the Eucharist,” the priest is no longer talking to the people, as when he proclaims the Gospel and homily, but rather now he turns with them and leads them in prayer toward God. All this emphasizes the prayerful nature—the adoration and reverence—of the Mass, especially during the Liturgy of the Eucharist.
Monthly Holy Hour for Life, Liberty and Marriage. For the last 5½ years we’ve had a Holy Hour on the last Wednesday of the month to pray for the defense of unborn human life, religious liberty and the dignity of marriage. During that period we’ve seen many discouraging but also many encouraging developments related to these issues, especially with the change of federal administrations, and the nomination of Supreme Court Justices. We thank God for this, and we acknowledge the power of prayer.
However, sometimes initiatives in parishes lose their appeal over time. As one wise and prudent parishioner told me, “It is hard to sprint for the long run.” So, I’ve decided to forego the Monthly Holy Hour for the time being. I’m thinking I may reinstitute it in the future, probably on a different day, and with a different emphasis. Thanks for all who have supported the Holy Hour, and keep praying for these intentions.

Oremus pro invicem. Fr. De Celles

Sixteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

50th Anniversary of Humanae Vitae. This coming Wednesday, July 25, is the 50th Anniversary of Humanae Vitae, Pope Paul VI’s 1968 encyclical reaffirming the ancient and apostolic teaching of the Church that contraception is a grave sin. In the years since, his words have been largely ignored by the world, even by Catholics. But they still remain as true today as ever. Moreover, his explanations of the reasons for and the consequences of disregarding this teaching have been proven out over the years. He warned that it would lead to increased sexual infidelity and “the general lowering of morality,” especially among young men, and that eventually men would lose respect for women, seeing them only as object of selfish enjoyment. Elsewhere he would specifically point to the immediate connection between contraception and abortion.
Over the last 50 years we have seen this all bear out as we’ve seen the dramatic and catastrophic increase in (to name a few): divorces, marital infidelity, pornography, abortion, prostitution, teenage pregnancy and promiscuity, child abuse, wife abuse, and acceptance of homosexuality and transgenderism.
At the same time Pope Paul recognized that it was morally acceptable, for a just reason, to “regulate birth” using methods that take into account the “natural rhythms” of the fertility cycle of women. Today several highly scientific methods are available to couples in this regard. Usually referred to together as “Natural Family Planning” (NFP) they are very effective in both postponing and promoting conception. They have the full approval of the Church, and we actively promote their proper use.
Mark Your Calendars: Humanae Vitae Conference on September 8. To more deeply consider the meaning of Humanae Vitae, and the ramifications of contraception in general, St. Raymond’s will be sponsoring a conference to commemorate its 50th anniversary on Saturday, September 8. Speakers will include Fr. Tad Pacholzyk, Ph.D., Director of Education at The National Catholic Bioethics Center in Philadelphia; Dr. Robert Royal, Editor-in-Chief of The Catholic Thing, and President of the Faith & Reason Institute in Washington, D.C.; and Bob and Gerri Laird—Bob is Vice President for Program Development at The Cardinal Newman Society, and Gerri is a nationally known speaker and writer on marriage and family. I am really excited about this conference and hope you will be able to join us. Stay tuned for more information.
Pull Quotes. Below follows a few short quotes from Humanae Vitae. I encourage you to read (or reread) this important teaching document in toto (it’s relatively short: only about 20 pages). To that end, we have placed free copies of the encyclical near the doors of the church. Take and read.

A few important quotes from Humanae Vitae:
11. …the Church, calling men back to the observance of the norms of the natural law, as interpreted by their constant doctrine, teaches that each and every marriage act must remain open to the transmission of life. [Note: the term “marriage act” presumes this act belongs only in marriage, and so applies to that same act when it wrongly takes place outside of marriage].
16. Now, some may ask: …is it not reasonable …to have recourse to artificial birth control if, thereby, we secure the harmony and peace of the family, and better conditions for the education of the children already born? To this question it is necessary to reply with clarity: the Church is the first to praise and recommend the intervention of intelligence in a function which so closely associates the rational creature with his Creator; but she affirms that this must be done with respect for the order established by God. If, then, there are just motives to space out births, which derive from the physical or psychological conditions of husband and wife, or from external conditions, the Church teaches that it is then licit to take into account the natural rhythms immanent in the generative functions, for the use of marriage in the infecund periods only, and in this way to regulate birth without offending the moral principles which have been recalled earlier….
17. …reflect upon the consequences of methods of artificial birth control. ….first of all, how wide and easy a road would thus be opened up towards conjugal infidelity and the general lowering of morality…[M]en—especially the young….—have need of encouragement to be faithful to the moral law, so that they must not be offered some easy means of eluding its observance. It is also to be feared that the man…may finally lose respect for the woman and, no longer caring for her physical and psychological equilibrium, may come to the point of considering her as a mere instrument of selfish enjoyment, and no longer as his respected and beloved companion…Let it be considered also that a dangerous weapon would thus be placed in the hands of those public authorities …Who could blame a government for applying [contraception] to the solution of the problems of the community…? from even imposing …contraception…?

