Third Sunday In Ordinary Time

Impeachment. I write this on Wednesday as the Senate Impeachment Trial of President
Donald John Trump has just gotten underway. How long will it last? Should it take place
at all? What will be the verdict and the outcome? Where will it take us as a nation? How
will history look back on it? These are questions yet to be answered. But one thing we
know for sure, no impeachment trial of a president, whether of a guilty or innocent man,
is good for the nation. Let us pray that God will guide the events of this trial and its
aftermath, and that His will be done. God bless the Senate. God bless the President. And
God bless America.
Vacation. Did I ever tell you I’m allergic to winter? Or so it seems, because the cold
weather really does a number on my sinuses. Maybe it’s the cold, maybe it’s the
barometric pressure, but I usually have some minor congestion, cough, sinus infection all
winter. Because of that I spend an inordinate amount of time indoors during the winter,
which means I tend to get less exercise and I am more easily depressed. Not a great
Of course, I grew up in South Texas and never had this severe of a problem in
winter until I moved up here 29 years ago. Thanks be to God, about 17 or so agp years it
occurred to me that I should take a vacation after Christmas and go south for a week, to
provide a respite and cure for my maladies. So every year me and my priest-friends
headed to Myrtle Beach, SC, for a week of golf in January. Until 6 years ago when it
snowed at Myrtle Beach, the day before we arrived. So for the last 5 years we’ve headed
down to Orlando, FL.
That’s where I was from the 9 th to the 16 th . I understand the weather was nice here,
but it was great in Florida: mid-80s every afternoon, sunny skies, a cooling breeze, every
day. That, 5 days of fun golf, good food and the price of our room (free! we stay at a one
of the priest’s family’s resort timeshare) made it a very refreshing getaway.
And then 2 days back in Virginia it’s 23° and snowing. But I was ready for
that—and for the rest of a cold winter. Thanks be to God!

Pope-Emeritus Benedict and Cardinal Sarah versus Pope Francis? Or so some in the
media have been saying the last week or so, in response to a new book co-authored by the
former pope and the current head of the Vatican’s Congregation for Divine Worship.
Of course, Benedict and Sarah are not challenging or placing themselves “versus”
Pope Francis. Their new book is merely a passionate defense of the Church’s discipline
of priestly celibacy, largely in response to many who have been trying (especially at
October’s “Amazon Synod”) to convince Pope Francis to abandon or make optional this
apostolic discipline. In response to those who see the book as a challenge to Pope
Francis, Vatican Press Office Director Matteo Bruni reminded us this week of Pope
Francis’ comments on January 28, 2019, in which he said “personally, I think that
celibacy is a gift to the Church. I would say that I do not agree with allowing optional
celibacy, no.” Although Pope Francis went on to add, as Bruni paraphrased, “there is
room to consider some exceptions for married clergy in the Latin rite “when there is a
pastoral necessity” in remote locations due to lack of priests, such as in the Pacific
Islands.” Bruni also noted Francis’ quotation of the words of St. Pope Paul VI: “I prefer
to give my life before changing the law of celibacy.”
So where is the fuss coming from? Be careful what you read in the media.
The book is entitled “From the Depths of our Hearts: Priesthood, Celibacy and the
Crisis of the Catholic Church.” and is scheduled to be released in English on March 12. I
look forward to reading it, as I have all of Benedict XVI’s and Cardinal Sarah’s books.
Mass Attendance Count. Over the weekends of this last October we took our annual
Mass attendance count required by the Bishop. I forgot to share the results with you, but
am reminded of this as I received the report from the chancery this week which
summarizes the results of the whole diocese.
While the Diocese as a whole saw a 1.3% decline in attendance from the prior
year, I’m happy to report St. Raymond’s saw a slight increase in attendance of .8%.
Moreover, while the Diocese as a whole saw 29.3% of all registered parishioners
attending Mass, 40.5% of St. Raymond’s all registered parishioners attended Mass.
Specifically, sampling 3 weeks in October, St. Raymond’s averaged 2,362 in
attendance every week. The breakdown by Mass is as follows: 5pm Saturday = 399; 7am
Sunday = 231.; 8:45 am Sunday = 332; 10:30 am Sunday = 606; 12:15 pm Sunday =
405.; 5pm Sunday = 389.
Now you know.
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 merely a 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. And little children, in particular,
would probably not have a genuine need to go to confession at this time. Of course, if the
line is short on Sunday, then certainly anyone should feel free to take advantage, but if
the line is longer, be considerate of others with a genuine need.
Thank you for your patience, and for going to confession!
VOLUNTEER! I know everybody’s busy, and many of you are already serving the Lord
in many ways outside of the parish. But I beg you to think and pray seriously about the
specific ways you can volunteer in our parish. We need your help. To jog your thoughts
here, see the insert in this bulletin for list of the various parish committees/activities that
need your help. Please, look over the insert, and ask God to show you where He wants
Oremus pro invicem. Fr. De Celles

