Second Sunday of Advent

CATHOLIC ADVENT AND CHRISTMAS TRADITIONS. This time of year is filled with all sorts of traditions. Unfortunately, many of us have lost sight of the Catholic origins of many of the traditions that dominate the secular celebration of Christmas and Advent.
Consider the Christmas tree. There are many different efforts to explain the origins of the Christmas tree, including many that try to separate it completely from Christianity. For example, some try to say that since many different ancient non-Christian cultures used evergreens as a sign of life or health that therefore evergreen “Christmas” trees are not “Christian,” or that Christians “stole” the symbol from the pagans. But there is no conflict or stealing here. Since Christianity converted many ancient pagan cultures it was natural for those new Christians to keep the symbols that had meaningfully expressed their long held spiritual desires that were ultimately answered only in Christianity. So, if an evergreen tree expressed a pagan culture’s desires for eternal life, it was natural for them to carry that symbol into Christianity, which is fine with the Church.
The specific Christianization and “Christmas-ization” of the evergreen tree can be traced at least to the early 8th century in Germany. It seems one Christmas Eve the great missionary St. Boniface and his companions came upon a group of pagans gathered around their sacred tree, the “Oak of Geismar” (“Donar’s Oak”) to worship their god, Thor, and to sacrifice a little child to please him. Horrified by what he had found, Boniface struck the Oak, which the people believed to be indestructible, and suddenly a great wind came and blew the tree over, tearing it out of the ground by its roots and into four pieces. When the tree fell it revealed a small evergreen tree that had grown behind it. St. Boniface then told the people: “This little tree, a young child of the forest, shall be your holy tree tonight. It is the wood of peace, for your houses are built of the fir. It is the sign of an endless life, for its leaves are ever green. See how it points upward to heaven. Let this be called the tree of the Christ-child; gather about it, not in the wild wood, but in your own homes; there it will shelter no deeds of blood, but loving gifts and rites of kindness.” The people then took the tree to the great hall of their village and decorated it with candles, as Boniface told the story of the Baby Jesus. The whole village, including the pagan priest, were converted that Christmas Eve. (For a beautiful retelling of this tale see The First Christmas Tree, by Henry van Dyke).
This seems to be the oldest story of the Christmas tree, and stands as the inspiration for later developments in its use. It was popularized later in the middle ages through the German “Paradise Play” depicting the creation of man, with the evergreen decorated with apples to symbolize both Eden’s Tree of Life (evergreen) and Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil (apples). When the play was performed in churches the Paradeisbaum (Paradise Tree) was surrounded by candles. Eventually the Paradeisbaum made its way into homes and the rest is history.
Santa Claus. Another tradition of the secular celebration of this season is Santa Claus, if its correct to call a real man a “tradition.” Once again, we often forget the Catholic origins of Santa Claus, who is none other than Saint Nicklaus (“Santa Claus” derived from the Dutch for “St. Nicholas”). Again many will argue about non-Christian or pagan predecessors, but it is clear that our Santa is St. Nicklaus. One reason for the two seem to be disconnected in America is because of the English Protestant and Puritan origins of our nation—after the “Reformation” the English downplayed the reference to Saint Nicholas as sounding too Catholic (in England Santa is still called “Father Christmas”).
But Catholics remember the wonderful stories about St. Nicholas, who was bishop of Myra (in modern Turkey) in the early 300s. The story of how he rescued three sisters from being sold into slavery by dropping three bags of gold through their window at night. And how he raised three little boys from the dead after they had been murdered. Not to mention the many stories of his other amazing miracles—he is called Thaumaturgus, or Wonderworker. And we should not forget that after being tortured for his faith in the last Roman persecution, he attended the Council of Nicaea where he boldly defended the divinity of Christ, and Mary’s status as “Mother of God” against the arch-heretic Arias. Add all this to his reputation for giving treats to the children he met in the streets and you see the same man who is now the beloved and saintly giver of gifts on Christmas.
Now, so that no one misunderstands me, especially little children, what I am saying is that Santa Claus is real, and is also known as St. Nicholas. Although the Bishop St. Nicholas went to heaven on December 6, 343, Catholics know that as a saint he now has eternal life. And then it seems that God sent him back to us to be the great gift-giver of Christmas. This doesn’t mean that other stories that we read or see on TV about Santa Claus are not true or bad—I think they’re interesting and sometimes amusing, and even touching. It just means that WE know the REAL story, the rest of the, story.
Which reminds me: make sure you come to say hello to Santa Claus/St. Nicholas next Saturday morning, at our traditional parish “Breakfast with Santa.”
Lessons and Carols. Tonight (Sunday, December 9) at 7:00pm, we celebrate another Advent tradition: a program of beautiful Advent music and Scripture readings called, “Lessons and Carols.” Taking prophetic readings from the Old Testament and pre-nativity readings from the Gospels, our parish lectors lay out God’s amazing plan for the birth of His Divine Son. The choir then adds to the atmosphere of joyful expectation by leading us in popular Advent songs and a few more complicated choral pieces, reminding us of the angels singing over Bethlehem. This “tradition” is rather new, especially to Catholics, originally introduced by the Anglican Church at Cambridge’s King’s College in 1918, but it has recently become very popular in Catholic circles. I first experienced it almost 30 years ago as a layman at a Catholic parish of Anglican converts in San Antonio. I’m happy to say it’s become an Advent tradition at St. Raymond’s. Please join us, and stay for light reception afterwards!

