Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Returning from Vacation. You may have noticed I was
gone from the parish from January 12th to the 20th.
Unfortunately, this meant that I missed the March for
Life, and I apologize for that. I’ve made most of the
Marches for the last 25 years, the exceptions being
when I was sick, but this is the first I’ve missed because
I was on vacation. Unfortunately, all things considered, it
couldn’t be helped.
Ever since moving from Texas 25 years ago, I’ve
noticed that the long cold winter “up here” really wears
on my health, both physically and mentally. So, for more
than a decade I’ve made it a point to take a week off in
January to go south to warmer climes. This has a
dramatic positive effect on my health, especially as I
prepare for and take on the added tasks of Lent.
This year, the date of my vacation was
determined by my niece’s wedding on January 13. It was
a beautiful great wedding at which I was blessed to be
the officiant and celebrant of the Mass: my wonderful
niece, Bethy, was even more lovely than usual, and the
church was the absolutely magnificent 140-year-old procathedral—
almost as beautiful as ours! Unfortunately,
the wedding was in Indianapolis, which was colder and
snowier than Virginia (0 degrees on my last morning
there)! But the next day I was able to fly down to Florida
for 6 days of golf with some priest-friends of mine (one
of the priest’s parents have a time-sharing deal there, so
we stay free, which is really nice).
I’m sure you’re all fascinated by my travels, but
the actual point of me writing this is to tell you about my
return. I have been assigned to some parishes that were
really hard to return to after vacation—one in particular
was such a difficult assignment for me that I felt
physically ill every time I came “home”. But I just want to
tell you that as much as I really enjoy and need to get
away (especially in the winter) I also really enjoy coming
home to our parish. My work here is challenging, but not
in many negative ways. And there are so many positive
things here for me. I have a talented and faithful staff, a
hardworking and kind vicar, and a beautiful church to
work and worship in. But most of all, I have so many
kind, loving and devout parishioners, who are
cooperative with my efforts, eager to grow in love and
knowledge of Jesus and His Church, patient with my
shortcomings, and forgiving of my mistakes.
I just wanted you to know that.
Blessing of Throats. This Saturday, February 3, is the
Feast of St. Blaise, which means it’s time for the
blessing of throats. St. Blaise was bishop of Sebaste
and was martyred about A.D. 316. Legend has it that
one day Bishop Blaise restored a pig (alive) to its owner,
a poor woman, after it had been eaten by a wolf. A few
days later, when Bishop was imprisoned for his Catholic
faith, the woman brought him candles to light the
darkness of his cell. In that same prison, he miraculously
cured a boy who was choking to death from a fishbone
lodged in his throat. Thus, the custom arose of using
candles and invoking the Saint to bless throats against
all sorts of ailments. We will give the blessing of throats
this Saturday, at the end of the 9am Mass and
immediately following the 5pm Vigil Mass.
First Confessions. Please keep our second graders in
your prayers this week as they prepare to receive the
Sacrament of Penance for the first time next Saturday,
February 3. First Confession is a beautiful thing, but it
can be a little scary for some. So pray that the little ones
are not too nervous, make good confessions, accept
God’s grace and develop a true love for this sacrament.
Plan Ahead to Attend the Lenten Series. Lent is still
two-and-a-half weeks away, but I’d like you to plan ahead
a little this year, so you can attend our Thursday evening
Lenten Series. I always like to bring in a guest speaker to
give these talks, a priest who is a learned, holy and gifted
speaker. I thought had such a priest lined up to give the
talks this year, I just recently found out he would not be
able to do it. So, I have decided to give the series myself.
The talks will be on a topic near and dear to my
heart, and which I consider of great importance for you:
the Mass and the Eucharist. I know this is not exactly a
unique topic, especially for me. But I think many of you
would find a systematic and detailed explanation of the
Mass and Eucharist extremely helpful to your spiritual
life: after all, for many, Sunday Mass is the main, or even
only, extended time they dedicate to spending with the
Lord. I think this series will really help you to get much
more out of that experience, and put much more into it.
I especially invite the folks who never come to
these kinds of talks. I’m always struck by how so many of
our talks, lectures and conferences are attended by the
same 200-300 people. That’s good for them, but what
about the rest of the parish? I know you’re very busy, but
please take time this Lent to attend these talks—I
promise they will be interesting and truly helpful, both to
those who have a strong understanding of the faith, and
those who sometimes struggle. Not because I’m such a
good speaker, but because the material I’ll be working
with is so rich.
To make attendance a little easier on parents, we
plan to provide free “babysitting” on site—bring your
kids, leave them with our care-givers, and go to the talk. I
don’t have all the details worked out yet, but I’ll let you
know when I do.
I haven’t finalized my talks, yet, but I hope to give
one talk on the doctrine of the Eucharist, especially it’s
Biblical basis. Then probably talk about the development
of the Mass from the Early Church and through the
centuries. Then maybe a couple of talks on the rituals
and prayers of the Mass itself, going from beginning to
end, in detail, to show the meaning and beauty of the
prayers, gestures and symbols of the Mass.
If you can’t come to all the talks, come to the
ones you can. I look forward to seeing your there—so
plan ahead!
Oremus pro invicem. Fr. De Celles

Third Sunday in Ordinary Time

[I was out of town last week, so, in light of Friday’s March for Life, I thought this text might be interesting to you. Oremus pro invicem. Fr. De Celles]

Evangelium Vitae (The Gospel of Life)
Pope John Paul II
March 25, 1995

62. The more recent Papal Magisterium has vigorously reaffirmed this common doctrine. Pius XI in particular, in his Encyclical Casti Connubii, rejected the specious justifications of abortion.[65] Pius XII excluded all direct abortion, i.e., every act tending directly to destroy human life in the womb “whether such destruction is intended as an end or only as a means to an end”.[66] John XXIII reaffirmed that human life is sacred because “from its very beginning it directly involves God’s creative activity”.[67] The Second Vatican Council, as mentioned earlier, sternly condemned abortion: “From the moment of its conception life must be guarded with the greatest care, while abortion and infanticide are unspeakable crimes”.[68]….
Given such unanimity in the doctrinal and disciplinary tradition of the Church, Paul VI was able to declare that this tradition is unchanged and unchangeable.[72] Therefore, by the authority which Christ conferred upon Peter and his Successors, in communion with the Bishops–who on various occasions have condemned abortion and who in the aforementioned consultation, albeit dispersed throughout the world, have shown unanimous agreement concerning this doctrine–I declare that direct abortion, that is, abortion willed as an end or as a means, always constitutes a grave moral disorder, since it is the deliberate killing of an innocent human being. This doctrine is based upon the natural law and upon the written Word of God, is transmitted by the Church’s Tradition and taught by the ordinary and universal Magisterium.[73]
No circumstance, no purpose, no law whatsoever can ever make licit an act which is intrinsically illicit, since it is contrary to the Law of God which is written in every human heart, knowable by reason itself, and proclaimed by the Church….

