Twenty Third Sunday in Ordinary Time

Mary’s Birthday. Today, September 8, is the Feast of the Nativity of Mary, Mary’s birthday. Of course we don’t celebrate this liturgically today, because it’s Sunday, “The Lord’s Day,” but that does not mean we can’t celebrate it otherwise. So have a piece of cake, or maybe a piece of blueberry pie (I hear that’s Mary’s favorite).
On my Mom’s birthday all her children used to try to spend time with her. Today, spend time with your Blessed Mom, Mary. Of course by praying to her and with her (a family Rosary would be a great idea!), but also by recognizing her presence with you, and thinking, “what should I being doing in this particular situation, knowing the Blessed Mother is here with me. How should I be acting? “
Also, give her a birthday gift. Maybe a prayer, a Rosary, an act of kindness to someone, going out of your way to avoid temptation and sin… Make this a beautiful day for our Blessed Mother.

More Bishop Scandals. The scandals will continue as long as the Vatican and Bishops refuse to recognize the corrupt bishops still in their midst who continue to exercise power and influence.
Bishop Zanchetta, Vatican. According to an article on cruxnow.com, by Inés San Martín, Aug 28, 2019. “Despite being investigated for allegations of having sexually abused two seminarians, an Argentinian bishop close to the pope has once again been allowed by a judge to travel to Rome. The judge said that Bishop Gustavo Zanchetta …has a document from the Vatican saying he must return to Rome “to continue with his daily work” – even though he has been suspended from his job. Crux can confirm that the document…is a certificate signed by Venezuelan Archbishop Edgar Peña Parra, the Substitute for the Vatican’s Secretariat of State….”
Bishop Joseph Hart, retired Bishop of Cheyenne. According another article by Christopher White, on that same website, same date: “….[P]olice in Cheyenne, Wyoming recommended to prosecutors that [Bishop Hart]…face criminal charges for the sexual abuse of minors. Prior to being named a bishop, Joseph Hart had served in the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph …Although his ecclesial career has spanned over five decades, serving in two states where he was widely popular, he has been trailed by allegations of serial abuse…
“Now…he not only faces criminal charges, where he could become the first U.S. bishop ever to face criminal prosecution for abuse, but also the possibility of being stripped of his title of bishop and removed from the clerical state as a church trial in the Vatican is also underway. Hart turns 88 in September…By 2019, the diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph had settled 10 cases of abuse against Hart. In two settlements alone – one in 2008 and another in 2014 – the diocese has paid out nearly $20 million dollars to more than 50 plaintiffs ….”
Mr. Ted McCarrick. Catholic News Service, Sep 3, 2019: “In an interview last month with Slate… Theodore McCarrick said he doesn’t believe he committed the acts of which he has been accused….McCarrick, 89…was dismissed from the clerical state in February 2019, after [a Church court] found him guilty of solicitation in the confessional, and sexual abuse of minors and adults, aggravated by abuse of power. ‘I’m not as bad as they paint me…I do not believe that I did the things that they accused me of.’”
The interview took place at, “the St. Fidelis Friary in Victoria, Kan….where he resides…[A] condition of his residence is that he remain on the grounds of the friary. …[H]e offered to pay out of pocket [for his room and board]…Fr. John Schmeidler…declined McCarrick’s offer.”
Ted still refuses to admit what everyone knows. According the article on Slate, he’s supposed to be living a “life of prayer and penance,” but an essential part of “penance” is admitting your sin! And why is he still living on Church property at the Church’s (i.e., parishioners’) expense? The Church never does this for any ordinary priest found guilty of abuse and de-frocked/laicized. Why the special treatment? The corruption continues.

