Third Sunday of Easter

Mother’s Day. Motherhood is a miraculous gift and blessing—to mothers, husbands, children and to all society. Thank the Good Lord for the gift of mothers!
But the strange forces at work in our society today to degrade the body and undermine its meaning are also attacking motherhood. For example, think of all the amazing things mothers’ (and really all women’s) bodies go through and are designed for that help define “womanhood” and make it so incredibly special. Yet all this is rejected by those who tell us that sexuality is not inherently directed toward the creative love of motherhood and fatherhood. And by those who say that any man/male can just say “I’m a woman” and lay claim to all the dignity and identity of that gender. This is simply insane.
On this special day, and every day, may the Lord shower our mothers, living and deceased, with graces, and may we show them the love and respect that they deserve.

First Holy Communion. Last Saturday our Second Graders received Our Lord in Holy Communion for the very first time. What a great thing for these children, to receive our Lord’s Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity; to have the Lord come to them in the flesh, and join them to Himself in this miracle. And what a beautiful thing to see these little ones receive with such innocence and faith.
The Lord tells us “unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven” Does this not refer in a particular way to the Eucharist, which is Christ Himself, who is the kingdom? The children believe simply because we assure them that Jesus is God, and so has the power to do anything He wants and will always tell us the truth, and that Jesus Himself said of the bread, “This is my Body.” And so they believe. So simple. Do we believe, as they do?
Let us pray for our little ones today, that they may always believe as they do today. But let us also pray for ourselves—that we may become like our little children.

Mary’s Month. By long standing tradition, the Catholic Church keeps the month of May as Mary’s month. So I encourage all of you to keep this devotion by praying the Rosary during this month—even every day. I especially encourage all families to pray the Rosary together at least once a week. Holy Mary, Mother of God, and our Mother, pray for us!

Spring and Summer. Spring has sprung, thanks be to God! But like all good things, this brings certain challenges, and when it comes to Mass attendance we can count on two particular challenges: more noise and less clothes. Both of these are understandable: as they become more active outside little ones seem to tend to be more active inside also, and as it becomes warmer outside, all of us tend to wear less clothing.
The only dress code we have St. Raymond’s is to use common sense, as well as Christian modesty, chastity and charity. Growing up in Texas I understand all about dressing for the heat. But let’s remember two things. First, please try not to dress like you’re going to the pool when you’re coming to Mass. On the other hand, if someone does come to Mass in a t-shirt let’s assume they have an important reason for doing so. The second thing to remember is that the more skin we show the more likely we are to be the near occasion of sin to others. So I ask all of you, wherever you are this summer—whether on the beach, on a date, or at Mass—please consider the spiritual well-being of others.
Also, we love to have little children at Mass. But all of us (including their parents) would also prefer if they would be peaceful and quiet at Mass. But that isn’t always the way it is—especially at this time of year. So once again I encourage all of you, in charity, to be patient and supportive of parents and children—parenting is especially difficult in the present cultural environment, so we have to help them every way we can. On the other hand, parents, please remember to do what you can, and when a child gets really out of hand at Mass, or if they continue to make noise (especially talking or shouting) please consider moving to the “Family Room” or the narthex until they quiet down. God bless you parents and your little ones!

Vacation Bible School. Every summer we like to offer our little children an opportunity for some special Catholic formation through a summer mini-camp we call “Vacation Bible School” (VBS). But to make VBS work we need volunteers. Sadly, after several weeks of asking for help in this bulletin, we haven’t been able to assemble enough volunteers to make VBS work. So, for lack of volunteers, I am forced to cancel VBS this summer.
This is greatly disturbing to me. I know everyone is busy, but we need folks to volunteer to make this parish, by the grace of God, all that it can be.

Legion of Mary. One great way to get involved in the parish, and to grow in devotion to Mary, is through membership in the Legion of Mary. The Legion has been a vital part of our parish almost since its founding. Sad to say, however, because of transfers, illness, and other factors, the membership has declined over the last few years to the point that we are in danger of having to close our parish praesidium.
The Legion, it is a world-wide organization, with a threefold purpose: 1) To make its members better Catholics and to mobilize the Catholic laity, 2) To raise the spiritual level of the entire community through direct contact with and interest in, every member and potential member of the Mystical Body of Christ, and 3) To accomplish this through Mary. The works undertaken by our parish praesidium include taking the St. Raymond’s bulletin and sacramentals/literature door-to-door within our parish boundaries, teaching CCD, taking the Pilgrim Virgin statue to parishioner homes, plus visiting our 150 Legion of Mary auxiliaries. If you would like to contribute toward this apostolic work, please contact Judy Mayer at 703-627-7320, or email jmayer9014@aol.com.

No Special Needs Collection. Every year on Mother’s Day we take a second collection for the “special needs” of the Parish. For years this collection has been designated to help pay off the parish debt. But this year, since you have paid off that debt, the question was raised, “What is our ‘special need’ this year?” Well, there are several things we could use the money for, but it occurred to me that, as a small token of respect and appreciation for what you have done in the past to pay off the debt, I will NOT TAKE UP THE COLLECTION this year. Of course, this doesn’t mean we don’t need you to keep giving generously, just not an extra amount this week. Thanks again.

