Twenty Seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time

Today is “Respect Life Sunday,” beginning “Respect Life Month,” in which the American Bishops call us to remember that over 3000 innocent American babies are killed every day by abortions, over 1 million a year, for a total of over 57 million dead since 1973. But even as horrible as that death toll is, as we mourn the death of all these babies, we can’t forget that abortion has other consequences as well. First and foremost we can never forget or fail to have compassion for those women who have had abortions. The toll it takes on them physically, emotionally and spiritually is devastating. And so I encourage you to help them in any way you can: showing them personal compassion, leading them to Christ and His mercy, keeping them in prayer, and continuing to fight to end abortion. And we must do everything we can, with charity, compassion, and patience, to help those women who are considering abortions, and to give them clear options to help them to carry their babies to term.

With all this in mind I invite you all to come and hear Melissa Ohden tell her story here at St. Raymond’s, this Thursday October 9th at 7 p.m. in the Parish Hall. She was aborted in her mother’s womb, but survived. Come and learn about Christ’s healing mercy even in the face of such a terrible evil. Learn about His love for babies and all their mothers.

 

Synod of Bishop. Last week I wrote about the upcoming Extraordinary Synod of Bishops gathering in the Vatican  from October 5 to 19. Below are two quotations from papal writings that apply to this event.

 

The first is taken from the great St. John Paul II’s famous letter (“Apostolic Exhortation”) Familiaris Consortio, [art. 84], of Nov. 22, 1981, issued after the last Synod on the family in 1980:

            Daily experience unfortunately shows that people who have obtained a divorce usually intend to enter into a new union, obviously not with a Catholic religious ceremony [and without annulment of the first]. Since this is an evil that like the others is affecting more and more Catholics as well, the problem must be faced with resolution and without delay. The synod fathers studied it expressly. The church, which was set up to lead to salvation all people and especially the baptized, cannot abandon to their own devices those who have been previously bound by sacramental marriage and who have attempted a second marriage. The church will therefore make untiring efforts to put at their disposal her means of salvation.

            Pastors must know that for the sake of truth they are obliged to exercise careful discernment of situations. There is, in fact, a difference between those who have sincerely tried to save their first marriage and have been unjustly abandoned and those who, through their own grave fault, have destroyed a canonically valid marriage.

            Finally, there are those who have entered into a second union for the sake of the children’s upbringing and who are sometimes subjectively certain in conscience that their previous and irreparably destroyed marriage had never been valid.

            Together with the synod, I earnestly call upon pastors and the whole community of the faithful to help the divorced and with solicitous care to make sure that they do not consider themselves as separated from the church, for as baptized persons they can and indeed must share in her life. They should be encouraged to listen to the word of God, to attend the sacrifice of the Mass, to persevere in prayer, to contribute to works of charity and to community efforts in favor of justice, to bring up their children in the Christian faith, to cultivate the spirit and practice of penance and thus implore, day by day, God’s grace. Let the church pray for them, encourage them and show herself a merciful mother and thus sustain them in faith and hope.

            However, the church reaffirms her practice, which is based upon sacred scripture, of not admitting to Eucharistic communion divorced persons who have remarried. They are unable to be admitted thereto from the fact that their state and condition of life objectively contradict that union of love between Christ and the church which is signified and effected by the Eucharist. Besides this there is another special pastoral reason: If these people were admitted to the Eucharist the faithful would be led into error and confusion regarding the church’s teaching about the indissolubility of marriage.

            Reconciliation in the sacrament of penance, which would open the way to the Eucharist, can only be granted to those who, repenting of having broken the sign of the covenant and of fidelity to Christ, are sincerely ready to undertake a way of life that is no longer in contradiction to the indissolubility of marriage.

            This means, in practice, that when, for serious reasons such as, for example, the children’s upbringing, a man and a woman cannot satisfy the obligation to separate, they “take on themselves the duty to live in complete continence, that is, by abstinence from the acts proper to married couples.”[180]

            Similarly, the respect due to the sacrament of matrimony, to the couples themselves and their families, and also to the community of the faithful forbids any pastor for whatever reason or pretext, even of a pastoral nature, to perform ceremonies of any kind for divorced people who remarry. Such ceremonies would give the impression of the celebration of a new, sacramentally valid marriage and would thus lead people into error concerning the indissolubility of a validly contracted marriage.