St. Mary Magdalene. Today, July 22, would normally be the feast of this great saint, but because it falls on Sunday this year its celebration is suppressed in favor of the Lord’s Day. According to ancient Catholic tradition Mary was the sister of Lazarus and Martha, who grew up innocently enough in the small town of Bethany, but somehow left home and fell into a life mired in debauchery and filled with all seven deadly sins. In God’s mercy, however, she eventually heard Jesus preaching and was transformed by His words, grace and love, and her faith in and love for Him (“she has loved much”) led her to become the great repentant servant of the Lord Jesus, who would go on to stand at the foot of the Cross, be the first to see the Risen Christ, and the first to proclaim the Resurrection, even to the Apostles themselves.
It seems to me that the Magdalene is a great patron of all the women who are so debased by today’s overly sexualized and perverted culture. Although we don’t know the details of her sins, her life of sin would seem to have most certainly involved sexual sins. Having a longstanding tender affection for Magdalene, I tend to think she must have been corrupted and used by some man, causing her to fall from the graces of her family, and deeper into sin. In all this she would seem to be much like so many girls and women of our age, where so many overtly try to corrupt them and promote their sexual abuse. But most importantly, she reminds us of the saving power of the love and grace of Jesus, who lifted her up from sin and raised her to be the great saint of the Resurrection.
I particularly propose this great St. Mary Magdalene to all who struggle with contraception—women and men alike. May she help you to end the abuse of sexuality it represents and promotes, and may she lead you to the life of grace and true love in Christ.

Oremus pro invicem, et Sancta Maria Magdalena, ora pro nobis. Fr. De Celles

Fifteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Supreme Court Nominee. Back in October of 2016, just before the last Presidential election, I wrote: “I see this election as voting mainly for the Supreme Court. As I’ve said before, the Justices (Judges) on the Supreme Court are the most powerful people in our government, as they regularly uphold or throw out decisions by our elected officials—both the President and those in Congress—as well as decades, centuries, and millennia of precedents and common sense assumptions of Western Society. For example, it was one vote (on a 5 to 4 vote), so one Justice, who overturned the immemorial unanimous belief that marriage was only between a male and female and it was one vote/Justice who kept abortion a fundamental inalienable right….And that’s what it comes down to for me: The Supreme Court and abortion, traditional marriage, religious liberty/freedom of conscience, and the attack on common sense (the transgendered issue). And the next President will select up to 4 members of the Supreme Court.”
On Wednesday, June 27, Justice Anthony Kennedy announced his retirement from the Supreme Court. When he was nominated to the court in 1988 by President Reagan, Kennedy did not have a clear track record on the bench and was not very well known, but the people thought he would be a strong pro-life and traditional values Justice, since he was reputed to be a “conservative” and a faithful Catholic. But Kennedy proved to be a huge disappointment. He was the “one vote,” the “one Justice,” I was writing about in October, who redefined marriage and upheld the right to abortion.
To replace him, President Trump has nominated Judge Brett Kavanaugh. Like Kennedy, Kavanaugh comes to us with a reputation for being a conservative and a faithful Catholic. But unlike Kennedy, Kavanaugh is extremely well known to pro-life, pro-religious liberty and pro-traditional marriage lawyers as being one of them. I do not know him personally, but have spoken to several very close and trusted friends of mine who do know him very well, and they all vehemently assure me that Kavanaugh is the real deal. Praised be Jesus Christ!
When many of us voted in November of 2016, we were voting not so much for either of the troubling candidates, but for the Supreme Court Justices they would appoint. President Trump, love him or hate him, has fulfilled his promise to appoint pro-life,etc. justices, in both Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh.
Unfortunately, the radical left has come unhinged, and are pledging to pull out all the stops to keep Kavanaugh from being approved by the Senate. With the increased vitriolic language and violent behavior of the left in the last year or so, I am greatly afraid for our nation, and especially for the wellbeing of Judge Kavanaugh and his family.
So I ask you to pray to Our Lord, with the intercession of Our Lady, that the process of Senate consent will be peaceful and just, and render a choice compatible with His Holy Will. “All things are possible for God.” In particular, I encourage you to pray to the two patron saints of lawyers, St. Thomas More and St. Raymond of Peñafort. I especially recommend the daily recitation of the new Prayer to St. Raymond of Peñafort:
“Glorious Saint Raymond of Peñafort, wise and holy patron, come to the aid of those entrusted to your care, and all who flee to your protection. Intercede for us in our need, and help us through your prayers, example, and teaching, to proclaim the truth of the Gospel to all we meet. And when we have reached the fullness of our years, we beseech you to guide us home to heaven, to live in peace with you, Our Mother Mary, and Our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.”