New Year Begins. As summer ends all sorts of parish activities start up again. The coming days tell the tale and help us all begin on the right foot.
Parish Picnic. Next Sunday, September 15, we’ll have our annual Parish Picnic from 1-4pm here on the Parish grounds, behind the church. There’s Lots of food and fun for kids and adults alike—a great way to meet and get to know your fellow parishioners. For new parishioners (and visitors) this is a great opportunity to meet people and learn more about the parish; for the rest of us, this is one of the best chances we will have all year to welcome others into a deeper participation in the life and fellowship of our parish—don’t pass it up!
Religious Education (CCD). CCD begins this evening, September 8. Parents, don’t forget to bring your kids this evening, or on Monday or Tuesday, whichever day you’ve signed up for. If you haven’t registered yet, it’s not too late, but time is running out. Please see the bright green registration forms in the narthex, go to the parish website or call the RE office ASAP.
And Parents, remember CCD is meant to supplement the work you do with them at home. Parents are the primary educators of their children—especially in the Faith. CCD is just here to help you do that. But do not use CCD as an excuse to neglect your part. Instead take this as a time to renew your own personal commitment to teach your kids the Faith. Life is hard, but it’s a lot harder without Jesus and His Church. And in the end, the odds are they will not retain their faith when they grow up if you and we don’t do our very best to teach them the Faith when they are young.
I’m particularly looking forward to teenagers coming to our High School program, where they will encounter some especially talented, experienced and knowledgeable teachers. My goal for this program is to be informative, inspiring and challenging, but not a burden to the kids or parents. So, while I’m confident the classrooms will be lively and challenging, I also discourage assigning homework.
RCIA (“Convert Class”). Another program set to restart is the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (RCIA). Classes begin this Monday (tomorrow), September 9, at 7:30pm in the Rectory classroom (the “Maurer Room”).
If any adult you know is interested in becoming a Catholic, or is a Catholic in need of the sacrament of Confirmation (or First Communion and Confession) this is the course for them. Bob Ward, himself a convert many years ago, leads an information-packed discussion of the basics (and more) of the Catholic faith, and during the second semester Fr. Smith and I will join in teaching a few sessions. You can contact Bob and Bev Ward at 703-644-5873 or biblestudy@straymonds.org with any questions.
But the class is also designed to be a refresher course for all adult Catholics. So please consider joining this class—even on a week-to-week/topic-to-topic basis.

Oremus pro invicem. Fr. De Celles

Twenty Second Sunday in Ordinary Time

Happy Labor Day. This weekend our nation celebrates “Labor Day.” For some, this weekend is merely the end of Summer. But for many it’s a celebration of the hard work of so many Americans that has made our nation so successful in so many ways. We should rightly celebrate this, as “work” is one of the original gifts given to Man by God, as He gave Adam and Eve dominion (“lordship”) over all the earth and commanded them: “fill the earth and subdue it.” That “subduing” of the earth is the work/labor of Man, who was created in the image of the Creator. Man shares in God’s creative work by his labor, and when he works in ways consistent with God’s will, he grows in holiness.
Often, however, we don’t work in ways consistent with God’s will. Too often we work motivated by envy or greed. Sometimes we deceive or cheat our customers, co-workers, employers or employees. Sometimes we don’t give an honest day’s work for our wages, or we don’t pay fair wages to our workers. Sometimes we work too much and neglect our family and God, and sometimes we force our employees to do that. Some neglect work to engage in criminal activities or simple dependence on governments. Of course, some are retired after years of hard work, and some can’t work for a good reason—God bless them, and may they work in whatever way they can (volunteering, assisting friends, etc.) so that they may always participate in God’s creative work!

St. Frances Cabrini Isn’t Good Enough. Let me quote an article in the New York Post, on August 10:
“She was America’s first saint, a tireless advocate who founded an upstate orphanage, a school for girls in Washington Heights and 67 organizations for the needy in the late 1880s. But she wasn’t good enough to be named one of New York’s seven most important women.
“Francesca Xavier Cabrini and other female icons were denied honorary statues after a group controlled by First Lady [of New York City] Chirlane McCray tossed out the revered Catholic sister in favor of …a drag queen-turned-LGBTQ activist. This despite Cabrini getting the most votes in a poll of New Yorkers on who should be included. [Emphasis mine].
“‘The whole process was a charade,’ said Harriet Senie, who served on the panel that weighed the poll results and recommended to McCray that the city honor groups over individuals….
“The She Built NYC project, which started last summer when McCray set out to balance the male-female mix of statues of prominent New Yorkers, asked for the public’s input — and more than 1,800 suggestions poured in, with some 320 women nominated….
“Cabrini — who was known as Mother Cabrini and whose remains are entombed in a shrine at the former Mother Cabrini HS in Washington Heights — got 219 votes, which was tops.
“McCray, the wife of Mayor de Blasio, then formed a blue-ribbon panel to review the results and make its own recommendations on the seven winners, who will be memorialized by six monuments in the city, funded by about $5 million in taxpayer money.”
What more can I add to that. Imagine, an immigrant woman—one of the most prominent Americans of the 19th century, when women couldn’t even vote. A woman who worked untiringly to help other immigrants progress and assimilate into the American culture and economy. But she was a pious Catholic nun. She isn’t good enough for New York.

