Sixteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time, July 20, 2014

16th Sunday in Ordinary Time, July 20, 2014

Homily by Fr. John De Celles

St. Raymond of Peñafort Catholic Church

Springfield, VA

 

Today we read a rather unusual gospel text.

If I asked you what it was about, most of you would probably say

it was the parable of the weeds among the wheat.

But if we were paying close attention we noticed that in the middle of the text

we find that Jesus gives us two other parables:

the parable of the mustard seed

and the parable of the yeast.

So we sort of have a parable sandwich:

the two smaller parables wrapped between the 1st parable;

double-decker parable sandwich at that.

And like any well-made sandwich,

all the parts are chosen to blend together and complement each other,

producing a combined taste that is absolutely delicious.

 

Now, every sandwich, by definition, has bread

—sometimes two pieces, sometimes one, like a “wrap” or a taco.

Some tend to think the bread is unimportant,

that the stuff inside the sandwich is important—the meat, so to speak.

But you can’t have a sandwich without the bread:

it holds everything together, gives it form,

and allows it to be eaten conveniently.

But it also can add flavor: the taste of rye or pumpernickel

can make all the difference to the taste of the sandwich.

 

And so we have the parable of the weeds and wheat

wrapping around the other two parables:

at once giving context, holding the whole text together,

and also giving it it’s defining flavor.

 

The primary context is Jesus himself,

who is the sewer of good seed, the wheat,

while the devil is the sewer of bad seed, the weeds.

In that context we understand that the good seed, the wheat,

is the individual believer in Christ,

and the bad seed, the weed, is the one who follows the devil.

 

But then we see something that is perplexing to all of us:

Christ allows the weeds to grow among the wheat.

 

I’m sure all of us have asked ourselves about this from time to time:

why does Christ allow bad people to flourish in the world,

and in particular, in the Church itself?

And this question has many sisters:

Why does he allow bad things to happen to good people?

Why does he allow good people to sometimes do bad things?

And we could go on and on.

 

The parable itself gives us the basic answer to all these similar questions.

Jesus says:

“if you pull up the weeds you might uproot the wheat along with them.”

 

But, there’s a slight problem with that answer.

After all, like weeds in the wheat, couldn’t God

—who is all-knowing and all-powerful—

simply go through the human population and recognize all the evil people,

and pull them out?

It would seem so.

So I think he’s trying to tell us something more here.

First of all, I think he’s telling us he has his reasons for doing what he does.

We may not see it at first, or ever,

but he is a lot smarter than us and has a very good reason.

 

And I think he’s also saying that

even though he knows the weeds from the wheat, sometimes we don’t.

And that can be a problem.

For example, there are many people who appear to be very good,

and may even lead other people to God,

but inside or in their private life they’re terrible sinners.

So pulling that weed might not serve God’s purpose, because we’d thing:

“that’s a good person—why is God doing that to him?”

—it might even lead to other good people losing their faith:

in other words, he might pull up some wheat with the weeds.

 

And I also think he’s saying that

sometimes it’s hard to tell the weeds from the wheat.

Not in the sense that God confuses good and evil.

But he knows that we are all sinners—even the best of us sins:

sometimes the wheat act more like a weed.

 

And more than that, sometimes a weed can become wheat.

We read in today’s first reading:

“But though you are master of might, you judge with clemency,

…and you gave your children good ground for hope

that you would permit repentance for their sins.”

Remember, the basic context of this parable,

the wheat of this bread, so to speak,

is Jesus himself,

the same Jesus began his public ministry by proclaiming:

“Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”

 

So when He says:

“if you pull up the weeds you might uproot the wheat along with them,”

he’s also talking about the weeds in our own lives,

the evil done by good people, the sins of those who follow Christ.

 

If he were to come today and pull up weeds he might take a lot of us with him.

And the problem with that is that the weeds that are pulled will be

“throw[n] them into the fiery furnace,

where there will be wailing and grinding of teeth.”

And so in his mercy, he waits patiently,

and allows the weeds to grow along with the wheat in our hearts and lives,

allowing us to repent, to pull the weeds ourselves, with his grace,

and so receive the reward of those he calls “the righteous,”

who “will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father.”

 

And then, there are also those people who simply do not follow Christ at all,

those who willfully embrace sin.

In the context of Christ who is not only all powerful and all knowing,

but also all-merciful and patient,

and for whom all things are possible,

we know that sometimes the weeds themselves

can be transformed into wheat.

