Twenty Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Another Great Picnic. Last Sunday’s parish picnic was another great success, with one of the largest crowds I’ve seen at our annual shindig. Thanks be to God for another perfect day, especially weather-wise. And thanks to all who worked so hard to make it such a wonderful time, especially the Knights of Columbus and the parish staff, particularly Kirsti Tyson. And thanks to all of you who came out; I hope you had as good a time as I did.

Sad News. One of my proudest achievements in life was to earn the academic degree of Sacred Theology Licentiate from the Pontifical John Paul II Institute for Studies in Marriage and Family. Ever since it was personally established by Pope St. John Paul II in 1982, the Institute has been one of the Church’s foremost schools of theology, and the leader in its field, and has grown to have flourishing campuses in various countries around the world, including the one in Washington, which I attended.
Imagine my grief when yesterday I read that Pope Francis was officially closing this thriving Institute, and replacing it with a new Institute with a similar but different name: Pontifical John Paul II Theological Institute for Marriage and Family Sciences. For the time being, the faculty of the old Institute will move over to the new Institute, but I think that will change soon, as the mission will be subtly but importantly different. The old Institute was established by St. John Paul to clarify and re-present the Church’s philosophy, theology and doctrine on Marriage and Family to the modern world, according to the very clear guidance he laid out in his letter Familiaris Consortio. The new Institute founded by Pope Francis seems to seek to present the Church’s teaching with an increased influence of secular science and the guidance of Pope Francis’ letter Amoris Laetitia.
Unfortunately, while Familiaris Consortio was clearly an affirmation and clarification of the Church’s constant teaching, certain passages of Amoris Laetitia have caused widespread confusion and division, as some theologians, bishops and cardinals have tried to argue that AL changes unchangeable Church teaching. This confusion has led to hundreds of distinguished theologians to plead with Pope Francis for clarification. You may recall that four superlatively distinguished Cardinal-theologians, including Cardinal Burke and the recently deceased Cardinals Meisner and Caffarra, publicly submitted the famous “Five Dubia” to Pope Francis also asking for this clarification. Moreover, the founding leader of the new Institute sometimes seems confused about unchangeable doctrine, in contrast to the founding leader of the old Institute, Cardinal Caffarra.
In all this, I intend no criticism, whatsoever, of His Holiness—I am an obedient and loving son of the Church and the Pope. But I do wonder, as any Catholic is free to, if this was the best direction to go in. As such, I worry that it may not bode well for the Church. And I grieve the passing of such an outstanding Institute of studies established by the Great Saint John Paul II. My revered alma mater is no more. May Christ bless the new Institute that replaces it. And let us pray for St. John Paul’s continuing intercession for God’s blessing on Pope Francis.

Reflections on “Theology.” It seems to me that over the last 100 years there has been a growing trend among theologians to move away from reflecting on the Church’s treasury of doctrine and theology as handed down to them by the great and saintly theologians of the past to more and more emphasis on reflecting on what other more recent and even contemporary theologians are saying. So that many modern theologians wind up citing and reflecting on the writings of their teachers or peers more than they cite the Early Fathers of the Church, the Ecumenical Councils of the Church, the great theologian saints (e.g., St. Thomas Aquinas, St. Robert Bellarmine, St. Teresa of Avila, St. Alphonsus Liguori, etc.) and 19 centuries of Papal magisterium. They especially do this when studying or citing Scripture, citing the mere theories of modern writers and ignoring the profound commentaries of the great saints of centuries past—especially the Early Fathers who were so close in time to the Apostles themselves.
All this leads, I think, to what Pope Benedict XVI used to call the “hermeneutic of discontinuity” (“hermeneutic” is an interpretive “key,” or guiding principle or perspective). Clearly, not everything these great writers/theologians from the past wrote is “infallible,” but they do represent the handing down of Church teaching from the Apostles to us, as well as (to some extent) the Divinely inspired treasury of guidance of the Church. Neglecting this treasury not only impoverishes modern theology, but creates ruptures and discontinuity with the Church founded by Christ, which leads at best to confusion and at worst to heresy.
I see this at the heart of the problem of the many errors made by so many in the Church over the last 50 years or so, and especially today. This seems the case, for example, with those who are trying to change or “reinterpret” Church teaching on divorce and remarriage: they constantly cite (or simply incorporate without citing) the theology of other modern theologians, but either ignore the theological and doctrinal “treasury” of the Church, or cite it out of context or incorrectly to support their dissent from it.
This problem really goes back to two related/interdependent concepts that permeate the documents of the Second Vatican Council: “ressourcement” (meaning “going back to the sources,” i.e., the Early Fathers, Councils, etc.), and “aggiornamento” (meaning “updating,” i.e., presenting ancient things to the modern age). Sadly, “updating” became the dominant concept for many theologians immediately after the Council, but without being integrated with “going back to the sources,” so that “theologizing” became dependent on the whims of current theologians and philosophers—Catholic and not.
Fortunately, in time, the great theologians St. John Paul II and Benedict XVI (who were both actually prominent theologians at the Council) insisted on the proper integration of aggiornamento and ressourcement, and for 37 years helped guide theologians on the path leading from the Church of Apostolic times to today. Unfortunately, with their passing from the scene, the aggiornamento-only crowd seems to be making a comeback. Pray that Pope Francis will be able to help them back to the right path.