99. In transforming culture so that it supports life, women occupy a place, in thought and action, which is unique and decisive. It depends on them to promote a “new feminism” which rejects the temptation of imitating models of “male domination”, in order to acknowledge and affirm the true genius of women in every aspect of the life of society, and overcome all discrimination, violence and exploitation.
Making my own the words of the concluding message of the Second Vatican Council, I address to women this urgent appeal: “Reconcile people with life”.[133] You are called to bear witness to the meaning of genuine love, of that gift of self and of that acceptance of others which are present in a special way in the relationship of husband and wife, but which ought also to be at the heart of every other interpersonal relationship. The experience of motherhood makes you acutely aware of the other person and, at the same time, confers on you a particular task: “Motherhood involves a special communion with the mystery of life, as it develops in the woman’s womb . . . This unique contact with the new human being developing within her gives rise to an attitude towards human beings not only towards her own child, but every human being, which profoundly marks the woman’s personality”.[134] A mother welcomes and carries in herself another human being, enabling it to grow inside her, giving it room, respecting it in its otherness. Women first learn and then teach others that human relations are authentic if they are open to accepting the other person: a person who is recognized and loved because of the dignity which comes from being a person and not from other considerations, such as usefulness, strength, intelligence, beauty or health. This is the fundamental contribution which the Church and humanity expect from women. And it is the indispensable prerequisite for an authentic cultural change.
I would now like to say a special word to women who have had an abortion. The Church is aware of the many factors which may have influenced your decision, and she does not doubt that in many cases it was a painful and even shattering decision. The wound in your heart may not yet have healed. Certainly what happened was and remains terribly wrong. But do not give in to discouragement and do not lose hope. Try rather to understand what happened and face it honestly. If you have not already done so, give yourselves over with humility and trust to repentance. The Father of mercies is ready to give you his forgiveness and his peace in the Sacrament of Reconciliation. To the same Father and his mercy you can with sure hope entrust your child. With the friendly and expert help and advice of other people, and as a result of your own painful experience, you can be among the most eloquent defenders of everyone’s right to life. Through your commitment to life, whether by accepting the birth of other children or by welcoming and caring for those most in need of someone to be close to them, you will become promoters of a new way of looking at human life.
100. In this great endeavour to create a new culture of life we are inspired and sustained by the confidence that comes from knowing that the Gospel of life, like the Kingdom of God itself, is growing and producing abundant fruit (cf. Mk 4:26-29). There is certainly an enormous disparity between the powerful resources available to the forces promoting the “culture of death” and the means at the disposal of those working for a “culture of life and love”. But we know that we can rely on the help of God, for whom nothing is impossible (cf. Mt 19:26).
Filled with this certainty, and moved by profound concern for the destiny of every man and woman, I repeat what I said to those families who carry out their challenging mission amid so many difficulties:[135] a great prayer for life is urgently needed, a prayer which will rise up throughout the world. Through special initiatives and in daily prayer, may an impassioned plea rise to God, the Creator and lover of life, from every Christian community, from every group and association, from every family and from the heart of every believer. Jesus himself has shown us by his own example that prayer and fasting are the first and most effective weapons against the forces of evil (cf. Mt 4:1-11). As he taught his disciples, some demons cannot be driven out except in this way (cf. Mk 9:29). Let us therefore discover anew the humility and the courage to pray and fast so that power from on high will break down the walls of lies and deceit: the walls which conceal from the sight of so many of our brothers and sisters the evil of practices and laws which are hostile to life. May this same power turn their hearts to resolutions and goals inspired by the civilization of life and love.

Second Sunday in Ordinary Time

Parish Hall and Basement Closure. By now you’ve all heard about the problem we’re having in our basement. Let me try to briefly explain.
The concrete outside of the doors leading into the basement was originally laid in such a way that fails to provide adequately for rain water run-off. This leads to excessive amounts of moisture/water gathering in the soil under the concrete. Due to the extreme cold, this underground moisture has frozen, and when water freezes it expands, in this case lifting up the surface concrete a small amount—about an inch in some places. This is called “frost heave.”
This would not be a problem except that the concrete runs right up to the doors of the basement, so that when it lifts up an inch or so it blocks the door from opening outward, so that none of our basement entrances or exits will open. Since these are all fire exits, the Fire Marshal has ordered us to not use the basement until the doors will open.
We’ve had this frost heave problem before, and we know that as the weather warms up the concrete will fall back down, and the doors should open. But it’s never been this bad. We’re thinking this year’s severity is a result not only of this year’s frost heave, but also of the cumulative effect of prior years’ frost heaves—every year it rises a bit and then falls back, but not all the way, so that the concrete rises higher every year.
But as we wait for the assistance of warmer weather, we know there’s still a lot of winter left, so we are diligently looking for an immediate short-term solution so we can open the basement for next weekend. But we will also have to come up with a long-term solution, which will be rather costly. We think that our insurance will pay for most of this.
In the meantime, thank you for your patience. And please pray for all of this, especially pray to St. Raymond that he will come to the aid of his church.

March for Life. This coming Friday, January 19, hundreds of St. Raymond’s parishioners will join hundreds of thousands of pro-life folks from around America gathered on the Washington Mall for the 45th annual March for Life. The parish is sponsoring four buses to take us down to the Mall, so please sign up and join us (sign-up sheets are in the narthex). Or join us down there, taking the metro or coming from your workplace in DC. And if you can’t come down to the Mall, join us in spirit and prayer wherever you are. Perhaps you can start discussions at work or school, always with charity, about the right to and dignity of human life. Or maybe you can watch the March live on EWTN (the global Catholic cable network), while saying the Rosary. Or maybe the best alternative to attending the March: while we’re marching you spend time in Church praying before the Blessed Sacrament.
Love him or hate him, President Trump’s election has been a huge win for the pro-life cause, from his lifting of the onerous contraception regulations of Obamacare, to his appointment of pro-life judges, especially Justice Gorsuch to the Supreme Court. But this kind of good news can sometimes cause us to take our eye off the ball, especially as we are surrounded by all sorts of other social ills we have to deal with. But we can’t let down our fight. We must continue to do everything we can to peacefully and charitably fight to defend the right to life of the innocent, especially innocent unborn babies.