And so he holds back… allowing time for repentance,

so that even the worst sinners among us can be saved.

 

We see this in the New Testament itself, as we see Mary Magdalene,

the archetypical sinner from whom Jesus drove out seven demons,

so that she became a great saint whose feast we celebrate this Tuesday.

And then there’s St. Paul, who persecuted the first Christians.

And we see it all throughout history:

St. Augustine, St. Thomas Becket, St. Ignatius, and even St. Francis;

each of these a noted sinner, who became a great saint.

And in your own lives, you know people like this—maybe even yourself.

How many of us, by the mercy and patience of Christ,

have been weeds transformed to wheat.

Thank God he didn’t come to pull us out

when we were complete and total weeds.

This is the bread of the sandwich,

the context that holds it all together and makes it all possible:

                    the merciful and patient Christ,

who sometimes allows the weeds to grow among the weeds

—in the world, in the Church and in our hearts.

 

Which brings us to the stuff inside the sandwich:

the parables of the mustard seed and the yeast.

 

The parable of the mustard seed reminds us that the kingdom

is like the small seed that grows into a “large bush.”

Again, in history we see how this has played out.

The church began with about 200 believers on Pentecost in 33 AD,

but has grown to 2.2 billion Christians, 1.2 of those Catholic.

Even so, sometimes we seem like wheat among the weeds:

we may be 2.2 billion, but there are more than twice that number

of people in world who are not Christian.

And many of those vehemently oppose us,

by trying to convert us, or oppress us, or even kill us.

 

And there are even those who are in the Church who do not truly follow Christ.

And then even ourselves, even as we try to follow Christ, we continue to sin.

 

Sometimes it seems Christ’s’ kingdom in the world, in the Church and in our hearts,

is very small, defenseless against the powers of evil.

And yet, just as surely as we saw it grow in population form 200 to 2.2 billion,

and just as we’ve seen periods of great holiness in the Church

and in our own lives,

we know that, by Christ’s grace,

and through his mercy and patience,

the tiny seed can become a great tree.

 

And finally, the parable of the yeast.

This reminds us that as those who follow Christ will grow

—not merely in numbers but also, and most importantly, in holiness—

as time passes they will lead others to be transformed and lift up by Christ.

As the patient and merciful Christ allows the wheat and weed to grow together,       his grace and the good example of Christians

can transform weeds into wheat:

what is flat can rise, what is evil can be converted.

 

So this is the “meat” of our sandwich:

the great potential of the seed of the faith planted in us

to transform the world, the Church and each one of us.

So that in the context of the bread of Christ’s mercy and patience we discover

the possibility of our own greatness and transformation,

so that we can “shine like the sun in the kingdom of our Father.”

 

Now, I began by saying we have 3 parables today.

I supposed I’ve introduced a 4th parable: “the parable of the sandwich.”

I apologize if that’s been silly or confusing.

But bear with me for one more moment.

 

In all this we see the key is the bread: the mercy and patience of Jesus.

All the other stuff, our great potential and transformation,

only comes and holds together

because of his mercy and patience.

 

Allow my little parable now to turn your eyes to the Bread we are about to receive

—bread that is transformed by Christ’s mercy and patience,

so that as weeds become wheat, wheat becomes bread,

and bread becomes Christ himself.

In the gospel today he tells us: “Whoever has ears ought to hear.”

As he comes before us in the Eucharist,

let he who has eyes, especially the eyes of the heart, let him see.

Let us see Jesus, and open our hearts to receive him,

him who is mercy and patience incarnate.

Seventeenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Mr. Edward J. Kenna, Rest in Peace. Two weeks ago I mentioned in this column that Fr. Kenna’s 92 year old Dad, Edward, had been ailing. On Thursday, July 17, Mr. Kenna passed away peacefully in his bed, surrounded by his family as they prayed the Rosary. His Requiem (funeral) Mass was held last Monday in Pittsburgh. Mr. Kenna was a devout Catholic man, and beloved husband (married 63 years to his wife Dorothy), father (of nine) and grandfather (of 19). He was also a veteran of World War II (U.S. Army). Please keep him

in your prayers, that he might pass onto his heavenly reward. Please also keep Fr. Kenna and his family in your prayers.

 

Eternal rest grant unto him, O Lord, and may perpetual light shine upon him. May his soul, and the souls of all the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace.