Don’t Forget. Go to confession during Advent—we have confessions every single day of Advent, except Christmas Eve. And come to my Advent Series, “Looking at the Nativity,” this Thursday at 7:30pm. And don’t forget to stop by the “Giving Tree” in the narthex today, and help to make Christmas a little merrier for some folks who are having a rough time this year—families of our parish and Our Lady of the Blue Ridge parish in Madison.

Oremus pro invicem. Fr. De Celles

First Sunday of Advent

Advent. Today we begin the Season of Advent, 4 weeks preparing for the celebration of
the Birth of Jesus Christ at Christmas. Sadly, the culture around us has turned the days
from Thanksgiving to December 25 into a time of nonstop sales, shopping, television
specials, radio carols, and, of course, “Christmas parties.” All this can tend to transform
the religious Advent season into a pre-mature and secularized Christmas celebration.
But We have to be careful of getting so caught up in that secular celebration that
we wind up omitting Christ Himself from the celebration. Rather, Advent must remain
for us, first and foremost, a season of preparation to celebration. And by that I mean we
need to spend time thinking and praying about the reason we celebrate Christmas with
such joy: that we are sinners, but that God has not left us in our sins. That God so loves
us that He entered the world as a tiny baby, so He could truly be one of us, and
communicate that love person to person, and eventually go to the Cross to die for our
sins. So Advent must be a time of remembering our sins, and opening our whole lives to
the love of Christ. It is only with this sort of preparation that we can begin to understand
and experience the true joy of this most magnificent gift.
But note, this joy should build in us throughout our preparation—as we become more
prepared, we become more and more joyful. So there is nothing wrong if even in the
midst of the penance and prayer of Advent, we also increasingly partake of the joy of
Advent. But we must not confuse the Advent joy of Christ with the merely sentimental
feelings of the secular “yuletide” season. Rather, we should transform the secular fun by
our Advent Christian joy.
So how do we prepare? Remember:
–Do some small penance every day to remind us that nothing is more important
than Christ, and that everything we do is for Him;
–Add extra prayers to your daily routine, for example, the Rosary, especially
meditating on the Joyful Mysteries;
–Read Scripture especially the Gospels;
–Give, making generous gifts either directly to those in need or to worthy
charitable projects/institutions (e.g., the parish Giving Tree and the special collection for
Catholic Charities);
–Receiving the grace of the sacraments is one of the most important things you
can do in Advent. Go to Mass and Adoration, and go to Confession;
–Live the life that Christ came to give us: make every day about loving God and
your neighbor as yourself, beginning with keeping the Commandments.