Transgender Ideology in Schools. One of those other “social ills” we’re concerned about is the growth of transgender ideology, especially in our public schools. Some parents and students have told me that they don’t see this much in their schools. I hope not. But I worry that it’s there, but just subtle enough to escape immediate attention. Or perhaps we’ve just gotten so used to the leftist sexual propaganda that we don’t notice what’s going on, like the old story of the frog boiling in water.
But sometimes it’s not so subtle. Last month kids at George Mason High School in Falls Church were apparently forced to listen to a speaker giving the hard sell of the transgender ideology. I quote from a January 5 article about the talk written by Austin Ruse in Crisis Magazine (http://www.crisismagazine.com/2018/tall-trans-tales-gullible-age):
“Amy Ellis Nutt is a reporter for the Washington Post who wrote a book about a boy named Wayne who from the age of two was said to believe he was a girl. How did he express this? How does a two-year-old express anything more than a desire for the breast and a dry diaper? Nutt claims the boy actually asked his mom when will he get to be a girl and when will his [deleted] fall off. Does anyone really believe that a two-year-old would say such things?…
“Nutt delivered a mini-lecture on what she called “gender 101” in which she propagandized those poor kids on these new and utterly made up terms “transgender” and “cisgender.” …. She says language matters. It certainly does. All monstrous and even totalitarian lies begin with the lies of language….
“Nutt goes on to say, …“Everything to do with how you present yourself to the world, what genitals you have, what reproductive organs you have, what gender you identify with, and who you are sexually attracted to was imprinted on your brain by way of two things, hormones and genes when you were still in your mother’s womb.” Forget that there are no scientifically rigorous studies that back this claim (emphasis added) ….
“This is pretty much all they have, fake science and emotion….
“This is what government schools are teaching impressionable young people, some of whom, without any doubt, are going through confusing times and will listen to this siren song and will one day allow themselves to be mutilated….
“Do these schools teach that puberty blockers, such as Wayne was given, stunt your growth, growth that will never come back? Are these kids taught that there has not been a single clinical trial for the use of puberty blockers on gender confused kids? Are they taught that an overwhelming number of gender confused children, something on the order of 80 percent, come around to accepting their biological sex in their twenties? Are they taught of the growing number of adult men and women who deeply regret the extreme measures of amputating otherwise healthy organs like [deleted] and [deleted]? Are they taught that the suicide rate for post-op transsexuals is 10 times higher than the general population even in trans-friendly Sweden? To ask is to answer…”

Parents: please don’t just go along to get along, or be lulled to sleep on this issue that could have a hugely devastating impact on your children’s mental, physical and spiritual health. And let us all pray for parents and kids as they meet the oppressive challenges of modern society.

Oremus pro invicem. Fr. De Celles

The Epiphany of Our Lord

Thanks for a Beautiful Christmas. I always underestimate
the goodness of my people. As we approached the Christmas
“weekend” this year I was nervous that some of you might
either skip one of the two Masses required (Sunday and
Christmas) or approach the double obligation with some
“reticence.” I should have known better. It truly made
Christmas extra “merry” for me to find that not only were the
crowds for the Sunday Masses larger than our average
Sunday, but all the Masses for Christmas seemed to be
somewhat larger than in prior years. And more than that, there
was not one hint of reticence or complaint—everyone was as a
cheerful as the days called for.
That also carried forward to the next weekend (last
weekend). Since the Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God was
not a holy day of obligation this year, I had no idea how many
folks would come to Mass on Monday, January 1. I figured,
after all, it was New Year’s Day and people might
understandably take the opportunity to sleep in, etc. but I was
very pleasantly surprised to see good crowds at all three
Masses on Monday—as large as the average Sunday Mass.
God bless you for your devotion and love for Jesus
and His Mother. And thank God for giving me such good
parishioners.
More Thanks. As the Christmas Season comes to an end, I’d
like to add a few more Christmas “thank you’s” to those from
prior weeks. First, I want to thank all of you for your
generosity in the Christmas collections. Second, I want to
thank all who contributed gifts to the Giving Tree; because of
your kindness we were able to help 41 families celebrate
Christmas, 11 from Our Lady of the Blue Ridge, and 30 from
our parish. Third, on behalf of Fr. Smith and myself, I want to
thank all of you who dropped off baked goods and other treats
and gifts for us in the rectory. Your kindness is overwhelming.
And last but not least, I want to thank 8-year-old
Anna McDermott who represented all of you at Christmas
Midnight Mass, as she carried the statue of the Baby Jesus in
procession for the Blessing of the Christmas Crèche.
Epiphany and the End of the Christmas Season. Today we
celebrate the Epiphany of the Lord, commemorating the visit
and adoration of the magi to Christ in Bethlehem. It has
historically been celebrated on January 6th since at least the 3rd
century, but is celebrated in the U.S. on the Sunday falling
between January 2nd and January 8th (inclusive). In the
Orthodox Church and many of the Eastern Rite Catholic
Churches it also, effectively, celebrates the birth of Our Lord,
i.e., Christmas. This year it also represents the last Sunday of
the Christmas season, which ends tomorrow, Monday, with
the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord.
The visit of the magi is rich in symbolic meanings for
Christians, in particular those relating to the revealing
(“epiphany”) of the Christ to the gentile world. As we think
about this, it reminds us that that the Church is the Body of
Christ on Earth, and so is called to continue the Christmas/
Epiphany revelation of the coming of the Messiah to the
world. But this is not just a responsibility for the Pope,
bishops and priests: each of us is baptized into Christ and
members of Christ’s Body, and so each of is called to go out
to the gentiles of today—those who do not share our Christian
and Catholic faith—and reveal Christ to them. This can take
various forms, but it begins with living our lives as if we
believe in Jesus ourselves. So we live lives in keeping with the
moral teaching of Christ, especially when it comes to chastity
and charity. But we also must speak to others about Jesus, and
His Church. Again, this can take various forms, considering
prudence, our own particular talents, and the particular
opportunities the Lord gives us to share our faith.
As we come to the end of our Christmas season, ask
yourself and ask the Lord: how is He calling you to reveal Him
to the world you live in this year? To your friends, your family,
your co-workers, and to strangers? Ask Him, and listen
carefully for His answer.
Feast of St. Raymond of Peñafort. Today, January 7, is
normally the feast of our parish Patron, but since it falls on
Epiphany Sunday, the liturgical celebration of his feast is
suppressed this year. Which would probably suit the humble
St. Raymond just fine. But it is fitting that we not forget the
feast entirely.
For those of you who don’t know much about St.
Raymond, I invite you to read the 32-page biography we
published about a year and a half ago. If you don’t have one,
come by the parish office and pick one up.
As a brief reminder…Raymond was born of a noble
family, near Barcelona, in 1175. At the age of 20 he became
professor of canon law. In 1210 he left teaching to complete his
studies in civil and canon law at the University of Bologna. He
went on to hold a chair of canon law at that university for three
years. (The date of his priestly ordination is uncertain, but it
would seem to be around 1195).
On August 1, 1218 Raymond received a heavenly
vision in which the Blessed Mother (“Our Lady of Ransom”)
instructed him to help St. Peter Nolasco found the Order of
Mercedarians, which would be devoted to the ransom of
Christians taken captive by the Moors (Spanish Muslims).
Raymond did not, however, join that order but rather entered
the Order of Preachers (“Dominicans”) in Barcelona in 1222.
As a Dominican, Raymond continued to teach and preach, and
devoted considerable effort working to convert Moors and
Jews, coaxing St. Thomas Aquinas to write his Summa Contra
Gentiles to help in his efforts.
At the request of his superiors Raymond published the
Summa Casuum, a book on cases of conscience for the
guidance of confessors and moralists, the first guide of its kind.
This work eventually led to his appointment as confessor and
theologian to Pope Gregory IX in 1230. The Pope soon
directed Raymond to re-arrange and codify the canons
(juridical laws) of the Church, which required him to rewrite
and condense centuries of Church decrees. The Pope published
Raymond’s work in 1231, and commanded that it alone should
be considered authoritative. From then on St. Raymond would
be known as the “Father of Canon Law.”
In 1238 he was elected Master General of the
Dominican Order, the second successor to St. Dominic, but he
resigned two years later, claiming that at 63 years old he was
too old for the job. He continued his writing, preaching and
pastoral work, as well many important responsibilities
entrusted to him by various popes, for another 37 years until
his death in Barcelona on January 6, 1275, at the age of 100.
He is the patron saint of lawyers, both canon and civil.
St. Raymond of Peñafort, pray for us!
Oremus pro invicem! Fr. De Celles