Life Chain. Next Sunday October 1, “Respect Life Sunday,” our parishioners will join thousands of Americans in the “Life Chain.” Please join over 100 of your fellow St. Raymond parishioners and other local pro-lifers in front of Key Middle School to peacefully and quietly pray, as a public witness to the dignity of human life. See the Respect Life corner below for more information.

“Ad Orientem” at 10:30.” Next Sunday, October 1, the 10:30 Mass will be celebrated “Ad Orientem,” (as we do at 8:45 Mass). Please see my columns from last month on this, and approach it with an open heart and mind. Remember, we will do this at the 10:30 Mass on the 1st Sunday of every Month.

Oremus pro invicem. Fr. De Celles

Twenty Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Racism, Prejudice and Hate. Last month our state, and the whole nation, was stunned when an avowed white-supremacist ran his car into a crowd gathered in Charlottesville, killing Heather Heyer, and injuring 19 others. It was a clear act of racist violence.
It is sad but true that after decades of great strides, racism is still alive in our country. On a certain level, it’s no surprise: we are a fallen humanity, prone to sin without God’s grace. So we see sin flourishing all around us today in a multitude of forms, and sometimes in the most extreme ways.
Even so, let me be clear: all human beings are created in the same image of the one and only God, so that even as He created each of us uniquely and so different in certain ways from each other, we are all fundamentally equal in dignity before Him. So that “racism,” understood as the unjust prejudice or discrimination against a person because of his/her race or ethnicity, is always a sin, and often a mortal sin. It is no less a sin than murder, abortion, contraception, or sexual sins. Moreover, racism that is fueled by genuine hate is truly despicable.
Racism cannot be tolerated. Nevertheless, Christ reminds us to love our enemies, even “those who hate us,” so that we must love the sinner while we hate the sin. So the road forward leads not through an escalation of violence (in word or deed), or even widespread witch-hunting for closet racists. We should confront actual racism where it clearly exists, but we should remember that none of us is perfect, and must not try to exaggerate small unintended or ignorant prejudices that we all have to be something vicious—we can afford to turn the other cheek once in a while, even as we continue to help remove these prejudices in ourselves and others.
Moreover, we should not imagine that everyone who disagrees with us on issues that seem to touch on race or ethnicity as being a racist. Sadly, many people today use our fear and revulsion of racism to fuel their own political agenda. Are those who stir up hate and shout “racist” against people who simply disagree with them on policy or moral issues any better than those who stir up hate against people who are a different race or ethnicity than them? These are not the same sins, but they are both repugnant.
The Ku Klux Klan and Neo-Nazi’s come to mind when we think of people who stir up hate based on racial/ethnic differences. These are despicable organizations. But there are also organizations that stir up hate based merely on political/social disagreements, groups like the Southern Poverty Law Center. While the SPLC was originally organized in 1971 with the noble mission of fighting racism in the courts, over the years it has morphed into fighting anyone who opposes the leftist agenda. So that now it maintains a list of what it calls “hate groups,” which includes many groups that merely disagree with their leftist agenda. For example, the list includes the Family Research Council, Concerned Women for America, National Organization for Marriage, and many similar pro-traditional moral values groups, categorized as “hate groups” simply because they oppose the Left’s anti-family/marriage agenda.
I am not equating the SPLC with the KKK. The sin of promoting racism is very different from the sins of promoting lying, sexual depravity and hate against political opponents. But they are still all grave sins. And the promotion of grave sins is despicable, wherever we find it.