Second Sunday in Ordinary Time

This Friday, January 24 four busloads of St.
Raymond parishioners will drive down to the Mall to
proclaim the good news of the Gospel of Life, including the
Lord’s call to all of us to love our neighbor, even if our
neighbor is a tiny unborn baby. Sign-up sheets for the bus
are located in the narthex of the Church today. Please join
us for the March for Life in Washington.
I was on vacation this last week, so I thought I’d let
a Saint take over my column today. I’ve printed it here
before, but it is such an important text, we should revisit it
Oremus pro invicem. Fr. De Celles
Evangelium Vitae (The Gospel of Life)
Pope John Paul II
March 25, 1995
62. The more recent Papal Magisterium has vigorously
reaffirmed this common doctrine. Pius XI in particular, in
his Encyclical Casti Connubii, rejected the specious
justifications of abortion.[65] Pius XII excluded all direct
abortion, i.e., every act tending directly to destroy human
life in the womb “whether such destruction is intended as an
end or only as a means to an end”.[66] John XXIII
reaffirmed that human life is sacred because “from its very
beginning it directly involves God’s creative activity”.[67]
The Second Vatican Council, as mentioned earlier, sternly
condemned abortion: “From the moment of its conception
life must be guarded with the greatest care, while abortion
and infanticide are unspeakable crimes”.[68]….
Given such unanimity in the doctrinal and
disciplinary tradition of the Church, Paul VI was able to
declare that this tradition is unchanged and unchangeable.
[72] Therefore, by the authority which Christ conferred upon
Peter and his Successors, in communion with the Bishops–
who on various occasions have condemned abortion and
who in the aforementioned consultation, albeit dispersed
throughout the world, have shown unanimous agreement
concerning this doctrine–I declare that direct abortion, that
is, abortion willed as an end or as a means, always
constitutes a grave moral disorder, since it is the deliberate
killing of an innocent human being. This doctrine is based
upon the natural law and upon the written Word of God, is
transmitted by the Church’s Tradition and taught by the
ordinary and universal Magisterium.[73]
No circumstance, no purpose, no law whatsoever
can ever make licit an act which is intrinsically illicit, since
it is contrary to the Law of God which is written in every
human heart, knowable by reason itself, and proclaimed by
the Church….99. In transforming culture so that it supports life, women
occupy a place, in thought and action, which is unique and
decisive. It depends on them to promote a “new feminism”
which rejects the temptation of imitating models of “male
domination”, in order to acknowledge and affirm the true
genius of women in every aspect of the life of society, and
overcome all discrimination, violence and exploitation.
Making my own the words of the concluding
message of the Second Vatican Council, I address to women
this urgent appeal: “Reconcile people with life”.[133] You
are called to bear witness to the meaning of genuine love, of
that gift of self and of that acceptance of others which are
present in a special way in the relationship of husband and
wife, but which ought also to be at the heart of every other
interpersonal relationship. The experience of motherhood
makes you acutely aware of the other person and, at the same
time, confers on you a particular task: “Motherhood involves
a special communion with the mystery of life, as it develops
in the woman’s womb . . . This unique contact with the new
human being developing within her gives rise to an attitude
towards human beings not only towards her own child, but
every human being, which profoundly marks the woman’s
personality”.[134] A mother welcomes and carries in herself
another human being, enabling it to grow inside her, giving it
room, respecting it in its otherness. Women first learn and
then teach others that human relations are authentic if they
are open to accepting the other person: a person who is
recognized and loved because of the dignity which comes
from being a person and not from other considerations, such
as usefulness, strength, intelligence, beauty or health. This is
the fundamental contribution which the Church and humanity
expect from women. And it is the indispensable prerequisite
for an authentic cultural change.
I would now like to say a special word to women
who have had an abortion. The Church is aware of the many
factors which may have influenced your decision, and she
does not doubt that in many cases it was a painful and even
shattering decision. The wound in your heart may not yet
have healed. Certainly what happened was and remains
terribly wrong. But do not give in to discouragement and do
not lose hope. Try rather to understand what happened and
face it honestly. If you have not already done so, give
yourselves over with humility and trust to repentance. The
Father of mercies is ready to give you His forgiveness and
His peace in the Sacrament of Reconciliation. To the same
Father and His mercy you can with sure hope entrust your
child. With the friendly and expert help and advice of other
people, and as a result of your own painful experience, you
can be among the most eloquent defenders of everyone’s right
to life. Through your commitment to life, whether by
accepting the birth of other children or by welcoming and
caring for those most in need of someone to be close to them,
you will become promoters of a new way of looking at
human life.

Feast of the Baptism of the Lord

Christmas Ends, But… Today we end the season of Christmas. But as this special liturgical celebration of Christmas ends, the celebration of the essence and meaning of Christmas must continue. By that I don’t mean the secular or sentimental celebration of Christmas, but rather the celebration of the fact that the eternal God the Son condescended to be born a vulnerable baby, in order that He may enter fully into our human life, and by His human life, death and resurrection transform that life. Christ came to change us, so let’s allow Him to change our lives, and go into this new year recommitted to truly love Him and our neighbor as He taught and showed us, to live the life of grace, hope, faith and love. The life of Jesus Christ, who came to us on Christmas day to change us and to remain with us throughout the year, and all our lives.

March for Life. On Friday, January 24, hundreds of thousands of Christians and other people of goodwill will participate in the 47th annual “March for Life” on the Mall in Washington, commemorating the anniversary of the Supreme Court’s 1973 decision in Roe v. Wade creating the so-called “right to abortion.” Perhaps no court decision or legislation has so directly and fundamentally had such a wide and terrible effect on our nation. And not only in the devastation of 60 million or so babies it has killed, or the millions of mothers whose lives it has ruined. But also in its shaping of our American culture into a culture that degrades human life more and more every day, transforming human beings from persons whose lives have value and meaning in themselves into things that have value and meaning only to the extent other persons who have power over them chose to give them.
Some people tell us we should not talk about this, or at least not talk about it so much, or so loudly or so vehemently. But how can we be silent, when we remember that it is all intimately related to the radicalness of God’s love and His commandment to love our neighbor.
On January 24 four busloads of St. Raymond parishioners will drive down to the Mall to proclaim the good news of the Gospel of Life, including the Lord’s call to all of us to love our neighbor, even if our neighbor is a tiny unborn baby. Please join us. Sign-up sheets for the bus are located in the narthex of the Church today.

Snow Team: HELP! We need some strong, able-bodied folks to help us clean up during snow season. The Snow Team works with Tom Browne, our Plant Manager, to clear and de-ice the sidewalks and paved walkways around the property during ice and snow events. Equipment is provided; sidewalks and aprons must be cleared no less than 30 minutes before the first Mass of the day (and as needed thereafter). This is a paid position, but we will also happily accept volunteers. For more information or to apply, please contact Tom Browne at the Parish Office.

Parish Volunteers. I’ve always said that one of the best ways to grow in your Catholic faith is to become active in some parish group or committee. It may not be as essential as receiving the Sacraments or reading the Scriptures or studying the Catechism, but getting involved in parish activities can be a great way to discover the meaning of Christian service, as well as the support of your fellow parishioners. I know when I was a 20-something year-old Catholic lay man that was an important factor contributing to the deepening my faith. Sometimes the Church, and even the parish, can seem so huge and impersonal. But by being involved in a particular small group or activity of the parish you can really become involved in the life of the whole parish. Not only does this create a personal and familial sense of belonging, but it also draws you deeper into the life of the whole parish and the whole Church—you meet more people, make more good Catholic friends and you learn about more opportunities to serve and to be served.
So, once again, I encourage you to resolve to take a more active part in the life of our parish, and to do so as did the Lord Jesus, who “came to serve, not to be served.” Resolve to become a committed volunteer for one or more activities or groups in the parish.
Many St. Raymond parishioners have a strong history of committed volunteerism (God bless you!). Sometimes, however, this causes others (especially newcomers) to think that their help isn’t needed. But the reality is just the opposite: we constantly need fresh ideas, younger muscles, new voices, etc.. And we can’t grow or improve if we don’t have more help! So I encourage folks who aren’t committed to some volunteer parish activity now to do so in 2020, especially those who are newer to our parish. And I encourage those of you who are volunteers already to invite other parishioners you meet to join you!
I know everybody’s busy, and many of you are already serving the Lord in many ways outside of the parish. But as we begin this New Year, I beg you to think and pray seriously about the specific ways you can volunteer in our parish.