Feast of the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph

New Year’s. Tomorrow, January 1, 2018, is of course,
New Year’s Day and the Solemnity of Mary, Mother of
God. Together with the priests and the staff of St.
Raymond’s, may I wish you a happy, blessed and holy New
Year.
Normally, Mary, Mother of God is a Holy Day of
Obligation. But since it falls on a Monday this year it is
not a Holy Day of Obligation, and you don’t have to go
to Mass. I would still recommend you do so, to honor Our
Mother and to begin the year on the right foot. We will
have Masses on Monday at 12 midnight, 8:45, 10:30 and
12:15 (there will not be a 7am or 5pm Mass).
Merry Christmas! The celebration of the Birth of God the
Son, Jesus Christ, is too great an event to celebrate on only
one day, so Christmas continues well past December 25th.
First, we have the “Octave of Christmas”, eight days of
celebrating, ending tomorrow, as if it were still the Lord’s
birthday. Beyond that we have “the twelve days of
Christmas” running from Christmas day until January 6,
which in most of the world is the Solemnity of the
Epiphany. In the U.S., however, the liturgical celebration of
Epiphany is always moved to “the Sunday occurring
between January 2 and January 8.” Then, normally we
continue to celebrate “Season of Christmas” for an extra
week, until the following Sunday which is usually the
Solemnity of the Baptism of the Lord. This year, however,
just as we had the shortest Advent possible, we also have
the shortest Season of Christmas possible, with the Baptism
of the Lord falling on Monday, January 8. Even so, we are
still celebrating Christmas, so “Merry Christmas.”
Volunteer Dinner. This coming Saturday, January 6, is our
annual dinner in appreciation for all those who volunteer
their time to support the activities of the parish. If that
should include you, and you haven’t rsvp’d yet, please
contact the parish office or your committee chairman asap.
Year End Donations. Every year at this time we get
inundated with requests for donations. Unfortunately, many
so-called “charities” are not doing work consistent with
God’s will, and others may have good intentions, but are
inefficient or ineffective in using their resources. So, we
don’t have to give to every group who asks for help, and I
recommend you give mainly to those groups you have
confidence in. The groups I give to and would recommend
for your consideration include: the Little Sisters of the
Poor, Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Arlington, House
of Mercy, Project Rachel, Gabriel Project, Mary’s Shelter
(Fredericksburg), the Poor Clares, Angelus Academy and,
my personal favorite, St. Dominic Monastery in Linden,
VA, our dear cloistered Dominican sisters who pray for us
every day. And of course, St. Raymond’s parish is a very
worthy charity…
Oremus pro invicem, Fr. De Celles
+ + + + + + +
Pope St. John Paul II
Homily, Holy Family Sunday, December 31, 1978
The deepest human problems are connected with the
family. It constitutes the primary, fundamental and irreplaceable
community for man….The Church wishes to bear a particular witness
to that too during the Octave of Christmas, by means of the
feast of the Holy Family. She wishes to recall that the fundamental
values, which cannot be violated without incalculable harm of a
moral nature, are bound up with the family…It is necessary to defend
these fundamental values tenaciously and firmly, because
their violation does incalculable harm to society and, in the last
analysis, to man….
What are these values? ….[T]rying to express ourself
concisely, let us say that here it is a question of two fundamental
values which fall strictly into the context of what we call “conjugal
love”. The first of them is the value of the person which is expressed
in absolute mutual faithfulness until death: the faithfulness
of the husband to his wife and of the wife to her husband. The consequence
of this affirmation of the value of the person, which is
expressed in the mutual relationship between husband and wife,
must also be respect for the personal value of the new life, that is,
of the child, from the first moment of his conception.
The Church can never dispense herself from the obligation
of guarding these two fundamental values, connected with the
vocation of the family…While maintaining respect for all those
who think differently, it is very difficult to recognize…that anyone
who betrays conjugal faithfulness, or who permits life conceived in
the mother’s womb to be wiped out and destroyed, behaves in a
way consistent with true human dignity. Consequently, it cannot be
admitted that programmes…which admit such behaviour serve the
objective well-being of man….
Pope Francis
Homily, Mary, Mother of God, January 1, 2017
“Mary treasured all these things and pondered them in her heart!
(Lk 2:19). In these words, Luke describes the attitude with which
Mary took in all that they had experienced in those days. Far from
trying to understand or master the situation, Mary is the woman
who can treasure, that is to say, protect and guard in her heart, the
passage of God in the life of his people. Deep within, she had
learned to listen to the heartbeat of her Son, and that in turn
taught her, throughout her life, to discover God’s heartbeat in
history. She learned how to be a mother, and in that learning process
she gave Jesus the beautiful experience of knowing what it is
to be a Son. In Mary, the eternal Word not only became flesh, but
also learned to recognize the maternal tenderness of God. With
Mary, the God-Child learned to listen to the yearnings, the troubles,
the joys and the hopes of the people of the promise. With
Mary, he discovered himself a Son of God’s faithful people.
In the Gospels, Mary appears as a woman of few words,
with no great speeches or deeds, but with an attentive gaze capable
of guarding the life and mission of her Son, and for this reason,
of everything that he loves. She was able to watch over the beginnings
of the first Christian community, and in this way she learned
to be the mother of a multitude. She drew near to the most diverse
situations in order to sow hope. She accompanied the crosses
borne in the silence of her children’s hearts. How many devotions,
shrines and chapels in the most far-off places, how many pictures
in our homes, remind us of this great truth. Mary gave us a mother’s
warmth, the warmth that shelters us amid troubles, the maternal
warmth that keeps anything or anyone from extinguishing in
the heart of the Church the revolution of tenderness inaugurated
by her Son. Where there is a mother, there is tenderness….
To celebrate Mary as Mother of God and our mother at
the beginning of the new year means recalling a certainty that will
accompany our days: we are a people with a Mother; we are not
orphans.

