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

Seventeenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Vacation. I hope all of you will get a chance to get away on vacation this summer. All of us need a rest from our work, and summer is a great time to take that rest, especially for families—and priests. Working a 6 to 7 day week, basically “on-call” 24 hours, I find that if I don’t take a week’s vacation every 4 months (I get 4 weeks off a year) I soon begin to get a little cranky and weary of the daily chores. This year, my 4 months was up in May, but my vacation plans fell through. So I’ve been really needing to get away.
So I got away last week to Alaska. I went up to visit former parishioners, John and Geri Forbes, in Anchorage (they say “hi” to all their friends at St. Raymond’s), and they graciously showed me the sites. The Alaska Gulf coast area is breathtakingly beautiful–seems like most of it is a national park, with mountains, lakes, glaciers, and ocean. And wildlife. I saw lots of that, especially around the water: whales (orcas and humpbacks), harbor seals, sea lions, otters and birds (especially the colorful puffin). And fish. We spent two days fishing, one on a boat in the gulf and another wading in the mouths of rivers. I hadn’t been fishing in 40 years, but I had a blast. I kept praying to St. Peter, St. John and St. Raymond for help with the catch, and even asked the Lord Jesus which side of the boat I should cast my line, but I wound up not catching much (no salmon, but I did catch a 15lb rockfish). But the great thing about fishing is you don’t have to catch anything to have fun and relax. And that was the most important things for me—to relax.
Also, thanks be to the Good Lord and my guardian angel, we had excellent weather—sunny and highs around 70 every day. All in all, a very relaxing and refreshing getaway.
Now, back to work.
Which reminds me. I have to thank you all, and the Lord, that coming home from vacation is not a burden or a regret. I love coming home to St. Raymond’s.

Great News: Fr. Duesterhaus is back. It has been my sad experience that most times when a priest is accused of some wrongdoing, especially involving abuse of a child, he almost never returns to active duty in his diocese—even if he is cleared of all charges. Of course, if he is fairly tried and found guilty, so be it—let him be punished accordingly, especially if child sexual abuse is involved. But the problem is, once a priest is accused and temporarily removed from his duties during the investigation of the charges, his good name is often ruined forever—again, even if he’s finally cleared.
That should not be the case. It must not be the case. A priest gives his life for the Church—for you and me—and should be, 1) presumed innocent until proven guilty, and 2) restored to honor and respect when he is thoroughly investigated and cleared.
That being the case, I am truly overjoyed to welcome back to public ministry my good friend Fr. Michael Duesterhaus. In March 2018, Fr. Duesterhaus was placed on administrative leave after the Diocese of Arlington received what it deemed, preliminarily, to be a credible report of “child sexual abuse and other inappropriate conduct.” He has been prohibited from exercising public ministry since then.
However, on January 17 the Diocese was informed that the Stafford County Commonwealth Attorney was not pursuing criminal charges against Fr. Duesterhaus (this followed similar previous decisions in other jurisdictions). Subsequently, the Diocese also completed its own internal investigation of all allegations, and this week it was announced that the Diocesan Review Board and the Bishop have concluded that the allegations were not credible.
And so Fr. Duesterhaus is cleared of all accusations, is no longer on administrative leave, and is back on duty, free to exercise public priestly ministry. He is currently completing graduate studies he had already begun, but will be helping out in parishes as he is available and needed.
Alleged victims must always be heard, and accused priests must be investigated. The innocent must be protected and the guilty must be punished. But the wrongly accused must be restored.
After he’d been acquitted of highly publicized criminal charges, one former presidential cabinet member asked: “Which office do I go to get my reputation back?” Fr. Duesterhaus never lost his reputation with me, and I wholeheartedly look forward to welcoming him back to public ministry, and hope you and your friends will welcome him back as well.

Altar Rail and Pulpit: Status Report. First of all, I have to thank so many of you who have contributed to the project. As of this writing we have just over $111,000 in pledges/donations. Thanks so much for your generosity.
Unfortunately, I have to report some news that is not so good, and quite embarrassing to me, personally. Originally I estimated the total cost of the project to be about $75,000, based on figures I had received from the designer. But I misunderstood what he was pricing to me, and so much so that I grossly underestimated the cost. Right now I’m projecting a final cost of $134,000. That may come down or go up (a bit), depending on various factors, including the cost of the type of marble we choose to go with. I will continue to update you as the numbers get more solid.
I’m sorry I got this estimate so wrong—as a numbers guy, I should have had a better handle on this. The bottom line is that we are on a good pace to raise the funds for the project, but we still need more donations. If we raise more than is needed, I will be in touch with every donor to see how they would like to proceed—offering refunds if they like. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. I’ve already done that once. Thanks for your patience with me. And your generosity.

Email Addresses. When we need to send word around to the parish on important matters we like to send a mass email to everyone. If you haven’t received any emails from the parish in the last few months, please send an email with the parish office (office@straymonds.org) to let us know—maybe we have the wrong address for you.