Oremus pro invicem. Fr. De Celles

Second Sunday of Easter

Christus resurrexit! Resurrexit vere! Christos Anesti!
Alithos Anesti! He is risen! He is risen indeed! What a
glorious day—the Lord has risen from the dead, conquering
sin and death and has crushed the head of the ancient serpent.
Alleluia! The world has been redeemed, salvation has been
won for all mankind—if only we will accept this infinitely
generous gift of Our Risen Lord Jesus.
Thanks to all who worked so hard to help make this
such a blessed Lent, Holy Week, Triduum and Easter Sunday.
And remember, today is just the beginning of this new Season
of Easter, as we continue to celebr ate the Lor d’s
Resurrection for 50 days—until Pentecost. We begin with the
8 days of the Octave of Easter, celebrating each day as if it
were Easter Day.
On behalf of myself, Fr. Smith, and Fr. Daly, may I
wish you all a Blessed, Holy and Happy Easter and Easter
Season! May the Risen Lord Jesus shower you with His grace,
and may His Blessed Mother Mary, St. Mary Magdalene, St.
Peter and St. John and all the holy women, disciples and
apostles who saw the risen Lord that first Easter Day keep you
in their care in this Glorious Season!
Oremus pro invicem. Fr. De Celles
X X X
EASTER VIGIL HOMILY OF POPE FRANCIS, 2018
We began this celebration outside, plunged
in the darkness of the night and the cold. We felt an oppressive
silence at the death of the Lord, a silence with which each of
us can identify, a silence that penetrates to the depths of the
heart of every disciple, who stands wordless before the cross.
These are the hours when the disciple stands
speechless in pain at the death of Jesus. What words can be
spoken at such a moment? The disciple keeps silent in the
awareness of his or her own reactions during those crucial
hours in the Lord’s life. Before the injustice that condemned
the Master, His disciples were silent. Before the calumnies
and the false testimony that the Master endured, His disciples
said nothing. During the trying, painful hours of the Passion,
His disciples dramatically experienced their inability to put
their lives on the line to speak out on behalf of the Master.
What is more, not only did they not acknowledge Him: they
hid, they escaped, they kept silent (cf. Jn 18:25-27).
It is the silent night of the disciples who
remained numb, paralyzed and uncertain of what to do amid
so many painful and disheartening situations. It is also that of
today’s disciples, speechless in the face of situations we
cannot control, that make us feel and, even worse, believe that
nothing can be done to reverse all the injustices that our
brothers and sisters are experiencing in their flesh.
It is the silent night of those disciples who
are disoriented because they are plunged in a crushing
routine that robs memory, silences hope and leads to thinking
that “this is the way things have always been done”. Those
disciples who, overwhelmed, have nothing to say and end up
considering “normal” and unexceptional the words of
Caiaphas: “Can you not see that it is better for you to have one
man die for the people than to have the whole nation
destroyed?” (Jn 11:50).
Amid our silence, our overpowering silence,
the stones begin to cry out (cf. Lk 19:40)[1] and to clear the
way for the greatest message that history has ever heard: “He
is not here, for He has been raised” (Mt 28:6). The stone
before the tomb cried out and proclaimed the opening of a new
way for all. Creation itself was the first to echo the triumph of
life over all that had attempted to silence and stifle the joy of
the Gospel. The stone before the tomb was the first to leap up
and in its own way intone a song of praise and wonder, of joy
and hope, in which all of us are invited to join.
Yesterday, we joined the women in
contemplating “the one who was pierced” (cf. Jn 19:36; cf.
Zech 12:10). Today, with them, we are invited to contemplate
the empty tomb and to hear the words of the angel: “Do not be
afraid… for He has been raised” (Mt 28:5-6). Those words
should affect our deepest convictions and certainties, the ways
we judge and deal with the events of our daily lives, especially
the ways we relate to others. The empty tomb should challenge
us and rally our spirits. It should make us think, but above all it
should encourage us to trust and believe that God “happens”
in every situation and every person, and that His light can
shine in the least expected and most hidden corners of our
lives. He rose from the dead, from that place where nobody
waits for anything, and now He waits for us – as He did the
women – to enable us to share in His saving work. On this
basis and with this strength, we Christians place our lives and
our energy, our intelligence, our affections and our will, at the
service of discovering, and above all creating, paths of dignity.
He is not here… He is risen! This is the
message that sustains our hope and turns it into concrete
gestures of charity. How greatly we need to let our frailty be
anointed by this experience! How greatly we need to let our
faith be revived! How greatly we need our myopic horizons to
be challenged and renewed by this message! Christ is risen,
and with Him, He makes our hope and creativity rise, so that
we can face our present problems in the knowledge that we are
not alone.
To celebrate Easter is to believe once more
that God constantly breaks into our personal histories,
challenging our “conventions”, those fixed ways of thinking
and acting that end up paralyzing us. To celebrate Easter is to
allow Jesus to triumph over the craven fear that so often
assails us and tries to bury every kind of hope.
The stone before the tomb shared in this, the
women of the Gospel shared in this, and now the invitation is
addressed once more to you and to me. An invitation to break
out of our routines and to renew our lives, our decisions and
our existence. An invitation that must be directed to where we
stand, what we are doing and what we are, with the “power
ratio” that is ours. Do we want to share in this message of life
or do we prefer simply to continue standing speechless before
events as they happen?
He is not here… He is raised! And He awaits
you in Galilee. He invites you to go back to the time and place
of your first love and He says to you: Do not be afraid, follow
Me.

Easter Sunday of the Resurrection of the Lord

Christus resurrexit! Resurrexit vere! Christos Anesti! Alithos Anesti! He is risen! He is risen indeed! What a glorious day—the Lord has risen from the dead, conquering sin and death and has crushed the head of the ancient serpent. Alleluia! The world has been redeemed, salvation has been won for all mankind—if only we will accept this infinitely generous gift of Our Risen Lord Jesus.

Thanks to all who worked so hard to help make this such a blessed Lent, Holy Week, Triduum and Easter Sunday. And remember, today is just the beginning of this new Season of Easter, as we continue to celebrate the Lord’s Resurrection for 50 days—until Pentecost. We begin with the 8 days of the Octave of Easter, celebrating each day as if it were Easter Day.

On behalf of myself, Fr. Smith, and Fr. Daly, may I wish you all a Blessed, Holy and Happy Easter and Easter Season! May the Risen Lord Jesus shower you with His grace, and may His Blessed Mother Mary, St. Mary Magdalene, St. Peter and St. John and all the holy women, disciples and apostles who saw the risen Lord that first Easter Day keep you in their care in this Glorious Season!

Oremus pro invicem. Fr. De Celles

  

EASTER VIGIL HOMILY OF POPE FRANCIS, 2018

We began this celebration outside, plunged in the darkness of the night and the cold. We felt an oppressive silence at the death of the Lord, a silence with which each of us can identify, a silence that penetrates to the depths of the heart of every disciple, who stands wordless before the cross.
These are the hours when the disciple stands speechless in pain at the death of Jesus. What words can be spoken at such a moment? The disciple keeps silent in the awareness of his or her own reactions during those crucial hours in the Lord’s life. Before the injustice that condemned the Master, His disciples were silent. Before the calumnies and the false testimony that the Master endured, His disciples said nothing. During the trying, painful hours of the Passion, His disciples dramatically experienced their inability to put their lives on the line to speak out on behalf of the Master. What is more, not only did they not acknowledge Him: they hid, they escaped, they kept silent (cf. Jn 18:25-27).
It is the silent night of the disciples who remained numb, paralyzed and uncertain of what to do amid so many painful and disheartening situations. It is also that of today’s disciples, speechless in the face of situations we cannot control, that make us feel and, even worse, believe that nothing can be done to reverse all the injustices that our brothers and sisters are experiencing in their flesh.
It is the silent night of those disciples who are disoriented because they are plunged in a crushing routine that robs memory, silences hope and leads to thinking that “this is the way things have always been done”. Those disciples who, overwhelmed, have nothing to say and end up considering “normal” and unexceptional the words of Caiaphas: “Can you not see that it is better for you to have one man die for the people than to have the whole nation destroyed?” (Jn 11:50).
Amid our silence, our overpowering silence, the stones begin to cry out (cf. Lk 19:40)[1] and to clear the way for the greatest message that history has ever heard: “He is not here, for He has been raised” (Mt 28:6). The stone before the tomb cried out and proclaimed the opening of a new way for all. Creation itself was the first to echo the triumph of life over all that had attempted to silence and stifle the joy of the Gospel. The stone before the tomb was the first to leap up and in its own way intone a song of praise and wonder, of joy and hope, in which all of us are invited to join.
Yesterday, we joined the women in contemplating “the one who was pierced” (cf. Jn 19:36; cf. Zech 12:10). Today, with them, we are invited to contemplate the empty tomb and to hear the words of the angel: “Do not be afraid… for He has been raised” (Mt 28:5-6). Those words should affect our deepest convictions and certainties, the ways we judge and deal with the events of our daily lives, especially the ways we relate to others. The empty tomb should challenge us and rally our spirits. It should make us think, but above all it should encourage us to trust and believe that God “happens” in every situation and every person, and that His light can shine in the least expected and most hidden corners of our lives. He rose from the dead, from that place where nobody waits for anything, and now He waits for us – as He did the women – to enable us to share in His saving work. On this basis and with this strength, we Christians place our lives and our energy, our intelligence, our affections and our will, at the service of discovering, and above all creating, paths of dignity.
He is not here… He is risen! This is the message that sustains our hope and turns it into concrete gestures of charity. How greatly we need to let our frailty be anointed by this experience! How greatly we need to let our faith be revived! How greatly we need our myopic horizons to be challenged and renewed by this message! Christ is risen, and with Him, He makes our hope and creativity rise, so that we can face our present problems in the knowledge that we are not alone.
To celebrate Easter is to believe once more that God constantly breaks into our personal histories, challenging our “conventions”, those fixed ways of thinking and acting that end up paralyzing us. To celebrate Easter is to allow Jesus to triumph over the craven fear that so often assails us and tries to bury every kind of hope.
The stone before the tomb shared in this, the women of the Gospel shared in this, and now the invitation is addressed once more to you and to me. An invitation to break out of our routines and to renew our lives, our decisions and our existence. An invitation that must be directed to where we stand, what we are doing and what we are, with the “power ratio” that is ours. Do we want to share in this message of life or do we prefer simply to continue standing speechless before events as they happen?
He is not here… He is raised! And He awaits you in Galilee. He invites you to go back to the time and place of your first love and He says to you: Do not be afraid, follow Me.

