Twenty fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

 

Oremus pro invicem. Fr. De Celles

 

 

Twenty fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

St. Peter Damian, pray for us.

 

Oremus pro Invicem. Fr. De Celles

 

 

Twenty third Sunday in Ordinary Time

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

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

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

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

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

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

Oremus pro invicem. Fr. De Celles

Twenty Second Sunday in Ordinary Time

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

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

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

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

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

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

Oremus pro invicem. Fr. De Celles

Twenty First Sunday in Ordinary Time

Scandals. What follows is a very condensed version of my homily last Sunday addressing the news of abuse and cover-ups in the dioceses of Pennsylvania. (You may read or listen to the full homily on the parish website):
I am sure most of you are devasted and angry. And I am too. Angry, no, infuriated, at the priests, bishops and cardinals who either committed unspeakable crimes with children or abused their positions of trust with vulnerable adults, or used their clerical celibacy to cover their revolting homosexual lifestyle, or lied and schemed and organized to cover it all up.
But there’s something we all need to be careful of: the tendency to suspect all priests and bishops, and so not only distance ourselves from them, but from the Church itself.
My friends, this is the master plan of the devil unfolding: first, corrupt a few priests and bishops, directly or indirectly, then devastate the lives of victims, then destroy all trust in all the clergy, and finally drive good people from the Church.
We cannot let the devil, and his evil cooperators, win.
27 years ago I was living in San Antonio, my hometown, and was looking carefully into studying for the priesthood there. But the more I knew about that archdiocese, it became clear I couldn’t be a priest there: things were too corrupted by false teachings and the sin of lust, in particular homosexual lust.
So after looking at different dioceses around the country, I decided to study for the priesthood for the Diocese of Arlington. The Arlington Diocese is not at all perfect, but I thank God every day that I am a priest of Arlington, where there are so many fine priests, and where the incidents of this kind of wrong doing have been very rare.
Now, even one act of evil in the priesthood, especially against a child (or covering up) is an abomination and deserves the most violent retribution.
And clearly, parents must be careful: trust but verify. And make sure your children know that they should tell you if anyone, including a priest, touches or speaks to them inappropriately.
Even so, do not let the devil keep you or your children away from good priests or from the Church, and do not discourage the call to priesthood.
Back in Texas, looking at all the crud I found, I realized that it didn’t have to be that way. That there were many good priests struggling to do Christ’s work. And that without new men joining the good priests in the struggle, they and the whole Church would be left to suffer at the hands of all the bad priests and bishops.
So, it came down to this: if not me, who?
Sometimes people make the priesthood sound kind of like the Peace Corps. But the priesthood has got to be more like the Marine Corps. With brave, strong, intelligent, and dedicated men. Men who will sacrifice everything for Christ and His Church. Men who will go into spiritual battle every day, and never be discouraged by the wickedness or strength of their opponents, to clean up the spiritual mess that the Church is becoming.
Now, clearly, not even all the good priests are heroes and saints, and I am definitely not. But so many priests I know are striving to be just that. What more can you ask of them? And what more can you want for you son or brother, or yourself, if there is a call to priesthood?
Today is kind of like the Church’s 9/11—we are under attack by evil doers. But remember how after September 11, 2001, the whole nation seemed to rally together against the evil? Today, in the face of the evil we have seen trying to destroy our church, will we rally, or will we run? Again, if not me, who?
That is the question all Catholics should answer today. Who will resist and fight the good fight, if not you? Who will stand up to the corrupt bishops and priests? If not me and you, who? And who will replace them in the pulpit and at the altar, not as wolves, but as true shepherds and fathers? If not me and your sons, who?