Fourth Sunday of Advent

My dear sons and daughters in Christ,

On this Christmas Eve I pray that as we begin to celebrate the birth of the Baby Jesus, Our Blessed Savior may draw you close to Himself, and shower you with every divine grace and heavenly blessing. May you share in the inexpressible joy of His Holy Mother, Mary, and may she bring you to Him, and teach you how to love Him with all your heart. May St. Joseph keep you in his strong and tender care, and teach us all how to serve Our Lord with the total devotion and self-sacrifice he did. And may the Holy Family bring peace and charity to your families as you contemplate the day that changed all of history: when God the Son stripped Himself of the glory of Heaven to become one of us to save us from sin and all evil, and open to us the gates of Paradise.
On behalf of myself, Fr. Smith, Fr. Daly, Fr. Scalia and all the priests who have ministered in our parish this year, I wish you all a very blessed and merry Christmas!

Thanks. I also want to thank all those who have worked so hard to make Advent and Christmas such a special time for our parish. In particular, Elisabeth Turco (our Music Director), the choir, cantors, and musicians (especially our organist, Denise Anezin) for all the beautiful music. All those who assisted in special ways at the Mass, especially our great altar boys, lectors (led by Brenda Doroski), extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion (led by Barbara Aldridge and Christine Spengler). The folks on our flower committee, especially Julie Mullen and her family, for so beautifully decorating the church and grounds. The ushers, especially Patrick O’Brien, who helped make everything run so smoothly. The Knights of Columbus, especially Pat Franco, for all they did in so many ways (sorry about the snowed-out Breakfast with Santa!). The various sacristans, especially Nena Brennan, for all their work in preparing the sanctuary for Masses. The Youth Group, for all the odd jobs they did around the parish. All who volunteered at with Senior Lunch (particularly Patty Miller). All those who volunteered in our Gift Shop, especially Maria Sanchez-O’Brien. All those who contributed so much in time and treasure to the Giving Tree. A special thanks to our dedicated staff, Jeanne Sause, Tom Browne, Kirsti Tyson, Eva Radel, Mary Butler, Mary Salmon, Vince Drouillard and Teresa Sierra, as well as our maintenance workers Laura Rodriguez and Luis Tapia, who worked so hard to serve us all. And finally, to Fr. Daly, Fr. Scalia and all the other priests helped out with Masses and Confessions; and most especially to Fr. Smith for his dedicated service to Our Lord and our parish. I know I’ve left out lots of folks that deserve special thanks; my apologies. Thank you all, and a blessed and merry Christmas to you.

And a Friendly Reminder. Remember, this weekend we are obliged to go to Mass for both Sunday (the 4th Sunday of Advent) and Christmas: that means two Masses.
Oremus pro invicem, Fr. De Celles

+ + + + + + +

His Holiness Pope Francis
“Urbi et Orbi” Message, Christmas 2016
Dear Brothers and Sisters, Happy Christmas!
Today the Church once more experiences the wonder of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Saint Joseph and the shepherds of Bethlehem, as they contemplate the newborn Child laid in a manger: Jesus, the Savior.
On this day full of light, the prophetic proclamation resounds: “For to us a child is born, To us a son is given. And the government will be upon his shoulder; and his name will be called “Wonderful Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” (Is 9:6)
The power of this Child, Son of God and Son of Mary, is not the power of this world, based on might and wealth; it is the power of love. It is the power that created the heavens and the earth, and gives life to all creation: to minerals, plants and animals. It is the force that attracts man and woman, and makes them one flesh, one single existence. It is the power that gives new birth, forgives sin, reconciles enemies, and transforms evil into good. It is the power of God. This power of love led Jesus Christ to strip himself of his glory and become man; it led him to give his life on the cross and to rise from the dead. It is the power of service, which inaugurates in our world the Kingdom of God, a kingdom of justice and peace.
For this reason, the birth of Jesus was accompanied by the angels’ song as they proclaimed: “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among men with whom he is pleased!” (Lk 2:14).
Today this message goes out to the ends of the earth to reach all peoples, especially those scarred by war and harsh conflicts that seem stronger than the yearning for peace….
Peace to all who, in different areas, are enduring sufferings due to constant dangers and persistent injustice….
Peace to all who have been injured or have suffered the loss of a loved one due to the brutal acts of terrorism that have sown fear and death in the heart of many countries and cities. Peace – not merely the word, but real and concrete peace – to our abandoned and excluded brothers and sisters, to those who suffer hunger and to all the victims of violence. Peace to exiles, migrants and refugees, to all those who in our day are subject to human trafficking. Peace to the peoples who suffer because of the economic ambitions of a few, because of sheer greed and the idolatry of money, which leads to slavery. Peace to those affected by social and economic unrest, and to those who endure the consequences of earthquakes or other natural catastrophes.
And peace to the children, on this special day on which God became a child, above all those deprived of the joys of childhood because of hunger, wars or the selfishness of adults.
Peace on earth to men and women of goodwill, who work quietly and patiently each day, in their families and in society, to build a more humane and just world, sustained by the conviction that only with peace is there the possibility of a more prosperous future for all.
Dear brothers and sisters, “For to us a child is born, to us a son is given”: he is the “Prince of peace”. Let us welcome him!

Oremus pro invicem. Fr. De Celles

Third Sunday of Advent

It’s Almost Christmas! I can’t believe the big day is almost here—as I wrote 2 weeks ago, this is the shortest Advent possible, 3 weeks and 1 day.
Today is called Gaudete Sunday or “Rejoice Sunday.” It takes its name from the “Introit” of the Mass (the “entrance antiphon” we say if we don’t sing during the entrance procession), taken from Philippians 4: “Gaudete in Domino semper: iterum dico, gaudete. Dominus enim prope est.” “Rejoice in the Lord always; again I say, rejoice. Indeed, the Lord is near.”
Today Holy Mother Church calls us to remember the true cause of our Joy in this season: the coming of Our Lord Jesus Christ into the world 2000 years ago to save us from sin and evil, and invite us to share in His life of love, beginning in this world and perfected in the next.
It’s natural to ask, how do we “rejoice always,” when we so often have real reasons to be sad? Of course, there are times when we’re going to experience sadness and even terrible sorrow. But in Christ we find something more than smiles and laughter. We find a deep abiding joy, knowing that the Eternal Creator and Redeemer of all things loves us and will never abandon us to evil. So that even when weighted down by grief and trials we find hope and the grace to remain steadfast in our faith and love. This is “indeed” cause to rejoice.
Usually, Gaudete Sunday is about 2 weeks before Christmas, but this year Christmas is just 8 days away. I know there’s an awful lot going on in the next few days: last minute shopping, travelling, etc. But rather than allowing all the busyness to distract you, try to make real time to prepare yourself for this celebration. Avoid all sin. Try to show charity, patience and compassion to your neighbor, especially your family members, at every moment—be helpful, not harmful, to family peace. And love God above everything and with everything. Take time to pray, go to confession and weekday Mass. And throughout your day, wherever you are, take small moments to place yourself in the company and care of Mary and Joseph. Imagine them travelling on the rocky roads of Galilee and Judea, from Nazareth down to Bethlehem, exposed to the elements, walking all that way or, perhaps, aided by a donkey. Perhaps today, just 8 days before the birth, they were just setting out on their journey. Imagine how every day they were a little closer, but a little wearier and colder. Think of their struggle, but also their joy. For they were not traveling alone: “God their Savior” was with them in Mary’s womb. Travel with them these next few days in prayer. Stop from time to time at work, and wonder, “where are you now, Mary and Joseph, and Baby Jesus?” Come to church for a quiet visit, and say to them, “perhaps you are stopping to rest now—let me rest with you.” Accompany them on their journey—and do not get too distracted by the craziness of the “holiday season.”