Palm Sunday of the Passion of the Lord

HOLY WEEK. Today we enter the holiest week of the year, commemorating the holiest week of all time, when the God of heaven and earth, creator of all the universe, God the Son, eternally begotten of God the Father, condescended to suffer and die in our flesh for the sins of all mankind. The week Jesus offered Himself as a living sacrifice out of love for His Father and for us.
A week that changed the world forever, echoing throughout history until the end of time. And so today we remember it, not just as something that happened 2000 year ago, but as something that is alive today. And we use the gifts of intellect, reason, sensation, emotion and faith to take us back, to walk and be with Jesus, and with Mary, John, Peter, Magdalene, Pilate and Caiaphas…and Judas. To see what they saw, hear what they heard, feel what they felt, and even touch what they touched.
And so we use visible, audible and tactile realities to draw us into these events: we sing hymns, look at pictures or watch movies, read and listen to Scripture. We pray the Sorrowful Mysteries fingering our Rosaries, and we walk the Stations of the Cross. And we actively participate in the very special liturgies of this week, that outwardly and ritually express the holy mysteries.
We begin today with Palm Sunday of Our Lord’s Passion, as we hold the palms and greet Jesus triumphantly entering Jerusalem at the beginning of that first Holy Week. And then we listen as multiple readers proclaim the drama of the Passion of the Lord from St. Luke’s Gospel, and verbally join “the crowd,” even shouting with Caiaphas, “Crucify Him.”
And then there’s Holy Thursday. There are no Masses all day long anywhere in the Diocese, except for one: the morning Chrism Mass at the Cathedral. There the Bishop gathers with the priest of the Diocese to consecrate the holy oils and to renew their priestly promises, signifying the priests’ distinctive communion with the apostles and share in their ministry, as they came together with Jesus to prepare to celebrate the Passover.
Finally, on Thursday evening the parishes celebrate their only Mass of the day: The Mass of The Lord’s Supper (7:00pm). Here we celebrate the institution of the Sacraments of the Priesthood and Eucharist at the first Mass celebrated by Our Lord just hours before He was to suffer. Afterwards we process with our Eucharistic Lord from the church to the Parish Hall, just as the apostles walked with Jesus from the Upper Room to the Garden of Gethsemane, and there we watch and pray until Midnight, recalling Our Lord’s agony and betrayal.
We awake on Good Friday to a church that is stripped as much as possible of all decoration: the altar is stripped of its cloths, and the candles, crosses and rugs—every moveable ornament—are gone. This reminds us how the first disciples were stripped of all consolation and how the Lord was stripped of all outward appearance of human dignity during His trial and suffering, and how He was finally stripped of His clothes, to be hanged naked on the Cross. Recalling all this, we join in Our Lord’s suffering by fasting and abstaining from meat (see rules elsewhere in this bulletin). From noon to three, wherever we are, we try to observe a time of quiet recollection—perhaps in church, but also even at work or home—recalling these are the hours Jesus hanged on the cross.
And then at 3 o’clock, the hour of His death, we all gather in the church for the solemn Celebration of the Passion of the Lord. Every year I am profoundly moved by this most unique liturgy, as our church is filled to the brim with the faithful who come together as one body to stand with the Mary, John and Magdalene at the foot of the Cross. Their senses and faith lead their minds and hearts back over the centuries to Calvary, as their eyes see the Cross and all the eloquent rituals, and their ears hear the words of the Gospel, the prayers and the glorious yet sorrowful music of the choir. And then they walk up slowly and reverently, many in tears, to gently touch or tenderly kiss the wood of His Cross. And finally, their tongues taste the goodness of the Lord, as He comes to console them in Holy Communion.
As I do every year, as your spiritual Father, from the depth of my heart, and invoking whatever filial respect I may call upon, I beg you not to miss this most unique and Holy Liturgy. I know this may mean taking off from work, and that the church and parking lot are crowded, and that it’s a very long liturgy. But it is the holiest hour of the year, the hour of the death of Our Lord. What in the world could be more important than this?!
Then on Holy Saturday, though no Masses are said during the day we join the whole Church waiting “at the Lord’s tomb in prayer and fasting” by our somber prayerful reflection and voluntary continuation of the fast and abstinence of Good Friday (as the Church strongly encourages). But then, when the sun goes down on Saturday evening, the Light of Christ shines forth as we begin the celebration of the Resurrection of the Lord with the Easter Vigil Mass (8:00pm), with all sorts of unique ceremonies: the blessing of the Easter Candle; the chanting of the Exsultet; a richly extended Liturgy of the Word; celebration of adult Baptism, reception into the Church, and Confirmation. It is a glorious Mass, and I encourage all to attend. (However, lasting two hours, it can be tough for little ones).
And don’t forget we have Confessions all week (except Holy Thursday), and daily Mass Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. (See below for the entire schedule). And above all, live out the holiness of Christ in your life: love Him with all your heart, be open to His grace, love your neighbor, keep the commandments, and pray. Let this truly be a holy week at every moment and in every way!