Altar Rail Next Week. As I announced last month, beginning next Saturday, September 1, at the Vigil Mass, the portable altar rails/kneelers will remain in front of the sanctuary all the time for all the Masses. So that at every Mass the people will come up the main aisle for Communion as usual, but then spread out to the left and right at the altar rail, either kneeling or standing (their choice), to receive Communion. Communion will continue to be distributed in the transepts as usual, i.e., no altar rail.
Why? My primary reason for this change is very simple: to allow people to exercise their right to kneel to receive Holy Communion. Kneeling without a kneeler is difficult and time-consuming, and therefore discourages most people who would like to kneel to receive. This is unjust. Moreover, with up to 8 people at-a-time standing/kneeling at the long rail, there is no need to rush to get out of the next person’s way. So by adding the Communion Rail, everyone can receive comfortably the way they want, kneeling or standing.
But let me be frank: I believe there are also great spiritual reasons for kneeling to receive Our Lord. As Cardinal Sarah has written: “For if, as St. Paul teaches, ‘at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth’ (Phil. 2:10), how much more should we bend our knees when we come to receive the Lord Himself in the most sublime and intimate act of Holy Communion!”
Again, I reiterate, kneeling or standing is your option. For those who have never knelt for Communion, I recommend that you try it once or twice—I think you will like it.

Back to School. Most of our kids are going back to school this week, so we need to keep them in prayer. Pray especially for the kids in public schools, which do not share many of our values and so often teach that our values are wrong, or even hateful.
Parents, remember to keep a watchful eye on what your kids are learning: do not abandon your precious children to strangers. Ask them what they’re learning, look at their assignments, participate in parent-teacher meetings. Remember to constantly reinforce Catholic values and teachings, be especially aware of the subtle ways some teachers can try to undermine them: e.g. the English paper about the injustices against transgenderism. But also, be supportive of good teachers and administrators who are trying to live their Christian faith in the schools.
For those of you in Fairfax schools, remember to “OPT OUT” of Family Life Education (FLE).
And remember to sign your kids up for CCD/Religious Education, and make sure you and they take this seriously. This is the most important school they will attend—learning about God, and how to live just lives, and how to get to heaven!

Oremus pro invicem. Fr. De Celles

Twentieth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Summer. The Summer is quickly slipping away from us, and, as much as I hate to admit it, school is about to start up again. I hope you all have had as a good a summer as I have. I have been busy all summer, but it has been largely, a low-stress few weeks, for some reason. I thought it would be a little more difficult, with the lighting project, but that’s been running very well (thanks be to God!).
One of the great things about summer is having so many of our college “kids” home. After being here for 8 years it’s really good to see so many of our young men and women growing up in so many ways, but it’s also good to have them back with us for a while. But as the summer wanes, I am aware that many of them are heading back to their colleges. I hope they know that we do pray for them, and we will miss them. And again, I encourage them to stay close to Jesus, His Mother and His Church. Remember: Sunday Mass, daily prayers, monthly confession. Keep your Rosary with you, and pray it often. Take part in the campus ministry events and get to know the Catholic Chaplain. Make good friends, and by that I mean friends that are truly good in the eyes of God, and can help you to be good in His eyes. Have fun, but remember you or your parents are spending all that money not for you to party, but to learn and grow in knowledge and wisdom before God and man. Enjoy yourself, but keep focused. Take time to relax, but stay away from stupid things, which include sinful things.
Listen to what your profs have to say, but always keep a critical ear open for the difference between fact and opinion, between ideology and truth, between bright ideas and nonsensical c–p.
Above all know that Jesus is your Savior, and loves you and is always with you. Cling to Him, and love Him in return, every day, at every moment. And know that we are praying for you, and look forward to seeing you at Christmas.

Religious Education, CCD. Every August, I panic a bit as the Religious Education Office tells me that registrations for the coming year are a little low… And every September they shoot up to more or less “normal” levels. But please, don’t wait to sign up for CCD—do it today, online—so you don’t forget and so you can get the times you want. Mary Salmon and Vince Drouillard in our RE/CCD Office have been working all summer to make our program even better than it was last year, and they’ve lined up some excellent folks to teach. But all that is useless, even the best teachers are powerless, if parents don’t sign their children up for classes. What can be more important than educating our children in the faith? Especially as FCPS continues its mad dash to brainwash our kids with their foolish notions of morality and even common sense.
So, enjoy the rest of your summer. But don’t forget to enroll in CCD. Contact our RE Office for more information—and do so this week, please.
And also—we are in urgent need of several catechists and aides. With all the problems in the world, I hear people ask, “What can we do?” Simple answer: “Teach CCD.”