Confession. If you haven’t been to confession this Advent, please go this week—there’s nothing like the joy experienced in having our sins forgiven, and no better way to prepare for Christmas. Remember, we have will have at least 2 priests, and sometimes 3, hearing confessions every evening this week, Monday through Friday. We will also have our regular confessions next Saturday, December 23, but we not have confessions next Sunday, December 24.

Next Sunday is Christmas Eve: What is your Mass Obligation? Because Christmas falls on Monday this year, the celebration of it obviously begins on the evening before, on Sunday, with Christmas Eve. This will cause some confusion for many of us. For example, do you have to go to Mass on both Sunday and Christmas Day (Monday)? Can you go to one Mass on Sunday evening to count for both your regular Sunday and Christmas Day Mass obligation? So let me try to clarify some things.
First of all, we all know that Catholics must go to Mass on Sunday. But remember, Christmas is a Holy Day of Obligation, so you must go to Mass on Christmas too. That means you have to go to TWO Masses, one for Sunday and one for Christmas.
Now, the general rule for Sundays and Holy Days is that you can fulfill your Mass obligation by going to Mass on either the day of or on the evening before. So, to fulfill your obligation for next Sunday you can go to Mass on Saturday evening or on Sunday. And to fulfill your obligation for Christmas you can go to Mass on Monday (Christmas Day) or Sunday evening. But you must go to one Mass for each, two Masses!
Next Sunday morning, December 24, we will have a regular Sunday Mass schedule (7am, 8:45am, 10:30am and 12:15pm). But in the evening, instead of our usual Sunday 5pm Mass we will have three Vigil Masses for Christmas: 4pm, 6pm and 8pm (and also midnight). I recommend you fulfill your Sunday Mass obligation on Saturday night or Sunday morning, and your Christmas Mass obligation on Sunday evening or on Monday. That keeps things simple and clear.
[But if you want to complicate things…. If you go to one of the Sunday evening Masses (December 24th) you can “count” that EITHER for your Sunday obligation (since it is still Sunday) OR for your Christmas obligation (since it’s a Vigil Mass for Christmas). But you can NOT “count” it for both days—there is no “two for” here. If you count that evening Mass on the 24th for your Sunday obligation, you have to go to Mass again on Monday (Christmas Day); or if you count it for your Christmas obligation, you must also attend an earlier Mass on Sunday (or the Vigil Mass on Saturday evening). I hope that’s not too confusing. It probably is. Just remember: two Masses!]

Lessons and Carols. Wow! What a beautiful evening we had last Sunday. The readings from Scripture were inspiring, and our amazing choir out did themselves in singing various choral pieces and leading us in Advent hymns. Our largest L&C crowd ever—over 400 people—left filled with the joy and hope of the season. Thanks to our choir and organist, and especially to our inimitable Music Director, Elisabeth Turco. And thanks also to Eva Radel and Angelus Academy for the fun reception afterwards.

Correction to Missalette. In the introduction to last Sunday’s readings, the publisher of our missalette wrote that “The author of Second Peter wrote…about one hundred years after Jesus,” or about 130AD. Nonsense. Tradition and orthodox scholarship hold that the letter was written by St. Peter himself before he died around 66AD. I repeat my caveat: please be careful if you choose to read these introductions—they are so often wrong. I apologize for having to use them, and continue to search for a better missalette.

Oremus pro invicem. Fr. De Celles

Second Sunday of Advent

Restoring Innocence. Last week in my homily I spoke about the temptations we have at this time of year to get all caught up in materialism, to think that gift buying/giving/receiving, decorating, going to parties, cooking/eating special foods, etc. are what it means to prepare for Christmas. But Advent is really about a different kind of preparation. As we prepare to celebrate the Birth of the innocent Baby Jesus, we recall that He came to earth because we are not so innocent, and to restore that innocence to us. So our Advent preparation should mean cooperating with Jesus in this restoration by working on our spiritual and moral lives—especially by growing in charity—as well as our knowledge of Jesus and His gifts.
When I say we need to work on “charity,” of course I include financial support for worthy groups or people, but above all I mean personally living a life of charity by being truly helpful and considerate to the people around you, especially those who are clearly in need or in pain. Being patient with your office mate who’s having a difficult time at home, and maybe taking that out on you. Instead of gossiping about people, come to their defense. Praise someone, instead of criticize; lift them up instead of pushing them down or simply letting them fall under the weight of their problems. Be the peacemaker, rather than the troublemaker.
And let this begin at home, with your family. This is a great time of year to remember how much we love our family. But if we love them, why don’t we act like it? Husbands and wives bicker over so many silly things, forgetting that they love this person. Think of this: most husband and wives tell me that they would readily die for their spouse. But then they refuse to be patient or forgiving over the smallest things. They would die for each other, but no way she’s gonna get the last word in an argument, no way he’s gonna be late for dinner again.
And one of the greatest ways to show charity is to tell people about Jesus and His Church. Bring a friend to church with you one Sunday in Advent. Or maybe, buy your family or friends Christmas gifts that will help re-kindle their faith—a bible, a rosary, a crèche, a statue of their favorite saint.
But also remember that drawing closer to Christ and His innocent love requires that we spend time with Him and get to know more about Him and His Church. So make sure you take time to pray, at home, at work and at church, and to take advantage of all the various activities made available in the parish this Advent, especially Mass, adoration and confession. Also, take time to learn, by taking advantage of our parish library, located downstairs next to the parish hall, where we have a lot of really good books, DVDs, and CDs that are treasure trove for anyone seeking to learn more about Jesus and Catholicism. (It might also give you some great ideas for Christmas gifts!). And don’t forget the CD rack in our narthex, and your free parish membership in FORMED.ORG. And, of course, my talk this Thursday on St. Joseph (see below).
Most especially, allow Jesus to restore your lost innocence through the sacrament of confession. As we do every Advent, we are hearing confessions every single day (until and including Saturday, December 23). In addition to the regular confession times a priest will be in the confessional every Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday evening from 6:15pm to 7pm (he may stay longer, but only if his schedule permits). Please take advantage of this sacrament, but don’t wait for the last minute, or for Saturday afternoon or Sunday morning—come during the week! And bring your whole family—show your kids how important confession is in preparing for a great Christmas!