Anti-Catholicism: The Acceptable Prejudice. Last week an old family friend, Amy Coney Barrett, testified before the Senate regarding her confirmation as a judge on the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals. Barrett is a professor at Notre Dame Law School, a former clerk to Supreme Justice Antonin Scalia, and a wife and mother of 7 children. She has wide-spread bi-partisan support among her professional colleagues. But apparently there is problem with her being an appellate judge: She is a devout Catholic.
In an amazing example of religious prejudice Senators Dianne Feinstein and Dick Durbin called into question how her Catholicism might adversely affect her decision making as a judge. Feinstein told Barrett: “When you read your speeches, the conclusion one draws is that the dogma lives loudly within you,” What? In what sincerely religious person—Catholic, Protestant, Muslim or Jew—is the “dogma” NOT “living loudly within” them? As Fr. John Jenkins, President of Notre Dame, subsequently wrote: “I am one in whose heart ‘dogma lives loudly,’ as it has for centuries in the lives of many Americans, some of whom have given their lives in service to this nation.” And as Harvard Law professor Noah Feldman wrote: “If a Catholic senator had asked a Jewish nominee whether she would put Israel before the U.S.…liberals would be screaming bloody murder. Feinstein’s line of questioning…is no less an expression of prejudice…[and] resonated with historic anti-Catholicism….”
Durbin then attacked Barrett’s use of the term “orthodox Catholic,” in a speech she gave years ago to a Catholic group, as he accused her of maligning Catholics who (like Durbin) disagree with Church teaching on things like abortion. Then he asked her directly: “Do you consider yourself an orthodox Catholic?” Two comments. First, if certain people publicly disagree with Church teaching, how could Barrett malign them by simply publicly recognizing that fact and saying she does not? Second, where does any Senator, Catholic or not, get the right to question a nominee about their religion, whether as an orthodox or unorthodox Catholic, a Methodist or Evangelical Protestant, a Shia or Sunni Muslim, or an Orthodox or Progressive Jew? There is that clause in Article VI of the U.S. Constitution: “no religious test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States.” Unless of course you are a Catholic who actually believes and lives by the dogma of the Catholic Church.

Parish Picnic—TODAY! Today, September 17, we have our annual Parish Picnic from 1-4pm here on the Parish grounds, behind the church. There will be lots of good food and fun for kids and adults alike. For new parishioners (and visitors) this is a great opportunity to meet people and learn more about the parish; for the rest of us, this is one of the best chances we will have all year to welcome others into a deeper participation in the life and fellowship of our parish—PLEASE JOIN US!

Parish Pictorial Directory. If you haven’t signed up to have your picture taken for the Directory, please sign up ASAP. I would like all of our parishioners to be in the directory, as means of strengthening our parish in the unity of Christ. (Remember you can chose what personal information will be included or excluded in the directory.) Appointments for photos will continue through September 24th and there are still prime appointment times available. Also, if you would like to volunteer to help with this directory, please contact the Parish Office.