Flu Season and the Sign of Peace. Flu and cold season is heavily upon us, so I encourage all of you to be very careful in taking precautions not to catch or spread germs. In this regard, I remind you of our parish policy regarding the exchange of the Sign of Peace, and encourage you to practice at all times, but especially during this hazardous season. The description of the exchange of the Sign of Peace is found in the inside cover of the missalettes, but, briefly:
When the priest says, “Let us offer each other the Sign of Peace,” rather than exchange a handshake or a hug, each congregant is asked to: turn only to the person on their immediate left and right (so, only 2 people), perhaps with folded hands, and give a slight bow of the head or shoulders (much like the servers and priests bow to each so often at the altar). Remember to wait for the other person to turn to you, so you can bow to each other. Although all are asked to cooperate, charity rules, so no one should be criticized if they chose not to adopt this form.

Christmas Food Containers at the Rectory. Thanks again to all those who brought food (cookies, candies, etc.) to the rectory over Christmas. Many of you brought these to us in very nice containers that you may want back. If that includes you, please come by the rectory office this week to claim your container.

Oremus pro invicem! Fr. De Celles

Solemnity of the Epiphany of our Lord

Epiphany. Today we celebrate the Epiphany of the Lord, commemorating the visit and adoration of the Magi to Christ in Bethlehem. It has historically been celebrated on January 6th since at least the 3rd century, but is celebrated in the U.S. on the Sunday falling between January 2nd and January 8th (inclusive). In the Orthodox Church and many of the Eastern Rite Catholic Churches it also, effectively, celebrates the birth of Our Lord, i.e., Christmas.
The visit of the Magi is rich in symbolic meanings for Christians, in particular those relating to the revealing (“epiphany”) of the Christ to the gentile world. As we think about this, it reminds us that that the Church is the Body of Christ on Earth, and so is called to continue the Christmas/Epiphany revelation of the coming of the Messiah to the world. But this is not just a responsibility for the Pope, bishops and priests: each is baptized into Christ and members of Christ’s Body, and so each is called to go out to the gentiles of today—those who do not share our Christian and Catholic faith—and reveal Christ to them. This can take various forms, but it begins with living our lives as if we believe in Jesus ourselves. So we live lives in keeping with the moral teaching of Christ, especially when it comes to chastity and charity. But we also must speak to others about Jesus, and His Church. Again, this can take various forms, considering prudence, our own particular talents, and the particular opportunities the Lord gives us to share our faith. How is Jesus calling you to reveal Him to the world you live in this year?

Feast of St. Raymond of Peñafort. This coming Tuesday, January 7, is the feast of our parish Patron. I invite all of you celebrate his feast at our special solemn Mass (with music) on Tuesday at 7pm.
For those of you who don’t know much about St. Raymond, I invite you to read the 32-page biography we published a few years ago. If you don’t have one, they are available in the parish office.
As a brief reminder…Raymond was born of a noble family, near Barcelona, in 1175. At the age of 20 he became professor of canon law. In 1210 he left teaching to complete his studies in civil and canon law at the University of Bologna. He went on to hold a chair of canon law at that university for three years. (The date of his priestly ordination is uncertain, but it would seem to be around 1195).
On August 1, 1218 Raymond received a heavenly vision in which the Blessed Mother (“Our Lady of Ransom”) instructed him to help St. Peter Nolasco found the Order of Mercedarians, which would be devoted to the ransom of Christians taken captive by the Moors (Spanish Muslims) (a scene depicted in our new mural). Raymond did not, however, join that order but rather entered the Order of Preachers (“Dominicans”) in Barcelona in 1222. As a Dominican, Raymond continued to teach and preach, and devoted considerable effort working to convert Moors and Jews, coaxing St. Thomas Aquinas to write his Summa Contra Gentiles to help in his efforts.
At the request of his superiors, Raymond published the Summa Casuum, a book on cases of conscience for the guidance of confessors and moralists, the first guide of its kind. This work eventually led to his appointment as confessor and theologian to Pope Gregory IX in 1230. The Pope soon directed Raymond to re-arrange and codify the canons (juridical laws) of the Church, which required him to rewrite and condense centuries of Church decrees. The Pope published Raymond’s work in 1231, and commanded that it alone should be considered authoritative. From then on St. Raymond would be known as the “Father of canon law.”
In 1238 he was elected Master General of the Dominican Order, the second successor to St. Dominic, but he resigned two years later, claiming that at 63 years old he was too old for the job. He continued his writing, preaching and pastoral work, as well many important responsibilities entrusted to him by various popes, for another 37 years until his death in Barcelona on January 6, 1275, at the age of 100.
But St. Raymond had one last great miracle to perform. Six years before his death, King James of Aragon invited him to come to Majorca with him to preach to the Muslim inhabitants. But when he arrived on the island the saint discovered that King James had brought his mistress along. Raymond demanded he send her away, and when the King refused, Raymond went searching for a ship to go back to Spain. When he discovered that the King had forbidden any ship to let him board, Raymond simply bowed his head in prayer, made the sign of the cross, and, by the grace of God, sailed 160 miles back to Spain using just his great cape as both a skiff and a sail as depicted in our other mural.
He is the patron saint of lawyers, both canon and civil. And our patron as well! St. Raymond of Peñafort, pray for us!

My “Black Eye.” On Thursday, December 19, several parishioners and I drove 4 carloads of gifts gathered from our “giving tree” out to Our Lady of the Blue Ridge in Madison, VA. As I was unloading one of the trucks, carrying a large box in both hands, suddenly, out of nowhere, I was attacked by a vicious black bear. Not really. Actually, I tripped over a parking curb. I tried to keep from dropping box, but wound up dropping myself, face first, onto the concrete. I fell pretty hard, but, thanks be to God, there was no serious damage: no broken bones, and only a few scratches and a relatively small laceration on my face. It looked much worse than it was, with all the swelling and discoloring. Very little pain. The worst part was a minor concussion which has slowed me down since then. But I’ve been able to get lots of rest, and I’m almost totally mended.
Thanks to all who have expressed concern and sympathy. And thanks especially to folks who took me to the hospital in Culpeper, and drove me and my car home (separately) from Madison. God bless you for your kindness.

Interruption at Mass. Last Sunday someone interrupted my homily with a shouted outburst of protest. Both the “shouter” and I apologize for the fear this may have brought to anyone present, especially little children. Such interruptions of Mass are always unacceptable, but it seems to me that in these times of heightened fear of violence in churches, they are … especially uncharitable.

Happy New Year 2020 Anno Domini. As we continue the Christmas Season in this New Year of the Lord 2020, I pray that the Christ Child will shower you with His graces, and that His Blessed Mother, St. Joseph and St. Raymond will keep you in their care. Blessed and Merry Christmas, and a Holy and Happy New Year!