 

AAA Women for Choice. Last Saturday several parishioners joined me at a dinner celebrating the 25th anniversary of AAA Women for Choice in Manassas. The name is surprising to some pro-Lifers, who usually associate “choice” with the pro-abortion crowd, but the women at AAA have tried to help women in “crisis” pregnancies to know they have many choices other than abortion, e.g., keeping their babies, adoption, etc.. Situated next to an abortion mill in Manassas, AAA, headed by Patricia Lohman, has saved the lives of over a thousand babies, and offered spiritual, emotional, financial and practical support to their mothers. They are an amazing group. Congratulations on 25 years! If you’re interested in helping out through volunteering, donations, etc., you can call them at (703) 330-9312.

 

  1. Every summer I have very brief little panic attacks on some Sundays as I see a sharp decline in Mass attendance. I recover very quickly as I remember that folks are on vacation. I hope all of you are enjoying your summer, and that you are able to get away on vacation. It’s very important to do that, especially for families to have time to spend together relaxing and having fun.

I was on vacation the week before last, going to my nephew’s wedding in South Bend, IN. I drove out to the wedding by myself, and decided to avoid the traffic and frenzy of the interstate highways, and instead took the back roads, the scenic view. Along the way I stopped to visit family in various cities, and to play golf 3 times (on my first day I hit my new “best score ever”!). It was great to see so many of nieces, nephews, grandnieces and grandnephews, not to mention all four of my brothers and sisters, and their spouses. And it was a great little trip. But now, back to work.

One request: if you want to help your pastor have a less stressful summer, please don’t forget to keep up your weekly donations to the parish when you go on vacation. Just drop the envelope from the Sunday(s) you’re away in the following week’s collection. Better yet, sign up for Faith Direct (www.faithdirect.net).

 

Sung High Mass (EFM). Please remember to mark your calendar for August 15, for the Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, a Holy Day of Obligation. As I announced 2 weeks ago, the 7pm Mass that evening will be offered as a Sung High Mass of the Extraordinary Form, with the talented musical ensemble “Suscipe Quæso Domine,” (a.k.a., “The Suspicious Cheese Lords”) serving as our guest choir. I invite all of you to experience this very beautiful form of Mass. For those of you who cannot attend, we will, of course, also have our Vigil Mass the evening before and Masses during the day.

 

More Religious Discrimination from Our President. Last Monday President Obama signed an executive order prohibiting “all companies that receive a contract from the federal government from discriminating against their LGBT employees.” [LGBT: lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender]. The executive order purposefully excludes an exception for employers who object to these rules on religious grounds. Moreover, it was issued after a bill containing similar protections for “LGBT employees” was passed by the Senate but rejected by the House of Representatives last year. But even that bill, as passed by the Senate, included protection for the religious liberty of employers.

 

This new “law” will apply to almost everyone who does work for or with the federal government, including individual Catholic small business owners and groups like Catholic Charities.

 

Archbishop William Lori of Baltimore and Bishop Richard Malone of Buffalo (chairmen of the U.S. Bishops’ Committees for Religious Liberty and Marriage) immediately issued a statement rightly noting: “In the name of forbidding discrimination, this order implements discrimination.”

 

The statement went on to say:  “With the stroke of a pen, it lends the economic power of the federal government to a deeply flawed understanding of human sexuality, to which faithful Catholics and many other people of faith will not assent… As a result, the order will exclude federal contractors precisely on the basis of their religious beliefs.”

 

Moreover, the Bishops’ statement correctly notes: “The executive order prohibits ‘gender identity’ discrimination, a prohibition that is …predicated on the false idea that “gender” is nothing more than a social construct or psychological reality that can be chosen at variance from one’s biological sex. …For example, a biological male employee may be allowed to use the women’s restroom or locker room provided by the employer because the male employee identifies as a female.”

 

When will this president’s attacks against religious believers end? The Constitution prohibits our government from making laws “respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof,” and yet the president ignores this fundamental liberty to invent new liberties for special classes based on sexual preference or “identity.” How do those strange and imagined liberties trump the specific and natural liberties guaranteed by the Constitution?

 

Just 2 weeks ago the Supreme Court overturned the President’s contraception mandate for employers with religious objections (“Hobby Lobby”) as being contrary to the provisions of Religious Freedom Restoration Act. The Court will very soon hear a variety of cases involving the mandate and religious non-profit groups (i.e., Catholic Charities, Little Sisters of the Poor, etc.). When will our president admit he has no right to discriminate against religious people?