My Advent Talk This Thursday: St. Joseph. As I mentioned last week, instead of my usual 3-part Advent Series this year I’m able to give only 1 talk this Advent, which will take place this coming Thursday, December 14 at 7:30 in the Parish Hall. My topic will be “St. Joseph, Guardian of the Redeemer.” As I’ve been preparing for the talk, I’ve been reminded just what a wonderful gift St. Joseph is to us all. A gift first given to Mary, and then through Mary to Jesus, and then through Jesus to all of us. A true husband, father and masculine man—a great example, role model and patron, especially for men and boys, but also for women and girls (after all, all women/girls have fathers, and most have a husband or hope for one). I haven’t written my outline yet, but clearly, we’ll discuss the Scriptures related to St. Joseph as well as some of the legends and apocryphal writings, and what the great Fathers and Doctors of the Church have said about him, and how all this is reflected in the doctrines of the Church. I’m really looking forward to it, so I hope to see you there.

Lessons and Carols Tonight. Remember to join me, the choir and the lectors for Lessons and Carols tonight (Sunday) at 7pm in the church. Every year, as the word spreads, we get a larger turn out for this joyful and prayerful event. Part of its charm is its uniqueness—there’s really nothing else like it all year. And also, its peacefulness in the busyness of the “holiday season”: hearing the inspiring and joyful prophecies of the Old Testament and the first lessons of the Gospel, along with the beautiful strains of the choir—and the congregation—singing treasured carols and hymns, some so comfortably familiar, others delightfully new to our ears and hearts. Please come join us!

Senior’s Lunch. I want to remind all our seniors to join us next Saturday, December 16, for our annual Seniors’ Advent Luncheon. Please call the office for more details. I look forward to seeing you there.

Giving Tree. Please don’t forget to stop by the “Giving Tree” in the narthex, and help to make Christmas a little merrier for some folks who are having a rough time this year, by supplying Christmas presents for families in true need. This year we are helping about 17 families in our parish and 13 families from Our Lady of the Blue Ridge parish in Madison.

Oremus pro invicem. Fr. De Celles

First Sunday of Advent

Season of Advent. Today we begin the season of Advent, in preparation for Christmas. Advent is usually about 4 weeks long, but this year, since Christmas falls on the day after the 4th Sunday of Advent, there is really no “4th week of Advent.” So that this year’s Advent will be the shortest possible—3 weeks and 1 day.
In any case, every year most people forget that the Advent season is primarily about preparing for Christmas, and instead spend these weeks pre-maturely celebrating Christmas, and doing so from a largely secularized perspective. And then when the actual 3 week Christmas Season begins on Christmas Day, they put all the Christmas things away and go on with life!
This pre-mature celebration isn’t necessarily a bad thing, if we see it as part of the strong influence of Christianity on our culture. Many Catholics see people around them start celebrating Christmas, and it’s such a wonderful feast they (Catholics) get all caught up in it.
But it’s not completely harmless. First of all, much of this early celebration is driven not by a Christian culture, but by commercial interests taking advantage of that culture. Sadly, much of this is nothing more than retailers playing on our emotional attachment to Christmas, in order to increase sales. Increasing sales is not a bad thing, but the reduction of Advent to a period of rampant commercialism/materialism and emotionalism is a terrible thing. All but forgotten is the spiritual/faith preparation to celebrate the wonder of the birth of the Baby Jesus, our Creator come to redeem us from our sins.
Please don’t let this happen to you this Advent. This is not to say you can’t take part in the “cultural” celebrations, as long as you make sure to also spend time preparing for the celebration of the Day that changed the world forever. Here are some suggestions:
— Catholics always prepare for Holy Days by doing penance. In Advent this shouldn’t take on anything near the severity of Lent, but we should do some small penance every day to remind us that nothing is more than Christ, and that everything we do is for Him.
— Add extra prayers to your daily routine. The Rosary is an excellent addition to our prayers, especially meditating on the Joyful Mysteries, or at least praying one decade every day, meditating on one of the Joyful Mysteries.
— Reading Scripture is an excellent way to renew your faith in Christ. Perhaps challenge yourself to read one of the Gospels beginning to end in Advent. Or perhaps read short passages daily from the Christmas-related texts: Matthew 1-2, Luke 1-2, John 1:1-17.
— Of course, charitable giving is a great way to prepare for the gift of the Baby Jesus. While it is a fine practice to give presents to people we love, it is an even better practice to give to those who do not know us and cannot give anything back to us. So, make sure you make generous charitable gifts—either directly to those in need or to worthy charitable projects/institutions. The parish Giving Tree is one good way to do this, as are some of the special collections.
— Receiving the sacraments is one of the most important things you can do in Advent. Consider coming to Mass and Adoration during the week, and make sure you go to Confession. As always, we will have confessions every weekday evening during Advent, which means confession is available every single day during Advent (except Christmas Eve).
— Most importantly, live the life that Christ came to give us: make every day about loving God with all your heart, mind, soul, and strength, and your neighbor as yourself. Follow the 10 Commandments, live out the Beatitudes. Forgive others, and be kind, patient, generous, and encouraging. Love one another as Jesus, who out of love for us stripped Himself of the glory of heaven to be born in a cold manger, loves us.
— Also: take part in the many special events and liturgies scheduled in the parish this Advent. Please find the insert of the Schedule of “Advent & Christmas 2017 Events” in this bulletin, look it over carefully and keep in somewhere central in your house (on the fridge door?). In particular, consider:
— Lessons and Carols. Next Sunday, December 10, I invite you to join me, the lectors and the choir for “Lessons & Carols” at 7:00 pm. This is a wonderful program of beautiful Advent music and Scripture readings. Some people think “Lessons” means I’m going to give a lecture or something. Not at all. “Lessons” is simply an old English term for readings from Scripture. By weaving together prophetic readings from the Old Testament and pre-nativity readings from the Gospels, the readers lay out God’s breathtaking plan for the birth of His Divine Son. The choir adds to the atmosphere of joyful expectation by leading us in popular hymns and spreading their vocal wings in leading us in carols and a few more complicated choral pieces—they are AMAZING. And afterwards there will be an opportunity for joyful fellowship at a short reception (with delicious seasonal refreshments). Trust me, this is a really wonderful evening—you’ll have a great time. Every year the crowd gets bigger (last year we had several hundred!) because everyone who comes loves it. Please join us.
— Advent Talk. Usually I give a 3-part Advent Series on the first 3 Thursdays of Advent, but this year, because of the short season and this Thursday being the Vigil of the Immaculate Conception, I’ve reluctantly decided to give only 1 talk, on Thursday, December 14 at 7:30 in the Parish Hall. My topic will be “St. Joseph, Guardian of the Redeemer.” We’ll go over what Scripture and Catholic traditions, customs and doctrines tell us about the life and holiness this great saint. I hope to see all of you there.