Humanae Vitae & Fifty Years. Save the date for our conference on this historic encyclical of Pope Paul VI. Featured Speakers include: Fr. Tad Pacholczyk, Dr. Robert Royal, and Bob & Gerri Laird. Babysitting will be available. Contact the parish office for more information.

Parish Celebration Picnic. Make sure you’re saving the date for Sunday, September 16, when we will combine our annual picnic with a celebration of paying off the parish debt. Both Bishop Burbidge and Fr. James Gould (my predecessor, and the builder of our church) have confirmed that they will be here for the 12:15 Mass, and then for the picnic afterwards. We’ve also invited “pioneering” parishioners who helped build the church but have since moved away, and I’m hoping many of them will join us. We’ve been pulling out all stops to make this especially fun for all, with more games, more food and… live entertainment. So plan on being there.

Sign of Peace. Thank you all for your cooperation with my request for a new way of exchanging the sign of peace. Remember, when you turn to the person next to you, wait for them to turn to you, and then bow to each other. It will take a little getting used to, but I think we’ll get the hang of it.

St. John Eudes. Today is the feast day of my “name saint,” or patron saint, St. John Eudes (pronounced, “ūd,” rhyming with “rood”—the French “es” is silent at the end of words, as it is in “De Celles”). Born in Normandy in 1601, St. John grew up in a pious Catholic home, and at the age of fourteen he took a vow of chastity. After a stellar scholastic career he entered the Congregation of the Oratory of Jesus and Mary Immaculate (“The French Oratorians”), in 1623, and was ordained a priest in 1625. He became a missionary of sort, and soon became famous for preaching parish missions. In 1641 he founded the Congregation of Our Lady of Charity of the Refuge, for “fallen women” who wished to do penance. In 1643 he established the Society of Jesus and Mary (“The Eudists”), an order of priests, founded for the formation of priests (in seminaries) and for missionary work.
St. John is also famous as one of the primary promoters of the formal devotions to the Sacred Heart (before the apparitions to St. Margaret Mary) and the Immaculate (Admirable) Heart of Mary. He is credited with the establishment of the first feast days for the Sacred Heart and Immaculate Heart, and composing the prayers for those Masses (all with papal approval).
Known for his personal holiness and learning, St. John wrote several books that are considered Catholic classics, rich in doctrine and but simple in style. Many consider him a possible future Doctor of the Church. His principal works are: The Sacred Heart of Jesus, The Admirable Heart of Mary, The Life and Kingdom of Jesus, and The Priest: His Dignity and Obligations. St. John died on this date in 1680, at the age of 78. He was canonized in 1925.

Oremus pro invicem. Fr. De Celles

Nineteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Death Penalty Change? On August 2, Pope Francis announced that he was changing the Catechism of the Catholic Church’s presentation on the death penalty. Prior to the change, the CCC, 2267, read:
“Assuming that the guilty party’s identity and responsibility have been fully determined, the traditional teaching of the Church does not exclude recourse to the death penalty, if this is the only possible way of effectively defending human lives against the unjust aggressor.
“If, however, non-lethal means are sufficient to defend and protect people’s safety from the aggressor, authority will limit itself to such means, as these are more in keeping with the concrete conditions of the common good and more in conformity to the dignity of the human person.
“Today, in fact, as a consequence of the possibilities which the state has for effectively preventing crime, by rendering one who has committed an offense incapable of doing harm – without definitely taking away from him the possibility of redeeming himself – the cases in which the execution of the offender is an absolute necessity “are very rare, if not practically nonexistent.””

Pope Francis’s amended text reads:
“Recourse to the death penalty on the part of legitimate authority, following a fair trial, was long considered an appropriate response to the gravity of certain crimes and an acceptable, albeit extreme, means of safeguarding the common good.
“Today, however, there is an increasing awareness that the dignity of the person is not lost even after the commission of very serious crimes. In addition, a new understanding has emerged of the significance of penal sanctions imposed by the state.
“Lastly, more effective systems of detention have been developed, which ensure the due protection of citizens but, at the same time, do not definitively deprive the guilty of the possibility of redemption.
“Consequently, the Church teaches, in the light of the Gospel, that “the death penalty is inadmissible because it is an attack on the inviolability and dignity of the person”, and she works with determination for its abolition worldwide.”