 

Some may object: but doesn’t the Church teach that it’s wrong to discriminate against “gays”? Actually, the Church teaches that only “unjust discrimination” against people with same-sex attraction is wrong. But not all discrimination is “unjust.” For example, it is never unjust to prohibit a grown man who thinks he’s a female from using a restroom reserved for women and little girls! (Not to conflate same-sex attraction with “gender identity” issues).

 

Lord Jesus, have mercy on us!

 

Oremus pro invicem. Fr. De Celles

Sixteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Instead of the Pastor’s Column, this week we have the Parochial Vicar’s Column.  Our Pastor, Fr. DeCelles, is out of town on a little vacation so he asked me to fill in for him.  So I write a few words to you.

 

Last week we celebrated the Feast day for St. Benedict, the Father of Western Monasticism. I thought it would be good to write a little bit about the great additions to the Church that he and the monastic life has had on our Church and our world, too.   (A good History lesson as we try to grow in our Faith in the many areas that it covers (last week’s emphasis for my homily).  St. Benedict was a big influence in establishing the monastic life in the Church.  He was trying to bring a community life of dedicated religious priests, brothers, and sisters to have a more balanced life and a good spiritual life in community.  Previously, the religious who desired a more cenobitic life (separation from the world to pray and serve God and not be distracted by the ways of the world) would do it as individuals (we know them as Hermits) or groups but they didn’t have clear cut direction and often didn’t separate from the world or they were just about praying all day.  St. Benedict and the rules that he established for these communities established a motto – the underlying rule for all of the rules – Ora et labora, which means – to pray and to work.  He wanted these communities to be monasteries that were well rounded.  Praying – frequently at various times of the day as a community, but also to do the works that are needed to maintain the community and even more – to add to the world as they added to the secular community around them.

 

These Monastery communities of men, who we know as “monks”, and then also, separate women’s only communities who we know as “nuns” (“nuns” actually should be used to identify these religious women who live separately from the world and should not be used to identify religious “sisters” who work in the world) really added to the world both through the grace of prayers for the Church and the world, but also with the works that they did to advance the Church and the world in many ways.  I mention this because these Monasteries which were established during the so-called Dark Ages continuing on through the Middle Ages and up to our present age, really helped the Church and Society as a whole.

 

The Church, through misinterpreted history, seemed to have somehow caused the Dark Ages, or at least to have suppressed any advancement of society, but we should know it  actually did the opposite.  We see that the Church didn’t bring about the down fall of Western Society – in particular the Roman Empire with all its advancements that it brought – was actually,  brought down by the Pagan Romans themselves along with the Barbarians who destroyed the Empire by their invasions and ransacking of the Empire.  The Church, the Pope in particular, stopped the Barbarians from totally annihilating Rome as they approached the city to finally level it to the ground.  With this prevention, a lot of Roman influences, such as their written works, as well as Greek works, were saved.  The Church, with the help of St. Benedict, went on to establish Monasteries which were places where they saved these works but also where they began to use the books'(both Roman and Greek)  for advancements and to grow in the areas such as Education – philosophy and math and sciences – and agriculture.  They also advanced our Faith, but that wasn’t the only influence they had.  The monasteries advanced agriculture as they established various techniques for working the fields and growing practices and cultivating useless lands.  They also helped with establishing work techniques that came from agriculture as they helped in developing mills powered by water, to grind grains, but also for other uses, and even in establishing factory techniques that we still use today.  The Monasteries were also very instrumental in saving the ancient writings of the Romans and Greeks by  copying them to expand the use of these writings, which weren’t always just spiritual writings but worldly writings, too.  They established libraries with all these writings that are still with us today.

 

They were instrumental in establishing and advancing education when no one else was really ready to do it or no one else wanted to do it.  The Kings and nobles were too interested in their lands and protecting them and just ruling over their people – and the less educated the people were – they thought – then the less resistant they would be to the Kings and nobles.  The monasteries became the places where schools were established for the local children to learn not just about the Faith but also the other natural subjects as well.  The monasteries and the Church, some scholars say, actually, saved Western Civilization from being lost or at least set back 100’s of years.  The schools would later spring into higher schools of education, which we know as Universities.  These Universities are the same models that we have today.  The monasteries themselves didn’t establish Universities, but they laid the groundwork for our education systems as a whole.