Oremus pro invicem. Fr. De Celles

Twenty Third Sunday in Ordinary Time

Beginning of a “New Year.” The beginning of the new “school year” effectively begins a new year in the life of a parish, as summer ends and all sorts of parish activities start up again. The coming days have several special “events” to help us all begin on the right foot.
Parish Picnic. Next Sunday, September 17, we’ll have our annual Parish Picnic from 1-4pm here on the Parish grounds, behind the church. There’s lots of food and fun for kids and adults alike—a great way to meet and get to know your fellow parishioners. For new parishioners (and visitors) this is a great opportunity to meet people and learn more about the parish; for the rest of us, this is one of the best chances we will have all year to welcome others into a deeper participation in the life and fellowship of our parish—don’t pass it up!
Religious Education (CCD). CCD begins this evening, September 10. Parents, don’t forget to bring your kids this evening, or on Monday or Tuesday, whichever day you’ve signed up for. If you haven’t registered yet, it’s not too late, but time is running out. Please see the bright green registration forms in the narthex, go to the parish website or call the RE office ASAP.
I am very much looking forward to this year’s program. As you remember, last year Mary Salmon (our Director of RE) and I made a lot of changes that we hoped would provide the best religious education program available in the diocese. I was very happy with the results, but over the summer we’ve thought a lot about what worked and what didn’t, and have tried to fine tune things to make it even better.
But I remind parents: CCD is meant to supplement the work you do with them at home. Parents are the primary educators of their children—especially in the Faith. CCD is just here to help you do that. We will try our best to take our part seriously, and I am confident you will recommit yourselves to do the same—I know you love your kids more than we do, and want them to experience the knowledge and love of Christ and His Church in this world, and to be happy with Him forever in next. But, the odds are, they will have none of that, especially heaven, if you and we don’t do our very best to teach them the Faith when they are young.
I’m particularly looking forward to teenagers coming to our High School program, where they will encounter some especially talented, experienced and knowledgeable teachers. My goal for this program is to be informative, inspiring and challenging, but not a burden to the kids or parents. So, while I’m confident the classrooms will be lively and challenging, the homework will be very light, with lots of recommended work the kids can do voluntarily.
RCIA (“Convert Class”). Another program set to restart is the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (RCIA). If any adult you know is interested in becoming a Catholic, or is a Catholic in need of the sacrament of Confirmation (or First Communion and Confession) this is the course for them. Bob Ward, himself a convert many years ago, leads a lively, faith-filled and information-packed discussion of the basics (and more) of the Catholic faith, and during the second semester Fr. Smith and I will join in teaching about 5 or 6 of the topics. You can contact Bob and Bev Ward at 703-644-5873 or with any questions. Classes begin this Monday (tomorrow), September 11, at 7:30pm in the Rectory classroom (the “Maurer Room”).
But the class is also designed to be a refresher course for all adult Catholics. Unfortunately, most adult Catholics don’t know, or remember, their faith nearly as well as they should. This course is a perfect way to begin to fix this. So please consider joining this class—even on a week-to-week/topic-to-topic basis.
Speakers. This year we will once again be bringing some excellent speakers to the parish. We will begin with a talk next Saturday, September 16, at 9:45am: our old friend Fr. Tad Pacholczyk, PhD, the nationally renowned neuroscientist-theologian, will speak about “End of Life Decision Making: Ethical Decision Making in Sickness and Compromised States.” The talk is sponsored by our Respect Life Committee, and is the first of many events this very active group will offer this year. Please join us.
And There’s More! This is just the beginning, and it doesn’t begin to list all the activities coming this year in the parish: we have CYO basketball, the Mother’s Group, Bible Study, the Choir, and all the rest of the parish groups/committees… Please see the rest of this bulletin (and every week!) and the website for lots of opportunities to get involved and grow in your Catholic faith and as a member of the Church here at St. Raymond’s in the coming year.

Parish Pictorial Directory. I am very pleased with the progress of our directory project. So far, 390 families have scheduled appointments for photos. This is great, but it is still less than a quarter of our registered families/households, and less than half of the families/households that attend Sunday Mass here on a regular basis. Please sign up ASAP: I would like all of you to be in the directory, as I really do think this is a great way to strengthen the Unity/Communion the Lord Jesus calls us to, as a Church and as a parish. (Remember you can chose what personal information will be included or excluded in the directory, e.g., phone number, address, email, etc.)
Appointments for photos will continue through September 24th and there are still prime appointment times available. Also, we will be doing a military page for anyone in our parish currently or previously serving in the military (portraits in uniform). If you would like to volunteer to help with this directory, please contact the Parish Office.