Two Special Advent Events. I invite you to join me, the lectors and the choir next
Sunday, December 9 th at 7pm for “Lessons & Carols.” Every year more and more folks
come to this, and LOVE IT! The “Lessons” refer to the reading of prophetic texts from
the Old Testament and Gospels, laying out God’s incredible plan for the birth of His
Divine Son. The choir adds to the atmosphere of joyful expectation by leading us in
popular hymns and spreading their vocal wings in leading us in carols and a few more
complicated choral pieces—they are AMAZING. Afterwards, we’ll have some time for
Advent fellowship at a short reception, with delicious seasonal refreshments. Trust me,
this is a really wonderful evening—you’ll have a great time. Please join us.
I also ask you to attend my three-part Advent Series: “Looking at the Nativity: Mary,
Jesus and the Holy Night,” on the first 3 Thursdays in Advent. Last Advent we
discussed the life of St. Joseph, so this year I thought I’d continue to consider the
“characters” and the story of the Nativity. This coming Thursday, at 7:30, we begin with:
“Mary: What do we believe?” Last year about 200 people came, and they seemed to
enjoy themselves. So please join us this year. See today’s bulletin insert for further info.

Bishops’ Scandal. This last week brought more confusion regarding the Bishops’
Scandal. First we heard that Pope Francis had appointed Cardinal Blase Cupich of
Chicago as one of the coordinators of the meeting of Presidents of Bishops’ Conferences
in Rome this coming February to address the scandal. This was confusing in that Cardinal
Cupich has a very controversial record on the scandal. For example, former Papal Nuncio
Archbishop Vigano has pointed him out as a protégé of former cardinal McCarrick.
Moreover, he is a frequent defender of the pro-gay subculture in the hierarchy, and
strongly denies the link between that subculture and the molestation of adolescent boys
by priests. Finally, speaking about scandal last September he stated: "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."
I was also confused by news of the death of Bishop Robert Morlino, of Madison,
WI, last week, of a heart attack at the age of 71. “Confused,” in that I don’t understand
why God would take such a good bishop from us right when we seemed to need him
most. Bishop Morlino was one of the most forthright and courageous bishops I ever met.
For example, when the sickening news about former cardinal McCarrick came out last
summer, Morlino wrote a strong letter to his diocese, stating in part:
“I am tired of this. I am tired of people being hurt, gravely hurt! I am tired of the
obfuscation of truth. I am tired of sin.…I am tired of the regular violation of sacred duties
by those entrusted with immense responsibility from the Lord for the care of His
people….[Regarding] the allegations of former-Cardinal Theodore McCarrick’s …sexual
sins, predation, and abuse of power. The well-documented details of this case are
disgraceful and seriously scandalous, as is any covering up of such appalling actions by
other Church leaders who knew about it based on solid evidence. …It is time to admit
that there is a homosexual subculture within the hierarchy of the Catholic Church that is
wreaking great devastation in the vineyard of the Lord…”
If I am often mystified by God’s choices, I am often bewildered by Pope Francis’
choices. In the end, I simply trust in the all-wise and loving God, and pray for the Pope,
and for clarity and true reform.

Immaculate Conception. This Saturday, December 8, is the Solemnity of the
Immaculate Conception (“IC”), a Holy Day of obligation (all Catholics must attend
Mass, and it is a mortal sin not to). Please note that you must attend 2 Masses this
weekend, one for IC and one for Sunday. [FYI: Technically, you can attend the Saturday
Vigil Mass (which will have the prayers of Sunday in Advent) and count that for your
“IC” obligation, if you also attend a second Mass on Sunday itself to count for your
Sunday obligation]. See the Mass times below.