Then we can see that together the agriculture advancement, the work techniques and the education actually were where  the techniques of research and experimentation, which have become a big part of education and the growth of education and technology we know and practice today.  You could say Monasteries were our first laboratories and research centers and places of learning.  We see how their experimentation gave us some very well known products that we have today.  It is believed that beer was first made by the monks as they took the process of making wine from grapes and then using it with grains which beers are made from.  Also champagne was first developed by Dom Perignon – a monk – who took the wine process and different grapes and came up with a process to make champagne.

 

So I mention just a few areas and examples of how the monasteries that were established with the influence of St. Benedict, as actually being places that didn’t hold back the Church or society but were places that advanced the Faith and society.  They established and advanced what we know and do today in many different areas of the Church and the world.

 

I, close, with a recommendation to find out about more of the monasteries influences but also the Church’s many other influences that you might not know about by reading a good book about it.  One such book is titled “How the Catholic Church Built Western Civilization” written by Thomas E. Woods, Jr.  It is a book with a different approach to learn some Church history.

 

I hope all are having a good summer.

 

Ora et Labora

 

Fr. Joseph R. Kenna,  Parochial Vicar

Fifteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Sung High Mass on the Solemnity of the Assumption. For the last 3 ½ years we’ve offered the Extraordinary Form Mass (a.k.a.: the “EFM,” “Tridentine Mass” or “Traditional Latin Mass”) on the first and third Fridays of the month. Attendance has been good at these Masses, but I’ve always wanted to expose more of you to this beautiful form of the liturgy. It is, after all, the form of Mass celebrated everywhere throughout the Latin Church for at least 1400 years, up until 1970—the Mass that inspired great saints like St. Francis, St. Therese, St. Ignatius, St. Andrew Dung-Lac, St. Lorenzo Ruiz, and St. Raymond of Peñafort. It is different from the “Ordinary Form Mass” (“Novus Ordo”, or “New Mass”) that we usually celebrate, but not entirely different. After all, the “New Mass” comes from and is rooted in this ancient form. It seems to me that experiencing this ancient form can only lead to a deeper understanding of the newer. Yes, it is different—the Latin, the silence, the private prayers of priest and laity—but in all this there is a profoundly rich sense of reverence, holiness, prayerfulness and mystery that reminds us that Mass is supposed to be different.

Nowhere is this so apparent as when the EFM is “sung” or chanted at a “High Mass”. While some say they find the very quiet “Low Mass” (the EFM here on Fridays) difficult to adjust to, I’ve honestly never met anyone who wasn’t moved by the Sung High Mass—it is really something beautiful.

So, on August 15, the Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, I will offer the Sung High Mass, in the Extraordinary Form, at the regularly scheduled 7pm Mass. The guest choir will be an ensemble from the extraordinarily talented choir, “Suscipe Quæso Domine,” (Latin: “Accept, I beseech thee O Lord”), more popularly known as, “The Suspicious Cheese Lords.” If you’ve never been to the EFM, don’t worry—just come. If you’ve been on Friday night and were a little confused—this is different. Even if you decide it’s not your regular “cup of tea,” you will not regret having experienced this different, but very beautiful and Catholic, form of worship. Trust me.

 

Father’s Father. Fr. Kenna’s Dad, Edward Kenna (92), is struggling with some severe health problems, especially with his heart. Please keep both Father and his father in your prayers.

 

Thanks, Mark Arbeen. I’m sorry to report that Mark Arbeen has decided to step down after several years of coordinating our Altar Servers. He’s done an amazing job of not only training and coordinating the servers, but also in helping important liturgies run smoothly, especially at Christmas and Holy Week. I can’t thank him enough for all he’s done for us all—especially for me.

 

Position Open: Parish Secretary. I am still accepting applicants to fill the position of parish secretary (see last weeks’ bulletin). Please send resumes to Mary Butler in the parish office or to mary.butler@straymonds.org.

 

Lazy Days of Summer. This time of year it’s easy to forget your New Year’s resolutions to get more involved in parish life. Here are some of the parish activities/groups that the Lord Jesus may be calling you to join—this summer!

