Thirty second Sunday in Ordinary Time

Elections. Well, the 2018 mid-terms are over. I guess that means the 2020 campaign begins today. Sigh.

I am terribly saddened that the voters turned over majority control of the U.S. House of Representatives to pro-abortion, anti-marriage, anti-religious freedom politicians, but I am relieved that they strengthened majority control over the Senate by pro-life, pro-marriage, pro-religious freedom politicians. The latter meaning that like-minded judges will continue to be approved by the Senate, which will go a long way in righting, or at least slowing, the moral decay of our nation.

 

Adoration and the American Bishops. This week all of the American Bishops will meet in Baltimore for their Fall General Assembly. The almost exclusive topic of discussion will be the Church abuse scandals, and how to deal with bishops who either abuse or coverup other’s abuse.

It’s about time. 16 years ago when they came up with extremely severe rules on how to deal with priests accused of abuse (the “Dallas Charter”), they were asked why the new rules did not extend to bishops. As Archbishop Wilton Gregory said at that time: “The question of accountability of bishops is a burning issue, and I have every reason to believe that particular topic will receive significant debate…I clearly agree that topic will be a matter that needs discussion.” 16 years later they are finally having that discussion. Sigh. (By the way, AB Gregory is now rumored to be on the Pope’s short list to replace Cardinal Wuerl in DC).

As I have stated several times publicly, like many of you I am extremely angry over the handling of the abuse by some bishops, and by the moral corruption I believe is behind it, especially the so called “lavender mafia,” the subculture of active or sympathetic homosexual priests and bishops in the hierarchy (i.e., ex-cardinal McCarrick).

But what can we do about? You and I are greatly limited in the effect we can have on changing things, but what we can do we must do. We can write letters, sign petitions, and perhaps redirect our donations. But the greatest thing we can do is PRAY.

I believe strongly in the power of prayer, and I believe that prayer is even more powerful when we do it together for a righteous cause: “For where there are two or three gathered together in My name, there am I in the midst of them.”

And so, to this end, we will have  Exposition and Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament throughout the 3 days of the bishops’ assembly: beginning after the 6:30am Mass this Tuesday and ending with Benediction at 7pm this Thursday. That’s 60 hours of continuous Adoration, except during Masses.

My dear sons and daughters in Christ, I beg you to join me in praying together before the Blessed Sacrament. Please sign up for at least 1 hour  before our Lord, to beg the Lord for the conversion of sinful and weak bishops and priests, and for the consolation of victims.

You can sign up by going to the parish website (straymonds.org), clicking on “60 HOURS OF ADORATION DURING USCCB ASSEMBLY NOVEMBER 13-15” at the top of the page, and then following the instructions on the new page. Or you can call the office and talk to Eva. We need at least two people to sign up for every hour, and we still have some hours with only one signed up. But I don’t just want 2 people, I want lots of people for every hour! 10, 20, 100! I want to, as St. Catherine of Siena once said, “lay siege to heaven” with prayers! So, please sign up, but also feel free to come by any time day or night to join in the prayers.

Friends, we have to fight the corruption: wield the holy sword of devout prayer and adoration!

 

Armistice Day. 100 years ago today, at 11am, on November 11, 1918, “the 11th hour, of the 11th day, of the 11th Month,” World War I came to an end. It had been called “the War to end all wars,” and had resulted in the deaths of some 40 million. Sadly, it did not end all wars, and millions more have died in battle since then.

Since 1919 America has celebrated November 11 as a national holiday, first as Armistice Day and from 1947 forward as Veterans Day, which also honors all American war veterans.

On this 100th anniversary of the peace of the first Armistice Day, many places will observe this by the ringing of church bells at 11am. Unfortunately, since this falls right during the middle of the 10:30 Mass, I don’t think we’ll be doing that. I wish I could, but I don’t want to disturb the Mass. But I ask you all to remember to pray for all the souls lost in WW1, for the wellbeing of all American Veterans, and for the end of war altogether. May God grant peace among all peoples and nations.

 

Requiem Mass. Thanks to the 200 or so folks who attended the Extraordinary Form Sung High Requiem Mass in the evening of All Souls Day. The choir did a magnificent job, the servers were excellent, and the priest didn’t mess up too much. Special thanks to Eva Radel who organized so much of it, especially assisting Elisabeth Turco and the choir. The Sung High Mass is truly beautiful, something everyone should experience from time to time, and the Requiem (“Mass for the Dead”), is a truly moving way to pray for the Holy Souls. I wish you all had been there. Maybe next time…

 

Our “Baby” Sofi. November 14 is the 8th birthday of Sofi Hills. As many of you will recall, as a newborn baby she was left in our parking lot, where she was found by a parishioner and rushed to the hospital. For a while I called her “Baby Mary Madeleine,” until she was placed with a loving family which soon adopted her and named her “Anna Sofia Rae,” or “Sofi.” We continue to give praise to the Lord Jesus for saving her life that day, and that she has grown into a healthy vivacious little girl. And in celebration we’re having a birthday party for Sofi in our Parish Hall, next Sunday, November 18, after the 12:15 Mass. All parishioners are invited and encouraged to come and say hello to our little Sofi!

 

Oremus pro invicem. Fr. De Celles

 

 

 

 

Thirty First Sunday in Ordinary Time

ELECTION. This Tuesday, November 6, is Election Day. Much is at stake, especially in voting for the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives. As the Catechism of the Catholic Church reminds us: “co-responsibility for the common good make[s] it morally obligatoryto exercise the right to vote…” [2240]. In my opinion, when someone is eligible to vote, failure to vote is usually grave matter (i.e., the stuff that mortal sins are made of) when the issues are as important as they are in this election.

Key Issues. There are many important issues today, including the economy, heath insurance, illegal immigration, etc.. But as with any moral choice we make, we always start with the most fundamental issues. Today these should be clear: protecting the right-to-life (without which all rights are forfeited), protecting traditional marriage (the cornerstone of civil society) and religious liberty (without which there are no “God-given rights,” only “government-given rights.”) These are truly non-negotiable and disqualifying issues.

Under the current administration, much positive headway has been made in these areas, especially in the appointment of federal judges who support these traditional values. But because of this success, some of us may tend to relax in our fight  to defend these rights, etc.. And they may lead some of you not to vote.

But remember, there are two parties in this country, and one party clearly publicly defends life and marriage (and religious liberty), and the other party clearly publicly opposes them. That’s just the facts, not a partisan endorsement. This election will decide which party, i.e., the pro-life, etc., party, or the pro-abortion etc. party, controls the Senate and the House.

So remember: EVERY VOTE MATTERS! We’ve seen this over and over again. Just last year Philip Hatchett (R) and Shelly Simonds (D) TIED in their race for a seat in the Virginia House of Delegates, and the winner was chosen by drawing of a name from a bowl! And that determined which party would have control of the state House. If one more vote would have been cast, that one voter would have decided who would control the House!

Vote, and vote like Catholics, protecting the most fundamental rights and principles.