Oremus pro invicem. Fr. De Celles

Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe

(Due to Bulletin deadlines, I’m writing this on Nov. 15, well
before its publication. Please excuse anything that seems out of
date.)
Thanksgiving. I hope you all had a wonderful thanksgiving
day and weekend, and trust that you gave good and worthy
thanks to God for all His gifts to you and our nation. In light of
that, I thought you might be interested in reading the texts of
two important historical documents.
President George Washington, October 3, 1789.
Whereas it is the duty of all Nations to acknowledge the
providence of Almighty God, to obey His will, to be grateful for
His benefits, and humbly to implore His protection and favor,
and whereas both Houses of Congress have by their joint
Committee requested me “to recommend to the People of the
United States a day of public thanksgiving and prayer to be
observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many
signal favors of Almighty God especially by affording them an
opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for
their safety and happiness. Now therefore I do recommend and
assign Thursday the 26th day of November next to be devoted
by the People of these States to the service of that great and
glorious Being, who is the beneficent Author of all the good
that was, that is, or that will be. That we may then all unite in
rendering unto Him our sincere and humble thanks, for His
kind care and protection of the People of this Country previous
to their becoming a Nation, for the signal and manifold
mercies, and the favorable interpositions of His providence,
which we experienced in the course and conclusion of the late
war, for the great degree of tranquility, union, and plenty,
which we have since enjoyed, for the peaceable and rational
manner, in which we have been enabled to establish
constitutions of government for our safety and happiness, and
particularly the national One now lately instituted, for the civil
and religious liberty with which we are blessed; and the means
we have of acquiring and diffusing useful knowledge; and in
general for all the great and various favors which He hath been
pleased to confer upon us. And also that we may then unite in
most humbly offering our prayers and supplications to the great
Lord and Ruler of Nations and beseech Him to pardon our
national and other transgressions, to enable us all, whether in
public or private stations, to perform our several and relative
duties properly and punctually, to render our national
government a blessing to all the people, by constantly being a
Government of wise, just, and constitutional laws, discreetly
and faithfully executed and obeyed, to protect and guide all
Sovereigns and Nations (especially such as have shown
kindness unto us) and to bless them with good government,
peace, and concord. To promote the knowledge and practice of
true religion and virtue, and the encrease of science among
them and Us, and generally to grant unto all Mankind such a
degree of temporal prosperity as he alone knows to be best.
Given under my hand at the City of New York the third day of
October in the year of our Lord 1789. — George Washington
President Abraham Lincoln, October 3, 1863.
A Proclamation. The year that is drawing towards its close, has
been filled with the blessings of fruitful fields and healthful
skies. To these bounties, which are so constantly enjoyed that
we are prone to forget the source from which they come, others
have been added, which are of so extraordinary a nature, that
they cannot fail to penetrate and soften even the heart which is
habitually insensible to the ever watchful providence of
Almighty God. In the midst of a civil war of unequalled
magnitude and severity, which has sometimes seemed to foreign
States to invite and to provoke their aggression, peace has been
preserved with all nations, order has been maintained, the laws
have been respected and obeyed, and harmony has prevailed
everywhere except in the theatre of military conflict; while that
theatre has been greatly contracted by the advancing armies
and navies of the Union. Needful diversions of wealth and of
strength from the fields of peaceful industry to the national
defence, have not arrested the plough, the shuttle or the ship;
the axe has enlarged the borders of our settlements, and the
mines, as well of iron and coal as of the precious metals, have
yielded even more abundantly than heretofore. Population has
steadily increased, notwithstanding the waste that has been
made in the camp, the siege and the battle-field; and the
country, rejoicing in the consciousness of augmented strength
and vigor, is permitted to expect continuance of years with large
increase of freedom. No human counsel hath devised nor hath
any mortal hand worked out these great things. They are the
gracious gifts of the Most High God, who, while dealing with us
in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy. It
has seemed to me fit and proper that they should be solemnly,
reverently and gratefully acknowledged as with one heart and
one voice by the whole American People. I do therefore invite
my fellow citizens in every part of the United States, and also
those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign
lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November
next, as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent
Father who dwelleth in the Heavens. And I recommend to them
that while offering up the ascriptions justly due to Him for such
singular deliverances and blessings, they do also, with humble
penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience,
commend to His tender care all those who have become widows,
orphans, mourners or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife in
which we are unavoidably engaged, and fervently implore the
interposition of the Almighty Hand to heal the wounds of the
nation and to restore it as soon as may be consistent with the
Divine purposes to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony,
tranquillity and Union….
Done at the City of Washington, this Third day of
October, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred
and sixty-three, and of the Independence of the United States the
Eighty-eighth.
By the President: Abraham Lincoln
Advent. Next Sunday is the first Sunday of Advent, during
which we prepare spiritually for the celebration of the birth of
our Savior at Christmas. Please take some time to plan ahead for
the penitential season of Advent so that it will truly be a time of
holiness, not merely the shopping time between Black Friday
and the day Santa Claus comes.
Please see today’s insert with the full schedule of
Advent events. Let me remind you to take particular advantage
of the increased confession opportunities as well as the many
existing opportunities for weekday Mass. Also, I invite you all
to attend my three-part Advent Series: “Looking at the
Nativity: Mary, Jesus and the Holy Night,” on the first 3
Thursdays in Advent. I also ask you to plan to attend “Lessons
& Carols” on Sunday, December 9, at 7:00pm.
Oremus pro invicem. Fr. De Celles