Brown Scapular. Tomorrow, Monday, July 16, is the feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, memorializing the apparition of the Blessed Virgin Mary to St. Simon Stock, a Carmelite priest, and her gift to him of the “Brown Scapular” on July 16, 1251. (The original Carmelite Brown Scapular is a long piece of fabric, as wide as the shoulders, worn down the front and back (reaching down to the feet) with a hole in the center for the head). “Take, beloved son,” she said, “this Scapular of your order as a badge of my confraternity and for you and all Carmelites a special sign of grace; whoever dies in this garment, will not suffer everlasting fire. It is the sign of salvation, a safeguard in dangers, a pledge of peace and of the covenant.” The Carmelites immediately began to wear this Scapular as part of their regular habit, and very soon many non-Carmelites, both lay and cleric, also began to wear it, usually in a smaller form of a two small pieces of cloth bound by two strings, worn around the neck, hanging down in front and back. This practice continues to this day.
From the beginning, it was understood that in order to participate in Our Lady’s promises the wearer of the Scapular must be officially associated with the Carmelite order. So the Carmelites established the “Confraternity of the Blessed Virgin of Mount Carmel,” which any Catholic may be enrolled in through a short ceremony conducted by a priest.
Even so, the Scapular is in no way a “a good luck charm.” Rather, as Pope Pius XII wrote, it “is a sign and a pledge of the protection of the Mother of God.” And as St. John Paul II wrote, it is a sign that evokes “the awareness that devotion to her cannot be limited to prayers and tributes in her honor on certain occasions, but must become a ‘habit’, that is, a permanent orientation of one’s own Christian conduct, woven of prayer and interior life, through frequent reception of the sacraments and the concrete practice of the spiritual and corporal works of mercy.”
Moreover, the wearer of the Scapular may not “think that they can gain eternal salvation while remaining sinful and negligent of spirit.” You can’t live a sinful life presuming that the Scapular will erase all sins on your death bed. Rather, the Scapular is more a pledge of the Blessed Mother’s intercession at the moment of death, to obtain for us from her Son the grace necessary to repent of any mortal sins. But grace is not magic, it is a gift that we must accept. The soul that lives a life of sin is less disposed to accept (or even strongly disposed to reject) that grace.
Note: the promises of Our Lady are private revelations, and so not something we have to believe. Moreover, they should only be understood in the light of Church teaching. Even so, confidence in her promises, and wearing of the scapular, has been strongly promoted by scores of popes.
With this in mind, we will be enrolling folks in the Confraternity and investing them with the Brown Scapular today, July 15, after both the 8:45 and 10:30 Mass. Scapulars will be provided, or you may bring your own.

Oremus pro invicem, Fr. De Celles

Litany and Prayer to St. Raymond of Peñafort

Litany and Prayer to St. Raymond of Peñafort

Lord have mercy, Lord have mercy.
Christ have mercy, Christ have mercy,
Lord have mercy, Lord have mercy.

Christ, hear us. Christ, graciously hear us.

St. Raymond of Peñafort, pray for us.
Master of Preachers, …
Patron of Lawyers, …
Father of Confessors, …
Counselor of Penitents, …
Apostle to Gentiles, …
Evangelist to Israelites, …
Ransomer of Captives, …
Teacher of the Learned and the Ignorant, …
Friend of Princes and Paupers, …
Protector of Sailors, …
Comforter of the Aged, ….
Defender of Marriage, …
Champion of Religious Rights, …
Advocate of Reason, …
Guardian of Justice, …
Promoter of Freedom, …
Worker of Miracles, …

Son of the Blessed Virgin Mary, …
Son of St. Dominic, …
Son of the Church, …
Holy Priest of Jesus Christ, …

Lamb of God, Who takes away the sins of the world, Spare us, O Lord.
Lamb of God, Who takes away the sins of the world, Graciously hear us, O Lord.
Lamb of God, Who takes away the sins of the world, Have mercy on us.