Pro-Life. Thanks to all who took part in 40 Days for Life last weekend. As one of our very active parishioners wrote me: “…while we always manage to cover our hours, the response for this campaign was nothing short of outstanding – amazing. I was truly humbled at the participation level. Seems like folks were tripping over each other to participate. Sometimes we had upwards of 12 on the sidewalk at a time.” God bless you all.
Also, if you haven’t seen it yet, go see the movie “Unplanned.” Surprise of surprises, even with greatly limited mass media advertising and an unnecessary R-rating (as compared to other films) this strong pro-life movie came in 4th overall at the box office in its debut weekend. This is a movie that helps pro-lifers understand “why we fight.” So please see this movie, and take your teenagers if they are emotionally mature enough (see last week’s column).

Oremus pro invicem. Fr. De Celles

Fifth Sunday of Lent

Fifth Week of Lent: Passiontide. Today we cover the statues and crosses as we begin the last two weeks of Lent, called “Passiontide.” At this point in Lent some people often start to slip in keeping their Lenten penances, while others haven’t yet begun their penances at all. Passiontide reminds us to refocus or deepen our attention on the season and its purposes of repentance of sin, conversion of heart, and appreciation of Christ’s love manifested in His Passion and Cross. If you’ve been slacking in your observance of Lent, buck up. If you’ve neglected the season entirely, it’s not too late. And if you’ve been having a good Lent, then consider how you might take it up a notch these last days.
Let us beg our Crucified Lord to shower us with His grace in these last two weeks of Lent, and that we may be open to His grace and love Him in return.
Beginning tomorrow, Monday, evening confessions will go from 6pm until 7pm, and if the lines require it we will have 2 confessors available beginning Tuesday. If you have not been to confession this Lent please try to go before Easter, remembering that during Holy Week (beginning next Sunday) the confession lines are very long. So, if you haven’t been to confession this Lent, PLEASE COME THIS WEEK.
I also strongly encourage you to intensify your Lenten observance by taking greater advantage of opportunities offered in the parish. In particular, consider attending the Thursday evening Holy Hour and Meditation (7-8pm) on the Agony in the Garden, or Stations of the Cross on Friday at 6:30pm (and don’t forget Friday Soup Supper at 5pm). I also encourage you to attend at least one weekday Mass this week and next: what a beautiful way to refocus on Lent.

Palm Sunday, Procession. Next Sunday, April 14, is Palm/Passion Sunday. Please consider coming to the 10:30 am Mass and joining in the Solemn Procession with Palms at the beginning of Mass. This year we’re doing it a little different than the past in that we will begin by gathering in front of the church (not in the Parish Hall as in the past) before the start of Mass, and then, as usual, after some prayers and a Gospel reading, we will process into the church, and you can take your pew as usual. If you attend the 10:30 am Mass you don’t have to join in the procession, but may also simply take your seats in the church before Mass as usual and listen over the speakers in the church to everything said/sung in front of the church.

Holy Week. Next Sunday marks the beginning of Holy Week. Please plan ahead today to participate in the special and unique liturgies that mark these most solemn and sacred days of the Christian year, including Holy Thursday’s evening Mass of the Lord’s Supper, Good Friday’s 3pm Celebration of the Passion of the Lord (with Veneration of the Cross), and the Easter Vigil at 8pm on Holy Saturday evening.
As always, as your spiritual father I beg you to try to participate in all of these liturgies, especially the 3pm Good Friday service, with the Veneration of the Cross. Every year I am overwhelmed to see standing room only crowd patiently wait in line, many weeping, to venerate the cross of Christ. Some say, “but it’s a work day!” But I say: “it’s the hour of the Lord’s death! The most sacred hour in all time! Why would any Catholic want to be at work?”

YOU MUST SEE THE MOVIE “UNPLANNED.” Last Monday evening I did something a little different for me: I went to the theater to see a movie: “Unplanned.” I’ve been encouraging you to see this movie, and now I redouble that encouragement. It’s not the most sophisticated or slick movie you’ll ever see, and there are no well-known actors in it. But the story is gripping, and it will change the way you look at abortion, abortive mothers, and the abortion industry. I’m a pretty seasoned pro-lifer, but it moved me to tears and caused me to have a restless night sleep, trying to think what more I could do to defend the unborn, troubled expectant mothers and post-abortive mothers.
Just to remind you, “Unplanned” is the story of the conversion of Abby Johnson, from being the gung-ho director of a Planned Parenthood Clinic in Texas, to being a pro-life activist Catholic. Central to the story is how “everything changed” when she was asked to assist in an abortion and saw the live ultrasound images of a baby being killed in an abortion.
It is mainly that one scene (along with a few non-graphic scenes with blood) that the pro-abortion Hollywood establishment used as an excuse to give the movie an “R” rating. But that’s ridiculous—you can see scenes 10 times worse than this on mainstream primetime cable. The R rating comes only because Hollywood doesn’t’ want you and your teenagers to know the truth about abortion.
Yes, those scenes are disturbing, especially the ultrasound scene, but only if you believe abortion kills a living baby human being. (So I guess Hollywood is unwittingly admitting this fact!) I was shaken myself, even though the ultrasound was, as is usual, a black and white vague image of a baby—there was no blood, nothing graphic. Except the killing of the baby. That is upsetting, to say it mildly. But if your teenager is emotionally mature, and your think she/he can handle it, I think you should take them to see this. It reminds us and shows them “why we fight.”
So, go see this movie and bring your mature teens, and your friends, especially those who sit on the abortion-fence or who are tepid in their support for life. And if you can some how pull it off, bring a pro-abortion friend.

Scandals Ignored. Whatever happened to the controversy over Governor Northam’s black-face/KKK picture? Or the black-faced scandal of Attorney General Herring? Or the two rape charges against our Lt. Governor Fairfax? It seems the media and their party (the party of slavery and abortion) is giving them a pass—have you read anything about the scandals lately?
Maybe you heard that last week the two alleged rape victims requested a public hearing to tell their stories to the state legislature, but that was blocked by the Democratic leaders of the House.
As the New York Times even reported last week: “In the space of a week in early February, the public was stunned by revelations about each of the three highest statewide elected officials, all Democrats…Protesters and news crews swarmed the Statehouse. Calls for resignations came from fellow Virginia Democrats, Republicans and even 2020 presidential candidates. And then? “It just went poof,” said Natalie Draper, a librarian sitting in the back of a coffeehouse last week in Richmond. “It’s like it never happened.””
It seems George Orwell was right: “All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.”

Oremus pro invicem. Fr. De Celles

Fourth Sunday of Lent

Halfway Through Lent. Today we celebrate the 4th Sunday of Lent, the traditional midpoint of the 40 days of the penitential season. But some point out that there are actually 46 days from Ash Wednesday to Holy Saturday (inclusive). The thing is, the counting of the 40 days has never included the 6 Sundays of Lent, because, historically, the 40 days were always days of modified fasting, and Sunday was never a day of fast since it is the Lord’s Day. Moreover, though Good Friday and Holy Saturday are not technically “Lent” but the “Triduum”, even so, the Triduum retains the penitential character of Lent, so there are still 40 penitential days. Confused? Sorry.