            By acting in this way the church professes her own fidelity to Christ and to his truth. At the same time she shows motherly concern for these children of hers, especially those who, through no fault of their own, have been abandoned by their legitimate partner.

            With firm confidence she believes that those who have rejected the Lord’s command and are still living in this state will be able to obtain from God the grace of conversion and salvation, provided that they have persevered in prayer, penance and charity.

The second papal “quotation” is a prayer Pope Francis has asked us to pray for the synod:

 

Prayer to the Holy Family for the Synod

            Jesus, Mary and Joseph, / in you we contemplate / the splendor of true love, / to you we turn with trust.

            Holy Family of Nazareth, / grant that our families too / may be places of communion and prayer, / authentic schools of the Gospel / and small domestic Churches.

            Holy Family of Nazareth, / may families never again / experience violence, rejection and division: / may all who have been hurt or scandalized / find ready comfort and healing.

            Holy Family of Nazareth, / may the approaching Synod of Bishops / make us once more mindful / of the sacredness and inviolability of the family, / and its beauty in God’s plan.

            Jesus, Mary and Joseph, / graciously hear our prayer. / Amen.

 

Oremus pro invicem. Fr. De Celles

 

Twenty Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time

 

ELECTIONS. We are exactly one month away from Election Day, November 4, 2014, when we will vote for our U.S. Senators and U.S. Representatives. There are many important issues at stake in this election, so it is imperative that Catholics vote, and vote like Catholics. It’s become easy to become unenthusiastic about “off year elections” (non-presidential-election years) like this, but that’s nonsense. Every election matters, and the choice of who will represent us in the U.S. Congress—who will write our laws and approve judicial appointments—is especially important. As the Catechism of the Catholic Church (2240)  teaches, it is: “morally obligatory to …to exercise the right to vote…”

But you can’t vote if you don’t register. So this Sunday and next there will be a table in the narthex with information and forms to register to vote and to apply to vote absentee. The deadline to register to vote is October 14th; all mail-in applications for an absentee ballot must be received by election officials by October 28. You can also update your status or even register to vote online at:  www.vote.virginia.gov.

If you have recently moved from out of state, you need to register to vote in Virginia. If you have recently changed addresses within Virginia you must notify the election officials of your new address or you will not be able to vote in your new precinct, or be eligible to vote for the U.S. Representative in your new district.

More on voting later…

 

SYNOD OF BISHOPS. The Third Extraordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops will be convened from October 5 to 19. 192 Bishops from all over the world will gather in the Vatican to discuss the topic: “The Pastoral Challenges of the Family in the Context of Evangelization.” They will be joined by 61 other priests and lay experts and consultants.

Much has been written about this Synod in the media. While many important topics related to the family will be discussed, the media has largely focused on one topic: whether the Church will change its “stance” of not allowing  Catholics who are “divorced and remarried” (without a Church annulment of the first marriage, and living as husband and wife) to receive Holy Communion.

It’s understandable that the media has focused on this issue. Pope Francis himself drew special attention to it by inviting Cardinal Walter Kasper to address, at length, all the cardinals gathered together in Rome last February. Kasper has long been a proponent of allowing Catholics in this situation to receive Communion, although he has been very low key on the topic since Pope St. John Paul II (through and with his Prefect for Doctrine, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, now Pope Benedict XVI) publicly rebuked him for his stance in 1993. Kasper has now renewed his public stance, and advocated for it before the cardinals in February. Pope Francis later expressed appreciation for, although not agreement with, Kasper’s speech.

Kasper’s speech has led to an extremely unusual public debate between cardinals. In particular there has been a strong public defense of the Church’s current “stance,” and debunking Kasper’s arguments. In the last few weeks two of the Church’s most renowned scholars, Cardinals Angelo Scola (Archbishop of Milan, largest diocese in Europe) and Marc Ouellette (Vatican prefect in charge of appointing new bishops) published papers in scholarly journals. And in the next few days a new book, “Remaining in the Truth of Christ,” will be released presenting the clear historical, scriptural and doctrinal record of the Church’s current “stance.” The book will include chapters written by 9 world renowned scholars, including Cardinals Gerhard Müller (Prefect for the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith), Walter Brandmüller (world-class history professor), Carlo Caffarra (archbishop of Bologna, revered scholar on the doctrine of Marriage),  Raymond Burke (“chief justice” of the Church’s “supreme court”), and Velasio De Paolis.