What to make of this? It seems that the Pope has changed the Church’s ancient doctrine that the state has the right, and sometimes the duty, to execute certain criminals, so that now, it seems, such execution is a sin. In fact, the letter from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith states that the change represents an, “authentic development of doctrine that is not in contradiction with the prior teachings of the Magisterium.”
Since the announcement however, many learned Catholics have pointed out several important problems. The greatest of these is that the right and duty of the state to execute criminals may not be something that any Pope or Council has the authority to change. They argue that it is based on the specific teaching of the Scriptures, including the very words spoken by God Himself, and it has been consistently taught since the earliest days of the Church, and upheld by the Fathers and Doctors of the Church, including St. Augustine, St. Thomas Aquinas, and St. Alphonsus Liguori. Moreover, rejection of this teaching has been condemned by Popes for centuries, at least one Pope specifically calling such rejection “heresy.” Also, even Pope St. John Paul II and Benedict XVI, who opposed the implementation of this right/duty of the state, clearly and upheld the teaching.
This unanimity of the Church normally leads us to conclude that a doctrine is unchangeable and irreformable, i.e., infallibly taught in the ordinary magisterium. But now it seems Pope Francis has attempted to change and reform it.
It is true that Catholic teaching can “develop”, but I didn’t think it could develop based on changing circumstances or “new awareness” of things. And it was my understanding that development came only in a way that is consistent with the prior teachings, not contrary to them. And finally, I was under the impression that “development” had to be well documented and explained in a logical way so as to clearly state the new presentation; but this is not the case here.
So, what does this mean? Frankly, I don’t know. Some argue that this change must represent a prudential judgment, and so no change in doctrine at all. But the CDF seems to take exactly the opposite position.
To me, this is another example of the confusion that so often seems to come from the Vatican these days. I don’t mean to be disrespectful, but if there is confusion, there is confusion. And people are confused. I know I am. With all respect and deference to His Holiness.
So, I suggest we all pray for a quick clarification, both from His Holiness and learned prelates and theologians, and not jump too quickly to any conclusions, especially in dealing in charity with His Holiness and with our fellow Catholics.

Bishop McCarrick Homily. Last week this column included a condensed version of my homily from July 29 about former-cardinal Theodore McCarrick. Since then copies or links to the full homily have been posted to 2 well known Catholic websites, and I have received dozens of emails from Catholics around the country who found the homily very helpful in coming to terms with this issue. I am humbled by the response, and I bring this up now not to brag, but only because it seems that Our Lord may use this homily to help some others as well. So, feel free to share it—both the text and audio are on the parish website.

My Homilies on the Website. Some of you may not be aware that I post almost all my homilies and talks to the parish website. For years I refused to do this, since I feel it can easily lead a foolish priest to the sin of pride. Eventually I relented at the request of several parishioners and ex-parishioners, based on the argument that if I give them to folks who attend my Mass on Sunday I should be open to giving them to other folks as well.
In any case they’re on the website if you want them. Go to straymond.org, click on the tab that says, “Priests,” then “Father De Celles,” then, “Father De Celles’ Homilies.”

Liturgical Changes. Please remember the upcoming liturgical changes in the parish. First, effective TODAY, August 11-12, the norm at St. Raymond’s for exchanging of the sign of peace will be to turn to only two people, one on your left and right, and give a slight bow of the head or shoulders (with folded hands, if you choose). Second, effective Sunday, September 2, folks coming down the main aisle will receive Communion at the altar rail, either kneeling or standing, at all Masses. Finally, effective Sunday, September 16, on the 1st and 3rd Sundays of every month we will celebrate the 10:30 Mass using the “Ad Orientem” form.

Pictorial Directory. The new parish pictorial directory is being printed as I write this, and it should be in our hands in the next few weeks. Very sorry for the delay!