Let us pray. Glorious Saint Raymond of Peñafort, wise and holy patron,
come to the aid of those entrusted to your care,
and all who flee to your protection.
Intercede for us in our need,
and help us through your prayers, example, and teaching,
to proclaim the truth of the Gospel to all we meet.
And when we have reached the fullness of our years,
we beseech you to guide us home to heaven,
to live in peace with you, Our Mother Mary, and Our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.

Imprimatur: Most Reverend Michael F. Burbidge, Bishop of Arlington, June 22, 2018

Fourteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

4 th of July. Thanks be to God for the many gifts He has showered on our beloved nation.
Some thoughts below about His role in our nation’s history.
Pope Saint John Paul II, Welcome to the New American Ambassador to the Holy
See, December 16, 1997 (excerpt)
The Founding Fathers of the United States asserted their claim to freedom and
independence on the basis of certain “self-evident” truths about the human person:
truths which could be discerned in human nature, built into it by “nature’s God.” Thus
they meant to bring into being, not just an independent territory, but a great experiment
in what George Washington called “ordered liberty”…. Reading the founding documents
of the United States, one has to be impressed by the concept of freedom they enshrine: a
freedom designed to enable people to fulfill their duties and responsibilities toward the
family and toward the common good of the community. Their authors clearly understood
that there could be no true freedom without moral responsibility and accountability, and
no happiness without respect and support for the natural units or groupings through
which people exist, develop, and seek the higher purposes of life in concert with others.
The American democratic experiment has been successful in many ways. …But the
continuing success of American democracy depends on the degree to which each new
generation, native-born and immigrant, makes its own the moral truths on which the
Founding Fathers staked the future of your Republic.
….Respect for religious conviction played no small part in the birth and early
development of the United States. Thus John Dickinson, Chairman of the Committee for
the Declaration of Independence, said in 1776: “Our liberties do not come from
charters; for these are only the declaration of preexisting rights. They do not depend on
parchments or seals; but come from the King of Kings and the Lord of all the earth.”
Indeed it may be asked whether the American democratic experiment would have been
possible, or how well it will succeed in the future, without a deeply rooted vision of divine
providence over the individual and over the fate of nations.
George Washington's First Inaugural Address, April 30, 1789 (excerpt)
…it would be peculiarly improper to omit in this first official Act, my fervent
supplications to that Almighty Being who rules over the Universe, who presides in the
Councils of Nations, and whose providential aids can supply every human defect, that his
benediction may consecrate to the liberties and happiness of the People of the United
States, a Government instituted by themselves for these essential purposes: and may
enable every instrument employed in its administration to execute with success, the
functions allotted to his charge. In tendering this homage to the Great Author of every
public and private good I assure myself that it expresses your sentiments not less than my
own; nor those of my fellow-citizens at large, less than either. No People can be bound to
acknowledge and adore the invisible hand, which conducts the Affairs of men more than
the People of the United States. Every step, by which they have advanced to the character
of an independent nation, seems to have been distinguished by some token of providential
agency. And in the important revolution just accomplished in the system of their United

Government, the tranquil deliberations and voluntary consent of so many distinct
communities, from which the event has resulted, cannot be compared with the means by
which most Governments have been established, without some return of pious gratitude
along with an humble anticipation of the future blessings which the past seem to presage.
These reflections, arising out of the present crisis, have forced themselves too strongly on
my mind to be suppressed. You will join with me I trust in thinking, that there are none
under the influence of which, the proceedings of a new and free Government can more
auspiciously commence.
By the article establishing the Executive Department, it is made the duty of the
President "to recommend to your consideration, such measures as he shall judge
necessary and expedient." …[T]he foundations of our National policy will be laid in the
pure and immutable principles of private morality; and the pre-eminence of a free
Government, be exemplified by all the attributes which can win the affections of its
Citizens, and command the respect of the world.
I dwell on this prospect with every satisfaction which an ardent love for my
Country can inspire: since there is no truth more thoroughly established, than that there
exists in the economy and course of nature, an indissoluble union between virtue and
happiness, between duty and advantage, between the genuine maxims of an honest and
magnanimous policy, and the solid rewards of public prosperity and felicity: Since we
ought to be no less persuaded that the propitious smiles of Heaven, can never be expected
on a nation that disregards the eternal rules of order and right, which Heaven itself has
ordained: And since the preservation of the sacred fire of liberty, and the destiny of the
Republican model of Government, are justly considered as deeply, perhaps
as finally staked, on the experiment entrusted to the hands of the American people….
Having thus imparted to you my sentiments, as they have been awakened by the
occasion which brings us together, I shall take my present leave; but not without
resorting once more to the benign parent of the human race, in humble supplication….so
his divine blessing may be equally conspicuous in the enlarged views, the temperate
consultations, and the wise measures on which the success of this Government must
depend.
George Washington's Farewell Address, September 17, 1796 (excerpt)
Of all the dispositions and habits, which lead to political prosperity, Religion and
Morality are indispensable supports. In vain would that man claim the tribute of
Patriotism, who should labor to subvert these great pillars of human happiness, these
firmest props of the duties of Men and Citizens. The mere Politician, equally with the
pious man, ought to respect and to cherish them. A volume could not trace all their
connections with private and public felicity. Let it simply be asked, Where is the security
for property, for reputation, for life, if the sense of religious obligation desert the oaths,
which are the instruments of investigation in Courts of Justice? And let us with caution
indulge the supposition, that morality can be maintained without religion. Whatever may
be conceded to the influence of refined education on minds of peculiar structure, reason
and experience both forbid us to expect, that national morality can prevail in exclusion of