Cardinal Pell. Last week Cardinal George Pell, former Archbishop of Melbourne (Australia) and former Prefect of the Secretariat for the Economy (Vatican) lost his appeal of his criminal conviction on a charge of child abuse in 1990. He has announced that he will appeal this decision to Australia’s highest court.
I am publicly on record as having no patience or leniency for priests who sexually abuse children. My gut level (pre-reason) response tends to be beat them with a baseball bat and then call the police. Now, this is hyperbole, and emotional, not my last best moral judgment in sound reason. That judgment would be to try them, and then thrown them in prison for the rest of their lives.
But I also believe that some priests are erroneously accused, and some for malicious purposes. I could be wrong, but I think Cardinal Pell falls into this category.
In support of this let me cite the decision of the appellate court, which voted 2 to 1 for upholding the trial court’s conviction. Which means 1 appellate judge, Justice Mark Weinberg, voted to find Pell “not guilty.” I can’t reproduce his entire 200+ page dissent (almost twice as long as the opinion of the rest of the court), but consider some of Justice Weinberg’s remarks:
“From … the complainant’s evidence, it can be seen that there was ample material upon which his account could be legitimately subject to criticism. There were inconsistencies, and discrepancies, and a number of his answers simply made no sense…
“An unusual feature of this case was that it depended entirely upon the complainant being accepted, beyond reasonable doubt, as a credible and reliable witness…Yet the jury were invited to accept his evidence without there being any independent support for it.”
“All of these witnesses [defending Pell] were important, but there were some whose evidence was critical…It can fairly be said that their evidence, if accepted, would lead inevitably to acquittal…The same result would follow, even if the only finding that could be made was that their evidence, as regards the events in question, was a ‘reasonably possible’ account of what had occurred.”
As Chief Justice Anne Ferguson summarized from the bench: “In Justice Weinberg’s view, there was a significant body of cogent and, in some cases, impressive evidence suggesting that the complainant’s account was, in a realistic sense, ‘impossible’ to accept. To his mind, there is a significant possibility that the Cardinal may not have committed the offences. In those circumstances, Justice Weinberg stated that in his view the convictions could not stand.”
To see the full opinion: https://www.austlii.edu.au/cgi-bin/viewdoc/au/cases/vic/VSCA//2019/186.html

More Scandal. As reported by LifeSiteNews, August 15, 2019 [Emphasis mine]:
“The Archdiocese of Washington and the Diocese of Scranton have launched a “comprehensive investigation” into Monsignor Walter Rossi, the rector of the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception….
“The investigation was announced just one day after a young man asked D.C. Archbishop Wilton Gregory at an August 13 Theology on Tap event about misconduct allegations against Rossi and why they haven’t been investigated…
“Rossi is [a priest of] the Diocese of Scranton but has been the rector of the basilica since ex-cardinal Theodore McCarrick appointed him to that role in 2005. Rossi replaced now-Bishop Michael Bransfield….Earlier this year, accusations that Bransfield was a serial sexual harasser of young men were deemed “credible…Rossi has been working for the shrine in various capacities since 1997, according to his bio on its website.”
The article also reminds us that in June 2019, Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò accused Rossi of being, “without a doubt, a member of the ‘gay mafia.’”
Oremus pro invicem. Fr. De Celles

Twentieth Sunday in Ordinary Time

SUMMER WINDING DOWN. The end of summer is approaching. I, for one am sad to
see it go. I know most of the kids agree with me, although maybe some of you parents
don’t. I know for most of you school begins a little earlier this year. I hope you can have
one last week before that to rest and recreate a bit.
But I also know there’s lots of preparation to be done for the coming year. It’s
easy to let some things slip in this regard, especially aggravated by a certain sense of
denial and longing for the summer peace to continue. And then you find yourself in a
panic trying to get ready at the last minute.