Prayers. With that in mind, I ask that today, tomorrow and Tuesday all of you pray the Rosary and the Prayer to St. Raymond of Peñafort, and perhaps offer up some small sacrifice, for the Lord’s will to be done on Tuesday.

 

60 HOURS, 3 DAYS OF ADORATION. As I wrote last week, the American Bishops will be meeting from Tuesday, November 13, to Thursday, November 15, to address the sex abuse cover-up, including how to discipline lying or abusing bishops. With this in mind, St. Raymond’s will have Exposition and Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament throughout the 3 days of the bishops’ assembly: from 7am on Tuesday to 7pm on Thursday. And as your spiritual father, I beg all of you to sign up for at least 1 hour before our Lord, to beg the Lord for the conversion of sinful and weak bishops and priests, and for the consolation of victims. So please sign up. See the insert today for more info.

 

NOVEMBER: PRAYING FOR THE DEAD. Last Friday we celebrated All Souls Day. But actually the whole month of November is set aside by the Church as a month to pray for the dead, for all the souls in Purgatory, who are being prepared for their entrance into Heaven.

Many Catholics nowadays wrongly think Purgatory is an outdated remnant from the Middle Ages, even though Christian belief in Purgatory is rooted in Jewish doctrine (2 Maccabees 12), and was well established in the early Church. Many other Catholics, in their grief, prefer to think of their departed loved ones as already being in Heaven, and can’t bear the thought that they might be in Purgatory.

But the doctrine of Purgatory is not something to fear, because it is a doctrine of God’s mercy, and reflects the reality that none of us are perfect. All of us sin or cling to things of this world—however small or seemingly insignificant. But Scripture tells us “nothing imperfect shall enter” into Heaven (Rev. 21:27)—and rightly so, since Heaven is about perfect happiness, perfect love, etc… Given this, and confident in Our Lord’s desire for all to be with Him in Heaven, Christians have always believed that between death and Heaven there is a purification, or purgation, where we’re cleansed from all imperfections, i.e., made perfect. This state, or “place,” we call Purgatory.

Now, we must remember that Purgatory is NOT anything like Hell, and all the Souls in Purgatory are good and “worthy” of eternal joy in Heaven—we call them the “Holy Souls.” So thinking of them as in Purgatory is not an insult but praise. Moreover, these Souls are certain they are going to Heaven, so they are filled with a joy beyond anything experienced on earth.

But we must also remember that there is suffering in Purgatory. The simplest way for many of us to understand this is to think of the suffering related to change. All change is difficult. Consider the person who is trying to lose weight, or exercising for an athletic competition. The effort involved in change is painful, but as you see progress you are also invigorated and happy, seeing your goal approach.

Even so, since 1) Purgatory involves pain, and 2) we want our beloved dead to swiftly enter the joys of Heaven, we should never neglect praying for them. And if they are already in Heaven, no prayer is wasted, since every prayer is an act of love, and they hear each prayer as telling how much we love them.

So in love, let us pray for our beloved dead this month, and for all the Holy Souls in Purgatory, especially the “most abandoned,” the souls who no one else remembers to pray for.

“Eternal rest grant unto them, O Lord, and may perpetual light shine upon them. May their souls, and all the souls of the faithful departed, rest in peace.”

 

Synagogue Shooting and Security Concerns. Last weekend the nation once again mourned the deaths of Americans caught in a mass shooting at a religious service. Please pray for those killed and wounded, and for an end of this insane violence.

As I wrote last year, I have discussed our own security with various priests, parishioners and law enforcement folks, but most suggestions for improvements seem impractical, or risk stirring up undue fears. After all, the odds of something happening in any particular church are infinitesimally small. Even so, we will try to take those precautions which seem reasonable. And I always encourage you to be vigilant, and report anything clearly suspicious. And I know I can count on many of our parishioners who are current or former law-enforcement officers or trained military veterans, to be constantly prepared to render proportionate forceful defense of their fellow parishioners. But above all I trust and pray that Jesus will send His angels to protect and defend us at all times.

Oremus pro invicem. Fr. De Celles

 

Thirtieth Sunday in Ordinary Time

VACATION. Just got back from a week playing golf in Williamsburg. It had been awhile since I’d be able to get away: I stayed close to home all summer just in case I could help move the lighting project along, which wound up being unnecessary. Just so you know, we priests get 4 weeks of vacation plus 5 days of retreat every year. Since we work 6 (and sometimes 7) day weeks, the breaks are important to our physical and mental health. I know it is to me.

Something unplanned always happens on vacations. This time it was a tooth emergency. While eating dinner one night I bit down on my hamburger and heard a “pop” in my mouth—a tooth (with a 30-year-old filling) had cracked. Long story short I wound up driving back here the next day to have my dentist pull the tooth. So when you notice a gap in my handsome smile over the next few months, you know the story. In any case, I went back to golfing the next day and had a very relaxing time.

 

THREE DAYS OF ADORATION. From Tuesday, November 13, to Thursday, November 15, all the American Bishops will meet in Baltimore for their Fall General Assembly. With the exception of a few minor administrative matters the entire session will be devoted to addressing the sex abuse cover-up, including how to discipline lying or abusing bishops.

While the bishops have to step up and take responsibility and reform themselves, it is clear to me that the laity have a huge role in making this happen. There are various ways you can do this: letters or petitions to bishops (and the pope), funding, awareness, etc. But one key thing we can all do is PRAY. We are Christians, and we believe in the power of prayer. So use the power of Jesus dwelling in you from your baptism and pray constantly for reform.

With this in mind, I’ve decided St. Raymond’s will have Exposition and Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament throughout the 3 days of the bishops’ assembly: from 7am on Tuesday to 7pm on Thursday. That’s a total of 60 hours straight, except during Holy Mass. And as your spiritual father I beg all of you to participate, signing up to spend at least 1 hour before our Lord on the altar. I’m very serious: it is important that we do this as a parish, coming together to beg the Lord to intervene for the conversion of sinful and weak bishops and priests, and for the consolation of victims.

So please sign up. In the next few days we’ll put a sign-up page on the parish website (straymonds.org), or you can email or call the parish office.

What do I do in Adoration? There really aren’t a lot of rules for what you do at Adoration. Basically you come, sit or kneel quietly, and pray. Bring your Rosary, your Bible or some other good spiritual book (even an interesting biography of a saint) to read between prayers. We’ll also have some prayer books available if you want to use those. But mainly come and be with Jesus.

An hour sounds like a long time, but it’s not really, if you split it up between praying the Rosary, reading, and just talking and listening to Jesus. As St. John Vianney once said, “Him looking at you, and you looking at Him.” It’ll do you great good, and joined with all the others adoring over the 60 hours it will be a mighty prayer for the greater good of the Church.

 

A HOLY WEEK. This Thursday, November 1, is All Saints Day, a Holy Day of Obligation. Since all Catholics are required (under mortal sin) to attend Mass, we have our usual extra Masses scheduled (see below).