Oremus pro invicem! Fr. De Celles

Third Sunday of Advent

GAUDETE SUNDAY. Today is “Gaudete Sunday,” or “Rejoice Sunday” (from the first words of the entrance antiphon, “Gaudéte in Dómino semper”— “Rejoice in the Lord always”). This reminds us that Advent is a season of “expectant joy” as our anticipation of the great joy of Christmas builds everyday as we draw closer to it. This is symbolized in the “rose” colored vestments the priests may where today, “rose” being a shade of advent violet that is brighter than the normal violets of Advent, as if the brightness of Christmas joy is shining through the subdued preparation of Advent.
I hope we all experience this building joy during Advent. First and foremost, we should experience this spiritually, in our prayers and meditation on the mystery of Christmas, and in reception of the sacraments. In this regard, I encourage you to go to confession this week—we rejoice because Christ was born to save us from our sins, and He pours out this salvation in this holy sacrament—there’s nothing like the joy experienced in having our sins forgiven. Remember, we have will have 3 priests hearing confessions every evening this week, Monday through Friday. I also encourage you to attend daily Mass: remember this week we have an additional Mass on Friday evening at 7pm, in the Extraordinary Form (it’s a beautiful way of experiencing the Mass.)
I also encourage you to join us this Thursday December 19, from 7pm to 8pm, for our Advent Holy Hour of Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament. We’ll begin with Exposition, then I’ll give a half-hour talk (the 3rd and final of my “Advent Series”), followed by praying the Rosary and then Benediction. This year my topic is “The Christmas Visitors: Angels, Shepherds and Kings,” and this Thursday I will talk about the Kings/Magi who visited the Baby Jesus. Please join us.
Decorations. Of course, this growing spiritual joy also overflows into our practical lives during this season, and expresses itself in many of the customs of this season, many of which illustrate how this joy gradually builds as we approach the source of our joy, Christmas. We see this, for example, in how the decoration of our homes get more and more “Christmassy” as the days of Advent pass.
Many have observed how I don’t put Christmas decorations in the church for Advent. One reason for this is because so many decorations abound outside the church, often lacking any sense of gradualness or progression, that I think it’s important to show a contrast in our liturgies—to remind us that Christ is not here yet, that we are waiting and preparing for Him.
Even so, we do incorporate this progression in the church in several ways, including the Advent wreath, the selection of hymns, and the rose vestments. And this year we’ve put out part of our creche/nativity scene a little early—but not all of it—to be a sign that we are waiting for the Savior. “I see Him, but not now; I behold Him, but not near” (Num. 24:17).
New Creche/Nativity Scene. I’m sure you notice that we have new statues for our “Christmas creche” this year. Sadly, the old set was very old, and in need of lots of costly repairs. So, with the generous support of 3 parishioners (thanks!) I decided to purchase the new statues. Although not as large as the old figures, the new figures are more colorful and finely detailed. I hope that you like this creche as much as I do and that it will be a welcome part of many joyful Advents and Christmases for years to come.
Lessons and Carols. Another important way I like to express this gradual progression is by celebrating “Lessons and Carols,” as we did last Sunday. It was another amazing evening of music and meditation: the choir was amazing. Thanks to Elisabeth Turco and all the musicians and choir members; and to Eva Radel for organizing the children’s choir for their debut performance. Thanks also to the lectors, and to all who provided an elegant reception afterwards, especially the volunteers from Angelus Academy.
Advent and Christmas Giving. Still another practical way we experience this progressive joy is through acts of generosity. I’m sure all of you have been showing special charity to those around you, through ordinary acts of kindness revealing the joy of Christ in your hearts. But we also experience this in a special way through gift-giving. We need to be careful, though, to make the Christmas gifts we buy in some way a genuine reflection of our Christian joy. Perhaps we can do this by giving religious gifts, e.g., Bibles, rosaries, Catholic books, etc., or just being careful to give wholesome gifts that are consistent with Christian values.
This is also a time to make donations to worthy Catholic groups who will receive them with the joy of Christ. A few of the groups that I would recommend, are Divine Mercy Care, Project Rachel, Gabriel Project, House of Mercy, Angelus Academy, and, my personal favorite, St. Dominic Monastery in Linden, the wonderful cloistered Dominican sisters who pray for our parish daily. And you can always make an extra gift to St. Raymond’s.
And Finally, Speaking of Anticipated Joy… I’m sure all of you are looking forward to the “second mural” taking its place opposite the mural of “The Sailing Saint Raymond.” Well, our waiting should come to an end this week, as the second mural of “Our Lady of Ransom Appearing to St. Raymond” should be in place before next Sunday. So say a little prayer to St. Raymond that all goes well, and hopefully….
Many people, especially newer parishioners, ask me about the story behind this mural. As you may know, in the 13th century Moorish (Muslim) pirates used to capture ships from Christian countries sailing in the Mediterranean Sea. These captured Christians were then either held for ransom, or forced to convert to Islam, and/or sold into slavery. This was the state of things when, on the evening August 1, 1218, the Blessed Mother appeared separately to three very different men in Barcelona, Spain: to St. Peter Nolasco, the son of a wealthy Spanish merchant and veteran of various battles against the Moors (Muslims) occupying much of southern Spain; to King James I of Aragon; and to our own beloved patron, St. Raymond of Peñafort, who was Peter’s confessor. Our Lady told each of them that St. Peter was to found a religious order that would dedicate itself to the ransom of Christian captives of Muslims. The members of this new order would take a vow to offer themselves personally/bodily, when necessary, as ransom or as security for the freedom their fellow Christians. St. Peter obeyed Our Lady, and with the political and financial support of the King and under the wise guidance of St. Raymond, the order, commonly called “the Mercedarians,” was founded and proceeded in its mission. This mural portrays Our Lady of Ransom (or “of Mercy”) appearing to St. Raymond.