Oremus pro invicem. Fr. De Celles

Eighteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Archbishop Theodore McCarrick. What follows is condensed version of the homily I
gave last Sunday. It seemed to be helpful to a lot of people, so I thought I’d share it with
you here.. :
Each of us, from time to time, fails to live up to our Baptismal calling to live a life
of love for God and neighbor, and keeping the commandments. But priests, bishops and
popes have a special call and obligation to strive to live holy lives, for the good of the
whole Church.
But priests fail too, even in important ways that are not uncommon among men,
ways that may disappoint us, but not cause us to give up on them. But sometimes, some
priests fail miserably and in repulsive ways, ways that seem to, as Scripture says, “cry out
to God for vengeance.”
In the last few weeks we’ve heard in the news that the former Archbishop of
Washington, Theodore McCarrick, has been accused of terrible crimes and reprehensible
grave sins. He has publicly denied these accusations.
But more and more have come out. After years of hiding the stories the media has
finally started to report what they have known for about for years, and are laying out
names, dates and documents. As a result, last week McCarrick resigned from being a
cardinal, and the Vatican announced he would remain in seclusion “for a life of prayer
and penance until the accusations made against him are examined in a regular canonical
trial.” To me this is an admission of guilt: The last time a cardinal resigned was 91 years
ago—it just doesn’t happen.
This kind of thing has to be terribly hard on you, even devasting to some of you. I
understand that, because it has been hard on me—for about 28 years, I hardly knew
Bishop McCarrick, but since I entered the seminary, I and most of my clerical friends
knew the accusations against him. There was no evidence—most of his victims were too
afraid to go public, and the ones who did were ignored. So nothing could be done: you
can’t accuse someone publicly on hearsay. But the thing is…. “everybody” knew.
So, all we could do is watch with trepidation as he was promoted first to
archbishop, then to cardinal, and eventually a powerful advisor to the current Pope, even
years after his retirement.
But as the Psalms tell us: “Put not your trust in princes, in a son of man, in whom
there is no salvation.…Blessed is he…whose hope is in the LORD his God.” We don’t
follow bishops or priests, or cardinals, or even popes, as much as we might love them. We
follow Jesus Christ, and the Holy Catholic Church He founded. And by “Catholic
Church,” again, I mean the Church as the Mystical Body of Christ, full of sinners and
saints, but protected by the Blessed Trinity from destruction and from passing on
erroneous teaching to the generations. I mean the centuries of great and faithful saints,
who have passed on what they received down the generations what the apostles had
received from Christ Himself.
So when a priest or bishop or cardinal commits an act that cries out to God for
vengeance, or covers it up, I say, lock him up and throw away the key. But it does not
affect my faith. But my faith is not in men, but in God. It is not in priests and bishops, but
the Church.
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Jesus tells His apostles: “without Me you can do nothing.” Jesus is the one who is
the founder and sustainer of the Church, not the apostles. His apostles and their
successors are merely His instruments to bring His word and grace to His people.
And He doesn’t simply entrust those gifts to individual men, but to the Church, His body with members that include not only sinful Cardinals, but also saintly men and
women in all generations, from St. Peter, to St. Raymond, to St. Therese to St. John Paul
II.
Now, Please don’t let this lead you to distrust all priests and bishops. Many make
great sacrifices for their people, and some are truly saintly. They strive to be good
shepherds, even if they fail from time to time. Rejoice in their goodness, and have mercy
on their failures. And love them, respect them, and support them.
But there are a few that are not even trying to be shepherds, but are more like
wolves in sheep’s clothing, preying on their flock. Do not be afraid to hold those to
account, always with charity and mercy, but also always with true justice.
And do not be discouraged by them. Our hope is in Christ, not in them. And
Christ is our hope, not our despair. Discouragement comes from our own weaknesses, or
from the devil himself. The devil is loving the current scandal: he wants you to be
discouraged; he wants you to give up.
But do NOT give up. Remember simply two words: Jesus Christ! And fix your
hearts and minds on Him. And do not be discouraged by the failures of men, but accept
the grace to believe, hope and love in Christ and His Church.
Liturgical Changes. Last week I announced a few liturgical changes in the parish.
First, effective NEXT SUNDAY, August 12, at the exchange of the sign of
peace I ask that each of you turn only to only two people, the persons on your left and
right and (ideally, but not necessarily, with folded hands) give a slight bow of the head or
shoulders. If you chose to do something else (e.g., shake hands or hug family members)
you will not be reprimanded; but you should respect the choices of others as well.
Second, effective Sunday, September 2, the portable altar rails/kneelers will
remain in front of the sanctuary at all times, so that at every Mass the people coming up
the main aisle will receive Communion the at altar rail, either kneeling or standing (their
choice). Communion will continue to be distributed in the transepts as usual, i.e., no altar
rail.
I also announced that effective Sunday, September 16, on the 1
st and 3
rd Sundays
of every month we will celebrate the 10:30 Mass using the “Ad Orientem” form (the
priest facing in the same direction as the people, toward the apse/tabernacle). For the last
year we’ve done this on the 1st Sunday, and we are now extending it to the 3rd as well.
Considering Sunday Child-Care. In response to many requests from parents, we are
considering providing child-care during the 8:45 and 10:30 Masses every Sunday. I
struggle with this idea a bit, and I would continue to encourage all families to bring all
their children to the Mass with them. But I would do this in order to assist those parents
with small children (under age 5?), who discern that child-care would be best for their
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particular situation. It would be a matter of trusting parents, not excluding children.
Anyone interested in coordinating this (for a small stipend), or anyone who would
like to give feedback for our consideration, should contact Mary Butler in the parish
office.
Oremus pro invicem. Fr. De Celles

Seventeenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

LITURGICAL CHANGES AT ST. RAYMOND’S. After prayerful consideration, and wide consultation, I have decided to make some adjustments to the celebration of Mass. Please understand, my own personal preferences may affect how I do things myself, but I won’t, and don’t, impose my personal preferences on what you do. So when I do introduce a change to what you do, it is only because I truly believe, it is best for the parish—for you.
Sign of Peace. Three months ago I asked for your input on the possibility of changing the way we exchange the sign of peace. This was motivated by my continuing concern that if the exchange is given, it should be done reverently and not distract our attention from the Eucharist.
One possibility would be to omit the exchange altogether. As an alternative I suggested: “perhaps we might turn only to the person on our left and right (so, just 2 people) and, with folded hands, give a slight bow of the head or shoulders, much like the servers do when they serve the priest at the altar. This might be a nice compromise…”
I was very pleased with the number and quality of the responses—thank you all! All told, I received about 70 emails, letters or phone messages, more responses than on any subject I’ve ever heard from you on. It was not a vote, but I can say that about one-quarter favored dropping the exchange altogether, and over one-half favored changing it to the bow I proposed. So, 77% favored some real change.
I have prayed and thought an awful lot about this, and although I am personally inclined to omit the exchange all together, I have decided that we will keep the exchange of the sign of peace on Sundays, but will adopt a new way of doing it. Effective Sunday, August 12, I ask and strongly encourage that from now on when the priest says “Let us offer each other the sign of peace”:
— Each congregant turn only to only two people, the persons on their left and right and (ideally, but not necessarily, with folded hands) give a slight bow of the head or shoulders.
— Although it will be discouraged, if someone feels moved to do something else (e.g., shake hands or hug their family members) they will not be ostracized or reprimanded at all; but they should also respect the choices of others to bow or not to respond to the offer of a handshake.
— The exchange of the sign of peace will cease immediately when the Agnus Dei begins.
— After a short period of adjustment, cards will be printed up and put in the pews to inform new parishioners and visitors of our practice.
This will take some time to get used to, I know. And for some it may be difficult. But I ask you all to try to cooperate in charity, as brothers and sisters in Christ.