Religious Education. One of the areas this affects the most is planning for our children’s
Religious Education, CCD. Every August I panic a bit as the RE/CCD office tells me that
registrations for the coming year are very low… And every September they shoot up to
more or less “normal” levels. But why would you put your poor Pastor through this?
Mary Salmon and Vince Drouillard have been hard at work for weeks preparing for the
new CCD school year which begins on Sunday, September 8. I am very excited about the
new year, especially our High School program.
Remember, parents are morally obliged to not only teach their children to love
Jesus but also to teach them what Jesus and His Church teach, to teach them about
Scripture and the Catechism. It’s very difficult for most parents to do this on their own in
any systematic and comprehensive way. Also I know many parents send their kids to
public schools. The problem is that the public schools present an environment and culture
that is in many ways antithetical to Christianity.
I know some of you parents went to public schools when you were younger and
don’t think they are so bad. But public schools have radically changed in the last 20
years—they are not the religiously neutral place they might have once been. I know this
is a particular problem for some of our immigrants from Catholic countries, some of
which actually taught Catholic doctrine in the public schools—public schools are not
like that in America, at all.
This is why I strongly encourages all Catholic parents to either homeschool their
kids or send them to Catholic schools. But, sadly, both of these are often too expensive or
otherwise impractical for parents. So they send their kids to public schools.
Fine, I respect your choice. But that still leaves you with the grave responsibility
to teach your children the faith in a comprehensive and systematic way, either at home
(with a real organized and thorough approach) or by sending them to CCD/Religious
education. And this obligation doesn’t end after 8 th grade: we have a great high school
CCD program.
Ask yourself: am I doing everything I can to get my kids to heaven, and keep them
out of hell? If you don’t educate them in the faith then the answer is almost certainly
“no,” which means you are risking not only the salvation of your children’s souls, but
your own soul as well..

Please, understand, I’m not trying to scare you. I just want you to know how
serious this is.

So many times I have parents complaining to me that when their kids grow up
they leave the Church and even fall into sinful lifestyles. Some of this is due to free will:
kids grow up and they can choose. But parents must do everything they reasonably can
do to make sure they have the tools and information to make a wise and informed choice.
So: SIGN YOUR KIDS UP FOR CCD NOW!!! Please. You can call or email
the office, or you can register online on our website.
And also—we can’t teach if we have no teachers!! We are in urgent need of
several catechists and aides. With all the problems in the world,

Nineteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Two More Mass Shootings. I know you all join with me in prayer for all the victims of the mass shootings in El Paso and Dayton last weekend. May the Lord grant eternal rest to those who were killed, and healing to those injured, and peace to all those effected by the attacks.
After yet another inexplicable vicious shooting, how can we not ask the question: what are the causes of this problem? Sadly, the initial reaction of many, especially leftist politicians and commentators, was not to ask that question, but to come with ready-made answers: it is the rise of “white nationalism” encouraged by President Trump. What a convenient, if wrong, answer for those folks who seem to have a completely knee-jerk hatred for the President.
So let’s begin with the question first: what is at the root of this problem? An excellent article by Valerie Richardson in the Washington Times last Monday, August 5, 2019, addressed this issue.
Is the cause of all these shootings white racism/nationalism? Richardson writes: “A May 2018 policy brief by the Rockefeller Institute of Government at the State University of New York…found that the perception that whites are responsible for nearly all mass shootings is a myth.…[T]he findings indicate that while a majority are [white], this proportion is just over half of the perpetrators (53.9 percent)…More than one in four shooters is black and nearly one in ten is of Hispanic descent…. The FBI has reported 850 domestic terrorism investigations, 40% of which involve racially motivated violent extremism, and most of those involve white supremacists….”
Is the mental illness the cause? “Amy Swearer, senior legal policy analyst at The Heritage Foundation, said about two-thirds of shooters are found to have serious mental problems but that the media coverage has focused on those with an ideological bent such as racism or nativism.”
What else is to blame? “…the uproar over white nationalism has shifted the focus from what some researchers describe as the biggest drivers of mass shootings, including family breakdown, childhood trauma, mental illness, workplace crises, access to weapons and a fascination with previous shooters glorified in the media.”
What do almost all these acts have in common? “The Rockefeller study found that 96% of shooters were male, which is in keeping with other research.”
Does this mean there’s something wrong with being a male? No. It means there’s something wrong with the way we’re raising young males. “Warren Farrell, author of “The Boy Crisis,” said boys with minimal or no father involvement, or with “really messed-up families,” represent the vast majority of mass shooters, Islamic State recruits and the male prison population. ‘Boys without a sense of purpose start searching for other senses of purpose, and that may be in the form of God, and then it’s constructive usually, or that may be in the form of, ‘I want Americans to be America and I don’t want any immigrants to come into the country,’…’”
The fundamental problem, in my opinion, is not the president, or racism or even guns. The problem is our culture, and the loss of the sense of purpose, and order, and of God. A problem aggravated in young males by the constant barrage of sexual/gender confusion thrown at them by the left, including treating masculinity almost as a disease (e.g., “toxic masculinity”).
Historically, young men and boys were taught by fathers and other male role models to focus their masculine energy on socially and morally productive ends: working hard to provide for a family, defending the nation, serving God in religion, etc. But now the number of boys raised in fatherless homes has soared, and masculinity is under assault from every angle.
What is the solution? Stronger families headed by a father and mother. Rebuilding the culture to respect the natural family structure, and a just authority and order, as well as the recognition of the real difference between males and females. Respect for free speech, and respectful free speech, so that we can vent our grievances calmly without feeling we have to resort to violence in speech or action. And above all, and undergirding all this, a return to recognition that God has created and ordered things a particular way, and we should reverently follow His direction.