September 11, 2001. Tomorrow we will remember the terrible day when our nation was attacked by Islamist Terrorists, killing 3,000 innocent people and injuring more than 6,000 others. Let us pray for those who died, both on 9/11 and in this long “War on Terror,” and for the brave souls who continue to fight to protect us. And let us pray for our nation’s safety, the defeat of those who seek to harm us, and for the conversion of our enemies.

Cardinal Carlo Caffarra, RIP. As I write (Wednesday morning), I am grieved to learn of the death of Cardinal Caffarra, perhaps the Church’s preeminent theologian on marriage, family and sexuality. A close advisor to both Popes John Paul and Benedict, he was founding president of the John Paul II Institute for Studies in Marriage and Family, and eventually Cardinal-Archbishop of Bologna. He was also one of the four cardinals to sign the letter asking Pope Francis to clarify the confusion some spread in the aftermath of his 2016 letter Amoris Laetitia. Let us pray that the Lord rewards him for his great service.

Oremus pro invicem. Fr. De Celles

Twenty Second Sunday in Ordinary Time

Summer’s Close. With this Labor Day weekend, the summer “officially” comes to a close. Most of us try to make summer a time of slowing down the pace, working a little less and setting aside time to visit with friends and family, whether on vacations or just on a weekend or evening. It’s a good and healthy thing—very much in line with our human nature, the way God made us. I hope you had a good summer in this sense. Even if there were crosses, such as family or personal illnesses, I hope there was time for you to rest and recreate, and to thank the Lord for the opportunity to do so.

School Year Begins. Labor Day also means our kids are back in school—of course, this year most of them began last Monday. I hope and pray that all of you “kids” have a wonderful year of growing in knowledge and wisdom. Apply yourself to your school work, and to a reasonable amount of extracurricular activities, and excel as best you can. But remember that as important as grades and victories, etc., are, it is even more important to simply learn. And to learn not just what’s in the books, but to learn how to think, using reason and good judgment. Always respect authority, but remember not to accept everything on face value, even if it might be written in a book or relayed to you by so-called experts. Most especially, respect the authority of your parents, and the authority of Christ and His Church. I’m sorry to say, sometimes teachers, & coaches, with all good intentions, will tell you things that are just not right. Too many people today ignore facts or twist facts to agree with their own personal perspective or agenda. So, make sure you talk to your parents about what you’re learning in school, and what the people at school are doing and saying. God created us to live and learn first and foremost in the family, and our parents are our primary teachers. The family is the house of love: your parents love you more than any teacher or friend (as good as they are) could ever dream of—and Jesus loves you even more!
So, be curious and inquisitive, but always stay close to your parents and Jesus, and count on them to guide you through what I hope will be a wonderful year for all of you.

CCD/Religious Education. A complete academic education includes learning about Jesus Christ and His Church, so a new school year means we can’t neglect continuing our Catholic education. Like any good education, that involves work at home and in school. So, parents, teach your kids about their Catholic faith informally at home AND make sure they have some formal, systematic, academic learning as well—either at home (according to a disciplined plan), in Catholic schools, or in our parish CCD/Religious Education program.
Our CCD/RE school year begins next weekend. Registration forms are in the narthex, outside the RE office in the parish hall (downstairs) and online on our website. Please take advantage of this program so that the school year can be truly all it should be.

Masses Changes Begin Next Weekend. As previously announced, next Saturday and Sunday we begin to incorporate some small changes into the celebration of Mass. Most of the changes relate to using a little more Latin. To help you with that, we’ve done two things: 1) our website has a special page where you can listen to audio (with video of lyrics and notation) of all the Latin prayers we say at Mass (on the home page click “Common Mass Parts—Latin”); 2) we will have laminated pew-cards with side-by-side Latin and English in the pews next weekend. As a reminder, these are the changes:
— At all Masses with music (i.e., all Masses except the 7am) we will sing the “Sanctus” (“Holy, Holy, Holy”) in Latin.
— At the 8:45 Mass we will sing the following additional parts in Latin:
1) Opening Greeting: The priest will begin Mass with the Sign of the Cross and Opening Greeting in Latin, and the people will respond in Latin.
2) Mysterium Fidei: After the Consecration, the priest will sing, “Mysterium Fidei,” in Latin, but the people will still respond in English.
3) Per Ipsum: At the end of the Eucharistic Prayer, the priest will sing, “Per ipsum et cum ipso et in ipso….,” in Latin, but the people will still respond with the usual, “Amen.”
4) Pater Noster: Both the priest and the people will sing the “Our Father” in Latin, “Pater noster” (we will practice this together before Mass).
5) Final Blessing and Dismissal: At the very end of Mass the priest will sing/say the final blessing and dismissal in Latin, and the people will respond in Latin.
— At the 8:45 we will use the Communion Rail for folks coming up the main aisle. You may receive Communion either kneeling or standing.
–The choir will sing at the 10:30 Mass, and the Schola will sing at the 8:45.