religious principle.
It is substantially true, that virtue or morality is a necessary spring of popular
government. The rule, indeed, extends with more or less force to every species of free
government. Who, that is a sincere friend to it, can look with indifference upon attempts
to shake the foundation of the fabric?
Oremus pro invicem, et pro patria. Fr. De Celles

Thirteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Lighting Work Begins This Week. Remember that the work to install our new lighting
will begin this Monday, July 2, and will finish by September 1. The upstairs church will
be closed from Monday through Friday every week, and the Blessed Sacrament, Masses,
etc., will be moved to the downstairs Parish Hall during the week. The church will be
reopened every Saturday morning and all weekend Masses, etc. will be in the church as
usual. Thanks for your patience and cooperation. And please pray to St. Raymond that all
goes well with the lighting “fix” (see below).
Supreme Court Win for Pro-Lifers. “The US Supreme Court has struck down a portion
of a California law that requires [pro-life] pregnancy-help centers to provide women
with promotional material about abortion. Writing for a 5-4 majority, Justice Clarence
Thomas said: ‘California cannot co-opt the licensed facilities to deliver its message.’ The
decision, on free-speech grounds, suggests that pro-life forces will also succeed to
challenging similar legislation in Illinois and in Hawaii” [source: Catholic World News).
Praised be Jesus Christ!
Litany and Prayer to St. Raymond of Peñafort. In today’s bulletin we’ve included an
insert with a new Litany and Prayer to St. Raymond. I encourage you to incorporate at
least the “Prayer” at the end of the Litany into your regular daily prayers, and so draw
closer to our great Saint. I’d especially like you all to pray at least the prayer every day
during the electrical work in the church.
For years, I have been looking for a good prayer to our Saint, but have been
unsatisfied with what I’ve found. So, I thought I’d try to write something original, and I
am thankful to Bishop Burbidge for quickly giving his imprimatur so that it can be
prayed publicly in the Church.
A lot of Catholics have no idea who St. Raymond was, and most of those who do
think of him as simply a great Canon Lawyer. But, of course, he was much more than
that. So let’s look at the litany and prayer and consider what it’s trying to recall.
Let’s begin with the titles of the Litany:
— “Master of Preachers,” reminds us both that he was a phenomenal preacher and
the head (“Master General”) of the religious order called the “Order of Preachers”—the
Dominicans.
— “Patron of Lawyers,” reminds us of his role in editing and combining all the
various laws of the Church written over 11 centuries in order to issue a well-organized
and codified set of laws for the Church. He is called “Father of Canon Law,” and is
officially the patron saint of all lawyers.
— “Father of Confessors” and “Counselor of Penitents,” remind of his great
treatise, Summa de casibus poenitentiae, written as a scholarly guide for priests in the
confessional.
— “Apostle to Gentiles,” reminds us of his work to convert Spanish Moors
(Muslims, i.e., the “Gentiles” of his day), especially through thoughtful preaching, and of
his encouraging St. Thomas Aquinas to write his great treatise, Summa contra Gentiles,
to help in this regard.