That being said, this is the midpoint Sunday of Lent, and is called “Laetare Sunday,” “laetare” meaning “rejoice.” It is considered sort of a slight lifting of the austerity and somberness of Lent as we remember to lift our gaze to see that beyond the Cross is the Resurrection; in the midst of our sorrow for our lives of sin, we also rejoice in the forgiveness and new life won by the Paschal Mystery. The Rose Vestments symbolize this: the dark purple of repentance and sorrow mingled with the light of forgiveness and joy.

 

“For Your Penance, Say One Hail Mary.”  In order to be forgiven our sins in the Sacrament of Penance three things are required of every sinner/penitent: 1) contrition, 2) confession of our sins, and 3) satisfaction. Most of us understand contrition (being sorry) and confessing our sins, but you may not be familiar with the term “satisfaction” in this context. “Satisfaction” here refers to the real effort to make up for our sins, and comes in two ways: “reparation” and “expiation” Let’s look a little closer at this. As the Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches [1459-1460]:

“Many sins wrong our neighbor. One must do what is possible in order to repair the harm (e.g., return stolen goods, restore the reputation of someone slandered, pay compensation for injuries). Simple justice requires as much.” This is called ‘making reparation.’

“But sin also injures and weakens the sinner himself, as well as his relationships with God and neighbor. Absolution takes away sin, but it does not remedy all the disorders sin has caused. Raised up from sin, the sinner must still recover his full spiritual health by doing something more to make amends for the sin: he must ‘make satisfaction for’ or ‘expiate’ his sins.” This satisfaction is also called ‘penance.

“The penance the confessor imposes must take into account the penitent’s personal situation and must seek his spiritual good. It must correspond as far as possible with the gravity and nature of the sins committed. It can consist of prayer, an offering, works of mercy, service of neighbor, voluntary self-denial, sacrifices, and above all the patient acceptance of the cross we must bear. Such penances help configure us to Christ, who alone expiated our sins once for all.”

Many people wonder how something as small and simple as “saying three Hail Marys” can serve as an adequate penance. But remember, we could never do enough penance to pay for all our sins—only Jesus can do this, and does so, on the Cross. But the penance after confession is an important personal effort at trying to make amends. Moreover a simple and clear penance, such as some short prayers, makes a good practical penance because: 1) if done devoutly they can be an important first step forward toward God, 2) they are more likely to be done immediately, so that the penance won’t be forgotten and the penitent can immediately renew the life of grace, and 3) they avoid the confusion of more ambiguous or ambitious penances, so the penitent won’t be wondering, “did I do enough?” “did I do too much?” “did I do it right?”.

 

St. Peter Chrysologus. In the office of Readings. this last Tuesday, the second reading was from a sermon (Sermo 43: PL 52, 320, 322) by Saint Peter Chrysologus, a Bishop and Doctor of the Church, who died in 433. I thought this might help you this week.

There are three things, my brethren, by which faith stands firm, devotion remains constant, and virtue endures. They are prayer, fasting and mercy. Prayer knocks at the door, fasting obtains, mercy receives. Prayer, mercy and fasting: these three are one, and they give life to each other.

“Fasting is the soul of prayer, mercy is the lifeblood of fasting. Let no one try to separate them; they cannot be separated. If you have only one of them or not all together, you have nothing. So if you pray, fast; if you fast, show mercy; if you want your petition to be heard, hear the petition of others. If you do not close your ear to others you open God’s ear to yourself.

            “When you fast, see the fasting of others. If you want God to know that you are hungry, know that another is hungry. If you hope for mercy, show mercy. If you look for kindness, show kindness. If you want to receive, give. If you ask for yourself what you deny to others, your asking is a mockery.

            “Let this be the pattern for all men when they practice mercy: show mercy to others in the same way, with the same generosity, with the same promptness, as you want others to show mercy to you.

            “Therefore, let prayer, mercy and fasting be one single plea to God on our behalf, one speech in our defense, a threefold united prayer in our favor.

“Let us use fasting to make up for what we have lost by despising others. Let us offer our souls in sacrifice by means of fasting. There is nothing more pleasing that we can offer to God, as the psalmist said in prophecy: A sacrifice to God is a broken spirit; God does not despise a bruised and humbled heart.

            “Offer your soul to God, make Him an oblation of your fasting, so that your soul may be a pure offering, a holy sacrifice, a living victim, remaining your own and at the same time made over to God. Whoever fails to give this to God will not be excused, for if you are to give Him yourself you are never without the means of giving.

            “To make these acceptable, mercy must be added. Fasting bears no fruit unless it is watered by mercy. Fasting dries up when mercy dries up. Mercy is to fasting as rain is to the earth. However much you may cultivate your heart, clear the soil of your nature, root out vices, sow virtues, if you do not release the springs of mercy, your fasting will bear no fruit.

“When you fast, if your mercy is thin your harvest will be thin; when you fast, what you pour out in mercy overflows into your barn. Therefore, do not lose by saving, but gather in by scattering. Give to the poor, and you give to yourself. You will not be allowed to keep what you have refused to give to others.”

Oremus pro invicem. Fr. De Celles

 

 

Third Sunday of Lent

GO SEE THE MOVIE “UNPLANNED.” Back in October of 2013 our Respect Life Committee brought Abby Johnson, former director of a Planned Parenthood Clinic in Texas, to speak to us about her conversion from being part of the abortion industry to becoming a pro-life activist Catholic. She gave an amazing talk, and explained how “everything changed” when she was asked to assist in an abortion and saw the live ultrasound images of a baby being killed in an abortion. She wrote a book about her story, and now that book has been made into a major motion picture, “Unplanned,” which will be released this Friday, March 29, and will be showing at Regal Kingstowne, AMC Potomac Mills and AMC Hoffman.

We talked about organizing a special parish showing of the film, but thought it might be better to show support by all of us going separately, and paying to see it. You know how this works: if there aren’t a lot of ticket sales in the first weeks of release, the film stops showing. Don’t let this happen: people have to see this movie. Even if you’re already pro-life you should still see it, and bring your friends, as it will remind you, “why we fight.”

The Hollywood establishment doesn’t want this film to succeed, because they know how dangerous it will be to the pro-abortion movement. So, they have figured a way to rate it “R”! Imagine, movies with graphic and gratuitous sex, nudity, violence, gore and bad language get PG-13 ratings, but this good Christian movie is, “Rated R: Restricted – under 17 requires accompanying parent or adult guardian.” Actually, there is one violent scene, and one bloody scene. As Abby writes to parents:

“So why the R rating? For two scenes.…The first is a CGI (Computer-Generated Imagery) recreation of what I saw on the ultrasound screen when I assisted in the abortion procedure that convinced me of the humanity of the unborn. …You will see the abortion instrument…like a dark line on the ultrasound, introduced onto the screen. You will see the baby struggle against it. You will see the baby first slowly, then quickly disappear into the instrument as it does what it is designed to do…[T]his was a CGI recreation and NOT footage from a real abortion….No one will be able to see this scene and then say they “don’t know” the truth about abortion.