Immaculate Conception. This Friday, December 8, is the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception, a Holy Day of obligation (all Catholics must attend Mass, and it is a mortal sin not to). This great feast is integral to Advent, teaching us about Mary’s perfect preparation to receive Christ. See below for special Mass times.

Lighting and Mural Capital Campaign. As I write this on Nov. 29, we officially have one day left on our Capital Campaign. As of today, we have just gone over $214,000 in pledges. While this is only half of our goal, it is not at all disappointing to me. Honestly, all things considered, especially our very soft-sell/low key approach to the campaign, while my dream was to cover the entire $400,000 cost of the project, I was realistically thinking/hoping we’d collect at least half of that. We’ve done that, and I thank all the generous donors. But let me make one final appeal: we’ll be happy to accept pledges for this anytime; please consider giving at least $25 or $50 sometime in the next few weeks. And please pray for the success of the actual project.

Oremus pro invicem. Fr. De Celles

Thirty Third Sunday in Ordinary Time

“Shocked, shocked!” The phrase “Hollywood sex scandal” is filled with redundancy, as “Hollywood” seems synonymous with both “sex” and “scandal”. For decades Hollywood, or the movie/entertainment industry, has been on the leading edge of efforts to shift America away from its solid Christian moral base into relativistic, confused, immoral society—and making a lot of money in doing so. One could debate which came first, the desire to make money from human weakness or the desire to promote human weakness while making money. But the fact remains, that “Hollywood” is, and has been for decades, the leading promoter of sexual depravity and abuse in our nation.
Which is why the current uproar about industry leaders’ personal sexual depravity, from Harvey Weinstein’s alleged raping of young starlets to Kevin Spacey’s alleged raping of young boys, would be comical if it wasn’t so horrible. I can’t help but think of the famous line in Casablanca when Captain Louis Renault (Claude Rains) closes down the gambling at Rick’s, even as he accepts his own gambling winnings: “I’m shocked, shocked, to find that gambling is going on in here.” What did we think was going on?
For years Hollywood has attacked the Church and all traditional Christians, for upholding traditional sexual moral values. They practically squealed with delight every time a Christian politician or a priest or minister got caught in a sexual scandal. And they absolutely relished the Church’s own sex abuse scandal a few years ago. And then they went on to make the most salacious films to profit from it all.
Now the shoe is on the other foot. Will they finally admit, or will at the least the rest of us, finally admit, that they are morally corrupt from top to bottom? Unlike devout Christians who weakly fail to be faithful to the high moral values they promote, Weinstein et all have simply been caught embracing the sick values they’ve been openly promoting for years.
Are there any moral men and women in Hollywood? I’m sure there are, maybe more than we know—we should pray for them. But as a whole, “Hollywood” has pretended to promote women’s rights, while degrading women both on the casting couch and the big screen: they have made 100s of billions of dollars treating women, and even boys and girls, as sexual objects. And they have glorified men who are sexually promiscuous and depraved.
Why do we allow them to have this power over us? Why do we watch their filthy movies at theatres and in our homes? Why do we follow their fashions, and even the example of their personal lives? Why do we modify our values because they say we should? And worse yet, why do we expose our children to all this?
And why are we “shocked, shocked” to find that Hollywood is depraved as it is?

Birthday Party for Sofi. This last Thursday, November 14, was the 7th 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 19, after the 12:15 Mass. All parishioners are invited and encouraged to come and say hello to our little Sofi!
I firmly believe that Sofi was given to us as a particular call for our parish to promote the Culture of Life, so I ask you today to renew your personal efforts in this regard. And I ask you to pray for Sofi and her family, and for her birth-mother whose name is unknown to us, but whose courage to save her baby will always be remembered.

Thanksgiving. I hope and pray you will all have a very blessed Thanksgiving Day this coming Thursday. We all have so much to be thankful for—beginning with the gifts of life and love, especially life in the love of Christ in this world and the world to come.
I would like to take a moment to give particular thanks to God for the parish staff He has given to us. They work so hard and devoutly to serve Jesus and you, and to help Fr. Smith and I serve Jesus and you. So, I give thanks to God for Kirsti Tyson, our Office/Business Manager, who has given so many years to the parish, especially to making sure we are responsible stewards of the financial aspects of the parish. Thanks for Eva Radel, our Parish Secretary, who’s talent, dedication, efficiency and warm attentiveness to your needs is so important in keeping things going day to day, not to mention keeping the Pastor on track. Thanks for Mary Butler, officially a Parish Secretary, but in reality, my go-to utility player, filling in where ever we need her, and heading up so many special projects for me. Thanks for Jeanne Sause, the hardest working and most loving Youth Director in the diocese—what would we do without her working so many hours on so many days and evenings, and traveling all over the place, with our kids? Thanks for Tom Browne, our Plant Manager, for doing a superb job in making sure the building is up and running at all times, especially as he heads the effort to fix our lights. Thanks for Mary Salmon, our Director of Religious Education, who has done a yeoman’s job in shaping the program to meet my very high expectations, all the while humbly showing us all her profound love for our children and our Church. Thanks for Vince Drouillard, our Religious Education Secretary and Child Protection Coordinator, who is the newest addition to the staff, but literally a real God-send in an often-thankless job. Thanks for Elisabeth Turco, our Music Director, the best in the diocese, who has done so much to lift our liturgies to be so reverent and beautiful, and patiently working with me, a taskmaster when it comes to all this. Thanks for Nena Brennan, our Head Sacristan, who despite her terrible car accident earlier this year keeps plugging away to keep our sacristy well-ordered and our sanctuary beautiful; and for her good husband, Marty Brennan, works so hard to help her and me. Thanks for Teresa Sierra, our housekeeper, who, despite so many personal setbacks this year, continues to take care of us priests and make sure we’re comfortable and well-fed. Although they are not technically our employees, thanks also to our “contract” maintenance workers, Laura Rodriguez and Luis Tapia, who keep the church clean and safe for all of us. And finally, although technically unpaid volunteers, thanks for Bob and Bev Ward, running RCIA and our famous Bible Study—they are two of the greatest gifts God has given the parish.
I thank the Lord Jesus for all of them, and I ask you to join me in thanking Him and praying for them this week.

Oremus pro invicem. Fr. De Celles