Oremus pro invicem. Fr. De Celles

First Sunday of Advent

Season of Advent. Today we begin the season of Advent, in preparation for Christmas.
Every year most people forget that the Advent season is primarily about preparing for
Christmas, and instead spend these weeks pre-maturely celebrating Christmas, and doing
so from a largely secularized perspective. And then when the actual 3 week Christmas
Season begins on Christmas Day, they put all the Christmas things away and go on with
This pre-mature celebration isn’t necessarily a bad thing, if we see it as part of the
strong influence of Christianity on our culture. Many Catholics see people around them
start celebrating Christmas, and it’s such a wonderful feast they (Catholics) get all caught
up in it.
But it’s not completely harmless. First of all, much of this early celebration is
driven not by a Christian culture, but by commercial interests taking advantage of that
culture. Sadly, much of this is nothing more than retailers playing on our emotional
attachment to Christmas, in order to increase sales. Increasing sales is not a bad thing, but
the reduction of Advent to a period of rampant commercialism/materialism and
emotionalism is a terrible thing. All but forgotten is the spiritual/faith preparation to
celebrate the wonder of the birth of the Baby Jesus, our Creator come to redeem us from
our sins.
Please don’t let this happen to you this Advent. This is not to say you can’t take
part in the “cultural” celebrations, as long as you make sure to also spend time preparing
for the celebration of the Day that changed the world forever. Here are some suggestions:
— Catholics always prepare for Holy Days by doing penance. In Advent this
shouldn’t take on anything near the severity of Lent, but we should do some small
penance every day to remind us that nothing is more important than Christ, and that
everything we do is for Him.
— Add extra prayers to your daily routine. The Rosary is an excellent addition to
our prayers, especially meditating on the Joyful Mysteries, or at least praying one decade
every day, meditating on one of the Joyful Mysteries.
— Reading Scripture is an excellent way to renew your faith in Christ. Perhaps
challenge yourself to read one of the Gospels beginning to end in Advent. Or perhaps
read short passages daily from the Christmas-related texts: Matthew 1-2, Luke 1-2, John
— Of course, charitable giving is a great way to prepare for the gift of the Baby
Jesus. While it is a fine practice to give presents to people we love, it is an even better
practice to give to those who do not know us and cannot give anything back to us. So,
make sure you make generous charitable gifts—either directly to those in need or to
worthy charitable projects/institutions. The parish Giving Tree is one good way to do
this, as are some of the special collections.
— Receiving the sacraments is one of the most important things you can do in
Advent. Consider coming to Mass and Adoration during the week, and make sure you go
to Confession. As always, we will have confessions every weekday evening during
Advent, which means confession is available every single day during Advent (except
Christmas Eve).

— Most importantly, live the life that Christ came to give us: make every day about
loving God with all your heart, mind, soul, and strength, and your neighbor as yourself.
Follow the 10 Commandments, live out the Beatitudes. Forgive others, and be kind,
patient, generous, and encouraging. Love one another as Jesus, who out of love for us
stripped Himself of the glory of heaven to be born in a cold manger, loves us.
— Also: take part in the many special events and liturgies scheduled in the parish
this Advent. Please keep the insert of the Schedule of “Advent & Christmas 2019
Events” from last week’s bulletin somewhere central in your house (on the fridge door?).
In particular, consider:
— Lessons and Carols. Next Sunday, December 8, I invite you to join me, the
lectors and the choir for “Lessons & Carols” at 7:00 pm. This is a wonderful program of
beautiful Advent music and Scripture readings. Some people think “Lessons” means I’m
going to give a lecture or something. Not at all. “Lessons” is simply an old English term
for readings from Scripture. By weaving together prophetic readings from the Old
Testament and pre-nativity readings from the Gospels, the readers lay out God’s
breathtaking plan for the birth of His Divine Son. The choir adds to the atmosphere of
joyful expectation by leading us in popular hymns and spreading their vocal wings in
leading us in carols and a few more complicated choral pieces—they are AMAZING.
And afterwards there will be an opportunity for joyful fellowship at a short reception
(with delicious seasonal refreshments). Trust me, this is a really wonderful
evening—you’ll have a great time. Every year the crowd gets bigger (last year we had
several hundred!) because everyone who comes loves it. Please join us.
— Advent Talks. In the past, my 3-part Advent Series on the Thursdays of Advent
has been in the form of a lecture or class. But this year I’ve decided to follow the format I
adopted for last year’s Lenten Series: I will present my Advent Series talks as half-hour
meditations in the church during a Holy Hour of Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament.
We’ll begin with Exposition, then I’ll give a half-hour talk, followed by praying the
Rosary and then Benediction.
This year my topic will be “The Christmas Visitors: Angels, Shepherds and
Kings.” Please join us every Thursday during Advent, beginning this Thursday,
December 5, from 7pm to 8pm.

Immaculate Conception. Normally the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception
falls on December 8 and is a Holy Day of Obligation. But this year December 8 is the 2 nd
Sunday of Advent, so the Immaculate Conception is moved to Monday, December 9, and
IS NOT a Holy Day of Obligation. But even though you don’t have to attend Mass, I
strongly encourage you to do so, as this great feast is integral to Advent, teaching us
about Mary’s perfect preparation to receive Christ. We will have Masses at 6:30am, 8am,
Noon, and 7pm.

Mural of Our Lady of Ransom Appearing to St. Raymond. Many of you have
been asking where our “second mural” is. Well, when working with artists I always
remember the great line from the movie “The Agony and the Ecstasy,” about the painting

of the magnificent Sistine Chapel ceiling. Pope Julius II shouts up to Michelangelo,
“when will you make an end?!” and the artist shouts down at the Pope, “when I am
finished!” So I encourage, but never pressure the creative process of artists.
But our patience has paid off, and I can announce that the new mural will
definitely be in place in time for Christmas. A little Christmas gift from Our Lady and
Our Patron.

Oremus pro invicem. Fr. De Celles

Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe

Christ the King. Today is the last Sunday of the Catholic liturgical year, which ends with the celebration of the feast of Christ the King of the Universe.
Jesus told us His “kingdom is not of this world.” He was not establishing a territorial nation with rules enforced by imprisonment or armies. But He did not say or mean that His kingdom would “have nothing to do with the world.” Rather His kingdom, and kingship, would reign above the world and in men’s hearts, minds and souls, and so transform the world.
Because of this, the Church has always recognized a legitimate understanding of the “separation of Church and state.” It is true that some nations have been, or still are, officially “Catholic” nations. Some say this blurs the lines of that separation. But it all depends on what you mean by “separation.” If you mean, on the one hand, that the Church should not dictate the particular laws of civil society, while still having a strong influence on those laws, especially in promoting true morality, justice, virtue and charity, and on the other hand, that civil leaders and laws should not interfere in the spiritual, moral life or conscience of the Church and its members, then you have something approaching the historic Catholic understanding of separation.
This understanding is entirely compatible (though not identical) with the type of “separation” the American founders established for our nation, enshrined in the first amendment to the Constitution: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.” The principle effect of this clause is to guarantee that the government can’t make laws that unnecessarily impinge on the rights of religions or churches, or interfere with people practicing their religion freely. There is nothing here, as some people claim, that denies the right of religion, Churches, and/or religious people to influence civil government and laws. In fact, the founding fathers believed that religion had an essential role in guiding the nation and its laws. As George Washington wrote: “Of all the dispositions and habits, which lead to political prosperity, Religion and Morality are indispensable supports…. [R]eason and experience both forbid us to expect, that national morality can prevail in exclusion of religious principle.”
Nowadays Islamic extremists (“Islamists”) are using despicable violence against the innocent to try to establish a world-wide theocracy in which the state and “church” (so to speak) are one, with no separation at all. We see something similar in Iran, where the Supreme Leader is the highest ranking Muslim cleric.
The Catholic Church has never sought to do this. It simply believes that it has a critical role in influencing public policy, and that its individual members have a right to live according to their faith-formed consciences and, especially through the right of free speech and the right to vote, to enact laws consistent with their understanding of right and wrong, good and evil.
Today, on the feast of Christ the King, we remember this, that while His Kingdom is not of this world, it reigns in the hearts and minds of all Christians. So that while Christ does not seek to establish His own worldly kingdom or nation, He does call all peoples living in the worldly kingdoms and nations to follow Him so as to live in true justice and virtue.
Does Christ the King reign in our hearts—or does something else rule there? And do we allow our King to rule the way we live in the worldly kingdoms, in both our day to day life with family, friends and customers, as well as in the “public square” of public speech and civil laws?