Altar Rail. For the last year we’ve been using our portable altar rail for Communion at all the 8:45 Masses. Eight weeks ago, I asked for your input on extending the use of the altar rail to all Masses. The number of responses were considerably less than the numbers discussed above, but almost all were enthusiastically positive to my suggestion.
So, I have decided that effective Sunday, September 2, the portable altar rails/kneelers will remain in front of the sanctuary all the time for all the Masses. So that at every Mass for Communion the people will come up the main aisle as usual, but then spread out to the left and right at the altar rail, either kneeling or standing (their choice), to receive Communion. Communion will continue to be distributed in the transepts as usual, i.e., no altar rail.
As I’ve discussed before, my primary reason for this change is very simple: to accommodate the popular demand/desire that many people have to exercise their right to kneel to receive Holy Communion. Kneeling without a kneeler is difficult and time-consuming, and therefore discourages most people who would like to kneel to receive. This is unjust. Moreover, with up to 8 people at-a-time standing/kneeling at the long rail, there is no need to rush to get out of the next person’s way. So by adding the Communion Rail, everyone can receive comfortably the way they want, kneeling or standing.
But let me be frank: I believe there are also great spiritual reasons for kneeling to receive Our Lord. As Cardinal Sarah has written: “For if, as St Paul teaches, ‘at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth’ (Phil. 2:10), how much more should we bend our knees when we come to receive the Lord Himself in the most sublime and intimate act of Holy Communion!”
Ad Orientem. For the last year we’ve celebrated the 10:30 Mass on the First Sunday of every month using the “Ad Orientem” form—that is, the priest facing in the same direction as the people (“to the East,” or toward the apse/tabernacle). Effective Sunday, September 16, I have decided to extend this practice to the 10:30 Mass on every Third Sunday of every month as well (so, 1st and 3rd Sundays).
I remind you that this practice goes back to the early Christians’ custom of facing East when they prayed, symbolically waiting for the second coming of the Son of God, like the rising of the Sun in the East. This was soon incorporated into the Mass of the early Church and became the norm for most of Christian history, until the 1960s.
But the most important reason for facing “ad orientem” is that the priest turns with the people to face toward and pray to God together with them. As the second half of the Mass begins, the “Liturgy of the Eucharist,” the priest is no longer talking to the people, as when he proclaims the Gospel and homily, but rather now he turns with them and leads them in prayer toward God. All this emphasizes the prayerful nature—the adoration and reverence—of the Mass, especially during the Liturgy of the Eucharist.
Monthly Holy Hour for Life, Liberty and Marriage. For the last 5½ years we’ve had a Holy Hour on the last Wednesday of the month to pray for the defense of unborn human life, religious liberty and the dignity of marriage. During that period we’ve seen many discouraging but also many encouraging developments related to these issues, especially with the change of federal administrations, and the nomination of Supreme Court Justices. We thank God for this, and we acknowledge the power of prayer.
However, sometimes initiatives in parishes lose their appeal over time. As one wise and prudent parishioner told me, “It is hard to sprint for the long run.” So, I’ve decided to forego the Monthly Holy Hour for the time being. I’m thinking I may reinstitute it in the future, probably on a different day, and with a different emphasis. Thanks for all who have supported the Holy Hour, and keep praying for these intentions.

Oremus pro invicem. Fr. De Celles

Sixteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

50th Anniversary of Humanae Vitae. This coming Wednesday, July 25, is the 50th Anniversary of Humanae Vitae, Pope Paul VI’s 1968 encyclical reaffirming the ancient and apostolic teaching of the Church that contraception is a grave sin. In the years since, his words have been largely ignored by the world, even by Catholics. But they still remain as true today as ever. Moreover, his explanations of the reasons for and the consequences of disregarding this teaching have been proven out over the years. He warned that it would lead to increased sexual infidelity and “the general lowering of morality,” especially among young men, and that eventually men would lose respect for women, seeing them only as object of selfish enjoyment. Elsewhere he would specifically point to the immediate connection between contraception and abortion.
Over the last 50 years we have seen this all bear out as we’ve seen the dramatic and catastrophic increase in (to name a few): divorces, marital infidelity, pornography, abortion, prostitution, teenage pregnancy and promiscuity, child abuse, wife abuse, and acceptance of homosexuality and transgenderism.
At the same time Pope Paul recognized that it was morally acceptable, for a just reason, to “regulate birth” using methods that take into account the “natural rhythms” of the fertility cycle of women. Today several highly scientific methods are available to couples in this regard. Usually referred to together as “Natural Family Planning” (NFP) they are very effective in both postponing and promoting conception. They have the full approval of the Church, and we actively promote their proper use.
Mark Your Calendars: Humanae Vitae Conference on September 8. To more deeply consider the meaning of Humanae Vitae, and the ramifications of contraception in general, St. Raymond’s will be sponsoring a conference to commemorate its 50th anniversary on Saturday, September 8. Speakers will include Fr. Tad Pacholzyk, Ph.D., Director of Education at The National Catholic Bioethics Center in Philadelphia; Dr. Robert Royal, Editor-in-Chief of The Catholic Thing, and President of the Faith & Reason Institute in Washington, D.C.; and Bob and Gerri Laird—Bob is Vice President for Program Development at The Cardinal Newman Society, and Gerri is a nationally known speaker and writer on marriage and family. I am really excited about this conference and hope you will be able to join us. Stay tuned for more information.
Pull Quotes. Below follows a few short quotes from Humanae Vitae. I encourage you to read (or reread) this important teaching document in toto (it’s relatively short: only about 20 pages). To that end, we have placed free copies of the encyclical near the doors of the church. Take and read.