“The second scene …re-creates my awful experience with the abortion pill. …I won’t lie to you; that scene shows some blood. In real life I hemorrhaged so badly I thought I was going to die. The movie captures that without being gratuitous or gory.…”

            See you at the movies!!!!

 

Third Sunday of Lent. As Lent continues I encourage you all to let yourself enter more fully into the holiness of this season. Some of you may not have really turned your full attention to the penitence of the season yet, and some of you may be starting to wane in your sincere efforts. All that is understandable, but we must not let this great opportunity to draw closer to Christ slip away.

In this regard I urge you to pause every night before you go to bed and briefly examine your consciences, thinking both of your sins and of God’s blessings of the day. Also take a moment to consider how you well you “kept Lent” that day.

I also encourage you to carefully review the Lenten Schedule we distributed two weeks ago (go to straymonds.org and click “Lenten Schedule” at the top of the home page) and think about which of the various Lenten liturgies and activities you should take part in—and resolve to make it happen.

Looking over the schedule, I see the daily confessions—have you been yet? And the Friday Stations of the Cross—such a simple but profound devotion (and maybe you could come at 5pm and join in good Catholic fellowship at our Soup Supper). And the Thursday night Holy Hour and with my half-hour meditation on “The Agony in the Garden”—Christ’s final preparation for His Passion. Or maybe you can come to Exposition and Adoration on Wednesday or Friday. Or how about waking up early once a week to come to morning Mass before work or school. Or go to Mass at another church during lunch. Or maybe come to Wednesday Mass at 7pm—you could come early to go to confession, spend time in Adoration, and go to Mass—what a great Lenten evening!

Don’t let this opportunity to grow in holiness, pass you by. Keep the love of Christ Crucified before your eyes at all times, so that your hearts may be transformed every day in Lent.

 

RCIA and RCIC. Please keep in prayer those adults and children who are preparing to enter the Catholic Church and/or be baptized, confirmed and receive First Holy Communion at the Easter Vigil. For the last few months they have been preparing diligently for that great day. Let us pray that they persevere in faith, and be open to all the graces God has in store for them. And may they be an example to the rest of us, reminding each us of our own continuing need for personal conversion in the love of Christ.

 

St. Patrick’s Dinner. It was good to see so many of you at last Saturday’s St. Patrick’s Day Dinner. I don’t have the final numbers, but somewhere between 200 and 250 parishioners and friends enjoyed good food, good music, good fellowship and the performance of some excellent Irish dancers. These kinds of social events are so important to the life of a vibrant Catholic parish, as opportunities to share the love and joy of Christ together, and to get to know each other better so as to live and work together as the Body of Christ in Springfield. Thanks for all who worked so hard to make the evening a success, especially the Knights of Columbus and Chef Christine Gloninger. May St. Patrick watch over you and keep you in his care.

 

A Note About Parish Dinners/Events. I am always amazed at the efforts folks make to organize, prepare and present parish events like the St. Patrick’s Dinner, Oktoberfest, and the Italian Dinner. But I’m afraid that we are relying more and more on a smaller and smaller group of people to make these things happen, and that in turn produces burnout. It’s a lot of work, but it can also be a lot of fun, as long as you have adequate help. So once again, I’m calling on volunteers to help with these dinners and other events. A lot of these are sponsored by the Knights of Columbus, so if you’re a Knight, are you helping out? But even if you’re not a Knight, you can still help—Christine Gloninger organized the cooking for the St. Patrick’s Dinner last week, and ladies can’t be Knights! Please help us, keep these dinners/events going by volunteering to help. If you don’t know who to contact to volunteer, just call/email the parish office.

 

Oremus pro invicem. Fr. De Celles

 

 

 

 

Second Sunday of Lent

Don’t be Afraid to Go to Confession! Our daily confessions have started out well, as we’ve had a steady flow every day. Glad to see it. But there’s still room for you! Please remember to come during Lent, and to come early avoiding the long lines during Holy Week—if for no other reason, out of charity to your priests.

I know some people are afraid to go to Confession and so haven’t been in years. Some are afraid because they are embarrassed by their sins. But remember, you can confess behind the screen, so the priest won’t even know who you are (and we almost never recognize a voice).

Others are afraid because they think their sins can’t be forgiven. But remember, Jesus says: “Truly, I say to you, all sins will be forgiven the children of man…” As long as you are truly sorry for your sins and want to stop sinning, the priest, with the power of Jesus, will forgive you.

Some are afraid because they think the priest will be angry with them. But that’s just not true. In all my 42 years of going to Confession, I’ve only had one truly unpleasant experience. Okay, priests have bad days like all of us, but even on a bad day priests won’t get upset with you. Priests love forgiving sins—the bigger the better. And just because a priest seems stern in the pulpit doesn’t mean he’s that way in the confessional. A father may sometimes be stern when he teaches his children to behave, but when an apologetic child comes to him in tears, that same father opens his arms in tenderness. “A lion in the pulpit, a lamb in the confessional.”

Some think they will shock the priest by what they’ve done. As Ecclesiastes tells us: “what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun.” I’ve heard over 25,000 Confessions in the last 23 years, and I have heard almost every sin imaginable—really. Nothing shocks me anymore.

And finally, some are afraid the priest will tell someone about their sin. This just doesn’t happen. In all my life I have never heard a priest reveal the sins of anyone in Confession. Priests are forbidden, under pain of automatic excommunication (that can only be lifted by the pope himself), from ever directly or indirectly revealing the particular sins of a particular penitent. This is called the “seal of Confession,” and extends even to revealing things that are not sinful that are discussed in the Confession. A lot of priests, including myself, pray and try to forget what they hear in Confession and avoid even admitting that a particular person came to Confession. (A great movie dramatizing this is Alfred Hitchcock’s “I Confess.”)

So don’t be afraid. Come to Confession! Soon!

Defunding Planned Parenthood. From LifeSiteNews, March 12, 2019:

The state of Ohio may proceed with its efforts to defund the Planned Parenthood abortion business, a majority of the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled as the legal battle over a 2016 law enters its third year. Last April, a three-judge panel of the 6th Circuit ruled that the state could not forbid the distribution of federal health subsidies to any entity that commits or promotes elective abortions…On Tuesday the full 6th Circuit disagreed.…In the majority ruling, Judge Jeffrey Sutton concluded that the “affiliates do not have a due process right to perform abortions.”

“Governments generally may do what they wish with public funds, a principle that allows them to subsidize some organizations but not others and to condition receipt of public funds on compliance with certain obligations,” Sutton explained, unless it does so “on a basis that infringes [a recipient’s] constitutional rights.”

“This ruling is a major victory for pro-life Ohioans and all Americans fighting to keep their own tax dollars from being used to prop up the abortion industry,” Susan B. Anthony List President Marjorie Dannenfelser responded. “The American people have repeatedly expressed their opposition to taxpayer funding of abortion businesses like Planned Parenthood, which destroys more than 332,000 innocent unborn children a year – funding that could be redirected to life-affirming care providers, such as the growing number of community health alternatives that outnumber Planned Parenthood facilities at least 20 to one nationwide.”