The following day, Friday, November 2, is the Commemoration of All Souls, when we pray for all the souls who are awaiting entrance into Heaven as they are being purified in Purgatory, especially our loved ones. I invite you all to pray for the dead every day, but especially on this day and throughout the month of November. Even though this is NOT a Holy Day of Obligation, all are encouraged to attend Mass. In particular, I invite you to join me and our choir for a special Sung High Requiem Mass according to the Extraordinary Form (Traditional Latin) that evening at 7pm. If you’ve never been to the EFM, don’t worry—just come. Even if you think the EFM is not your “cup of tea,” you will not regret having experienced this different, but very beautiful, form of Catholic worship. It will be a very prayerful experience. Trust me. (This is not the “low” Mass we offer on the 1st and 3rd Fridays, but Mass chanted by the priest, choir and congregation from beginning to end).

Of course, all this is proceeded by Wednesday, October 31, which is “Halloween.” As you know, I am not a fan of this day, since it not only tends to distract us from and trivialize the meaning of the important days that follow, but it is also used as a feast day by those that serve the devil (including Satanists, witches, etc.). Still, I understand the innocent fun, especially for kids, of dressing up in costumes and going trick-or-treating. But keep it balanced, and be careful not to let it, in any way, lead you or yours away from Christ, the Saints, or the Holy Souls.

 

VOCATION. I am overjoyed to announce that parishioner Jacquelyn (Jackie) Parman, daughter of parishioners, Don and Claudette Parman, has entered into the first stage of religious life as a postulant with the Cistercian Nuns of The Valley of Our Lady Monastery in Wisconsin. This is a very demanding vocation, so Sister will need our prayers—so please pray for her! And I’m sure she will also pray for us!

 

Parish Finance Report. Please find the Finance Report of the year ended June 30, 2018 inserted in this bulletin.

Operating Income (mainly from offertory and debt-reduction collections, and other donations) was $2,413,223, up $62,092 (or 2.6%) over the prior year, while Operating Expenses were $1,935,456, up $20,775 (or 1%) from the prior year, leaving us a Net Operating Income of  $477,767, up $41,317 from the prior year.

We also had Extraordinary Income of $248,383 and Extraordinary Expenditures of $167,562, both related to the Lighting and Mural Project (except for $8,059 of other expenditures). This left us with a Net Surplus (the bottom line) of  $558,588.

On the Balance Sheet side of things, we had cash of $148,352 in checking and $1,237,547 in savings, with $16,419 in Accounts Payable and a $0 balance on our Building Loan (down $387,917 from the prior year). We also had Restricted Assets of $88,881, i.e., Capital Campaign funds dedicated to paying for the Lighting and Mural Project.

Please feel free to contact me or Kirsti Tyson in the parish office with any questions about the report.

 

Oremus pro invicem. Fr. De Celles

 

 

Twenty eighth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Justice Kavanaugh. Well, thanks be to God the hearings are over. The country moves forward with a great new Supreme Court Justice, one who I’m confident will, to the best of his abilities and in keeping with the Constitution, uphold the traditional values dear to America for centuries, including the right to life, the meaning of family and marriage, religious freedom and the dignity of women.

Thank you for all your prayers during the hearings. I have been hearing, however, that the Kavanaugh family is still receiving unpleasant feedback from opponents. I am particularly worried for his 13 and 10-year-old daughters—imagine what suffering they’ve endured. So I encourage you to pray for the family, especially invoking St. Raymond and St. Thomas More (patrons of lawyers), St. Michael, St. Mary Magdalene, and Our Blessed Mother. Also, St. Agnes and St. Maria Goretti, patron saints of young girls.

 

Going Forward. The Kavanaugh hearings dramatically revealed a deep fissure in American society. I’m not sure exactly where the boundary of one side and the other begin or end, and I’m not sure what to call the various factions. In any case, there is a growing acrimony and bitterness in our country, and it is making itself manifest in more and more public violence, either in rhetoric or action. I am afraid it will only get worse.

I do not know the answer, except the grace of Jesus and a return to the Christian values that have made us great. Beginning with loving God above all things, and loving our neighbor as ourselves, and even loving our enemy. We must learn, as our founders did, to patiently tolerate—not “accept” or “embrace” or “acquiesce to” —the differences in ideas and opinions, and work within the system of debate, persuasive dialogue, elections and laws that has helped make our nation a peaceful and great nation.

Last week one politician said, “You cannot be civil with a political party that wants to destroy what you stand for, what you care about. That’s why I believe, if we are fortunate enough to win back the House and or the Senate, that’s when civility can start again.” God bless them, but no, that won’t work. We can’t be civil with each other just when we are in power. There is a sense in which we can be “too civil,” too accommodating to opponents. But basic civility, basic respect for your opponents has to return to public life. If not, I’m afraid that civility will give way to uncivility, which will give way to something like a civil war. And this civility must begin with Christians, especially us Catholics. Again, this doesn’t mean rolling over, or not fighting for what we believe in. But fighting fairly, governed always by reason and charity.

Let us pray for our nation, for our friends and for our foes.

 

Children at Mass. Being a parent is incredibly challenging, especially these days, and especially at Mass. For example, sometimes you just can’t stop a newborn or a two-year-old from doing what they so often naturally do—make noise. This problem is often compounded in larger families: parents try to deal with the crying newborn, while the 4 and 6-year-old talk to each other. I don’t know how they manage, God bless them.

Many of these parents are torn between not wanting to disturb others and wanting to come to Mass as a family. And many understandably think: “well the Church and the priests encourage us to be pro-life and open to life—and we were!” Some warn that if we’re not careful we’ll chase these families away from the parish or from Catholicism altogether.

But there are others we have to be very careful not to “chase away.” Years ago a young man told me a story I’ve heard innumerable times since, from scores of young people: as a teenager he stopped going to Mass because week after week he found himself completely distracted by the little children around him. So he thought, “why bother?” and stopped going. Not a good excuse, but that’s the way a lot of teenage boys’ minds work.

On the other hand there’s the story one mother told me of how her young family had been away from Mass for a few years and decided to come back, but after just few weeks they stopped, embarrassed by their little two-year-old’s behavior at Mass. Or the story of the mother who was up all night with a colicky baby, and didn’t notice her 3-year-old run up into the sanctuary. Or the father of an autistic little boy who suddenly laughed out loud at Mass, only to be scolded by the people in front of him, and he broke into tears.

Back and forth. What do we do? The only answer seems again to be a combination of Christ’s grace, and practicing the virtues of patience and charity—by all parties. All of us who might be distracted should try our very best to charitably empathize and be patient, “offer up” the distraction, and/or if necessary (and possible) move to another seat. But in the same way, those with disruptive children should be charitable to those around them, and patient with their frustration—and try to take steps to ease the situation when possible.

One solution is to have Mom (or Dad) stay home with the fussy baby while Dad takes the other children to Mass, and then vice versa. It worked for my Mom and Dad. But, for many families today family dynamics are very different than they used to be. We have to understand this, and I leave it to the parents’ good judgment.

And there is another simple solution: at St. Raymond’s we have lots of places parents with fussy children can go to avoid distracting others during Mass: we have the “Family Room,” and we have a huge narthex—the vestibule at the main entrance.