— “Evangelist to Israelites,” reminds of his work to respectfully convert Spanish
Jews; it is said that he was responsible for the conversion of over 30,000 Moors and Jews.
— “Ransomer of Captives,” reminds us of his role in the foundation of Order of
Mercy, or Mercedarians, who were dedicated to ransoming Christian captives of the
Moorish pirates, even offering their own lives in exchange.
— “Teacher of the Learned and the Ignorant,” reminds of his ability to preach to
the well-educated as he was a university professor for many years, and to the under-
educated as he preached in Churches to the masses.
— “Friend of Princes and Paupers,” reminds of us his influential friendship with
people in high places, such as Kings and Popes, as well as his kindness and tenderness to
the poor and lowly.
— “Protector of Sailors,” recalls the miracle of Majorca, where, by the grace of
God, he turned his cape into both skiff and sail, to flee the island and sail to Spain.
— “Comforter of the Aged,” reminds us that he lived to be either 99 or 100 years
old, and is an example of Christian fidelity for the aged, as well as a special friend to
them.
— “Defender of Marriage,” reminds both of his important scholarly treatise,
Summa on Marriage, and his public rebuke of King James’ infidelity in Majorca (see
“Protector of Sailors,” above).
— “Champion of Religious Rights,” “Advocate of Reason,” and “Promoter of
Freedom,” all remind us how, in efforts to convert Jews and Muslims, he encouraged
reasoned discussion, including the famous public debate involving the leading Rabbi of
Spain in 1263. Although not up to modern standards, Raymond’s efforts represented
remarkable strides for religious rights and freedom of speech for his time.
— “Guardian of Justice,” reminds us that as one of the Church’s most expert
scholars of law as well as the Penitentiary of the Church, he was a historical promoter of
justice in both civil society and the Church, exercising his influence in a particular way
over Popes and Kings.
— “Worker of Miracles,” reminds of the many miracles he performed, from the
curing of the sick, to the conversion of obstinate sinners, to the miracle of Majorca.
— “Son of the Blessed Virgin Mary,” reminds of his great love and devotion to
Mary, and of her appearance to him in 1218.
— “Son of St. Dominic,” reminds us of his membership in the “Order of
Preachers” founded by St. Dominic.
— “Son of the Church,” reminds us of his deep love for Holy Mother Church.
— “Holy Priest of Jesus Christ,” reminds us that with all his amazing
accomplishments, he was first and foremost a priest.
The Prayer itself (which can easily be said separately from the Litany) is pretty
self-explanatory. But I call your attention to some nuances.
This prayer can be said by anyone, but it is first for our parish, and so it refers to
him as “patron,” and to “those entrusted to your care.” Then it mentions “all who flee to
your protection,” a subtle reference to his fleeing from Majorca. It speaks of his

“teaching,” as he was a teacher and scholar, and his help to “proclaim the truth of the
Gospel to all we meet,” referring to his constant preaching to Christians, heretics, Jews
and Muslims. Then it refers to “the fullness of our years,” alluding to his advanced age at
death. Then we ask him to “guide us home to heaven,” which is ultimate goal as our
patron. And finally the phrase says, “to live in peace,” is a reference to his prayer for us,
that “the God of love and peace set your hearts at rest… and brin[g] you at last to that
place of complete plenitude….in the vision of peace….”
4 th of July. Have a blessed 4 th ! Please join us for Mass at 10am to thank God for our great
country and to pray for it.
Oremus pro invicem. Fr. De Celles