A few important quotes from Humanae Vitae:
11. …the Church, calling men back to the observance of the norms of the natural law, as interpreted by their constant doctrine, teaches that each and every marriage act must remain open to the transmission of life. [Note: the term “marriage act” presumes this act belongs only in marriage, and so applies to that same act when it wrongly takes place outside of marriage].
16. Now, some may ask: …is it not reasonable …to have recourse to artificial birth control if, thereby, we secure the harmony and peace of the family, and better conditions for the education of the children already born? To this question it is necessary to reply with clarity: the Church is the first to praise and recommend the intervention of intelligence in a function which so closely associates the rational creature with his Creator; but she affirms that this must be done with respect for the order established by God. If, then, there are just motives to space out births, which derive from the physical or psychological conditions of husband and wife, or from external conditions, the Church teaches that it is then licit to take into account the natural rhythms immanent in the generative functions, for the use of marriage in the infecund periods only, and in this way to regulate birth without offending the moral principles which have been recalled earlier….
17. …reflect upon the consequences of methods of artificial birth control. ….first of all, how wide and easy a road would thus be opened up towards conjugal infidelity and the general lowering of morality…[M]en—especially the young….—have need of encouragement to be faithful to the moral law, so that they must not be offered some easy means of eluding its observance. It is also to be feared that the man…may finally lose respect for the woman and, no longer caring for her physical and psychological equilibrium, may come to the point of considering her as a mere instrument of selfish enjoyment, and no longer as his respected and beloved companion…Let it be considered also that a dangerous weapon would thus be placed in the hands of those public authorities …Who could blame a government for applying [contraception] to the solution of the problems of the community…? from even imposing …contraception…?

St. Mary Magdalene. Today, July 22, would normally be the feast of this great saint, but because it falls on Sunday this year its celebration is suppressed in favor of the Lord’s Day. According to ancient Catholic tradition Mary was the sister of Lazarus and Martha, who grew up innocently enough in the small town of Bethany, but somehow left home and fell into a life mired in debauchery and filled with all seven deadly sins. In God’s mercy, however, she eventually heard Jesus preaching and was transformed by His words, grace and love, and her faith in and love for Him (“she has loved much”) led her to become the great repentant servant of the Lord Jesus, who would go on to stand at the foot of the Cross, be the first to see the Risen Christ, and the first to proclaim the Resurrection, even to the Apostles themselves.
It seems to me that the Magdalene is a great patron of all the women who are so debased by today’s overly sexualized and perverted culture. Although we don’t know the details of her sins, her life of sin would seem to have most certainly involved sexual sins. Having a longstanding tender affection for Magdalene, I tend to think she must have been corrupted and used by some man, causing her to fall from the graces of her family, and deeper into sin. In all this she would seem to be much like so many girls and women of our age, where so many overtly try to corrupt them and promote their sexual abuse. But most importantly, she reminds us of the saving power of the love and grace of Jesus, who lifted her up from sin and raised her to be the great saint of the Resurrection.
I particularly propose this great St. Mary Magdalene to all who struggle with contraception—women and men alike. May she help you to end the abuse of sexuality it represents and promotes, and may she lead you to the life of grace and true love in Christ.

Oremus pro invicem, et Sancta Maria Magdalena, ora pro nobis. Fr. De Celles