Twentieth Sunday in Ordinary Time

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

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

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

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

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

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

Oremus pro invicem. Fr. De Celles

Nineteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Oremus pro invicem. Fr. De Celles

Eighteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

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

Seventeenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

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

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

Oremus pro invicem. Fr. De Celles

Sixteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

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

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

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

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

Fifteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Supreme Court Nominee. Back in October of 2016, just before the last Presidential election, I wrote: “I see this election as voting mainly for the Supreme Court. As I’ve said before, the Justices (Judges) on the Supreme Court are the most powerful people in our government, as they regularly uphold or throw out decisions by our elected officials—both the President and those in Congress—as well as decades, centuries, and millennia of precedents and common sense assumptions of Western Society. For example, it was one vote (on a 5 to 4 vote), so one Justice, who overturned the immemorial unanimous belief that marriage was only between a male and female and it was one vote/Justice who kept abortion a fundamental inalienable right….And that’s what it comes down to for me: The Supreme Court and abortion, traditional marriage, religious liberty/freedom of conscience, and the attack on common sense (the transgendered issue). And the next President will select up to 4 members of the Supreme Court.”
On Wednesday, June 27, Justice Anthony Kennedy announced his retirement from the Supreme Court. When he was nominated to the court in 1988 by President Reagan, Kennedy did not have a clear track record on the bench and was not very well known, but the people thought he would be a strong pro-life and traditional values Justice, since he was reputed to be a “conservative” and a faithful Catholic. But Kennedy proved to be a huge disappointment. He was the “one vote,” the “one Justice,” I was writing about in October, who redefined marriage and upheld the right to abortion.
To replace him, President Trump has nominated Judge Brett Kavanaugh. Like Kennedy, Kavanaugh comes to us with a reputation for being a conservative and a faithful Catholic. But unlike Kennedy, Kavanaugh is extremely well known to pro-life, pro-religious liberty and pro-traditional marriage lawyers as being one of them. I do not know him personally, but have spoken to several very close and trusted friends of mine who do know him very well, and they all vehemently assure me that Kavanaugh is the real deal. Praised be Jesus Christ!
When many of us voted in November of 2016, we were voting not so much for either of the troubling candidates, but for the Supreme Court Justices they would appoint. President Trump, love him or hate him, has fulfilled his promise to appoint pro-life,etc. justices, in both Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh.
Unfortunately, the radical left has come unhinged, and are pledging to pull out all the stops to keep Kavanaugh from being approved by the Senate. With the increased vitriolic language and violent behavior of the left in the last year or so, I am greatly afraid for our nation, and especially for the wellbeing of Judge Kavanaugh and his family.
So I ask you to pray to Our Lord, with the intercession of Our Lady, that the process of Senate consent will be peaceful and just, and render a choice compatible with His Holy Will. “All things are possible for God.” In particular, I encourage you to pray to the two patron saints of lawyers, St. Thomas More and St. Raymond of Peñafort. I especially recommend the daily recitation of the new Prayer to St. Raymond of Peñafort:
“Glorious Saint Raymond of Peñafort, wise and holy patron, come to the aid of those entrusted to your care, and all who flee to your protection. Intercede for us in our need, and help us through your prayers, example, and teaching, to proclaim the truth of the Gospel to all we meet. And when we have reached the fullness of our years, we beseech you to guide us home to heaven, to live in peace with you, Our Mother Mary, and Our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.”