Now, let’s be clear. Babies and small children just sometimes make noise—that’s just part of what they do. A baby will start to fuss, and Mom whips out a bottle and the baby is happy again. Or a 5-year-old suddenly starts to talk out loud, and Dad gives him “the look,” and it’s under control. Or a special needs child may blurt out a loud noise all of a sudden, and then stop. All of us need to accept those largely uncontrollable situations—with patience and charity.

But where a child continues to make a prolonged disturbance that is genuinely distracting to others (crying, talking, noise-making, etc.), out of charity, parents must consider what action they can take.

With the grace of Jesus, let us all truly strive to love one another as He has loved us, especially by practicing the virtues of patience and charity. And thanks again for your patience and charity with me.

 

Oktoberfest. Thanks to all who made our Oktoberfest dinner last week a great success. Especially Pat Franco and the Knights of Columbus, and particularly Cindy Leaf and Michael Welch who worked so hard in supervising the food preparation.

 

Oremus pro invicem. Fr. De Celles

 

 

Twenty seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time

“Respect Life Month.” Today is “Respect Life Sunday” and October is “Respect Life Month.” During this month the American Bishops call us to remember that almost 2500 innocent Americans are killed every day by abortions, over 900,000 a year, for a total of over 55 million dead since 1973.

But even as horrible as that death toll is, we can’t forget that abortion has other consequences as well—consequences that have been eating away at the moral and legal fiber of our nation and culture.

Of course, we cannot forget the consequence of abortion’s devastating effect on women. Especially the women who have been lied to and told, “it’s okay, it’s just a formless clump of cells.” But deep inside they know, or come to know, the truth of what they’ve done. These are the 2nd victims of abortion, but they are ignored and ridiculed for expressing their pain and feelings of guilt. We must not forget them, we must love them and do everything we can to help them heal, and to make sure that the evil of abortion will not continue to plague future generations of women.

But the consequences of abortion go beyond even that, as the establishment of a constitutional right to abortion is like a virus injected into the body politic slowly corrupting every other right, and the freedom that is the life’s blood of our great nation. Because there cannot be any human rights if human beings don’t have a right to life. If you’re not alive, you have no rights at all. This is why when Thomas Jefferson wrote the Declaration of Independence the only rights he felt it necessary to list were the most fundamental: “the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness”—with the right to life being first.

This is a key reason why we work so hard to defend life, but it also seems to be a key reason some people work so hard to defend the “right” to take life from babies. If you can take that right away, you can do just about anything you want in society.

So, what does this say about politicians who fight so desperately to defend the right to abortion? And what does it say about us, if we support those politicians, with our money, free speech or votes?

 

Supreme Court. The last few months of debate over the appointment of Judge Brett Kavanaugh seems to come down to this: will America continue to defend the right to kill innocent babies, or will it finally protect the right to life? That is the main reason millions of Christian voters voted for the very imperfect Donald Trump in 2016: he promised to name justices to the Supreme Court who would defend life.

And now President Trump has done that, twice. But this second/current appointment of Kavanaugh will create a pro-life majority on the Court. And that is why so many have opposed his nomination with such unprecedented viciousness from the beginning, well before the last-minute accusations of Dr. Ford, et al, surfaced. As Sen. Chuck Schumer, leader of the opposition, said when the Judge was first nominated, “I will oppose him with everything I’ve got.” And he and his allies have done just that. Primarily to protect abortion.

 

“I Saw Satan Laughing With Delight…” Excuse my lapse into secular music, but as a child of the 70’s I can’t help but think of these words from the 70’s hit song, “American Pie,” that lamented the problems of America 4 decades ago. Satan loves abortion: not only does it kill human life (which he hates) and destroy families, but it also undermines all the principles of justice that undergird Western Society. So surely today he is delighted with the success of the pro-abortion senators the last 2 weeks, including their thoughtless abuse and political manipulation of Dr. Ford and her personal tragedy, to the incomprehensible and irrational rage directed at Judge Kavanaugh. All because of abortion.

What If It Was Your Daughter? What If It Was Your Son? Some say, but what about the accusations of sexual abuse? Are you dismissing that? Of course not. As I’ve said several times, I assume that Dr. Ford is telling the truth as she best remembers it, and my heart goes out to her. I have tried to keep in mind “what if it were my daughter who was saying this?”

But at the same time, we have to also consider, “what if it was my son, or father, or brother, (or husband), being accused?” We have to love and protect the rights and dignity of both the accuser and the accused. And pray for them.

 

Life Chain. To kick off this “Respect Life Month” today, October 7, our parishioners will join thousands of Americans in the “Life Chain.” This year, as in the past, over 100 St. Raymond parishioners will join other local pro-lifers lining up on the sidewalk of Franconia Road in front of Key Middle School from 2:30 to 3:30 PM to simply stand peacefully and quietly praying, maybe holding a sign, as a public witness to our respect for the dignity of human life. It is always a very spiritually rewarding event. Please join in. Parking is available at the school, and Pro-Life signs will be available.

 

40 Days for Life. The Fall “40 Days for Life” Campaign, a similar but more prolonged public witness to the right to life, has already begun, and St. Raymond’s will be taking responsibility for this peaceful vigil on the weekend of October 20 and 21. Please visit the display and sign-up sheets in the narthex this weekend and sign up.

 

Parish Holy Hour. This Tuesday, October 9, at 6:45pm, CCD/Religious Education is sponsoring a Holy Hour of Adoration for the whole parish. Join our CCD families in adoring Our Eucharistic Lord and praying the Holy Rosary for various intentions, including and especially for the “success” of our CCD program this year.

 

Synod of Bishops. Last week Bishops from all over the world gathered in Rome for the Synod on Young People, Faith, and Vocational Discernment, which will continue throughout most of October. Many bishops had called for a cancellation of the Synod, suggesting that, 1) we need to address the current abuse scandal first, and 2) until we do address that scandal the bishops lack credibility in talking about youth. But the Pope apparently didn’t agree. Please pray that all goes well at the Synod.

 

Prayer to St. Michael. The last 2 weeks I have encouraged you to pray the Prayer to St. Michael frequently. Interestingly, this last week Pope Francis also called for the same thing. The powers of darkness surround us, and the devil IS laughing with delight at his many apparent successes. But St. Michael has the “power of God,” and Satan’s power is like that of an ant’s compared to God’s.

 

Oremus pro invicem. Fr. De Celles

 

 

Twenty sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Praying for our Country. We really need to pray for our country. No surprise I’m sure. But the depths to which political acrimony has sunk, especially on the Left, is sickening. (I write this on Wednesday, the day before Judge Kavanaugh and Dr. Ford are scheduled to testify before the Judiciary Committee). Of course right now we see the way the Left is ready to crucify Judge Kavanaugh for an unproven and uncorroborated allegation from 36 years ago, an allegation that runs completely contrary to everything everyone who’s ever known him has to say about him and his character. We see senators actually saying that we can’t believe what he says and must presume him guilty of the charges simply because of his judicial philosophy, even though his legal peers (on the left and right) say he is an excellent judge and brilliant lawyer. And we see the Media and Hollywood Left finding him guilty, without even hearing either him or the accuser—only reading a few snippets of accusations in the media.