Fr. Peter Odhiambo Okola, AJ. Many of you will fondly remember Fr. Peter Okola, a priest from Kenya who was in residence here for several years (2009-2011) and is now vicar at Holy Spirit in Annandale. I’m sad to report Fr. Peter has been diagnosed and is being treated for cancer. With faith in Jesus, I am hopeful of his full recovery, but I ask you to please keep him in your prayers.

Welcome to New Parishioners. Summer is always a time we lose and gain parishioners, especially those in the military. So I’d like to welcome all who have joined us in the last few months. I hope you find St. Raymond’s’ to be a welcoming parish, and encourage you to get involved in our many liturgies, committees, and activities.
One thing to know about our parish is that we place great importance on the Grace and Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist. Flowing from this you will find a pronounced emphasis on reverence, especially during Holy Mass, what I call “emphatic reverence.” Nowadays reverence is a lost virtue. The word “reverence” comes from the Latin for “fear,” “revere,” and scripture tells us, “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom.” But this kind of fear is not like being in terror or afraid, but rather of being in “awe”: recognizing that God is the all-powerful Creator and sustainer of the whole world, and I am just a little tiny speck in comparison—and yet, He loves me. So Christian reverence is fundamentally rooted in love.
So we go out of our way here in our liturgies to be reverent, to remind ourselves we are in presence of God, the God who loved us so much He became one of us and died for our sins on the Cross, and gave us the Eucharist to be with us always, even to enter into us, especially in the mystery of His Sacrifice.
To encourage this reverence we follow some ancient customs of the Church that set the liturgy apart as radically different from the mundane world we live in. For example, we sing traditional Catholic hymns, which are different than most contemporary liturgical music that incorporates so many aspects of modern secular music. And we use the ancient language of the Church, Latin, to remind us we’re doing something very different, in union with the Church all the way back to time of Jesus. And we incorporate beautiful vestments and vessels to remind us that Mass is a participation in the heavenly banquet come down to earth. And at many Masses the priest turns with the people, so that facing in the same way as them he leads them in prayer before the Most High God.
It’s a little different. But then again, so is God. Welcome to St. Raymond’s.