Brown Scapular. Tomorrow, Monday, July 16, is the feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, memorializing the apparition of the Blessed Virgin Mary to St. Simon Stock, a Carmelite priest, and her gift to him of the “Brown Scapular” on July 16, 1251. (The original Carmelite Brown Scapular is a long piece of fabric, as wide as the shoulders, worn down the front and back (reaching down to the feet) with a hole in the center for the head). “Take, beloved son,” she said, “this Scapular of your order as a badge of my confraternity and for you and all Carmelites a special sign of grace; whoever dies in this garment, will not suffer everlasting fire. It is the sign of salvation, a safeguard in dangers, a pledge of peace and of the covenant.” The Carmelites immediately began to wear this Scapular as part of their regular habit, and very soon many non-Carmelites, both lay and cleric, also began to wear it, usually in a smaller form of a two small pieces of cloth bound by two strings, worn around the neck, hanging down in front and back. This practice continues to this day.
From the beginning, it was understood that in order to participate in Our Lady’s promises the wearer of the Scapular must be officially associated with the Carmelite order. So the Carmelites established the “Confraternity of the Blessed Virgin of Mount Carmel,” which any Catholic may be enrolled in through a short ceremony conducted by a priest.
Even so, the Scapular is in no way a “a good luck charm.” Rather, as Pope Pius XII wrote, it “is a sign and a pledge of the protection of the Mother of God.” And as St. John Paul II wrote, it is a sign that evokes “the awareness that devotion to her cannot be limited to prayers and tributes in her honor on certain occasions, but must become a ‘habit’, that is, a permanent orientation of one’s own Christian conduct, woven of prayer and interior life, through frequent reception of the sacraments and the concrete practice of the spiritual and corporal works of mercy.”
Moreover, the wearer of the Scapular may not “think that they can gain eternal salvation while remaining sinful and negligent of spirit.” You can’t live a sinful life presuming that the Scapular will erase all sins on your death bed. Rather, the Scapular is more a pledge of the Blessed Mother’s intercession at the moment of death, to obtain for us from her Son the grace necessary to repent of any mortal sins. But grace is not magic, it is a gift that we must accept. The soul that lives a life of sin is less disposed to accept (or even strongly disposed to reject) that grace.
Note: the promises of Our Lady are private revelations, and so not something we have to believe. Moreover, they should only be understood in the light of Church teaching. Even so, confidence in her promises, and wearing of the scapular, has been strongly promoted by scores of popes.
With this in mind, we will be enrolling folks in the Confraternity and investing them with the Brown Scapular today, July 15, after both the 8:45 and 10:30 Mass. Scapulars will be provided, or you may bring your own.

Oremus pro invicem, Fr. De Celles

Fourteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

4 th of July. Thanks be to God for the many gifts He has showered on our beloved nation.
Some thoughts below about His role in our nation’s history.
Pope Saint John Paul II, Welcome to the New American Ambassador to the Holy
See, December 16, 1997 (excerpt)
The Founding Fathers of the United States asserted their claim to freedom and
independence on the basis of certain “self-evident” truths about the human person:
truths which could be discerned in human nature, built into it by “nature’s God.” Thus
they meant to bring into being, not just an independent territory, but a great experiment
in what George Washington called “ordered liberty”…. Reading the founding documents
of the United States, one has to be impressed by the concept of freedom they enshrine: a
freedom designed to enable people to fulfill their duties and responsibilities toward the
family and toward the common good of the community. Their authors clearly understood
that there could be no true freedom without moral responsibility and accountability, and
no happiness without respect and support for the natural units or groupings through
which people exist, develop, and seek the higher purposes of life in concert with others.
The American democratic experiment has been successful in many ways. …But the
continuing success of American democracy depends on the degree to which each new
generation, native-born and immigrant, makes its own the moral truths on which the
Founding Fathers staked the future of your Republic.
….Respect for religious conviction played no small part in the birth and early
development of the United States. Thus John Dickinson, Chairman of the Committee for
the Declaration of Independence, said in 1776: “Our liberties do not come from
charters; for these are only the declaration of preexisting rights. They do not depend on
parchments or seals; but come from the King of Kings and the Lord of all the earth.”
Indeed it may be asked whether the American democratic experiment would have been
possible, or how well it will succeed in the future, without a deeply rooted vision of divine
providence over the individual and over the fate of nations.
George Washington's First Inaugural Address, April 30, 1789 (excerpt)
…it would be peculiarly improper to omit in this first official Act, my fervent
supplications to that Almighty Being who rules over the Universe, who presides in the
Councils of Nations, and whose providential aids can supply every human defect, that his
benediction may consecrate to the liberties and happiness of the People of the United
States, a Government instituted by themselves for these essential purposes: and may
enable every instrument employed in its administration to execute with success, the
functions allotted to his charge. In tendering this homage to the Great Author of every
public and private good I assure myself that it expresses your sentiments not less than my
own; nor those of my fellow-citizens at large, less than either. No People can be bound to
acknowledge and adore the invisible hand, which conducts the Affairs of men more than
the People of the United States. Every step, by which they have advanced to the character
of an independent nation, seems to have been distinguished by some token of providential
agency. And in the important revolution just accomplished in the system of their United