Solemnity of the Nativity of Saint John the Baptist

Religious Freedom Week. This week we continue Religious Freedom Week, which runs from June 22 through June 29. The week begins with the Feast of 2 saints who were killed by their king to silence their religious opposition to his policies, especially with regard to marriage: St. Thomas More and St. John Fisher. Normally these two saints are celebrated as one feast, but since St. Thomas is our Diocesan Patron Saint, we celebrate his feast alone, and move St. John to another day (I celebrated his votive Mass yesterday morning, Saturday). Today we celebrate another saint who was killed by his king to silence his religious opposition: St. John the Baptist, who, in preparing the way for Jesus publicly condemned King Herod’s public incestuous marriage. Then we end the week on the 29th, the Feast of Sts. Peter and Paul, two saints who not only represent the persisting teaching authority of the Church, but who were also put to death by a king for their leadership of the Church, which he saw as leading people away from absolute obedience to his supposed divine authority. Like many people of our time, Emperor Nero and many Romans blamed Christians for many of the problems of their age. And all during this week let’s keep in mind St. Raymond of Peñafort, who also got in trouble with a king. Very briefly, we recall how when our saint condemned King James of Spain’s consorting with his mistress on the island of Majorca. When the King tried to keep Raymond from leaving the island by threatening to punish any ship who took him aboard, St. Raymond, went to the shore, said a prayer, and famously and miraculously sailed 160 miles back to Spain using just his great cape as both a skiff and a sail. Let us look to these great saints for intercession and as examples of peacefully opposing unjust laws that seek to oppress us in living our Christian faith in every day life.
Fairfax Schools. This last year has seen a lot of victories for Religious Liberty—changes brought about largely by the new Trump administration. But the oppression still continues. An excellent example of that is found in last week’s long expected decision by the Fairfax County Public School Board to finally approve their new Family Life Education curriculum and related policies that further implement their “transgendered” agenda in our schools. The vote was unanimous, except for the 2 pro-family Catholics on the Board, Elizabeth Schultz and Tom Wilson. This was even though 90% of the public respondents disapproved of the changes. So much for representative government. Parents and taxpayers admit it: you’re too stupid to know what’s best for your kids or your tax dollars. Thank goodness for elite leftist totalitarians. Now, you might say this is not a religious liberty issue, and in part you’d be correct. But only in that it involves several other types of liberty and rights as well. This includes the freedom of parents to educate their children as they see fit, and to be the primarily educators of their children; the freedom to elect truly representative government, and the right to have their representatives listen to them and enact laws that the voters approve of. But it is also definitely a religious liberty issue in that these elitist board members
are purposefully trying to teach our children to reject the moral values of the religions that their parents are raising them in. It’s as if they say, “Sure, parents, you can do and say whatever you want at homes or in your churches, that’s okay. We have them all day, five days a week (sometimes 6 or 7 with extracurriculars) so we can undo all the BAD stuff you taught them and teach them CORRECT values.” So we have to keep fighting. It’s not just enough to win a pro-religious-liberty seat on the Supreme Court, we need to keep fighting to make the Court, the Congress and the Presidency solidly pro-religious-liberty. And we need to win back control of our schools by running more and electing pro-religious liberty candidates like Schultz and Wilson. But more than that, we have to be involve ourselves. Parents, you must be actively involved in your kid’s schools and classrooms. You must organize with other parents and taxpayers and work with organizations that support your values. And perhaps its time to stop supporting government run schools by removing your kids from them. And of course, we have to pray. So please join in our prayers this week for Religious Liberty, both at Mass and in your homes. And join us for this Wednesday’s Holy Hour for Life, Liberty and Marriage from 6pm to 7pm in the church.
Youth Group Activities this Summer. Our teens are at WorkCamp this week, so please keep them in your prayers, that they may be safe and come to know the Lord more intimately through the ancient practice of “ora et labora”—pray and work. Pray also that they may come to appreciate the dignity and needs of those less fortunate, and so grow in true love of neighbor. From July 13 – 15, a group of our kids will also be off for a weekend spiritual conference at Franciscan University. These are great weekends that can have a profound effect on their lives for years, and decades to come. So keep them in your prayers then too. And there are lots of other activities going on for them this summer, thanks to Jeanne Sause and our adult volunteers. Make sure your kids don’t miss out.
Special Thanks. After many years of service, two of our outstanding parishioners are retiring from the Parish Finance Council: Joe Cox and Matt Wheeler. Matt and Joe have been on the council almost since the beginning of our parish, long before I got here. I can’t tell you how much I appreciate all the hard work they’ve done, and the invaluable assistance and advice they’ve given me. The Finance Council is a committee required by Canon Law to give advice to the Pastor on financial matters of the parish, but I rely them to advise me on a wide variety of parish issues.
Thanks to Graduating Altar Servers. Fr. Smith and I ask you to join us in thanking the four young men who have served at the altar for so many years, and are now preparing to go off to college: John Paul Spinelli, Michael Weyrich, Jarod Slaton, and Brendan Kapp. They are fine young Catholic men, and I’m very proud of them. We’re going to miss them, but we wish them the very best, and promise them our prayers.
Lighting Project. Remember that the work to install our new lighting will begin in one week, on Monday, July 2, and will finish by September 1. The Blessed Sacrament, Masses, etc., will be moved to the Parish Hall during the week. All weekend Masses etc. will be in the church as usual.
Oremus pro invicem. Fr. De Celles

Eleventh Sunday in Ordinary Time

Father’s Day. This Sunday Americans celebrate “Father’s Day.” What a blessing for children to be raised by a devoted father partnered with his good wife, their mother. Together father and mother are naturally suited to teach their children how to love, serve and lead others: how to be good citizens, good workers, good friends, and good neighbors, and of course good brothers and sisters, good parents and good spouses.
A good father teaches his children, especially his sons, how to be good and holy men, how to be responsible, hardworking and creative, and both strong and caring, just and merciful, brave and compassionate. By the way he treats his wife a good father teaches his sons how to treat all women with respect and love, and how to be a good and faithful husband and father; and he teaches his daughters what to look for in a good husband.
Without good fathers, especially married to mothers, things get very hard for the family, for children, and for society. Over the last 50 years many have tried to diminish the importance of fatherhood, and the result is more domestic violence and heartache, as well as social upheaval. Is it any wonder we see so many problems in society, especially related to young men who have not had a strong and loving father to teach them what it means to be a real man?
Most especially, fathers, I urge you to take responsibility for the religious and moral formation of your children. You take care of all their physical needs, why would you neglect their spiritual and moral life? Life is hard, but it’s impossible without God’s grace. And when their life on this earth is over, you want to be with them blissfully happy in heaven, and not wallowing in the pain of hell for eternity. So make it your first priority to bring them up in the devout practice of the Catholic faith—first and foremost by your good example.
Fathers, I commend you for the good work done and sacrifices you’ve made for your families. Always remember that Christ will not abandon you to do it all on your own—He will give you the grace to be the great man He created and calls you to be. Happy and blessed Father’s Day.