Oremus pro invicem. Fr. De Celles

Eighteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Prayers Before and After Mass. It is a good and very helpful practice to arrive a little early before Mass to pray in preparation, and also to remain a while afterwards to pray in thanksgiving. Of course, you can pray in whatever words you want, but to assist us, the Church has handed down various prayers we might want to say. In particular, these two beautiful prayers of St. Thomas Aquinas are commended to us in the Roman Missal (feel free to cut these out and save them, these can also be found in the back of the St. Michael Hymnal):

Before Mass. Almighty eternal God, behold, I come to the Sacrament of your Only Begotten Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, as one sick to the physician of life, as one unclean to the fountain of mercy, as one blind to the light of eternal brightness, as one poor and needy to the Lord of heaven and earth.
I ask, therefore, for the abundance of your immense generosity, that you may graciously cure my sickness, wash away my defilement, give light to my blindness, enrich my poverty, clothe my nakedness, so that I may receive the bread of Angels, the King of kings and Lord of lords, with such reverence and humility, such contrition and devotion, such purity and faith, such purpose and intention as are conducive to the salvation of my soul.
Grant, I pray, that I may receive not only the Sacrament of the Lord’s Body and Blood, but also the reality and power of that Sacrament.
O most gentle God, grant that I may so receive the Body of your Only Begotten Son our Lord Jesus Christ, which He took from the Virgin Mary, that I may be made worthy to be incorporated into His Mystical Body and to be counted among its members.
O most loving Father, grant that I may at last gaze forever upon the unveiled face of your beloved Son, whom I, a wayfarer, propose to receive now veiled under these species: Who lives and reigns with you for ever and ever. Amen.

After Mass. I give you thanks, Lord, holy Father, almighty and eternal God, who have been pleased to nourish me, a sinner and your unworthy servant, with the precious Body and Blood of your Son, our Lord Jesus Christ: this through no merits of mine, but due solely to the graciousness of your mercy.
And I pray that this Holy Communion may not be for me an offense to be punished, but a saving plea for forgiveness. May it be for me the armor of faith, and the shield of good will. May it cancel my faults, destroy concupiscence and carnal passion, increase charity and patience, humility and obedience and all the virtues, may it be a firm defense against the snares of all my enemies, both visible and invisible, the complete calming of my impulses, both of the flesh and of the spirit, a firm adherence to you, the one true God, and the joyful completion of my life’s course.
And I beseech you to lead me, a sinner, to that banquet beyond all telling, where with your Son and the Holy Spirit you are the true light of your Saints, fullness of satisfied desire, eternal gladness, consummate delight and perfect happiness. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.

August: The Month of Saints. This time of year that falls between the great liturgical Seasons of Easter and Advent is called “Ordinary Time”. Some think we call it “ordinary” because nothing “special” happens during this time. But the term “ordinary” here refers simply to the fact that we count off the weeks of this part of the year according to their “ordinal number” (“first,” “second,” “third”… “eighteenth”).
In fact, there is nothing at all ordinary this time of year, especially this month of August, which is filled with more liturgical feast days (26 out of 31 days) than any other month.
Of course this coming Tuesday, the 6th, we celebrate the Feast of the Transfiguration, and later on we celebrate the Assumption of Mary (15th), and the Queenship of Mary (22nd). But the month also contains feasts of some of the Church’s most extraordinary and important saints.
Today (Sunday, the 4th) is the feast of St. John Vianney, patron of parish priests. (Pray for your priests especially today!)
Then there’s the great founders or reformers of religious orders. St. Dominic (8th): founder of the Dominicans and friend of our own Dominican, St. Raymond. There’s St. Claire of Assisi (11th), founder of the Poor Clares. And of course the great St. Bernard of Clairvaux (20th), Doctor of the Church, great reformer of the Benedictines and the whole medieval Church. Also: St. Jane Frances de Chantal (12th) founder of the Visitation Sisters; St. John Eudes (19th) (my name saint and patron), founder of the Eudists and first promoter of liturgical devotion to the Sacred and Immaculate Hearts; St. Cajetan (7th), founder of the Theatines; and St. Peter Julian Eymard (2nd), founder of the Congregation of the Blessed Sacrament.
We have the great saints of ancient times: St. Bartholomew the Apostle (24th), and St. Eusebius (2nd); and St. Lawrence (10th) who was martyred over a fiery pit, making light of his suffering: “I’m done on this side, you can turn me over!” And we have great saints of modern times: St. Edith Stein, also known as St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross (9th) and St. Maximilian Kolbe (14th)—both powerful witnesses to the truth and love of Christ, and martyred in the Nazi concentration camps.
Also the illustrious saintly kings: St. Stephen (16th) first king of Hungary, and St. Louis (25th), the pious king of France. And the holy Popes: St. Sixtus II (7th), St. Pontian (13th), and St. Pius X (21st). And lest we forget the tiny but magnificent flower of Peru, patroness of all Latin America, St. Rose of Lima (23rd).