Government, the tranquil deliberations and voluntary consent of so many distinct
communities, from which the event has resulted, cannot be compared with the means by
which most Governments have been established, without some return of pious gratitude
along with an humble anticipation of the future blessings which the past seem to presage.
These reflections, arising out of the present crisis, have forced themselves too strongly on
my mind to be suppressed. You will join with me I trust in thinking, that there are none
under the influence of which, the proceedings of a new and free Government can more
auspiciously commence.
By the article establishing the Executive Department, it is made the duty of the
President "to recommend to your consideration, such measures as he shall judge
necessary and expedient." …[T]he foundations of our National policy will be laid in the
pure and immutable principles of private morality; and the pre-eminence of a free
Government, be exemplified by all the attributes which can win the affections of its
Citizens, and command the respect of the world.
I dwell on this prospect with every satisfaction which an ardent love for my
Country can inspire: since there is no truth more thoroughly established, than that there
exists in the economy and course of nature, an indissoluble union between virtue and
happiness, between duty and advantage, between the genuine maxims of an honest and
magnanimous policy, and the solid rewards of public prosperity and felicity: Since we
ought to be no less persuaded that the propitious smiles of Heaven, can never be expected
on a nation that disregards the eternal rules of order and right, which Heaven itself has
ordained: And since the preservation of the sacred fire of liberty, and the destiny of the
Republican model of Government, are justly considered as deeply, perhaps
as finally staked, on the experiment entrusted to the hands of the American people….
Having thus imparted to you my sentiments, as they have been awakened by the
occasion which brings us together, I shall take my present leave; but not without
resorting once more to the benign parent of the human race, in humble supplication….so
his divine blessing may be equally conspicuous in the enlarged views, the temperate
consultations, and the wise measures on which the success of this Government must
depend.
George Washington's Farewell Address, September 17, 1796 (excerpt)
Of all the dispositions and habits, which lead to political prosperity, Religion and
Morality are indispensable supports. In vain would that man claim the tribute of
Patriotism, who should labor to subvert these great pillars of human happiness, these
firmest props of the duties of Men and Citizens. The mere Politician, equally with the
pious man, ought to respect and to cherish them. A volume could not trace all their
connections with private and public felicity. Let it simply be asked, Where is the security
for property, for reputation, for life, if the sense of religious obligation desert the oaths,
which are the instruments of investigation in Courts of Justice? And let us with caution
indulge the supposition, that morality can be maintained without religion. Whatever may
be conceded to the influence of refined education on minds of peculiar structure, reason
and experience both forbid us to expect, that national morality can prevail in exclusion of

religious principle.
It is substantially true, that virtue or morality is a necessary spring of popular
government. The rule, indeed, extends with more or less force to every species of free
government. Who, that is a sincere friend to it, can look with indifference upon attempts
to shake the foundation of the fabric?
Oremus pro invicem, et pro patria. Fr. De Celles

Thirteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Lighting Work Begins This Week. Remember that the work to install our new lighting
will begin this Monday, July 2, and will finish by September 1. The upstairs church will
be closed from Monday through Friday every week, and the Blessed Sacrament, Masses,
etc., will be moved to the downstairs Parish Hall during the week. The church will be
reopened every Saturday morning and all weekend Masses, etc. will be in the church as
usual. Thanks for your patience and cooperation. And please pray to St. Raymond that all
goes well with the lighting “fix” (see below).
Supreme Court Win for Pro-Lifers. “The US Supreme Court has struck down a portion
of a California law that requires [pro-life] pregnancy-help centers to provide women
with promotional material about abortion. Writing for a 5-4 majority, Justice Clarence
Thomas said: ‘California cannot co-opt the licensed facilities to deliver its message.’ The
decision, on free-speech grounds, suggests that pro-life forces will also succeed to
challenging similar legislation in Illinois and in Hawaii” [source: Catholic World News).
Praised be Jesus Christ!
Litany and Prayer to St. Raymond of Peñafort. In today’s bulletin we’ve included an
insert with a new Litany and Prayer to St. Raymond. I encourage you to incorporate at
least the “Prayer” at the end of the Litany into your regular daily prayers, and so draw
closer to our great Saint. I’d especially like you all to pray at least the prayer every day
during the electrical work in the church.
For years, I have been looking for a good prayer to our Saint, but have been
unsatisfied with what I’ve found. So, I thought I’d try to write something original, and I
am thankful to Bishop Burbidge for quickly giving his imprimatur so that it can be
prayed publicly in the Church.
A lot of Catholics have no idea who St. Raymond was, and most of those who do
think of him as simply a great Canon Lawyer. But, of course, he was much more than
that. So let’s look at the litany and prayer and consider what it’s trying to recall.
Let’s begin with the titles of the Litany:
— “Master of Preachers,” reminds us both that he was a phenomenal preacher and
the head (“Master General”) of the religious order called the “Order of Preachers”—the
Dominicans.
— “Patron of Lawyers,” reminds us of his role in editing and combining all the
various laws of the Church written over 11 centuries in order to issue a well-organized
and codified set of laws for the Church. He is called “Father of Canon Law,” and is
officially the patron saint of all lawyers.
— “Father of Confessors” and “Counselor of Penitents,” remind of his great
treatise, Summa de casibus poenitentiae, written as a scholarly guide for priests in the
confessional.
— “Apostle to Gentiles,” reminds us of his work to convert Spanish Moors
(Muslims, i.e., the “Gentiles” of his day), especially through thoughtful preaching, and of
his encouraging St. Thomas Aquinas to write his great treatise, Summa contra Gentiles,
to help in this regard.

— “Evangelist to Israelites,” reminds of his work to respectfully convert Spanish
Jews; it is said that he was responsible for the conversion of over 30,000 Moors and Jews.
— “Ransomer of Captives,” reminds us of his role in the foundation of Order of
Mercy, or Mercedarians, who were dedicated to ransoming Christian captives of the
Moorish pirates, even offering their own lives in exchange.
— “Teacher of the Learned and the Ignorant,” reminds of his ability to preach to
the well-educated as he was a university professor for many years, and to the under-
educated as he preached in Churches to the masses.
— “Friend of Princes and Paupers,” reminds of us his influential friendship with
people in high places, such as Kings and Popes, as well as his kindness and tenderness to
the poor and lowly.
— “Protector of Sailors,” recalls the miracle of Majorca, where, by the grace of
God, he turned his cape into both skiff and sail, to flee the island and sail to Spain.
— “Comforter of the Aged,” reminds us that he lived to be either 99 or 100 years
old, and is an example of Christian fidelity for the aged, as well as a special friend to
them.
— “Defender of Marriage,” reminds both of his important scholarly treatise,
Summa on Marriage, and his public rebuke of King James’ infidelity in Majorca (see
“Protector of Sailors,” above).
— “Champion of Religious Rights,” “Advocate of Reason,” and “Promoter of
Freedom,” all remind us how, in efforts to convert Jews and Muslims, he encouraged
reasoned discussion, including the famous public debate involving the leading Rabbi of
Spain in 1263. Although not up to modern standards, Raymond’s efforts represented
remarkable strides for religious rights and freedom of speech for his time.
— “Guardian of Justice,” reminds us that as one of the Church’s most expert
scholars of law as well as the Penitentiary of the Church, he was a historical promoter of
justice in both civil society and the Church, exercising his influence in a particular way
over Popes and Kings.
— “Worker of Miracles,” reminds of the many miracles he performed, from the
curing of the sick, to the conversion of obstinate sinners, to the miracle of Majorca.
— “Son of the Blessed Virgin Mary,” reminds of his great love and devotion to
Mary, and of her appearance to him in 1218.
— “Son of St. Dominic,” reminds us of his membership in the “Order of
Preachers” founded by St. Dominic.
— “Son of the Church,” reminds us of his deep love for Holy Mother Church.
— “Holy Priest of Jesus Christ,” reminds us that with all his amazing
accomplishments, he was first and foremost a priest.
The Prayer itself (which can easily be said separately from the Litany) is pretty
self-explanatory. But I call your attention to some nuances.
This prayer can be said by anyone, but it is first for our parish, and so it refers to
him as “patron,” and to “those entrusted to your care.” Then it mentions “all who flee to
your protection,” a subtle reference to his fleeing from Majorca. It speaks of his