The Catholic Education of our Youth. In the last couple of years I’ve been trying to keep you updated on the developments in Fairfax County Public Schools, i.e., “transgendered” policy and related changes in Family Life Education. As I write this on Wednesday (June 13) I think of tomorrow’s meeting of the FCPS Board at which they will cast a final vote on changes to the “family life” curriculum, including:
— Using the phrase “sex assigned at birth” instead of “biological sex” to teach children that biology has no impact on being male or female;
— Teaching students about pre-exposure prophylaxis. Also called PrEP, this drug is designed for use by those who are engaged in sexual behaviors which put them at high risk of contracting HIV;
— Removing “clergy” from a list of trusted adults with whom children should talk about their concerns regarding sex and sexuality;
— No longer teaching that abstinence is the only 100% effective method of preventing sexually transmitted infections or diseases.
I continue to fear that in spite of the many good people working in FCPS (especially many good St. Raymond parishioners), the philosophy and curriculum of our Fairfax public schools puts our children at risk spiritually, morally, intellectually and emotionally, and pose grave dangers to their eternal salvation. Therefore, as your spiritual father, I strongly urge you to consider either removing your children from these schools, or proving robust remedial efforts at home to offset the effects of these risks (CCD and Youth Apostolate activities are a good start, but not near enough to offset the dangers).
To that end, I strongly urge you to consider either enrolling your children in Catholic schools or homeschooling your children in the coming school year. No school is perfect, even Catholic schools and “home schools,” but they seem to me the best alternatives for most of our children.
I realize that either of these alternatives may require great sacrifice on your parts. But isn’t that what fathers and mothers do for their children? Please remember, the parish offers scholarships to our parish children to attend local Catholic grade and high schools. These scholarships are conditioned on the active involvement of the families in the life of the parish and are usually $500 for grade school students (or enough to make up the difference between “in parish” and “out of parish” tuition rates) to $1000 for high school students. Moreover, where the situation warrants, we will give additional tuition aid—ask me and I’ll do what I can! Also, remember that a special Diocesan fund offers financial aid to many students.
I also want to reiterate and emphasize our long-term special relationship with Angelus Academy, where I am Chaplain. It is an excellent school, and I encourage you to consider the possibility. Also, we also offer financial assistance to families who choose to homeschool and need help in paying for certain direct costs related to this. Please contact me if you need such assistance.

“Religious Freedom Week” Begins this Friday. The last few years we’ve joined the U.S. Bishops in keeping a “Fortnight for Freedom” from June 22 through July 4. Because of the significant gains we have made in the last year and half, especially with a new federal administration that has strongly reversed the anti-religious efforts of the prior administration, I have been thinking it would be prudent keep this practice going, but to scale it back somewhat from the past. As it turns out, the Bishops had a similar idea, and have replaced the “Fortnight for Freedom” (14 days) with a “Religious Freedom Week,” which begins on June 22, the Feast of St. Thomas More, and ends on June 29, the Solemnity of SS. Peter and Paul. We will adopt this timing and title, and keep this week in the following simplified way:
praying the “Prayer for Religious Freedom” after every Mass;
keeping our regularly scheduled “Holy Hour for Life, Marriage, and Religious Liberty” on Wednesday, June 27, at 6pm;
encouraging all parishioners to pray the “Prayer for Religious Freedom” daily at home, and perhaps also making the Novena to St. Thomas More.

I hope you will join in praying for our Church and our Country.

Lighting Project. Remember that the work to install our new lighting will begin in two weeks, on Monday, July 2, and will finish by September 1. We will not be able to use the church during the weekdays, so the Blessed Sacrament, along with all Masses, confessions, and all other church-activities, will be moved to Parish Hall from Monday through Friday. All Saturday and Sunday Masses and confessions will be held in the church. Thanks for your patience, and pray to St. Raymond for the successful completion of the lighting work.

Oremus pro invicem. Fr. De Celles