Thirty third Sunday in Ordinary Time

“60 Hours.” As I write this on Wednesday morning, our 60 Hours of Adoration has been very “successful,” in the sense that many adorers signed up and attended adoration even during the middle of the night. We usually have 2 to 6 (maximum 10) people at any given hour of our regularly scheduled weekly Adoration. When I checked in twice yesterday we had at least 10 during the middle of the day, which was great, but when I went to pray my holy hour at 9pm I found over 20 people praying! That’s exactly what I was hoping for. I also saw some new faces, faces that I’m not used to seeing at adoration—again, something I was hoping for. I am very proud of you, and let me thank you all for answering my call, and Christ’s call, to adore Him for “60 Hours.”

 

Bishops’ Assembly. Of course we held “60 Hours” to pray for the Bishops assembled in Baltimore to address the current scandal. It’s only half way through the meeting but watching some of the proceedings on tv it seems to me that nothing much is being accomplished.

Well, not quite. It seems they are largely in favor of a reasonable proposal to address part of the problem. According to Catholic World Report, they are considering: “two policies …: a code of conduct for bishops, and the creation of a lay-led panel to investigate claims of misconduct or negligence by bishops.” Maybe not a bad start, but not a word is being said about the homosexual corruption among the priests and bishops, which is one of the root causes of the problem.

Equally troubling is the apparent naïve trust they seem to continue to place in each other, as if they are all men of goodwill. Were they all men of goodwill when  former cardinal McCarrick was one of their leaders in 2002 when they exempted bishops from the rules that punish abusive priests (the “Dallas Charter”)? I was aghast as I was watching yesterday, and saw Cardinal Joseph Tobin give a talk about his important contribution the two proposals. Recall, that in Archbishop Vigano’s shocking letter accusing Vatican officials of knowingly coverup McCarrick’s abuse for years: Tobin is singled out by Vigano as a protégé of McCarrick, who lobbied for Tobin’s assignment to Newark, where Tobin then covered up payouts made years before by that Diocese to one of McCarrick’s adult male victims. If a priest “credibly charged” with abuse is immediately suspended until the investigation can be conducted, why is Tobin still on the job, AND, why do the bishops give him such power over writing the rules to punish bishops who cover up?