“teaching,” as he was a teacher and scholar, and his help to “proclaim the truth of the
Gospel to all we meet,” referring to his constant preaching to Christians, heretics, Jews
and Muslims. Then it refers to “the fullness of our years,” alluding to his advanced age at
death. Then we ask him to “guide us home to heaven,” which is ultimate goal as our
patron. And finally the phrase says, “to live in peace,” is a reference to his prayer for us,
that “the God of love and peace set your hearts at rest… and brin[g] you at last to that
place of complete plenitude….in the vision of peace….”
4 th of July. Have a blessed 4 th ! Please join us for Mass at 10am to thank God for our great
country and to pray for it.
Oremus pro invicem. Fr. De Celles

Solemnity of the Nativity of Saint John the Baptist

Religious Freedom Week. This week we continue Religious Freedom Week, which runs from June 22 through June 29. The week begins with the Feast of 2 saints who were killed by their king to silence their religious opposition to his policies, especially with regard to marriage: St. Thomas More and St. John Fisher. Normally these two saints are celebrated as one feast, but since St. Thomas is our Diocesan Patron Saint, we celebrate his feast alone, and move St. John to another day (I celebrated his votive Mass yesterday morning, Saturday). Today we celebrate another saint who was killed by his king to silence his religious opposition: St. John the Baptist, who, in preparing the way for Jesus publicly condemned King Herod’s public incestuous marriage. Then we end the week on the 29th, the Feast of Sts. Peter and Paul, two saints who not only represent the persisting teaching authority of the Church, but who were also put to death by a king for their leadership of the Church, which he saw as leading people away from absolute obedience to his supposed divine authority. Like many people of our time, Emperor Nero and many Romans blamed Christians for many of the problems of their age. And all during this week let’s keep in mind St. Raymond of Peñafort, who also got in trouble with a king. Very briefly, we recall how when our saint condemned King James of Spain’s consorting with his mistress on the island of Majorca. When the King tried to keep Raymond from leaving the island by threatening to punish any ship who took him aboard, St. Raymond, went to the shore, said a prayer, and famously and miraculously sailed 160 miles back to Spain using just his great cape as both a skiff and a sail. Let us look to these great saints for intercession and as examples of peacefully opposing unjust laws that seek to oppress us in living our Christian faith in every day life.
Fairfax Schools. This last year has seen a lot of victories for Religious Liberty—changes brought about largely by the new Trump administration. But the oppression still continues. An excellent example of that is found in last week’s long expected decision by the Fairfax County Public School Board to finally approve their new Family Life Education curriculum and related policies that further implement their “transgendered” agenda in our schools. The vote was unanimous, except for the 2 pro-family Catholics on the Board, Elizabeth Schultz and Tom Wilson. This was even though 90% of the public respondents disapproved of the changes. So much for representative government. Parents and taxpayers admit it: you’re too stupid to know what’s best for your kids or your tax dollars. Thank goodness for elite leftist totalitarians. Now, you might say this is not a religious liberty issue, and in part you’d be correct. But only in that it involves several other types of liberty and rights as well. This includes the freedom of parents to educate their children as they see fit, and to be the primarily educators of their children; the freedom to elect truly representative government, and the right to have their representatives listen to them and enact laws that the voters approve of. But it is also definitely a religious liberty issue in that these elitist board members