Thanksgiving. This Thursday is, of course, Thanksgiving Day. This is not a religious holiday, but it does clearly illustrate how the sense of the importance of religion is deeply rooted in our national self-understanding. As President George Washington wrote in establishing the first Thanksgiving Day in 1789:
“Now therefore I do recommend and assign Thursday the 26th day of November next to be devoted by the People of these States to the service of that great and glorious Being, who is the beneficent Author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be– That we may then all unite in rendering unto him our sincere and humble thanks–for his kind care and protection of the People of this Country previous to their becoming a Nation–for the signal and manifold mercies, and the favorable interpositions of his Providence which we experienced in the course and conclusion of the late war–for the great degree of tranquility, union, and plenty, which we have since enjoyed–for the peaceable and rational manner, in which we have been enabled to establish constitutions of government for our safety and happiness, and particularly the national One now lately instituted–for the civil and religious liberty with which we are blessed; and the means we have of acquiring and diffusing useful knowledge; and in general for all the great and various favors which He hath been pleased to confer upon us.”
This week, remember Who you are giving thanks to. It’s fine to thank your family and friends for all their kindnesses, but in the end it is “Almighty God”—Christ the King—to Whom we owe our unending thanks. May He continue to bless us, and our beloved nation.
And what better way to begin Thanksgiving Day than by coming to our 10am Mass? After all, Eucharistic comes from the Greek word eukharistia, which means thanksgiving. I hope to see you there.

Impeachment Hearings. And as we give thanks to God, I also encourage you to pray that He bless our Congress and President, especially during the impeachment process currently taking place. I don’t want to share my personal opinions on this, but I do think we all need to beg God to guide our leaders at this difficult time, and pray especially that His will be done.

Advent. Next week we begin the season of Advent, beginning our new Catholic year with preparation for Christmas. I realize Advent coincides with the very hectic celebration of the worldly and commercial “Holiday Season,” but please don’t let that lead you to forget that Advent belongs to Jesus Christ, the King of the Universe, Who was born in a lowly manger. To help in this regard the parish will offer many opportunities to help us keep focused on our spiritual preparation for Christmas. To this end, in this week you’ll find our annual insert with the full schedule of Advent and Christmas events. Please look this over carefully, mark your calendars, and keep it in a prominent place to remind you of parish opportunities to make this truly a holy season.

Fr. Jordan Willard. Please join us today (Sunday) after the 12:15 Mass for a welcome reception in the Parish Hall for our new Parochial Vicar, Fr. Jordan Willard. All are invited.

Oremus pro invicem. Fr. De Celles

Thirty Third Sunday in Ordinary Time

Goodbye Fr. Smith! Welcome Fr. Willard! Today is Fr. Charles Smith’s last day in the parish before he moves to St. John the Evangelist in Warrenton as Pastor. His last Mass here will be today’s (Sunday’s) 12:15 Mass, which will be followed by a reception in his honor in the Parish Hall—please join us.
I’m sure you all join me in thanking Fr. Smith for his service to the parish these 3½ years. I particularly thank him for his hard work and personal kindness and support to me. God bless him as he begins his new work as Pastor.
Fr. Jordan Willard joined us on Thursday, and you will see him at the Masses this weekend. We will more formally welcome him next Sunday, November 24, after the 12:15 Mass, with an ice cream social in the Parish Hall—please join us. I am looking forward to working with Fr. Willard, and I know you will join me in making him feel at home.

40 Days for Life. And while I’m thanking people, I want to give a big thanks to all our parishioners who took part in the 40 Days for Life campaign. It was a great effort and incredible witness. There is nothing about it that is convenient. It is incredible that we have so many faithful witnesses for life. Some volunteers went every week of the 6 week campaign. Some went more than once in a day to fill an empty spot. Some stood there for several hours in a row. Some went on crutches. Some have been going for years and still go, not taking this year off for any number of valid reasons. Our Youth Group went together with volunteer chaperones and held the 40 Days for Life Banner.
Some went when the clinic was open. Others went when the clinic was closed. Their presence was vital in both scenarios as this is not simply a temporal battle but indeed a spiritual one.
As for our specific parish 34 hour commitment, close to 100 parishioners signed up, while others participated by just showing up. During our hours, the most spoken words on that sidewalk were those of the Rosary and Divine Mercy Chaplet.
This is who the people of Saint Raymond’s are. I am so honored to be your Pastor.

US Bishops’ Meeting. Last week the Bishops of the United States had their regular Fall meeting in Baltimore. Good news from the meeting included the election of Archbishop Gomez of Los Angeles as the incoming president of the conference, along with Archbishop Vigneron of Detroit as incoming vice-president. Among the more interesting matters discussed were the long awaited Vatican report on the former cardinal Ted McCarrick (still not finished), and the Bishops’ letter on voting which re-affirmed that abortion is the “pre-eminent” issue in the public square. Here are excerpts from two interesting articles from the Catholic News Agency (CNA) about these discussions. Note, that CNA is the official news service of the US Bishops.
Re: McCarrick: By Rhina Guidos , Nov 11, 2019 (CNA)—“In a brief presentation…Boston’s Cardinal Sean P. O’Malley told the bishops gathered in Baltimore the Vatican may publish what it knows about the ascent to power of now-disgraced former U.S. Cardinal Theodore E. McCarrick by Christmas, or perhaps the New Year….
“‘We made it clear to Cardinal (Pietro) Parolin [Vatican Secretary of State] at the leadership of the curia that the priests and the people of our country are anxious to receive the Holy See’s explanation of this tragic situation, how he could become an archbishop and cardinal, who knew what and when,’ Cardinal O’Malley said of meeting with the Vatican secretary of state in early November. ‘The long wait has resulted in great frustration on the part of bishops and our people and indeed a very harsh and even cynical interpretation of the seeming silence.’
“Cardinal Parolin said the Vatican’s intention had been to publish the report before the bishops’ November meeting, Cardinal O’Malley reported, ‘but the investigation has involved various dioceses in the United States as well as many offices’ at the Vatican and a much larger than expected ‘corpus’ of information than anticipated….
“Cardinal O’Malley’s approximately three-minute presentation was short on details, other than to say the Vatican had showed him a ‘hefty document that has been assembled.’”