What’s the fuss about? First, let me say that the Church loves and is very concerned about those who find themselves in this situation. They are welcome at all the activities of the Church life, and to all the assistance the Church can give. But there are some things the Church cannot do, and truth and mercy must go hand in hand.

Very simply stated: the Church teaches that when a couple gets married they are married for life, and no “divorce” in civil courts can end marriage in God’s eyes. So to attempt to “marry” someone else, and to live as husband and wife, is the mortal sin of adultery, that is not simply a onetime event, but continues as long as the “remarried” couple live as husband and wife. This teaching comes directly from Jesus Himself: “What therefore God has joined together, let not man put asunder…Whoever divorces his wife and marries another, commits adultery against her; and if she divorces her husband and marries another, she commits adultery” (Mark 10:9,11-12; cf. Matt. 19:9). (Note: a Church annulment is not a divorce, but a judicial ruling that there never was a valid marriage to begin with).

The Church also teaches that no one guilty of an unrepented mortal sin (not absolved through sacramental confession) may receive Communion. This too is revealed in Scripture, by St. Paul: “Whoever…eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of profaning the body and blood of the Lord.…” [1 Cor. 11:27].

Thus, a Catholic who is divorced and remarried (without an annulment) is objectively committing the mortal sin of adultery, and so cannot receive Communion. This is not, as some say, Church “law” or “discipline,” or “current stance.” It flows directly from the Scriptures and is the constant and defined doctrine of the Church, and therefore unchangeable. Sadly, many of the proposals advanced by Cardinal Kasper et al, seem to fail to take this into account.

I don’t know what the Synod will propose to Pope Francis on this particular issue, or what he will do with their proposals. I hope with all my heart that some way will be found to more clearly express and share the Church’s mercy with “divorced and remarried” Catholics, and to help them to be reconciled with Christ and His Church.

But Jesus calls Himself, “the truth,” and no denial of the truth can be an act of true mercy. So I can tell you what the Synod and Pope will not do: they will not change the unchangeable doctrine of Christ and His Church.

So let us pray for the bishops convened in Synod, that they may be inspired by the Holy Spirit to seek and defend Christ’s truth, and find new ways to share His mercy. And let us pray for our Holy Father, Pope Francis, that the Lord may bless him for his continued fidelity to Him and to us.

 

Oremus pro invicem. Fr. De Celles

 

“Our Lady of Ransom and Mercy, and St. Raymond of Peñafort, pray for us, for all persecuted Christians and for the conversion of Muslims. Amen

Saint Raymond’s Gift Store

St. Raymond of Peñafort
Gift Shop located at
8750 Pohick Road, Springfield, VA 22153.
The Gift Shop provides the parishioners and others an onsite opportunity to purchases religious items.
The Gift Shop is manned by volunteers.  The hours of operations are 30 minutes before and after the  Mass schedule:
Mass Schedule:
Saturday
5pm Mass7pm Mass
Sunday
7am Mass8:45am Mass
10:30am Mass
12:15pm Mass
5pm Mass
Sub/Alternate
The Gift Shop Committee is, always,  looking for volunteers who would be interested in sharing responsibilities for a particular Mass or be a sub/alternate.
To volunteer in the gift shop you need to be 18 years of age or older.Interested parties should contact the parish office- 703-440-0535.
The Gift Shop Website, now, offers you the opportunity to shop for your religious needs 24/7.  
Items available are medals, statues, crucifixes, rosaries, jewelry, holy cards, books, visor clips, scapulars, and much more.
All money goes toward the building fund debt.
Thanks and God bless!
Rena DeRosa, Gift Shop Committee Chair

Twenty Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Parish Picnic. Last Sunday’s picnic was a great success, with hundreds of parishioners and friends coming to enjoy good Christian fellowship, great fun and delicious food. Thanks to all who came, and especially all who worked so hard to make everything come together. Special thanks to the Knights and to Kirsti Tyson. And above all, thanks be to God for the beautiful weather and the grace of Christian communion.