are purposefully trying to teach our children to reject the moral values of the religions that their parents are raising them in. It’s as if they say, “Sure, parents, you can do and say whatever you want at homes or in your churches, that’s okay. We have them all day, five days a week (sometimes 6 or 7 with extracurriculars) so we can undo all the BAD stuff you taught them and teach them CORRECT values.” So we have to keep fighting. It’s not just enough to win a pro-religious-liberty seat on the Supreme Court, we need to keep fighting to make the Court, the Congress and the Presidency solidly pro-religious-liberty. And we need to win back control of our schools by running more and electing pro-religious liberty candidates like Schultz and Wilson. But more than that, we have to be involve ourselves. Parents, you must be actively involved in your kid’s schools and classrooms. You must organize with other parents and taxpayers and work with organizations that support your values. And perhaps its time to stop supporting government run schools by removing your kids from them. And of course, we have to pray. So please join in our prayers this week for Religious Liberty, both at Mass and in your homes. And join us for this Wednesday’s Holy Hour for Life, Liberty and Marriage from 6pm to 7pm in the church.
Youth Group Activities this Summer. Our teens are at WorkCamp this week, so please keep them in your prayers, that they may be safe and come to know the Lord more intimately through the ancient practice of “ora et labora”—pray and work. Pray also that they may come to appreciate the dignity and needs of those less fortunate, and so grow in true love of neighbor. From July 13 – 15, a group of our kids will also be off for a weekend spiritual conference at Franciscan University. These are great weekends that can have a profound effect on their lives for years, and decades to come. So keep them in your prayers then too. And there are lots of other activities going on for them this summer, thanks to Jeanne Sause and our adult volunteers. Make sure your kids don’t miss out.
Special Thanks. After many years of service, two of our outstanding parishioners are retiring from the Parish Finance Council: Joe Cox and Matt Wheeler. Matt and Joe have been on the council almost since the beginning of our parish, long before I got here. I can’t tell you how much I appreciate all the hard work they’ve done, and the invaluable assistance and advice they’ve given me. The Finance Council is a committee required by Canon Law to give advice to the Pastor on financial matters of the parish, but I rely them to advise me on a wide variety of parish issues.
Thanks to Graduating Altar Servers. Fr. Smith and I ask you to join us in thanking the four young men who have served at the altar for so many years, and are now preparing to go off to college: John Paul Spinelli, Michael Weyrich, Jarod Slaton, and Brendan Kapp. They are fine young Catholic men, and I’m very proud of them. We’re going to miss them, but we wish them the very best, and promise them our prayers.
Lighting Project. Remember that the work to install our new lighting will begin in one week, on Monday, July 2, and will finish by September 1. The Blessed Sacrament, Masses, etc., will be moved to the Parish Hall during the week. All weekend Masses etc. will be in the church as usual.
Oremus pro invicem. Fr. De Celles

Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ

Deacon James Waalkes. Congratulations to parishioner Deacon Waalkes, who was ordained a deacon yesterday, Saturday, June 2! He will be called a “transitional deacon” in anticipation of his being ordained a priest next June. He will serve his first Mass as a deacon and preach his first homily here today, Sunday, June 3, at 10:30.

Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ. Today is “Corpus Christi Sunday,” a feast established to remind us that, even as Lent and Easter are over, the mystery of Christ’s death and resurrection and His continued presence on Earth remains with us in a most sublime way in the Eucharist. In particular, we remember that the bread and wine really become the very Body and Blood of Jesus Christ Himself—His Real Presence among us.
The Book of Revelation tells us that the angels and saints in heaven continually “fell down and worshipped” Jesus. So let’s consider how we react to Our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament.
— Do we show reverence toward the Blessed Sacrament? Do we genuflect before Our Lord present in the tabernacle whenever we enter the church (usually before sitting in our pew) or whenever we pass in front of the tabernacle? Do we chat loudly in church as if the Lord of Heaven were not present?
— How do we dress at Mass, especially on Sunday? Like we are going to the Wedding Feast of Our King, or going to the beach? Do we remember that skimpy clothing can be a near occasion of sin for others, and so dress modestly at Mass?
— How do we act during Mass? Do we focus prayerfully on the miracle transpiring on the altar, especially during and after the consecration? Do we chat and laugh with each other, ignoring the solemnity of the Mass? Do we turn the exchange of the “sign of peace” before Communion into a casual “meet and greet,” or carefully observe it as the ritual and prayerful sign of the peace of Christ that comes to us in the Eucharist?
— How do we receive Holy Communion? Do we observe the Eucharistic fast for one hour before Communion? Do we examine our consciences so we don’t receive unworthily (i.e., if we need to confess mortal sins or are otherwise prohibited from receiving)? Do we approach prayerfully, or are we looking around or laughing? Do we carefully show some sign of reverence immediately before receiving Holy Communion: bowing or genuflecting, or even kneeling? Do we prayerfully receive as a profound act of faith and love?
If we receive on the tongue: To avoid any chance of the Host being dropped, do we stand close enough to the priest, open our mouths and extend our tongues? Do we hold still our heads, tongues and mouths (not lurching, licking or biting) until we receive and the priest removes his hand?
If we receive in our hand: Do we wash our hands before Mass? Do we extend both hands, one on top of the other, forming a throne for Our King? Do we immediately step aside and reverently consume the Host in the sight of the priest or extraordinary minister? Do we examine our hands to make sure no particles remain?
— Do we remember that Jesus remains in the tabernacle after Mass? Do we stay a few minutes after Mass is over to give thanks, or do we rush out of church as soon as possible? Do we drop by the church during the week to visit Our Lord in the tabernacle? Do we spend time with Our Lord during Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament? Do we share our faith in the Eucharist with others? Do we actively teach our children to do all these things?

I am continually moved by the Eucharistic reverence at St. Raymond’s. But sometimes we forget—myself included. And so, we redouble our efforts so as to give Him due worship.

Eucharistic Procession. To help us to refocus on our faith in the Real Presence, today, Sunday, June 3, immediately after the 12:15 Mass, we will have our annual Corpus Christi Eucharistic Procession, walking with the Eucharist outside of the church while singing the Lord’s praises. Please join us in this ancient and eloquent witness to our faith in and love of our Eucharistic Lord.

Communion Rail. In September of last year, we introduced the use of a portable altar rail at the 8:45 Sunday Mass, in order to allow those who so choose, to kneel to receive Our Lord in Holy Communion. Although everyone has a right to choose whether to kneel or to stand for Holy Communion, it is very difficult and time-consuming to kneel without a kneeler. This is really unfair. The portable altar rail/kneeler solves this problem.
But you will recall there was another reason I decided to use the altar rail: kneeling for Communion can bring important spiritual benefits. Kneeling is well-established as an important expression of and means of encouraging adoration of the Eucharist, which is why we are required to kneel during the Eucharist Prayer and the “Behold the Lamb of God…” That is also why for centuries we were required to kneel for Communion.
I have been very pleased with the popularity of the rail at 8:45: even though they have the option to stand, almost everyone at that Mass freely choses to kneel for Communion. Many people at that Mass have told me how much they appreciate this option to kneel, and many others have asked me to extend this opportunity to the other Masses that they attend at St. Raymond’s.
That seems like a reasonable request and a great idea: why shouldn’t everyone at every Mass have the opportunity to kneel if they want to? So, for the next few weeks I will be prayerfully considering setting out the altar rail for use at all Masses at St. Raymond’s, giving people the choice to receive either kneeling or standing. (Note: for practical reasons, Communion would still continue to be distributed in the transepts as usual, without a kneeler/rail).
Some might be worried that this will lengthen the time it takes to distribute Communion, but in fact, the opposite is true: the altar rail actually speeds up the distribution. Others might be worried that they might feel peer pressure to kneel when they don’t want to. Don’t worry, there will be no more peer pressure to kneel than there is peer pressure to stand when you don’t want to.
Let me know what you think: I’m very interested in your courteous and well-considered comments, suggestions and opinions. Please email me at fr.decelles@gmail.com, or mail or leave a note at the parish office.
(By the way, I appreciate all the input I’ve gotten on the exchange of the Sign of Peace. I will be sharing my conclusions with you on this soon.)

Priest Transfers. The changes in priest assignments was announced on Wednesday, May 30. I’m happy to note that there will be no changes at St. Raymond’s. Also, congratulations to my good friend, Fr. Kevin Beres, on his appointment as pastor of St. Peter’s in “Little” Washington.

Oremus pro invicem. Fr. De Celles