What about innocent until proven guilty? What about due process, and fairness? What about assuming the best about people? What about 30 years of exemplary government service? What about the hundreds of friends and ex-girlfriends who praise his outstanding character and kindness, especially toward women, going back to grade school?

What about Jesus’s saying: “If your brother sins against you…take one or two others along with you, that every charge may be established by the evidence of two or three witnesses” [Matthew 18: 15-16].

“No, he’s guilty. Period.” They say.

Personally, I presume Judge Kavanaugh is innocent, because that’s what we should all presume, until someone proves him guilty—not in a court of law, but after bringing convincing evidence. From what I gather, not much evidence is available to support the accusations, and evidence to the contrary is abundant. The only real evidence that seems available is Dr. Ford’s sketchy memories of something that happened 36 years ago at a drunken party she says she attended. I will presume goodwill on her part, and we have a duty to respectfully listen to all possible abuse victims, but I have trouble placing a lot of weight on partial memories effected by psychological trauma, possible alcohol use, and the passing of almost 4 decades.

But the truly nauseating thing is the Left’s political manipulation of the accusations. From Senator Feinstein’s rotten tactic of hiding Dr. Ford’s accusations until after the hearings were done and then not releasing her letter to the Committee (this is evidence), to Senator Hirono saying, “Guess who’s perpetuating all these kinds of actions? It’s the men in this country. And I just want to say to the men in this country, just shut up and step up.”

The question comes up, but what if they can’t figure out who’s telling the truth—should we let a possible abuser sit on the Supreme Court? Think of this: If someone were guilty of things the Judge is accused of when he was a 17-year-old kid, but had lived an absolutely exemplary and outstanding life since then, would he still be unworthy of a place on the Court? I don’t know. But I do know that when Bill Clinton was credibly accused by multiple sexual assaults on women when he was the grown-up governor of Arkansas, the Left defended him and thought it was okay for him to be our President. By that standard, if there is doubt, the accused can serve on the Court.

 

Of course, all this manipulation and acrimony seems to be the new reality in leftist politics, fueled by Marxist principles that include, “the ends justify the means,” that you can do, literally, “whatever it takes” to win, including demonizing, terrorizing and destroying the lives of your opponents and their families. Consider also the Left’s vicious mob harassment of Republican officials and their families at their homes and in restaurants, or shouting down conservative speakers at universities or rallies. This has just got to stop.

Let us pray for our country, Judge Kavanaugh, and Dr. Ford. And let us pray that God may grant us the Supreme Court Justice we need.

 

God Bless Fr. Scalia! From The Beacon, Portland, OR, September 19: “Hundreds of students lined the sidewalks outside the Chapel of Christ the Teacher Wednesday night for a silent demonstration protesting the appearance of Fr. Paul Scalia, who was the keynote speaker at a dinner following [University of Portland’s] annual Red Mass [for lawyers]. Scalia, who is the son of the late Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, has triggered controversy for some things he has said and written about homosexuality, as well as his leadership in an organization called Courage. The organization encourages people with same-sex attraction to be chaste.”

 

Pictorial Directory. I hope you all picked up your directories last week and are happy with them. I think it came out very well, and I hope you do to. Everyone who stood for picture has a copy reserved for them, and anyone can buy one for $8.60 (our cost). Please contact the office for your copy.

 

Molita Burrows. After years of service as sacristan at 8/9am daily Mass, Molita Burrows has decided to step down from her duties. I guess when you reach the age of 95 years you’re entitled to relax a bit. I hope all of you will join me in praying for her continued good health, and thanking her and God for her service to our parish. God bless you, Molita!

 

Altar/Communion Rail. Well, it looks like the Communion rail has been a success, as I would estimate that 90% of you are choosing to kneel to receive. I had no idea it would be that popular, but I am very happy it is. And for those of you who don’t choose to kneel, I hope you feel comfortable standing at the rail—that seems to be working okay too.

When Bishop Burbidge was here on the 16th he commented to me how well it went at the Communion rail: he complimented your piety, and noted that the distribution actually moved faster than when you come up and just stand in line.

A few things to remember: 1) There’s no need to wait for the rail to be empty for you to go forward to kneel; just take the next empty spot that’s convenient. 2) When you receive in the hand at the rail you should consume the host there at the rail before walking away (please do not walk away with the host). 3) When you receive in the hand while kneeling please lift your hands up so that the priest doesn’t have to bend down to reach your hands.

 

Oktoberfest. Next Saturday evening, October 6, our Knights of Columbus are sponsoring an evening of delicious German food and live music. Besides being a very fun event, this is a great way to meet new friends and become more involved in the parish. Please join us!

 

Oremus pro invicem. Fr. De Celles

 

 

Twenty fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Picnic. Last Sunday’s picnic was a huge success, by any measure. We had a record turnout—at least twice as many as any had ever seen before. As I made the rounds, visiting with everyone, I was so pleased to find everyone having a great time, enjoying the good food and music, the games and rides, and the company. What a great day.

I was especially happy to see my predecessor Fr. Gould grace us with his presence, and to see so many of you enjoy visiting with him. What a great man and priest! I don’t know how he built this church—just amazing to me. I struggled getting the lights replaced, and worried over paying off the $7million debt I inherited. But he built this whole plant, with all the crazy ups and downs involved in that (including dealing with 2 different general contractors), and raising $7.5million in cash, plus paying off $3.5million on the loans. Just amazing. But more than that, he built the wonderful parish, the “community,” of St. Raymond’s. From a few hundred people to 6,000 in just 10 years. And a parish with solid foundation in Catholic teaching and Christian fellowship. I have so much to thank him for: and not just handing me this wonder parish with its beautiful church and comfortable rectory, but also being my vocation director for 5 years—I would not be a priest today without his help.

I was also very pleased to have Bishop Burbidge join us for Mass and stay with us at the picnic for 2 hours, just walking around and mingling with people. I think we overwhelmed him with our welcoming, and our joy. He really seemed to enjoy himself, as was evident as he sang our praises as I helped him carry his Mass vestments to his car as he was leaving. Thank you Bishop, for joining us!

And most of all I was overwhelmed by God’s generosity. I fretted all week about whether I should cancel the picnic due to the weather, after reading all the gloom and doom forecasts of rain and flooding (it wasn’t just a matter of rain on Sunday, but would the grass be too saturated to work with). In the end, it was hard to tell what to do, so I just had to trust in Jesus. And as always, He came through, and in magnificent fashion. I had to laugh when the sun burst out right near the beginning of the picnic, and then again when it started to rain just minutes after the picnic ended—God and his unfathomable sense of humor! As I told the Bishop: “Jesus really loves St. Raymond’s.” He does indeed. Praised be Jesus Christ!