 

Helping FOCUS. You may recall that one of our parishioners, Daniel Parish, has spent the last 2 years evangelizing on college campuses with the Fellowship of Catholic University Students. During this time Daniel has depended on the financial support of various donors, including many of you. This year Daniel has joined the staff of FOCUS at their headquarters in Denver, but he is still depending on our/your support. He will be in town in late October, so if you are interested in discussing this with him please let the parish office know.

The Exchange of the Sign of Peace. I have spoken and written many times about the importance of developing a clearer understanding of the practice of exchanging the “Sign of Peace” at Mass. In particular I believe I have noted that both the 2005 Synod of Bishops on the Eucharist and Pope Benedict XVI (Sacramentum Caritatis, 2007) had called for “greater restraint in this gesture” and a renewal of our understanding of this ritual. To these ends, Pope Benedict commissioned the Vatican’s Congregation for Divine Worship (CDW) to study the issue further and make recommendations.

 

This last month CDW released its finalized report, issuing a “circular letter,” approved and confirmed directly by Pope Francis, to all the world’s Bishops. This letter made no changes in the rite itself, but simply pointed out ways in which the rite is often abused and corrections that should be made, as well as clarifying the meaning of the rite. It then called on the conferences of Bishops in each country to propose clear norms and catechetical material for their own people.

 

In particular CDW made the following observations:

— The sign of peace is not a rite of reconciliation rooted in Gospel passage: “if you are offering your gift at the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift …; first be reconciled to your brother…” (Mt 5: 23-24).

— Rather, the sign of peace is rooted in Jesus’ promise to the apostles at the Last Supper, the first Eucharist, “Peace I leave you; my peace I give you,” a promise fulfilled as Jesus appears to the apostles in that same upper room on Easter, saying, “Peace be with you.” So that “its point of reference is found in the Eucharistic contemplation of the Paschal mystery as the “Paschal kiss” of the Risen Christ present on the altar.”

–So, this is not a mere exchange of greetings, but a ritualized form of prayer: “The sign of peace…is placed between the Lord’s Prayer, to which is joined the embolism which prepares for the gesture of peace, and the breaking of the bread, in the course of which the Lamb of God is implored to give us His peace. With this gesture, whose function is to manifest peace, communion and charity, the Church implores peace and unity for herself and for the whole human family, and the faithful express to each other their ecclesial communion and mutual charity before communicating in the Sacrament, that is, the Body of Christ the Lord.”

–Thus, the sign of peace inherently flows from and leads back to the Eucharist: “By its nature the Eucharist is the sacrament of peace.…[T]his dimension of the Eucharistic mystery finds specific expression in the sign of peace.” “It should be made clear once and for all that the rite of peace already has its own profound meaning of prayer and offering of peace in the context of the Eucharist.”

 

Therefore, in order not to distract from the Eucharist the CDW calls us to consider:

–“[T]he appropriateness of greater restraint in this gesture, which can be exaggerated and cause a certain distraction…just before the reception of Communion.”

— “[N]othing is lost when the sign of peace is marked by a sobriety…as, for example, when it is restricted to one’s immediate neighbors.” Nota bene: the Roman Missal states that the exchange is given, “in a sober manner…only to those who are nearest.”

— “[T] his liturgical gesture [should] be done with religious sensibility and sobriety,” and efforts should be made “to moderate excessive expressions that give rise to disarray in the liturgical assembly before Communion.”

 

The CDW warns us that “Consideration of this theme is important. If the faithful through their ritual gestures do not appreciate and do not show themselves to be living the authentic meaning of the rite of peace, the Christian concept of peace is weakened and their fruitful participation at the Eucharist is impaired.” So CDW reminds us:

–“If it is foreseen that it will not take place properly …or if it is not considered pedagogically wise…on certain occasions, it can …and sometimes ought to be omitted.”

— “[I]n those places where familiar and profane gestures of greeting were previously chosen, they could be replaced with other more appropriate gestures.”

 

Finally, the CDW cited specific “abuses” which must be eliminated:

— “the introduction of a “song for peace…””

— prolongation of the exchange: “only the briefest of time is envisaged for the exchange of peace to those are who nearest.”