Adoration: Diane Spinelli, 703-451-1779, dispinelli5@gmail.com

Adult Education Programs (RCIA, Bible Study): Bob Ward, 703-644-5873, roberteward3@verizon.net

Altar Servers, Fr. Kenna, 703-440-0535, fr.kenna@straymonds.org

Altar Society: Nena Brennan, 703-541-5151, nenabrennan@verizon.net

American Heritage Girls: Mary Hansen, 571-405-4145, ahgva0683@gmail.com

Bake Sales: Kathy Walker, 703-202-5300, Baking4thebuilding@yahoo.com

Basketball Team: CYO): Ed Gloninger, 703-451-8049, edgloninger@gmail.com

Bereavement Committee: (Vacant)

Book Club: Kathy Campbell, 703-451-5360, jkcampbell@cox.net

Choir (all music for Masses): Elisabeth Turco, 703-506-4644, turcoe@aol.com

Cursillo: Chuck Tiso, 703-866-1081, Siciliansunrise@aol.com

Flower Committee: Rosario Mendez, 202-253-9471, rmm2004@hotmail.com; and Julie Mullen, 703-493-9291, mullen.1@verizon.net

Gift Shop: Rena DeRosa, 703-307-9351, pderosa3@verizon.net

Home School Group: Sheri Burns, 703-455-1820, burnsfamily77@verizon.net: Tania Slaton, 703-493-8186, gtslaton@mac.com

Knights of Columbus: John Crennan, 703-451-2115, crennan@verizon.net

Landscaping: Vacant

Lectors: Philip Bettwy, 703-690-6379, pbettwy@aol.com

Legion of Mary: Tom Delaney, 703 690-1930, tdelaney51@verizon.net

Library: Liz Hildebrand, 703-455-3193, hildebrandseven@gmail.com

Men’s Prayer Group: Dave Wilson, 703-455-1847, MarynDaveW@verizon.net

Mother’s Group: Michelle Castry, 703-731-7854, mlcastry@gmail.com

Natural Family Planning: Bob & Geri Laird, 703-339-7261, blaird48@gmail.com

One Spirit Special Needs Apostolate: (Vacant)

Prayer Group: Elaine Perricone, 703-440-8356, jpebtp@verizon.net

Religious Freedom Committee: Bob Laird, 703-339-7261, blaird48@gmail.com

Respect Life Committee: Liz Hildebrand, 703-455-3193, hildebrandseven@gmail.com

–  Project Gabriel: (Vacant)

–  Project Rachel: Diane Spinelli, 703-451-1779, dispinelli5@gmail.com

Samaritans : Laura Haas Connolly,  703-690-6254, spinecaremom@aol.com

St. Martin de Porres Society: Flavia Tommasi, 703-866-4671

Trail Life, USA: Vince Drouillard, 703-992-0490, TrailLifeUSA@straymonds.org

Ushers: Paul DeRosa,  703-307-9351, pderosa3@verizon.net

Wedding Committee: Carol Ann McKim, 703-644-4040, toypoodle4me@aol.com; and Kathy Siner, 703-569-0958, kathysiner@cox.net

Welcome Committee: Mary Butler, 703-440-0535. mary.butler@straymonds.org

Women’s Group: (Vacant)

Youth Apostolate (“Youth Group”): Jeanne Sause , 703-440-0535, StRaymondYouth@gmail.com

 

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Oremus pro invicem. Fr. De Celles

New Religious Education Monday Afternoon Class Times

Due to the recent changes made in the bell schedules in Fairfax County elementary schools, the religious education classes scheduled for Monday afternoons will have new times. While we determine the new schedule changes, please be advised that we will notify all those families who have already registered, and will contact any families that send in registrations in the upcoming weeks. If you have any questions, please contact the religious education office. Thank you for your cooperation.

Fourteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time, July 6, 2014

Due to July 4th I have a very early deadline this week, so just some quick notes.

 

Huge Victory for Religious Liberty! Praised be Jesus Christ! How fitting that this week in which we celebrated American Freedom began with the Supreme Court defending religious liberty.  Recall that in January of 2012 the Department of Health and Human Services issued regulations under Obamacare requiring that businesses and not-for-profit organizations (including organizations run directly by churches) provide employees with insurance covering abortion-inducing drugs and contraception, with no exception to protect the religious liberty of these groups. Scores of court cases have been filed to overturn these regulations, and the first to make its way to the Supreme Court was decided this last Monday (Burwell v. Hobby Lobby Stores). The Court ruled in favor of the Christian business owners, holding that the regulations placed an unnecessary “substantial burden” on the free exercise of religious liberty, thus violating the 1993 Religious Freedom Restoration Act. The court also ruled that incorporation of a family business does not mean the owners lose their religious liberty with regard to that business. While this does not directly affect the cases involving not-for-profit organizations (e.g., the Little Sisters of the Poor), it is a huge vindication of the rights of individual Christians: you don’t have to leave your faith-informed moral principles at home when you go to work, or when you seek the ordinary legal protections provided by incorporating your business. Let’s pray this is a sign of more good things to come from the Court in defense of religious freedom.