Thanks be to Him. And thanks to all who worked so hard to make it a success, especially volunteers like Phil and Alice Bettwy, Pat O’Brien, Pat Franco, the Knights of Columbus, American Heritage Girls, and Trail Life. And thanks to the parish staff for all their hard work—especially Tom Browne, Kirsti Tyson, Mary Salmon and Vince Drouillard, and most especially Eva Radel, who worked like a field general in the planning and the set up.

 

Novena to St. Michael. Next Saturday is the Feast of the Archangels Michael, Gabriel and Raphael. As you know, St. Michael is the great warrior-archangel, who Scripture tells us leads the hosts of heavenly angels to defeat, with the power of God, the fallen angels, led by Lucifer, Satan, the devil. With the current scandal in the Church it seems a very good time to invoke the aid of St. Michael. The Church, especially the bishops and priests, are clearly under assault by Satan.

Now, some folks seem to think that the devil is merely wickedly exposing the bad acts of otherwise good bishops and priests, in order to cause “scandal” (discouragement, doubt, despair, etc.) among the faithful. While it is true, that the devil is doing that, that is not his principal attack. His principle attack on the Church (at least regarding the current situation) is preying on the weaknesses or moral laxity of priests and bishops who then willingly accede to the devil’s temptations and commit sins and even atrocious crimes—whether of lust, lying or abuse of power. Then, and only then, is Satan using those willful sinful acts to further tempt the faithful to doubt their faith and mistrust all bishops and priests.

Clearly, we need to invoke the Divine Power that God has committed to St. Michael to defend the Church. So, I ask you all to join me from today until next Sunday, to pray the “Prayer to St. Michael” every day, for a purification of the Church, especially her seminarians, priests and bishops. And to defend each of us from discouragement, doubt, or despair.

“Saint Michael Archangel, // defend us in battle, // be our protection against the wickedness and snares of the devil; // may God rebuke him, we humbly pray; // and do thou, O Prince of the heavenly host, // by the power of God, cast into hell // Satan and all the evil spirits // who prowl through the world seeking the ruin of souls. // Amen.”

 

Kavanaugh. A lot of you have been asking me about the accusations made by Dr. Ford against Judge Kavanaugh last week. At this time of heightened awareness and shame within the Church with regard to covering up sexual abuse, I am keenly aware of the need to give a just hearing to alleged victims, and of the reality that even apparently saintly men can sin gravely. On the other hand, being a priest at a time when some people accuse all priests of being bigots and haters, and even pedophiles and predators, I am also aware of that people often make cruel and false accusations, and of the need to give a just hearing to the accused.

I also know that politics has become a grotesque blood sport, especially as it’s being played by the radical Marxist left, that as a principle holds that “the ends always justify the means.”

Let us act with and pray for charity and justice for all, accuser and accused. And, trusting in God, we ask Him to give us the Supreme Court Justice He wants us to have.

 

Election Day is November 6th. The deadline to register to vote or change your address for voting is October 15th. The deadline to request an absentee ballot to be mailed to you is Tuesday, October 30, 2018. The deadline to vote an absentee ballot in-person is Saturday, November 3, 2018.

There is a voter information table in the narthex this weekend, September 22/23, with the necessary forms for registration, or voting absentee. Please stop by for forms or with any questions you may have.

Remember, generally speaking, we have a moral duty to vote, and to vote with a conscience formed by our faith in Christ and His Church. If we do not vote, we have no right to complain about how our government functions, or doesn’t function.

 

Oremus pro invicem. Fr. De Celles

 

 

Twenty fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Parish Picnic Celebration. As I write this on Wednesday, Hurricane Florence looms in the Atlantic, and I’m not sure what we’re going to do about the Celebration scheduled for today. I hope we can still have it, in some form at least, but if we can’t… In any case, fiat voluntas Dei—God’s will be done.

 September 11, 2001. Let us pray for all those who died, on 9/11 and in the “War on Terror…” … Eternal rest grant unto them Oh Lord. And send Your holy angels to defend us and to protect all who risk their lives for our safety.

And let us pray also for the brave souls who continue to fight to protect us, and for the conversion of our enemies. And let us pray for our nation’s safety, and that, with the strength of Christ and tempered by His wisdom and mercy, we may defeat those who seek to harm us.

Humanae Vitae Conference. Last weekend’s conference on Humanae Vitae and its ramifications for the world, was a huge success, with over 150 attendees. Our speakers, Fr. Tad Pacholczyk, Dr. Robert Royal and Bob and Gerri Laird did an excellent job in helping us understand the importance of the encyclical and the devasting effects contraception has had on our Church and our culture. Thanks to them, and to our staff and volunteers, especially Eva Radel, Tom Browne, and Liz Hildebrand, who made it all go so smoothly. And thanks be to God!

 

Some Happy News. I’m delighted to write that Brigitta Sanchez-O’Brien, daughter of parishioners, Patrick and Maria (and my goddaughter!), graduated as valedictorian of her class at John Paul the Great University last month. I’m sure you all join me in congratulating her and her family. Please keep her in your prayers as she begins graduate studies this month at Pepperdine University.

 

St. Peter Damian, Doctor of the Church. One of my favorite saints, is St. Peter Damian, a great and fiery advocate of clerical reform in the 11th century. I commend him to all of you as a heavenly patron in this time when reform of priests and bishops is so important.

Born in 1007, Peter was the youngest of a large noble, but poor, family. Left an orphan at an early age, he was adopted by an elder brother, who ill-treated and under-fed him while employing him as a swineherd. The child showed signs of great piety and of remarkable intellectual gifts, and eventually another brother, took him away to be educated. He made rapid progress in his studies, first at Ravenna, then at Faenza, finally at the University of Parma, and when about twenty-five years old he was already a famous teacher at Parma and Ravenna. But, he could not endure the scandals and distractions of university life and decided (about 1035) to retire from the world, entering the hermitage of Fonte-Avellana.

Both as novice and as professed religious his fervor in prayer and penance was remarkable. He continued his thorough study of Holy Scripture and was appointed to lecture to his fellow-monks. In 1043 he became prior of Fonte-Avellana, which he remained till his death.

Although living in the seclusion of the cloister, Peter Damian watched closely the fortunes of the Church, and like his friend Hildebrand (a key assistant to several Popes, who would become the future Pope Gregory VII), he strove for her purification in those deplorable times.

In 1045 when the reforming pope Gregory VI (John Gratian) was elected, Peter hailed the change with joy and wrote to the pope, urging him to deal with the scandals of the church in Italy. In 1047 and 1055 Peter attended and addressed synods at the Lateran and Florence at which decrees were passed condemning clerical unchastity and simony (the buying or selling of holy or spiritual things or church offices).

In 1051 Peter published his venerable and famous treatise on the vice of sodomy among the clergy of his time, the “Book of Gomorrah.” (Sodomy refers to homosexual acts and what we would call “homosexual lifestyles”). It begins: “Alas, it is shameful to speak of it! It is shameful to relate such a disgusting scandal to sacred ears! But if the doctor fears the virus of the plague, who will apply the cauterization? If he is nauseated by those whom he is to cure, who will lead sick souls back to the state of health?”