— “the movement of the faithful from their places to exchange the sign of peace amongst themselves.”

— “the departure of the priest from the altar…to give the sign of peace to some of the faithful.”

— “the exchange of peace being the occasion for expressing congratulations, best wishes or condolences….” This particularly happens at Easter and Christmas, and at Masses celebrating “Baptism, First Communion, Confirmation, Matrimony, …and Funerals.”

 

As the CDW tells us, quoting Benedict XVI: “In our times, fraught with fear and conflict…[w]e can thus understand the emotion so often felt during the sign of peace.” So I offer all of this as an instruction in charity, not as a reprimand. Please, try to incorporate the instructions from CDW, specifically approved by Pope Francis, in your exchange of the sign of peace at Mass. Remember, when the Agnus Dei (Lamb of God) begins, the rite of peace is over and we move on to say this next beautiful prayer with one voice from one body. And let us pray for the peace of Christ to descend on our parish, the Church and the world. Peace be with you.

 

Oremus pro invicem. Fr. De Celles

The Feast Of The Exaltation Of The Holy Cross

As we celebrate the Feast of The Exaltation of the Holy Cross we recall with deep compassion Our Lord Jesus’ suffering on the Cross out of love for us, for our salvation and for our sins. In that light, we cannot help but call to mind the many Christians who are now being persecuted for the sake of their love of Christ and His Cross. This persecution has descended to new depths of depravity at the hands of the army calling itself the “Islamic State in Iraq and Syria” (ISIS), who are going so far as to torture Christians to death by hanging them on crosses.

Most Muslims today oppose this kind of violent persecution of Christians. Nevertheless, violence against non-Muslims is very much a part of Islamic teaching and history. After all, almost immediately after founding Islam in 610 AD Muhammad himself took up the sword and led armies to force his Arab neighbors to convert to Islam: “submit or die.” By the time of his death in 632 he had conquered, by violence or threat of violence, a good part of western Arabia, and by 711 the armies of his successors had conquered not only all of northern Africa but also almost all of the Iberian Peninsula—Spain and Portugal. Their march into Western Europe was finally stopped by the armies of Charles Martel (“The Hammer”) in 732. Attempted invasions of Eastern Europe and Italy continued over the centuries, including the defeat of the Byzantine Empire and the conquest of Constantinople in 1453. Persecution of Christians in Muslim countries also continued throughout this period.

Violence against non-Muslims continued in lesser ways more or less continuously until the 20th century, especially through the practice of capturing ships from Christian countries and holding the captured Christians for ransom, forced conversion, and/or for the slave trade. [Quick aside: America’s first encounter with Muslim terrorists occurred in 1801, when the Pasha of Tripoli demanded that President Thomas Jefferson pay $225,000 to guarantee that his pirates would not attack American ships (European powers regularly paid this “protection” money). Jefferson instead sent the U.S. Navy and Marines to protect American ships in the Mediterranean. This soon led to the invasion of Tripoli (which the Marine’s Hymn memorializes, “to the shores of Tripoli”) after which American ships were no longer targeted by the terrorists.]

This was the state of things in the 13th century, when on the evening of August 1, 1218, the Blessed Mother appeared separately to three very different men in Barcelona, Spain: to St. Peter Nolasco, the son of a wealthy Spanish merchant and veteran of various battles against the “Moors” (Muslims) occupying much of southern Spain; to King James I of Aragon; and to our own beloved patron St. Raymond of Peñafort, who was Peter’s confessor. The Blessed Mother told each of them that St. Peter was to found a religious order that would dedicate itself to the ransom of Christian captives of Muslims. The members of this new order would take a vow to offer themselves personally/bodily, when necessary, as ransom or as security for the freedom their fellow Christians. St. Peter obeyed Our Lady, and with the political and financial support of the King and under the wise guidance of St. Raymond, the order, commonly called “the Mercedarians,” was founded and proceeded in its mission.

So extensive was St. Raymond’s support and guidance to St. Peter that he is considered co-founder of the Mercedarians. St. Raymond would later go on to dedicate great efforts toward the conversion of Muslims in Spain, by establishing schools for his fellow Dominicans (the order he joined in 1222) to study Arabic and the teachings of Islam, and by his active preaching and writing. He is also credited with convincing St. Thomas Aquinas to write his great Summa contra Gentiles to help in the conversion of Muslims. At his death, St. Raymond was considered directly responsible for the conversion of over 10,000 Muslims in Spain.