Parish Expenditures on Charitable Works. Someone recently wrote me suggesting that the parish should give more money to charities, those in need. I appreciate this, but let me take this as an opportunity to explain some things about our parish finances.

First of all, the parish itself is a “charity” that has a life and needs of its own, like a family, that has to be sustained, and nourished to flourish. So my primary obligation, as pastor, is to see that we have money to fund the various activities of the parish itself, and so the vast majority of our expenditures goes to pay for the parish staff, religious education (for both children and adults), liturgies, maintenance, electricity, etc.. While I try to be careful and frugal, I also think it unwise to scrimp on spending that will genuinely be helpful to the parishioners’ spiritual and religious growth.

But we also see the parish as a family that gives to others, supporting the special needs of our members, our “relatives” (other Catholic groups), and also strangers who are in need.

So, last year we voluntarily spent a total of $166,482.11, or 8.6% of our total ordinary expenditures, on what we call “Charitable Works.” This included $47,700 in emergency assistance to families and individuals, $52,410 in parishioner scholarships to Catholic grade and high schools, $36,000 to Angelus Academy, and $29,534 to other Catholic groups (including: Catholic Charities, Divine Mercy Care, St. Dominic’s Monastery, Fellowship of Catholic University Students, Hard as Nails Ministries, Guadalupe Free Clinic, JMU Catholic Campus Ministry, Our Lady of the Blue Ridge Parish, Pakistani Missions).

In addition to that, the Bishop assessed us $ 46,284 for tuition assistance for needy children around the Diocese. So, adding that to our “Charitable Works,” that means last year we gave away $212,766, or about 11%, of our annual ordinary expenditures, to outside charities and the needy.

Just thought you should know. And thanks for your generosity.

Energy Savings. It looks like the lighting change is saving us money in energy costs. The numbers show a savings of about $1,300 a month for the last nine months, compared to last year. That’s about $16,000 annualized.

Reminders. The first ever Virginia March for Life, at the State Capitol building in Richmond on April 3. St. Raymond’s will be taking 2 buses down for the March. Sign Up sheets are in the narthex. Please join us.

Please join us every Thursday during Lent, for our Lenten Series and Holy Hour, meditating on “The Agony in the Garden.” We’ll begin with Exposition, then I’ll give a half-hour talk, followed by praying the Rosary and then Benediction.

And don’t forget Lenten Soup Suppers and Stations of the Cross, every Friday at 5:00pm and 6:30pm respectively. All are welcome.

Oremus pro invicem. Fr. De Celles

First Sunday of Lent

NEW! Virginia March for Life on April 3: Mark Your Calendars. Thanks be to God, the U.S. Supreme Court (SCOTUS) now has a majority of solid pro-life justices, and it seems very likely that sometime in the next few years the Court will reverse, in whole or in part, its 1973 “right to abort” decision in Roe vs. Wade. As the pro-abortion forces face this probability, they recognize that one likely result of a SCOTUS reversal will be to return the issue to the individual state governments to deal with. This is why we’ve seen such a flurry of attempts by state legislatures to create broad pro-abortion rights or overturn state restrictions on abortion, for example, consider the New York law that passed a few weeks ago, and the recently Virginia bill proposed by Springfield’s own State Delegate Kathy Tran.
To kick-off our counter effort, several pro-life groups have joined forces to organize the first ever Virginia March for Life, at the State Capitol building in Richmond on April 3. There will be a Rally at the Capitol at 11am, with the March around the Capitol square at noon.
St. Raymond’s will be taking 2 buses down for the March. Sign Up sheets are in the narthex. Please join us. For more information contact the office.

Lenten Series and Holy Hour. When I was thinking about my topic for this year’s series, “The Agony in the Garden,” and Jesus’ question to His apostles in the Garden came to mind: “Could you not keep watch for one hour with Me?” So it occurred to me to give my talks in the church during a Holy Hour of Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament, so we could “watch for one hour” in prayer and meditation with the Lord. We’ll begin with Exposition, then I’ll give a half-hour talk, followed by praying the Rosary and then Benediction.
Please join us every Thursday during Lent, beginning this Thursday, March 14, and continuing through April 11, from 7pm to 8pm. If you’ve never been to a Holy Hour or to one of the Lenten Series, please come—you’ll be glad you did. See the insert in this bulletin.

Confessions Every Day in Lent. Fundamental to a fruitful observance of Lent is the reception of the Sacrament of Penance (also called “Confession” or “Reconciliation”). I am very happy to say that you can go to confession at St. Raymond’s every day during Lent. So, please: go to confession!
But, I remind you that Sunday morning is not the best time to go to confession, since the lines are long, and only one priest is hearing confession and he normally stops once Mass begins. Moreover, Sunday confession times are provided not as a mere convenience but mainly to meet the real needs of those who truly cannot confess on other days or are otherwise in need of the sacrament. So, for example, when there is a line on Sundays, this would not normally be the time for: “devotional” confessions, or families going to their regular monthly confession together, or for little children to go to confession. This is just general guidance, but use your good judgment. And if no one is in line, go to confession.
Don’t get me wrong: we welcome all confessions, but some folks need Sunday morning times more than others. So, consider this in charity…

Making a Good Confession. A few years ago I published a small purple pamphlet called “Making a Good Confession: A Brief Examination of Conscience and Guide to Going to Confession.” Copies of this pamphlet can be found by all the doors of the church and near the confessionals. I hope you will find it helpful in preparing for and making a good confession. Below follows the introduction to that pamphlet. Maybe it will lead you to grab the pamphlet and read the rest of it….

MAKING A GOOD CONFESSION:
A Brief Examination of Conscience
and Guide to Going to Confession

(Parents: consider if this is inappropriate for your children)

How do we make a “good Confession”? We begin by prayerfully, and with honesty and humility, looking at our lives to recognize the sins we’ve committed since our last Confession, i.e., we make “an examination of conscience.” In particular, we need to look for mortal sins, i.e., sins that involve all three of the following criteria: 1) grave matter, 2) full knowledge of the sinful character of the act, and 3) complete consent. If any one of these is lacking it is not a “mortal sin,” but may be a “venial sin.”
“Grave matter” means the act involves some very serious moral evil, found either in 1) the act itself or 2) the intention behind the act. Grave matter can be difficult to identify, but not always.
Note that some sinful acts are grave matter when they involve circumstances that are serious or very important, but are not grave matter if they involve only small or trivial things. These acts that can be either grave or not are said to “admit of parvity” (smallness). Many of the sins listed below would “admit of parvity,” unless the word “serious” accurately describes them. For example, a lie is always a sin, but lying under oath is grave matter while lying about whether you like someone’s outfit is not grave matter.
Also, in Confession you must distinguish the “kind” of mortal sin committed: be clear about what the sin was, but avoid graphic or long explanations. So it is not enough to merely say “I had bad thoughts” or “I acted inappropriately,” rather one should more specific, e.g. “I had lustful thoughts,” etc.
You must also give the number of times you committed particular mortal sins. Sometimes this is very difficult or even impossible to remember, in which case, try your best give the priest some idea of the frequency or number; e.g., “at least once a month for several years,” etc.
Besides mortal sins, we should also consider confessing (but are not required to confess) vices (sinful habits) or other venial sins that are particularly problematic.