The book caused a great stir and aroused widespread enmity against Peter, and still does today. Although sometimes excessively harsh in rhetoric, it is also compassionate, especially to innocent victims and truly repentant sinners. It is filled with penetrating insights and lessons that would seem to apply aptly to the Church today.

In 1057 the abbot of Monte Cassino, was elected as Pope Stephen X, and was determined to create Peter a cardinal, so he could better assist the Pope in reforming the clergy. Peter resisted the offer, but was finally forced, under threat of excommunication, to accept, and was consecrated Cardinal-Bishop of Ostia. The new cardinal was impressed with the great responsibilities of his office and wrote a stirring letter to his brother-cardinals, exhorting them to shine by their example before all.

In late 1059 Peter was sent as papal legate to Milan by Pope Nicholas II, where the clergy had been corrupted by widescale simony and unchastity. Things had gotten so bad, that benefices (church offices) were openly bought and sold and the clergy publicly “married” the women they lived with. But the faithful of Milan strove hard to remedy these evils. When Peter arrived, the irregular clerics raised the cry that Rome had no authority over Milan. At once Peter acted, boldly confronting the rioters in the cathedral, and proving to them the authority of the Holy See with such effect that all parties submitted to his decision. He exacted first a solemn oath from the archbishop and all his clergy that for the future no preferment should be paid for; then, imposing a penance on all who had been guilty, he re-instated in their benefices to all who under took to live chastely.

In July 1061, Pope Nicholas II died, and a schism ensued. Damian used all his powers to persuade the antipope Cadalous to withdraw his false claim to the papacy, but to no purpose. Finally a council at Augsburg, at which a long letter by St. Peter Damian was read, formally acknowledged Pope Alexander II as the true pope.

Over the next few years Peter was sent as papal legate to settle various disputes and establish reforms in Florence, Ravenna, France, and Germany.

Early in 1072 he was seized with fever near Faenza, and after a week’s illness he died. He was never formally canonized, but he was venerated as a saint from his death at Faenza, Fonte-Avellana, Monte Cassino, and Cluny. In 1823 Leo XII extended his feast (February 23) to the whole Church and pronounced him a Doctor of the Church, thus officially recognizing Peter’s status as a Saint of the Church. (Condensed largely from The Catholic Encyclopedia).

St. Peter Damian, pray for us.

 

Oremus pro Invicem. Fr. De Celles

 

 

Twenty third Sunday in Ordinary Time

Lighting and Murals. I’m getting lots of positive feedback about the new lights. I hope the settings we’ve come up with are okay with everyone: we dimmed some of the lights and turned off others so that the Church won’t be too bright all the time. So no more wisecracks about “sunglasses.”
As far as the Murals… Recall that there will eventually be two murals in the new arches we built above the statues/shrines of St. Joseph and the Blessed Mother. In accord with our agreement, the artist is still working on a project for another parish in Washington, so the first of our two paintings will not be completed until sometime between March and May of 2019, and the second painting should then be completed sometime between August and October of 2019. I have not decided if we will install the first one when it is finished, or if we will wait to install it when the second is also finished.
Our artist is Henry Wingate, who has done various pieces for several churches. You can see examples of his work on his website: http://henrywingate.com.
Recall, the painting over St. Joseph (the “first painting”) will be the depiction of St. Raymond miraculously sailing away from Majorca. The charcoal drawing of that painting was hung in the space a couple of weeks ago, but was taken down by the artist to use as he paints. The painting over the Blessed Mother (the “second painting”) will depict Mary appearing to St. Raymond to ask him to help found the Mercedarian Order of priests (Our Lady of Ransom, or Mercy).
The term “mural” means a painting that becomes part of the surface of a wall. However, our artist will not paint directly on the wall. Rather, he will paint on two large 20-foot canvases in his studio in the Shenandoah Valley, and bring the completed paintings to the church, fix them to 20-foot sheets of wood, lift them up to the spaces provided and mount them on the wall, framed by the arches we have added over this last summer.

Parish Tax to “the Diocese.” As many of you are aware, 8% of our Sunday (and Holy Day) Offertory Collections goes to the Bishop to pay for the Diocesan offices and Diocesan-wide programs. This “cathedraticum” is standard procedure in most dioceses.
Some have asked me if it is possible to give to the parish without the parish having to pay that “tax” on their donation—they want to make separate donations to the “Diocese,” e.g., through the Bishop’s Lenten Appeal.
So to be clear, if you put a donation in the special “Maintenance Fund” envelope (or otherwise indicate that on your check) or use the similar designation with Faith Direct, that donation will not be subject to the 8%. Also, if you make a donation separately from the offertory collection, e.g., if you donate to a capital campaign (like the Lighting and Murals), or if you mail in a check directly to the office, that amount is also not subject to the 8% tax.

CCD/Religious Education Starts Tonight! Don’t forget that CCD/Religious Education begins tonight, tomorrow, and Tuesday. Catholic parents have no greater obligation than to teach their children their faith—if you don’t do it now, you can count on them leaving the Church when they finish high school. And then what will happen to their lives, and to their souls after death? SO IF YOU LOVE THEM (and I know you do) BRING THEM TO CLASS, and support our efforts to support your efforts to pass on the faith to your kids.
As always, I’m especially excited about our High School program. Do you want your kids going to college with an 8th grader’s understanding of their Catholic faith and morals? Of course not. So we offer them these challenging and interesting classes to help:
9th Grade: “Basic Catholicism.” Delores Nelson returns for her third year and will be assisted again by Claudia Lopez. “Mrs. Nelson” is one of the most gifted, loving and inspiring Catechists in the Diocese—all her students love her and learn from her. With a Masters in Theology, for 16 years she was DRE at St. Andrew’s, is a frequent speaker at conferences, and conducts catechist training sessions. Using Basic Catholicism as a springboard, Mrs. Nelson tackles the tough moral subjects with her students, so they are better prepared to deal with the immorality of the culture in which they live.
11-12th Grade: “Catholicism and Ethics.” Our excellent experienced and certified team of Catechists, Mike Connolly and Don Jarvis, return this year with a renewed and enhanced curriculum to help our young people to explain and defend their faith to others.
10th Grade, First Semester: “Sacred Scripture” and Second Semester: “Church History.” Brittany Doucette and Doug Maines team up again this year. Brittany has extensive experience as youth minister, editor, school teacher, catechist, and conference speaker. She holds a Masters in Theology, Advanced Catechist certification and is currently teaching Middle School Religion at the Basilica School of St. Mary in Alexandria.

Sunday Confessions. One thing I really like about our parish is the Sunday morning Confessions. But, please remember that we have only 2 priests assigned to the parish, and usually one of them is offering Mass, and sometimes the other is unavailable due to illness, vacation, etc.. Also, sometimes a priest will start confessions late (less than 30 minutes before Mass) because his other obligations have detained him (including greeting parishioners after Mass, which I consider very important). In any case, even when confessions start late, confessions should normally end once Mass has begun (the priest may extend this, but that should not be taken for granted, and they should never go later than the start of the Gospel).
Also, while all are welcome, these confession times are provided specifically to meet the genuine needs of those who truly cannot attend on other days, especially for those who have a specific need to go to confession before Sunday Mass. This means you should not plan to go to confession on Sunday merely because it is more convenient than some other day/time, or to make a merely devotional confession. Parents, in particular, if you follow the admirable practice of monthly family confessions, please do this on Saturdays or Wednesdays, but not on Sunday mornings. (Of course, if the line is short on Sunday, then feel free to take advantage, but be considerate of other’s needs).
Thank you for your patience, and for going to confession!