St. Raymond was a holy and brilliant man who led an amazing life. Unfortunately, most people only remember him for his efforts to organize the Canon Law of the Church, and maybe for his role as 3rd Master General of the Dominicans. But how can we, who are entrusted to his patronal care, forget these two very important and relevant aspects of his life: the apparition of Our Lady of Ransom/Mercy, and his role in dealing with the Muslims of his day.

With this in mind, I propose to you that from now on we dedicate our parish, and ourselves, to joining St. Raymond in the dual task of 1) assisting Christians who are persecuted or captured by radical Muslims, and 2) the conversion of Muslims. And in this effort I propose we place ourselves under the special protection of Our Lady of Ransom/Mercy, that she may guide us as she guided St. Raymond.

And how do we proceed in these efforts? Now, I recognize that it is extremely difficult to evangelize American Muslims in the current environment. Moreover, very few of us have the opportunity to assist prisoners held by Muslim terrorists (although some among us, e.g., members of our military, might find themselves in this position from time to time). But for most of us, let’s just concentrate on basics.

First, be sure to be charitable to the Muslims you meet or know—how can we convert those who do not see the love of Christ in us?

Second, enthusiastically support those who are directly working for these ends. For example, last week you donated over $12,000 to aid the Christians fleeing persecution in the Middle East and Iraq.

Third, and most importantly, we need to pray. In this regard I ask you all to commit to pray the following simple prayer (or some similar prayer) every day, or at least once a week:

 

“Our Lady of Ransom and Mercy, and St. Raymond of Peñafort, pray for us, for all persecuted Christians and for the conversion of Muslims. Amen.”

 

You can certainly pray more than this—perhaps you could pray the Rosary for these intentions, and this prayer could be its conclusion. But try to pray at least a little prayer like this every day.

My dear sons and daughters in Christ, let us unite in prayer for these holy causes. And in these prayers may we unite ourselves to Our Lady’s and St. Raymond’s faith and hope in our beloved and merciful Lord, Jesus Christ, who by His Most Holy Cross has redeemed the world.

 

Oremus pro invicem. Fr. De Celles

Saint Raymond’s Respects Life! 40 Days For Life Begins September 24th!

October is Respect Life Month.  How will you be a witness for the sanctity of life? Join us for any or all of these events!
Saturday Morning September 20th- Father Tad Pacholczyk, Ph.D “End of Life Issues” Talk (click to the right for details) 2014 Father Tad Pacholczyk Flyer

Wednesday September 24 – Sunday November 2  Forty Days for Life! Vigil Site: Public right-of-way outside Amethyst Health Center for Women 9380-B Forestwood Lane Manassas, Virginia. See sign-up sheets in the narthex!  2014 Forty Days For Life

Wednesday September 24th at 6 PM- Holy Hour for Life and Religious Liberty.  Followed by Mass at 7:00 p.m.The sacrament of Confession is available during the Holy Hour. (This event is held the last Wednesday of every month throughout the year.)

Saturday Morning October 4th -CAR WASH FOR LIFE (click to the right for details) 2014 Car Wash For Life

Sunday October 5th- Life Chain (click to the right for details) 2014 Life Chain

Thursday October 9th- Melissa Ohden (Abortion Survivor) Presentation (click to right for details)  2014 Melissa Ohden Presentation Flyer

Wednesday October 15th- Respect Life Mass at St Raymond’s at 7 PM- Holy Hour/Confessions   6:00 – 7:00 PM followed by the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass at 7:00 p.m.

Saturday October 25th at 9:00 AM- Respect Life Mass with Bishop Loverde at Cathedral of St. Thomas More.  Recitation of the Rosary will follow at Falls Church Healthcare Center (abortion facility)  900 S. Washington St. Falls Church.  2014 Respect Life Mass

Wednesday October 29 at 6 PM- Holy Hour for Life and Religious Liberty.  Followed by Mass at 7:00 p.m.The sacrament of Confession is available during the Holy Hour.  (This event is held the last Wednesday of every month throughout the year.)