Re: Abortion: By Ed Condon, Nov 12, 2019 (CNA).—“…Cracks in the conference appeared as the bishops discussed amendments to a letter meant to accompany a series of videos aimed at helping Catholics engage with the American political process when Cardinal Blase Cupich of Chicago asked for a separate consideration of one of the amendments. “The cardinal suggested the insertion of a long paragraph into the text which would contextualize the Church’s position on life issues, and especially the teaching of Pope Francis.
“The committee considering the amendments, led by the USCCB president-elect Archbishop Jose Gomez of Los Angeles, agreed to include an abbreviated version of Cupich’s paragraph, including language insisting that the ‘firm and passionate’ defense of the unborn should be matched with support for the ‘equally sacred’ lives of the poor, inform, elderly, and marginalized….
“Speaking in support of Cupich, Bishop Robert McElroy [San Diego] told the assembly that he was specifically opposed to the letter’s retention of language calling abortion the ‘preeminent priority because it directly attacks life itself.’
“McElroy told the conference this language was ‘discordant with the pope’s teaching, if not inconsistent,’ and implied that a failure to accept Cupich’s proposed language was tantamount to a breach with the Holy Father’s magisterium. ‘It is not Catholic teaching that abortion is the preeminent issue that we face as a world in Catholic social teaching. It is not.’
“‘McElroy’s intervention triggered murmurs on the conference floor, with several bishops visibly distressed. Archbishop Charles Chaput of Philadelphia responded to McElroy, saying that calling abortion the ‘preeminent priority’ was not just correct but necessary, pointing out that in the current American political context it was the most pressing concern. Chaput went on [to say]: ‘…I am against anyone saying that our stating that [abortion] is preeminent is contrary to the teaching of the pope, because that isn’t true. It sets up an artificial battle between the bishops’ conference of the United States and the Holy Father which isn’t true….I don’t like the argument Bishop McElroy used, because it isn’t true.’
“In a rare break with etiquette, the bishops in the hall broke into applause in support of Chaput.
“‘He wants us to think that to disagree with him [McElroy] – or [Cardinal] Cupich – is to disagree with the pope. It’s not true, but it works to undermine the conference leadership,’ another bishop told CNA immediately following the vote. ‘It doesn’t serve communion among us, or with the pope. It’s about personalities and power.’
“The final vote on the amendment declined to include Cupich’s longer text, with applause again breaking out when the result was announced…”

Oremus pro invicem. Fr. De Celles

Thirty Second Sunday in Ordinary Time

Fr. Charles Smith. By now I assume you have all heard that effective Monday,
November 18, Fr. Charles Smith, our Parochial Vicar, will be transferred and promoted
to be the new Pastor at St. John the Evangelist Parish in Warrenton. There he will take Fr.
Jim Gould’s place, as Fr. Gould becomes Pastor at St. Francis de Sales in Purcellville. Fr.
Smith has done great job here these last 3½ years, a huge help to me, and I know to all of
you as well. I know you join me in thanking him, and are as confident as I am that he will
be a great Pastor.
All transfers are difficult for priests, but especially for first-time pastors. It’s a
very different job than being a vicar, and so, while exciting, it’s also a little nerve-
wracking. Plus, this transfer has two added complications: first, it is very short notice,
and second, Fr. Smith will be out of town on a long-planned trip to Rome the week
before the transfer.
Fr. Smith will be gone all this week, but he will be back to say his last Mass here
next Sunday, November 17, at 12:15. After that Mass we will have a going away
reception for him in the parish hall, and all are invited.
Some have asked me if they can give Fr. Smith a gift. It is not at all necessary, but
it is kind and a lot of people do it, so “yes.” Then they ask me what they should give him.
That’s harder. Honestly, the best thing to give a priest to make sure it’s actually useful to
him (he already has 20 rosaries in his drawer) is to give him a nice card with cash or a
gift card (maybe to Amazon). I know that sounds crass, but priests don’t make a lot of
money and these will go to help him buy things he really wants or needs.
But above all, keep him in your prayers.
Fr. Jordan Willard. Taking Fr. Smith’s place at St. Raymond will be Fr. Jordan Willard.
Fr. Willard was ordained in June 2017, and has been the Vicar at St. Theresa’s in
Ashburn since then. I don’t know Fr. Willard very well at all, but priests who do know
him well, tell me he is a very kind, pious and hardworking priest. And he’s only 30 years
old, so that will bring a different youthful perspective and energy to our rectory. Here is
his Bio from the St. Theresa website:
“Fr. Jordan Willard grew up in Hillsboro, Virginia as the third in a family of
twelve brothers and sisters, attending the parish of St. Francis de Sales in Purcellville.
He attended High School at an Opus Dei institute, The Heights School, in Potomac,
Maryland, and graduated in the spring of 2009.
“Thereafter, he entered military school at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State
University to study chemical engineering while in the NROTC program for the U.S.
Marines. Then, having felt God’s call, he transferred from Virginia Tech into seminary
for the Diocese of Arlington in the fall of 2010.
“Fr. Willard was sent to the Pontifical College Josephinum, where he completed
his undergraduate studies, obtaining a B.A. in Philosophy in the spring of 2013. He
continued theology studies at the Josephinum, and was ordained by Archbishop William
E. Lori of Baltimore to the Diaconate, June 4th, 2016. For his diaconate year, Fr.
Willard worked at St. Charles Borromeo Parish. The following year, he completed
studies at the PCJ seminary with a [Master of Divinity] in a class of 19 other

“On June 10th, 2017, Fr. Willard was ordained to the priesthood by Bishop
Michael Burbidge of Arlington, and thereafter was assigned to St. Theresa Parish.”
And another interesting fact taken from an article in the Herald before his priestly
ordination: “
“Deacon Willard…was born to Glenn and Joanna Willard in Lansing, Mich., in
1989. The whole family converted to Catholicism in 1996 after years of attending
Episcopal services.”
We will have a reception welcoming Fr. Willard in the next few weeks. Stay tuned
for details. Please keep him in your prayers as well—transferring will be hard for him
Election Results. Last week’s election results were very disappointing, to say the least,
as pro-abortion and anti-family candidates won most of the local elections as well as
control of the Virginia House of Delegates and Senate. Look out for radical changes. It is
a sad day in Virginia.
But thank you all who voted well in the election, and those who worked so hard to
promote life and family. God bless you all. And keep your heads ups: as Jesus tells us so
often, “Be not afraid.” And continue the fight.
New Missalettes. For years I have been unhappy with the missalettes we use, especially
with the many “commentaries” they add (before Sunday readings, etc.), which are often
weak and misleading, and sometimes even factually erroneous or doctrinally heretical. So
for the last few years, I’ve been informally looking for a new missalette to use, and this
last year tasked Eva Radel, our parish secretary, with the job of researching and
evaluating all the missalettes out there. In the end we concluded that there are some
interesting choices out there, but all have their weaknesses. So we decided to go with a
slightly different version published by the same company.
The two main changes you will find are; 1) we will use only ONE missalette for
the whole year, versus 4 seasonal missalettes, and 2) the commentaries are gone. In
addition, the new missalette has larger print and includes more music options. You will
also find a few other small differences that will be helpful, I think, like having the
entrance and communion antiphons on the same page as the readings. We have also
purchased hard covers so that the missalettes will hold up better. The biggest downside to
them is that they are bulkier than the old versions.
We will begin using the new missalettes on December 1, the first Sunday of
Advent. They will take some getting used to, so be patient, after a few weeks of use, I’d
like you to start giving me your feedback. Again, this is the best we could find, and I
hope it will work well, but maybe it won’t. I need your help and patience. Thanks.
Birthday Party for Sofi TODAY. This Thursday, November 14, will be the 9 th 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. 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, TODAY, November 10, 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