And then there’s the Dedication of St. Mary Major (5th), honoring Mary under the title of Our Lady of the Snows; and St. Hippolytus (13th). who was the first anti-pope, but who repented, in the 3rd century.

And we close the month in a flourish: St. Monica (27th) patroness of parents whose children seem to be lost to sin, and mother of St. Augustine (28th) who was the worst of sinners before becoming the most revered Church Father and the Church’s greatest theologian. And finally, we celebrate the Beheading of St. John the Baptist (29th), of whom Christ said there was “no greater man born of a woman.”
There is nothing ordinary about “Ordinary Time”—especially August, this month of incredible saints. Each of them is our brother and sister in Christ, living in heaven with Christ—and from there loving, protecting and interceding for us. And each is teaching us something special and unique about what it means to follow Christ, and to love Him above all things. These holy ones call to us from the ages and from heaven to talk to them in prayer, study their lives and imitate their example. Take time to answer their call—each day in this extraordinary and holy month of August!

Oremus pro invicem. Fr. De Celles

Seventeenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

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

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

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

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

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

Oremus pro invicem. Fr. De Celles

Sixteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Parochial Vicars Corner

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Oremus pro invicem,
Fr. Charles Smith

Fifteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

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

Oremus pro invicem. Fr. De Celles

Fourteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

God bless America! Oremus pro invicem, et pro patria nostrum.
Fr. De Celles

IN CONGRESS, JULY 4, 1776
The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America
When in the Course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security. — Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.
He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.
He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.
He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of Representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.
He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their Public Records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.
He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people.
He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected, whereby the Legislative Powers, incapable of Annihilation, have returned to the People at large for their exercise; the State remaining in the mean time exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.
He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.
He has obstructed the Administration of Justice by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary Powers.
He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.
He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harass our people and eat out their substance.
He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the Consent of our legislatures.
He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil Power.
He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:
For quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:
For protecting them, by a mock Trial from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:
For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world:
For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent:
For depriving us in many cases, of the benefit of Trial by Jury:
For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences:
For abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighbouring Province, establishing therein an Arbitrary government, and enlarging its Boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule into these Colonies
For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments:
For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.
He has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection and waging War against us.
He has plundered our seas, ravaged our coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.
He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation, and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty & Perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.
He has constrained our fellow Citizens taken Captive on the high Seas to bear Arms against their Country, to become the executioners of their friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands.
He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.
In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince, whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.
Nor have We been wanting in attentions to our British brethren. We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred to disavow these usurpations, which would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence. They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our Separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace Friends.
We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these united Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States, that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. — And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor.

Thirteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

“Lead us not into temptation.” Last week I explained that the Italian Bishops had
changed the Italian translation of the “sixth petition” of the “Our Father” from, “and lead
us not into temptation,” to, “and do not abandon us in temptation,” arguing that the
ancient translation is too confusing.
Fortunately, the American Bishops have not even discussed adopting a similar
change. Which is a good thing, since noted experts in ancient Greek argue the new
translation is inaccurate, and the ancient translation—which we use—is correct.
Moreover, as noted theologian Monsignor Nicola Bux has observed, the Italian change
has caused many to “wonder whether the Church, for two thousand years, was not
mistaken in ‘obeying the Savior’s command,’ and whether it ‘conformed to His divine
teaching.’” He concluded: “If the petition in question was considered incomprehensible,
was it not enough to explain it in a catechesis?”
So let’s explain it in a catechesis, borrowing from the greatest catechist of the last
50 years, Pope Benedict XVI, writing in Jesus of Nazareth: From the Baptism in the
Jordan to the Transfiguration, pp. 160-164.
“The way this petition is phrased is shocking for many people: God certainly does
not lead us into temptation. In fact, as St. James tells us: “Let no one say when he is
tempted, ‘I am tempted by God’; for God cannot be tempted with evil and He Himself
tempts no one.” (Jas 1:13).
“We are helped a further step along when we recall the words of the Gospel:
“Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil” (Mt
:1) [my emphasis added]. Temptations come from the devil, but part of Jesus’ messianic
task is to withstand the great temptations that have led man away from God and continue
to do so. As we have seen, Jesus must suffer through these temptations to the point of
dying on the Cross, which is how He opens the way of redemption for us. Thus it is not
only after His death, but already by His death and during His whole life, that Jesus
“descends into hell,” as it were, into the domain of our temptations and defeats in order
to take us by the hand and carry us out….
“A brief look at the Book of Job… can help us clarify things further. Satan derides
man in order to deride God: God’s creature, whom He has formed in His own image, is a
pitiful creature. ….God gives Satan the freedom to test Job, though within precisely
defined boundaries. God does not abandon man, but He does Him allow to be tried.
“….In order to mature, in order to make real progress on the path leading from a
superficial piety into a profound oneness with God’s will, man needs to be tried. Just as
the juice of a grape has to ferment in order to become a fine wine, so too man needs
purifications and transformations; they are dangerous for him, because they present an
opportunity for him to fall, and yet they are indispensable as paths on which he comes to
himself and to God…
“Now we are in a position to interpret the sixth petition … in a more practical
way. When we pray it, we are saying to God: I know that I need trials so that my nature
can be purified. When you decide to send me these trials, when you give evil some room
to maneuver, … then please remember that my strength goes only so far. Don’t
overestimate my capacity. Don’t set too wide the boundaries within which I may be

tempted, and be close to me with your protecting hand when it becomes too much for me.
It was in this sense that Saint Cyprian interpreted the sixth petition. He says that when we
pray, “And lead us not into temptation,” we are expressing our awareness “that the
enemy can do nothing against us unless God has allowed it beforehand, so that our fear,
our devotion and our worship may be directed to God—because the Evil One is not
permitted to do anything unless he is given authorization” (De dominica oration 25…).
“And then pondering the psychological patter of temptation, he explains that there
can be two different reasons why God grants the Evil One a limited power. It can be a
penance for us, in order to dampen our pride…. Let us think of the Pharisee who
recounts his own works to God and imagines he is not in need of grace.
“…. When we pray the sixth petition of the Our Father, we must therefore, on one
hand, be ready to take upon ourselves the burden of trials that is meted out to us. On the
other hand, the object of the petition is to ask God not to mete out more than we can
bear, not to let us slip from His hands. We make this prayer in the trustful certainty that
Saint Paul has articulated for us: "God is faithful, and He will not let you be tempted
beyond your strength, but with the temptation will also provide the way of escape, that
you may be able to endure it." (1 Cor 10:13)”

Independence Day. This Thursday is the 4 th of July, Independence Day, or we might say
“Liberty Day.” “Liberty” does not mean a freedom from responsibility, quite the
contrary. Liberty is a demanding servant and master—it both benefits us, and places
demands on us. Liberty demands that we defend it—that we sacrifice and fight to
preserve it. True liberty is a freedom to become the good men and women we have the
potential to be, that God calls us to be. As such, the most fundamental type or aspect of
liberty is Religious Liberty. So this Thursday, take time to give thanks to God for the
liberty He has given our nation, and to recommit yourself to both use your freedoms well,
and to continue to fight to preserve them.

Choir Takes the Summer Off. With Corpus Christi Sunday behind us, the choir will
take the rest of the summer off. I’m sure you join me in appreciation for all the beautiful
music they have provided us with this last year. The Mass is not about the music, but the
music our choir provides is definitely about the Mass, and helps us to more deeply enter
into the solemnity and reverence of the Holy Sacrifice. Thank you, choir members, and
especially Elisabeth Turco (director) and Denise Anezin (organist), and have a great and
restful summer.

Steve Adragna, Pro-Life Candidate. I do not publicly support or endorse any candidate
for public office. But I can tell you that pro-abortion extremist Kathy Tran is being
challenged for re-election as State Delegate for District 42 (our district) by pro-life Steve
Adragna, who is one of our parishoners. The election will be on November 5, 2019.
God bless them both. I beg you to consider being active in this election, primarily by
voting, but also with your checkbooks and volunteering to actively work for the defense
of human life in the Commonwealth.

Oremus pro invicem. Fr. De Celles