A BRIEF EXAMINATION OF CONSCIENCE

This brief examination of conscience is not all inclusive or exhaustive, but is a useful tool to help you prepare for Confession. Remember, as you go through your examination consider if any of your sins are mortal. Also, remember to confess how many times you committed particular mortal sins.
Note, to help you identify mortal sins, sins that always involve grave matter are marked with an “A” and sins that very often or usually involve grave matter (so should be considered very carefully) are marked with an “O/U”. This does not mean that sins not marked never involve grave matter, as discussed above.
[The pamphlet then continues with a detailed review of each of the 10 Commandments, and a detailed “how-to” of what to say and do in the confessional. Happy reading!]

Oremus pro invicem. Fr. De Celles

Eighth Sunday in Ordinary Time

LAST WEEK’S NEWS. A lot of interesting news last week. Let’s look at some of it
briefly.
Vatican Summit. The Summit on child abuse ended last Sunday without
producing any important results. While it might have been helpful to bishops from
countries where child abuse issues haven’t been addressed, in my opinion it really did
nothing but waste time in solving the problem in the U.S.. Recall that the Pope had
ordered the U.S. Bishops wait to see what this Summit came up with before proposing
new rules to apply to lying and abusing Bishops. Okay, so with no results, the Bishops
have wasted the last 7 months or so. Now what?
Bishop Zanchetta. Under the cloud of allegations of sexual abuse Bishop Gustavo
Zanchetta resigned as Bishop of Orán, Argentina, in August 2017, and was appointed by
Pope Francis to a newly-created position in the Vatican. The Vatican has repeatedly
denied knowing about the accusations at the time of the appointment, but this week an
Argentine newspaper has published documents purporting to show the opposite. Did the
Summit really matter?
Cardinal Pell. It was announced this week that an Australian jury had found
Cardinal George Pell, (the Cardinal in charge of Vatican finances) guilty of sexually
abusing two 13-year-old boys in 1996. However, grave doubts surround the conviction,
which Pell is appealing. For example, it rested almost entirely on the testimony of one of
the alleged victims, the second alleged victim had died in 2014, after telling his mother,
that Pell had not abused him. Moreover, as an Australian priest writes, “The proposition
that the offenses charged were committed immediately after Mass by a fully robed
archbishop in the sacristy with an open door and in full view from the corridor seemed
incredible to my mind.” Also, this was the second trial on these charges: the first trial
ended with a hung jury, with 10 of 12 jurors voting to acquit.
If Pell is guilty, he’s guilty, and he should be thrown into prison for a long time.
But many Australians believe the conviction completely unfounded and rooted in anti-
Catholic bias, and that the verdict will be overturned by the higher court.
Monsters Among Us. The “Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act” was
rejected in the US Senate along a mainly party line vote, with only 3 democrats voting in
favor of the bill. The legislation would have required that "any health care practitioner
present" at the time of a birth "exercise the same degree of professional skill, care, and
diligence to preserve the life and health of the child as … to any other child born alive at
the same gestational age." It should be noted that all the Democratic Senators running for
president in 2020 voted against the measure, including Senators Sanders, Harris, Booker,
Gillibrand, Klobuchar and Warren. Imagine, voting to allow a doctor to just let born
babies die on the table, or even be killed. What kind of monsters are these Democrats?
Abortion Clinics. Meanwhile, the Trump Administration announced it will bar
groups that provide abortions or abortion referrals from participating in federal family-
planning program. The new rule will redirect money from Planned Parenthood and
toward faith-based providers.
LENT. The Season of Lent begins this Wednesday with Ash Wednesday. As you know,

this is my favorite time of year, as it gives us the opportunity to meditate on the immense
love of God that would lead Him to suffer and die for our sins. At the same time, then,
it’s also a time to consider our sins and to work to overcome them, through our diligent
efforts and cooperating with His grace. In short, it can be a time of intense growth in our
personal relationship with Jesus Christ.
Lent, of course, brings a much busier parish schedule, which we’ve laid out in
detail in this week’s “Lenten Schedule” insert. Please keep this insert in a central place
in your home—maybe on your fridge door—to remind you of the many opportunities for
spiritual growth the parish offers this Lent.
Ash Wednesday. Ashes will be distributed at all Masses on Ash Wednesday (see
below). Since ashes are merely symbolic (a “sacramental” not a “Sacrament”) they may
be received by anyone who wishes to repent their sins, Catholic or not, in “good
standing” or not. Note: There are no confessions scheduled on Ash Wednesday.
Fasting and Abstinence. Ash Wednesday and Good Friday are days of both
fasting and abstinence, and every Friday in Lent is a day of abstinence. Failure to
“substantially” keep these penances is grave matter (e.g., potentially a mortal sin). The
law of abstinence requires that no meat may be eaten on these days, and binds all
Catholics who are 14 years old or older. No other penance may be substituted. The law of
fasting binds those who are between the ages of 18 and 59. The Church defines “fasting,”
for these purposes, as having only one full meal a day, with two additional smaller meals
permitted, but only as necessary to keep up strength and so small that if added together
they would not equal a full meal. Snacking is forbidden, but that does not include drinks
that are not of the nature of a meal. Even though these rules do not bind all age groups,
all are encouraged to follow them to the extent possible, including children. The sick,
pregnant and other folks with special physical circumstances may be partially or totally
exempt from these rules.
Doing Penance. Of course, all Catholics are encouraged to do personal acts of
penance throughout the season of Lent, traditionally of three types: almsgiving
(including acts of charity), sacrifice (what you “give up”), and prayer. Please choose
your penances carefully, considering your health and state in life. Challenge yourself, but
pick things you can actually do, rather than things that are so difficult that you may easily
give up on them.
Sacrament of Penance. Confession is key to a fruitful Lent. I strongly encourage
that you take advantage of our extended Lent confession schedule—confessions are
scheduled every single day in Lent, except Ash Wednesday and Holy Thursday (see
today’s “Lenten Schedule” insert for exact times—they’re a little different this year).
Lenten Series—A Little Different. When I was thinking about my topic for this
year’s series, “The Agony in the Garden,” and Jesus’ question to His apostles in the
Garden came to mind: “Could you not keep watch for one hour with me?” So it occurred
to me to give my talks in the church during a Holy Hour of Exposition of the Blessed
Sacrament, so we could “watch for one hour” in prayer and meditation with the Lord.
We’ll begin with Exposition, then I’ll give a half-hour talk, followed by praying the
Rosary and then Benediction.

Please join us every Thursday during Lent, beginning next Thursday, March 14,
and continuing through April 11, from 7pm to 8pm. If you’ve never been to a Holy Hour
or one to the Lenten Series, please come—you’ll be glad you did.
 
Oremus pro invicem. Fr. De Celles