Thirtieth Sunday in Ordinary Time

A HOLY WEEK. With all the attention on “Halloween” this week, most people will forget what this week is really about: All Saints’ Day and All Souls’ Day. These days are particularly important because they remind us that the Church of Jesus Christ is more than just the people we see at Mass, or even the 2 billion plus Christians on Earth. Because countless numbers of Christians have lived and died before us, and many of those are in Heaven, or on their way there.
This is what the Church means when it speaks of the “Communion of Saints”. Remember, the one Church has three states, or parts: first, all Christians on Earth (“The Pilgrim Church” or “The Church Militant”), second, all those in Heaven (“The Church in Glory” or “The Church Triumphant”), and third, all the souls in Purgatory (“The Church Being Purified” or “The Church Suffering”).
All Saints Day, Friday, November 1, is a Holy Day of Obligation (you must go to Mass, under pain of mortal sin) which reminds us of our unity with the Church in Heaven. Throughout the year we celebrate the feasts of particular “saints” whom the Church officially recognizes as “canonized saints”. But on ALL Saints’ Day we also remember ALL the other countless number of souls who have gone to Heaven, including many of our deceased parents and grandparents, and so many of our little children who have gone before us. This is their feast day! So, we honor them, and pray to them, asking the whole multitude in Heaven to assist us on our way to join them.
All Souls Day, Saturday, November 2, remembers our unity with the Church in Purgatory. Unfortunately, nowadays even the mention of Purgatory often triggers reactions of disbelief or even ridicule—even among Catholics. Yet this dogma goes back to the Old Testament (see 2 Maccabees 12:39-46). And as St. John tells us in Rev. 21:27 that “nothing imperfect shall enter into” Heaven. The thing is, almost all of us have at least some venial sin we cling to, or have some inordinate attachment to earthly things. We are not perfect. But in His great love and mercy, the Lord takes all of us who die with any imperfections (but having, before dying, properly repented of any mortal—“deadly”—sins) and He perfects, or purifies, us. This is what we call “Purgatory.”
And we must pray for the Souls in Purgatory—because even while they rejoice as they see themselves becoming more and more perfect, and drawing closer and closer to heaven, they do suffer the pains involved in change: much like an athlete rejoices as he becomes stronger and faster even as he endures the grueling pain of exercise and training. So, even though it is not a Holy day of obligation, the Church encourages us to go Mass on All Souls Day to offer that greatest prayer possible for the “Holy Souls.” With this in mind, I invite you to join us either at the regular 9am Mass or the additional noon Mass next Saturday.

ELECTION. State and local elections are now only 9 days away, Tuesday, November 5. Sadly, many Virginians will not vote in this so-called “off year election,” even though it will decide who write most of the laws and policies that govern our daily lives, and especially the lives and learning of our children in the public schools. Especially important this year are the races for our State Delegate (District 42) and Fairfax County School Board, where we have a chance to elect 4 of the 12 seats on the board.
So, I ask all of you to join me in voting, and also praying from now until November 5, begging Our Lord to give us the best leaders possible. I have also decided to have 24 hours of Exposition and Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament from 7pm Monday, November 4, until 7pm Tuesday, November 5—before and during Election Day. Please see today’s insert for more information and join in this powerful prayer.
It is a grave sin not to vote in this election: we cannot let the leftists and secularists destroy our culture, society and families. We must elect officials who will represent us, and defend the principles that have made our state and nation great.

Speaking of Secularist Destruction. U.S. Attorney General, William Barr, a devout Catholic, gave an amazing speech at the University of Notre Dame on October 12. Let me quote from an article in the Wall Street Journal by William McGurn, on Oct. 14:
… The attorney general advanced two broad propositions. First, the waning of religion’s influence in American life has left more of her citizens vulnerable to what Tocqueville called the “soft despotism” of government dependency. Second, today’s secularists are decidedly not of the live-and-let-live variety.
“The secular project has itself become a religion, pursued with religious fervor,” he said. “It is taking on all the trappings of religion, including inquisitions and excommunication. Those who defy the creed risk a figurative burning at the stake—social, educational and professional ostracism and exclusion waged through lawsuits and savage social media campaigns.”
Right out of central casting, critics stepped forward to prove his point. ….Paul Krugman accused Mr. Barr of “religious bigotry” and described his words as a “pogrom type speech.”…Richard Painter… saying Mr. Barr sounded like “vintage Goebbels.” …Lawrence Wilkerson…[compared] the attorney general …to the Spanish Inquisition’s grand inquisitor.
This is what we have come to expect when someone in public life mentions religion in a positive light. Many didn’t like Mr. Barr’s blaming secularism for social pathologies such as drug addiction, family breakdown and increasing numbers of angry and alienated young males. Yet few engaged his more arresting contention, which is that all these problems have spiritual roots. Whereas religion addresses such challenges by stressing personal responsibility, Mr. Barr argued, the state’s answer is merely to try to alleviate “bad consequences.”
“So the reaction to growing illegitimacy is not sexual responsibility, but abortion,” he said. “The reaction to drug addiction is safe injection sites. The solution to the breakdown of the family is for the state to set itself up as an ersatz husband for the single mother and an ersatz father for the children. The call comes for more and more social programs to deal with this wreckage—and while we think we’re solving problems, we are underwriting them.”
The speech is easily findable online, both in video and text. Check it out.

ON A LIGHTER NOTE: Children’s Choir, “Schola.” I’m very excited to announce that we are starting a Children’s Schola, and invite all children in grades 3 – 8 to join. Now, our plan is not to entertain the children, or for the children to entertain us. Rather, this will be a serious experience in learning how to sing liturgical music, especially Gregorian Chant. When the children are ready they will join us at Mass, again, not to entertain, but to provide beautiful music to assist us in worshiping Our Lord. All those interested are invited to contact Eva Radel in the parish office.

Oremus pro invicem. Fr. De Celles