 

Fortnight for Freedom. No doubt all the prayers across the country and in our parish during the Fortnight contributed greatly in moving the Court in Hobby Lobby. Thanks to all who joined in by either coming to the holy hours in the church or participating privately at home with your prayers and sacrifices. In particular I’d like to thank Bob Laird for his untiring assistance, including setting up for all 14 holy hours! God bless you all.

 

Position Open: Parish Secretary. Do you know anyone interested in becoming our parish secretary? The position involves about 30 hours a week, and includes general office work as well as assisting parishioners (at the front desk, via phone and email, etc.), maintaining parish records,  various forms of data entry, preparing correspondence, common secretarial duties, and other tasks to support the priests. The ideal candidate would possess the following attributes: a devout Catholic, trustworthy, able to keep confidences, organized, detail oriented, able to collaborate with others, good people and communication skills, familiarity with various common office software (especially MS Office, and preferably PDS) and hardware, and basic office skills. All applicants must have a minimum of a high school degree and be certifiable under our Child Protection policy. This is an hourly wage position, with benefits including health insurance, paid holidays, vacation and sick leave. Please send resumes to Mary Butler in the parish office or to mary.butler@straymonds.org.

 

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Prayer for Government

by Archbishop John Carroll, first bishop and archbishop of Baltimore, and of the United States

 

We pray, Thee O Almighty and Eternal God! Who through Jesus Christ hast revealed Thy glory to all nations, to preserve the works of Thy mercy, that Thy Church, being spread through the whole world, may continue with unchanging faith in the confession of Thy Name.

We pray Thee, who alone art good and holy, to endow with heavenly knowledge, sincere zeal, and sanctity of life, our chief bishop, Pope N., the Vicar of Our Lord Jesus Christ, in the government of his Church; our own bishop, N., all other bishops, prelates, and pastors of the Church; and especially those who are appointed to exercise amongst us the functions of the holy ministry, and conduct Thy people into the ways of salvation.

We pray Thee O God of might, wisdom, and justice! Through whom authority is rightly administered, laws are enacted, and judgment decreed, assist with Thy Holy Spirit of counsel and fortitude the President of these United States, that his administration may be conducted in righteousness, and be eminently useful to Thy people over whom he presides; by encouraging due respect for virtue and religion; by a faithful execution of the laws in justice and mercy; and by restraining vice and immorality. Let the light of Thy divine wisdom direct the deliberations of Congress, and shine forth in all the proceedings and laws framed for our rule and government, so that they may tend to the preservation of peace, the promotion of national happiness, the increase of industry, sobriety, and useful knowledge; and may perpetuate to us the blessing of equal liberty.

We pray for his excellency, the governor of this state, for the members of the assembly, for all judges, magistrates, and other officers who are appointed to guard our political welfare, that they may be enabled, by Thy powerful protection, to discharge the duties of their respective stations with honesty and ability.

We recommend likewise, to Thy unbounded mercy, all our brethren and fellow citizens throughout the United States, that they may be blessed in the knowledge and sanctified in the observance of Thy most holy law; that they may be preserved in union, and in that peace which the world cannot give; and after enjoying the blessings of this life, be admitted to those which are eternal.

Finally, we pray to Thee, O Lord of mercy, to remember the souls of Thy servants departed who are gone before us with the sign of faith and repose in the sleep of peace; the souls of our parents, relatives, and friends; of those who, when living, were members of this congregation, and particularly of such as are lately deceased; of all benefactors who, by their donations or legacies to this Church, witnessed their zeal for the decency of divine worship and proved their claim to our grateful and charitable remembrance. To these, O Lord, and to all that rest in Christ, grant, we beseech Thee, a place of refreshment, light, and everlasting peace, through the same Jesus Christ, Our Lord and Savior. Amen.

 

Oremus pro invicem, et pro patria. Fr. De Celles