Parish Celebration Picnic. Next Sunday, September 16, is the big day for our annual picnic with a celebration of paying off the parish debt. Bishop Burbidge will celebrate the 12:15 Mass, and then stay for the picnic afterwards. Unfortunately, Fr. Gould will not be able to join us after all, having another commitment to tend to (argh!!!). But Fr. Daly will join us as will Fr. Joseph Okech Adhunga, AJ, who was in residence here for many years. I look forward to seeing all of you there!

Communion Rail. I think it went great last week! Seems like folks really appreciated it. Thanks for everyone’s cooperation.

Oremus pro invicem. Fr. De Celles

Twenty Second Sunday in Ordinary Time

Archbishop Vigano. By now most of you have heard about the astonishing accusations made by Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano. In his 11 page “testimony,” he lays out many damning accusations surrounding ex-cardinal McCarrick, including naming high ranking Cardinals he says are involved in the “homosexual current” in the Church. Most devastating, though, is his testimony about Pope Francis. He maintains: 1) Pope Benedict XVI had put a non-publicized censure on then-cardinal McCarrick in 2009 or 2010, that forbad McCarrick from publicly exercising his priestly ministry and required him to live a life of penance; 2) Pope Francis effectively revoked that censure when he took office in 2013, and made McCarrick his “go-to” advisor for the United States; 3) Vigano personally told Pope Francis about McCarrick’s perversions in a private meeting on June 23, 2013, “Holy Father, I don’t know if you know Cardinal McCarrick, but if you ask the Congregation for Bishops there is a dossier this thick about him. He corrupted generations of seminarians and priests and Pope Benedict ordered him to withdraw to a life of prayer and penance.”
Vigano’s testimony is particularly important because he has been a high ranking official in the Church for decades, including oversight of all the papal nuncios (ambassadors) around the world, then as the Governor of the Vatican City State, and finally as the Papal Nuncio to the United States from 2011 to 2016. Moreover, he has always been known as a man of great integrity and personal holiness. Finally, in giving this written testimony he has broken his pledge not to reveal diplomatic and papal secrets, doing so only because his “conscience dictates.” As he writes:
“To restore the beauty of holiness to the face of the Bride of Christ, which is terribly disfigured by so many abominable crimes, and if we truly want to free the Church from the fetid swamp into which she has fallen, we must have the courage to tear down the culture of secrecy and publicly confess the truths we have kept hidden. We must tear down the conspiracy of silence with which bishops and priests have protected themselves at the expense of their faithful, a conspiracy of silence that in the eyes of the world risks making the Church look like a sect, a conspiracy of silence not so dissimilar from the one that prevails in the mafia. “Whatever you have said in the dark … shall be proclaimed from the housetops” (Lk. 12:3).”
Vigano’s testimony has met with mixed reaction. On the one hand, several highly regarded prelates have spoken up in support of Vigano’s personal integrity and the need to pursue investigation of his accusations. Among these are Cardinal DiNardo (president of the USCCB, and Archbishop of Houston), Cardinal Raymond Burke, Archbishop Chaput (Philadelphia), Archbishop Olmstead (Phoenix), Archbishop Vigneron (Detroit) and Bishop Morlino (Madison).
On the other side, many are trying to dismiss the charges as part of a wider “cabal” on the part of conservative prelates to undermine or even depose Pope Francis. They are painting Vigano as a bitter, “anti-gay,” disgruntled bureaucrat. Cardinal Blase Cupich of Chicago responded (he was named in the testimony), “The Pope has a bigger agenda. He’s got to get on with other things, of talking about the environment and protecting migrants and carrying on the work of the church. We’re not going to go down a rabbit hole on this.”
WHAT THE…? What crud. What happened to leaving no stone unturned to root out the abuse, unchastity and lying in the hierarchy?

The ONLY question is, are these CHARGES TRUE OR NOT?
If they are true, they demand immediate, vehement, dramatic and definitive action. And with all filial respect to His Holiness, as several bishops have pointed out, if the charges against him are true, and I pray devoutly they are not, the Pope has met his own criteria for removing other bishops/cardinals from office.
For myself, I have long prayed for a high-ranking bishop to come forward to tell the whole truth about the filth in the Church. Haven’t we all? And now one might be doing just that. Are we now to ignore him, or simply dismiss him as a kook? If so, we might as well stop asking God for help, if we reject the help He may be sending us.

Kavanaugh Hearings. This week the Senate will hold hearings on the confirmation of Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh. The radical left in our country has tried to find some reason to stop his confirmation, but so far they have come up with nothing, except that he’s probably going to overturn abortion on demand. And that is enough to convince almost all the democrat senators to oppose his nomination.
So, let’s pray that Brett, our fellow practicing Catholic, our brother in Christ, is filled with Christ’s peace and courage, receives a fair hearing, free of rancorous personal attacks, and that he be swiftly confirmed by the Senate. To this end, you will find in your pews today new Holy Cards of St. Raymond, the patron saint of lawyers. On one side is his picture, on the other our prayer to him. I ask that all of us, as a parish, pray this prayer every day this week for the above intentions. May God generously answer our prayers.

Lighting Project. Well, we’re done. And thanks be to God, it seems to have been a huge success. I hope you all agree. Thank you all for your patience, and thanks to those who made special donations to pay for the fix. And last but not least thanks to parish plant manager, Tom Browne, for supervising the whole project. Tom spent countless hours, including some all-nighters, to make sure everything went as perfectly as possible. Kudos and blessings on Tom.

Reparations. Many bishops, including our own Bishop Burbidge, have asked us to pray and do acts of penance in reparation for the terrible sins of abuse, lying and unchastity among priests and bishops. In response to that a catholic friend of mine, a doctor and mother of a large family, wrote me: “I can’t tolerate being asked to participate in reparations for the sins of priests and bishops. I won’t fast for them. I’ve already been paying for their diabolical behavior…What an insult…”
Actually, part of me had that exact same initial reaction. But another part of me recognizes that if something is going to be done, you and I have to do what we can help get it done, “if not you and I, who?” So we pray for God’s intervention, and we do penance, offering sacrifices in reparation for the sins of others, showing God that we are sorry for their sins and our love for and dedication to Him. In essence, we follow Jesus instruction about driving out the most pernicious demons, “This kind can come out only by prayer and fasting.”

Humanae Vitae & Fifty Years. Next Saturday, September 8, is our conference on the historic encyclical of Pope Paul VI, Humanae Vitae. Contact the parish office for more information. I hope to see you all there.

Oremus pro invicem. Fr. De Celles