But there’s even worse news, sadly. On Monday afternoon, right before the start of the assembly, the Bishops announced that the Vatican (the Congregation for Bishops) had prohibited them from taking a final vote on the two proposals they are considering, ordered them to wait until after the worldwide meeting of bishops in Rome in late February, which will also discuss these issues. Even though they’ve known about their intentions for over 4 months, the cardinals and archbishops in the Vatican waited to the last second to spoil everything the American Bishops were trying to accomplish. There may be some good reason for this, but the optics are horrible: to many, it looks like either the Vatican doesn’t really care about the abuse or about corrupt bishops, or even that they are actively participating in the cover up. Note, I do not accuse them of this, but the optics cause many people to wonder. And that just makes everything worse!!!

By the way, this doesn’t mean we failed in our prayers, or that God hasn’t listened to us. We’ve done our part, now God will find a way, in His time and wisdom, to get the bishops and the Vatican to do their part. So keep praying. And trust in Christ and His Church, which is bigger than a few (or even scores of) bad bishops.

 

Thanksgiving. I hope all of you will have a great Thanksgiving. Although it’s a secular holiday and not a Catholic HOLY DAY, it’s a wonderful day of celebration. In fact, instead of “secular”, meaning “worldly”, which has all sorts of very negative connotations in the Christian context, let’s call it a “cultural holiday.” In that context, it reveals how deeply our culture is influenced by Christianity and how firmly it is rooted in Christian values.

In particular, the Christian virtues of fortitude and diligence (reflected in working hard to provide for oneself and one’s family), and charity (reflected in being willing to share the fruits of one’s labor or good fortune with others), and, of course most importantly and above all, gratitude or thankfulness to God for the gifts He’s given us.

In the end, everything we have is God’s gift. This, of course, is not at all to discount individual hard work and ingenuity, but rather to realize that whether it’s the skills and talents we have or develop, or the opportunities we make or stumble upon, or the free will we exercise to choose to use and develop all of that, in the end it all comes to us from God’s generosity and our response thereto. Whether it’s material goods, health, family, love, faith, or human dignity, rights, and liberty, God is the giver of all good things.

Unfortunately, if you watch and listen carefully, you will see that many people today treat Thanksgiving as a holiday to give thanks to one another, with no mention of  God at all, or at best, a mention of Him as an afterthought. There’s certainly nothing wrong with thanking people around you, but that is not the reason Thanksgiving was established as a national, cultural, holiday. As President Washington decreed 1789, as he proclaimed the first Thanksgiving Day: “Whereas it is the duty of all Nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey his will, to be grateful for his benefits, and humbly to implore his protection and favor, …a day of public thanksgiving and prayer [is] to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many signal favors of Almighty God … “

So let us keep Thanksgiving in its rich American Historical meaning, as a day to thank God for His gifts. In that regard, I encourage you all to begin the day by attending our 10am Mass, to celebrate the highest form of “thanksgiving”—the Eucharist, which is the Greek word for “thanksgiving.”

 

Birthday Party for Sofi. This last Thursday, November 14, was the 8th birthday of Sofi Hills. As many of you will recall, as a newborn baby she was left in our parking lot, where she was found by a parishioner and rushed to the hospital. We continue to give praise to the Lord Jesus for saving her life that day, and that she has grown into a healthy vivacious little girl. And in celebration we’re having a birthday party for Sofi in our Parish Hall, TODAY, November 18, after the 12:15 Mass. All parishioners are invited and encouraged to come and say hello to our little Sofi!

 

Oremus pro invicem. Fr. De Celles

 

 

Thirty second Sunday in Ordinary Time

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

Oremus pro invicem. Fr. De Celles

 

 

 

 

Thirty First Sunday in Ordinary Time

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

Oremus pro invicem. Fr. De Celles

 

Thirtieth Sunday in Ordinary Time

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

 

Oremus pro invicem. Fr. De Celles

 

 

Twenty eighth Sunday in Ordinary Time

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

Oremus pro invicem. Fr. De Celles

 

 

Twenty seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Oremus pro invicem. Fr. De Celles

 

 

Twenty sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time

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

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

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

“No, he’s guilty. Period.” They say.

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

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

 

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

 

Oremus pro invicem. Fr. De Celles