Victoria Bliss. Please keep parishioner, Tori Bliss (daughter of John and Glenn), in your prayers these next two weeks as she completes her long walk across the country with Crossroads, bearing a strong pro-life witness to the folks along her route. We are expecting her and some of her co-walkers to be here to speak at St. Raymond’s at the Sunday Masses on August 10-11. God bless and keep her!

Oremus pro invicem. Fr. De Celles

Sixteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Parochial Vicars Corner

Religious Freedom is worth praying for. Noticeably, my St. Michael prayer at the end of every Mass is dedicated “for Religious Freedom in our nation.” This began in 2011 when I was parochial vicar at St. Veronica’s parish in Chantilly. The Bishop’s office had sent an email to the priests requesting support for the “Fortnight for Freedom.” The fortnight was an initiative of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) to raise awareness about religious freedom and to promote its preservation through prayer and activism. This has become an annual event normally ending on July 4th, our national holiday, celebrating our freedom as a nation and people. The Bishop’s conference has also asked dioceses throughout the United States to observe a week of Religious Freedom coinciding with the feast of our patron St. Thomas More, June 22nd. His exercise of freedom of conscience cost him his life with his beheading on July 6th, 1535.

What does the U.S. Constitution say? The First Amendment states:
“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

An established religion, such as The Church of England, was what the framers of the Constitution wanted to avoid. At one time the Anglican church was the established church in the colony of Virginia. A 1624 law mandated Virginians worship in the Anglican Church and support its upkeep with their taxes. Catholics, Presbyterians, Quakers, Baptists and Jews were forced to support a church and clergy contrary to their own opinions and views. Jesuit priests would secretly cross into Virginia from Maryland (originally a Catholic colony) to administer Mass and the sacraments to Catholics in Virginia who were not allowed freedom of worship until 1781.

The framers were also determined to enable citizens to practice their faith and worship without interference from the state. Both James Madison and Thomas Jefferson collaborated in authoring and passing the “Virginia Act for Establishing Religious Freedom” in 1786. It stated:
“Be it enacted by the General Assembly that no man shall be compelled to frequent or support any religious worship, place, or ministry whatsoever, nor shall otherwise suffer on account of his religious opinions or beliefs, but that all men shall be free to profess, and by argument to maintain, their opinions on matters of Religion, and that the same shall in no wise diminish, enlarge or effect their civil capacities.”

James Madison wrote in the “Memorial and Remonstrance Against Religious Assessments” in 1785 that:
“We maintain therefore that in matters of Religion, no man’s right is abridged by the Institution of Civil Society and that religion is wholly exempt from its cognizance.” He spoke of these rights as “unalienable rights.”
Unalienable meaning, rights that cannot be given or taken away. In other words, rights that are natural to man.

What does the Catechism of the Catholic Church say? Paragraph 2108 of the Catechism states:
“The right to religious liberty is neither a moral license to adhere to error, nor a supposed right to error, but rather a natural right of the human person to civil liberty, i.e., immunity within just limits, from external constraint in religious matters by political authorities. This natural right ought to be acknowledged in the judicial order of society in such a way that it constitutes a civil right.”

In so stating the church recognizes several things. First, liberty or freedom is not defined as “license” to do as one pleases, so called freedom from constraint or restraint. Additionally, liberty is only free if it conforms to the truth. “What is truth?” (Qui es veritas) says Pontius Pilate.

We know as Catholics that Christ is truth. Ironically, Pilate had truth Himself standing before him. And, the catechism recognizes that there are just limits to religious freedom. Therefore, some actions are impermissible as just. Citizens practicing human sacrifice would be prohibited from such an action due to its manifest unjustness to the person sacrificed, whether they are willing participants or not. Paragraph 2109 discusses this further in saying:
“The right to religious liberty can of itself be neither unlimited nor limited only by a “public order” conceived in a positivist or naturalist manner.” The “due limits” which are inherent in it must be determined for each social situation by political prudence, according to the requirement of the common good, and ratified by the civil authority in accordance with “legal principles which are in conformity with the objective moral order.”

Perhaps we should be praying for “Political Prudence.” All the virtues seem to be in short supply these days, Prudence in particular. The objective moral order is the goal. Pray we achieve this.

So much in one prayer. It is important for us to pray for and support Religious Liberty. Freedoms and liberties can be taken away. The framers of the constitution understood this in providing for religious liberty as a key amendment to the document. Societies can be more or less free, more or less just, depending on the individuals comprising that society. Virtuous individuals will tend toward political virtue, non-virtuous ones will not. We each have a part to play in the building up of a Just, Free, Virtuous society that enables the human person to flourish.

Oremus pro invicem,
Fr. Charles Smith

Fifteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

(This is a shortened version of my homily from Sunday, July 7. I thought I would share it with all of you.)
PATRIOTISM. The 4th of July is a day on which Americans celebrate patriotism. But not all Americans. As one newspaper headline read: “American patriotism is at a record low,” as it cited a new Gallup poll that shows a dramatic decrease when people are asked how proud they are to be American.
That may anger or sadden some of us, but is it wrong? Does God command us to be patriotic? The answer is, yes.
Jesus tells us that the 2 greatest commandments are first, to love God with all your heart, mind, soul and strength, and second, to love your neighbor as yourself. As St. Thomas Aquinas explains that our first neighbor is our parents (family), but after that our second neighbor, is our country, or our “patria” in Latin, and our fellow countrymen.
So that the 2nd great commandment applies first to parents and family and second to country and countrymen. We see this specified, if you will, in the 4th commandment: “Honor your father and mother.” God gives you parents and family to love and care for you, and in return calls you to love and care for them—to “honor” them. And in the same way, God gives us our country and fellow countrymen to love and care for us, and so we in turn must love and care for our country and countrymen.
Of course, the people in other countries are also our neighbors, and God commands us to love them also. But it’s a matter of priorities: we should love and help the people next door, but clearly before that we should take care of our families first: it’s a simple rule, “charity begins at home.”
And it’s the same thing with patriotism. We should love people in other countries, but first we should love, honor and care for our country and our countrymen.
Now, some today would equate, or conflate, “patriotism” with what has been historically called “nationalism.” Even good patriots use the term “nationalism” when I think what they really mean is “patriotism”. I wish they wouldn’t confuse the two.
Because historically “nationalism” is different from patriotism, in that historical nationalism would say not, “America first,” but “American, first, last and only.” Historical nationalism would even allow us to conquer foreign lands just because we think our nation is better and has a right to take whatever we want. That’s wrong—that is sinful.
But a patriot would not say, “American, first, last and only,” but rather, “America first, but then everyone else is second,” or better yet, “God, first, family second, and America third…and everyone else fourth.”
What about people who aren’t citizens, maybe they’re law-abiding non-citizen residents? Well, perhaps the term “fellow countryman” might include them, but even if it doesn’t, then it would simply mean that after citizens, these good people would come next in priority over all others.
But what about people who come to or remain in our country illegally —don’t we owe them honor and love, too? Yes, of course! But in order of nature and nature’s God, our priorities are family, countrymen, and then others.
Now we have to be careful. Just as patriotism isn’t historical nationalism, it also isn’t historical “nativism” —prioritizing people who are born here, so excluding immigrants. Patriotism, on the other hand, extends priority to all who share the same commitment to be part of the fabric of our country—including those whom God has moved here from other countries, and who are sincerely committed to Patriotism.
And Patriotism also isn’t the same as loving the government per se, but rather honoring the government to the extend it is part of the country and at the service of the people of the country. For example, we don’t honor the president because he’s in charge, or even because we like him as a person, but because he holds an office that is an important part of our country, and even a symbol of our country as a whole.
The thing is, Patriotism is not just an ideal, but has a practical everyday application. First of all, it means learning the history of our country, both the good and bad. But like a family that embraces the good memories and works to fix the bad, patriots celebrate the greatness in our history, even as we learn from and work to overcome our failures. But a patriot does not allow past failures to cause us to dishonor our country.
Patriotism also involves participation in the life of our nation. This includes everything from working productively in school or at a job, to raising a good and healthy family, to paying taxes. But it especially involves participating in the public square, including voting whenever there is an election, and even campaigning for candidates who truly want the best for our country.
Patriotism also means defending our country. So many of you have taken up arms to defend our country: thank you for your service, you are true patriots. But defending America also includes simply standing up for the good of our country, not being silenced by the politically correct crowd but speaking out publicly to promote what you believe is genuinely good for our country.
And Patriotism means truly striving for the good of each other. This means both providing opportunities for everyone to provide for their own well-being, primarily through just laws and a sound economic system, but also providing necessities for those who truly cannot provide for themselves.
And it means respecting each other in word and action. Like a family, we can argue, but also like a family, there are lines we know we should never cross, because we know that would be too much. Too often today our public discourse crosses those lines of respect and honor, and as patriots we cannot participate in this.
And Patriotism means honoring the symbols of our country. I have pictures of my family all over the rectory; they are just images on paper, but they remind me of my family and help me to honor and love them. It’s the same thing with the symbols of America. So, when the American flag passes or the National Anthem is played it is important to be patriotic and honor America by standing and maybe placing our hands over our hearts. When I look at a picture of my mother or father, I don’t think of the times they might have been too harsh with me—no, I focus on what made them so good, and the love between us.
So when we see the original American flag with 13 stars we shouldn’t see it as a sign of the injustices tolerated at our founding, but as a sign of the great and noble ideals enshrined in the founding—ideals like “all men are created equal”—that have propelled us to work to overcome those errors.
To some today, it seems patriotism is a dirty word, or a sign of partisanship. It should not be. Patriotism is an essential part of what it means to be a virtuous person, and a true Christian.

Oremus pro invicem. Fr. De Celles

Modified Mass Schedule

We will follow a Modified Mass Schedule from July 16-23. Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays there will be an 8 am Mass but no 6:30 am Mass. On Tuesdays and Thursdays we will have a 6:30 am Mass but not an 8 am Mass.