To date, I have received a lot of feedback on these changes, almost all positive. I hope that all of you will approach these relative minor changes with open minds and hearts. Thanks for your patience and trust.

Election Results. Sadly, the pro-family candidate received only 30% of the votes and lost in last Tuesday’s special election for the at large member of the Fairfax County School Board, leaving us only one pro-family member on the Board. What may be worse, the turnout was only 10%: think of all the thousands of pro-family voters who didn’t even bother to show up. How about you—did you show up? How can we defend the family and our children if we don’t even bother to vote?

Requiescat in Pace. Last Monday, our parish lost a very good man, as Jim Albanese died after a long fight with cancer. Jim leaves behind a young family of his wonderful wife, Andrea, and five young children, his parents (also parishioners), and so many friends. He inspired us all by his love for God and neighbor, and his unyielding devotion to and faith in Jesus and His Catholic Church. Jim especially moved us as he heroically accepted his suffering and death as part of God’s good plan, as mysterious as that is to all of us. He recognized that God had generously given him so many good things in this life, but promised even more and better in the life to come. He especially thanked God for his family, but humbly believed that God loved them even more than he did, and trusted He would always take care of them. Jim was not a saint, so he insisted that people pray for him after he was dead—so, let us pray for his soul! But he was definitely saintly, so I am confident he is on his way home to heaven.

Oremus pro invicem. Fr. De Celles

Twenty-First Sunday in Ordinary Time

I was on vacation much of last week, so I apologize if the following might seem to be hastily put together. I had a very restful vacation, by the way, visiting family in the Midwest. Thanks for your prayers for my safe travel.

CHANGES AT MASSES (continued). Three weeks ago, I announced some changes in the way we offer Sunday Mass at St. Raymond’s. Last week I explained in greater detail some of the changes we’re making at the 8:45 Mass. Today I want to explain my reasons for a change I’m making at the 10:30 Mass.
Once-a-Month Ad Orientem at 10:30 Mass. Beginning October 1, and on every 1st Sunday of every Month (and only on the 1st Sunday) after that, the 10:30am Mass will be celebrated “Ad Orientem,” or “facing East,” facing the same direction as the people sitting in the nave, just as we already do at every 8:45 Mass.
This goes back to the early Christians’ practice 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. Note, it is completely consistent with the norms of Vatican II and the current liturgical rules.
The most important reason for facing “ad orientem” is not, however, that the priest faces East, but rather that he 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 he 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.
In contrast to this, when the priest faces the people there is a natural tendency for them to focus on the priest, and so for him to become the focal point of the celebration. This leads to an overemphasis on the role and importance of the priest, rather than focusing our full attention on God, and, especially, Our Lord in the Eucharist.
Still, some people will insist on seeing this as the priest “turning his back to the people.” Physically, that is accurate. But isn’t it also accurate that almost everyone in the church turns their back on the people sitting behind them? Should we all face each other—a physical impossibility? We can’t and don’t, so why must the priest and people face each other? In reality, if you were all facing each other you would constantly be distracted by each other. But more importantly, if you faced each other with your eyes and bodies during Mass you would have a very hard time praying to God with your hearts and minds. Yes, we are there together, but facing each other naturally draws us first to each other, rather than first to God. When we all turn together our eyes help us to look together at the Lord.
And the same can be said of the priest. If he is facing you during the prayers, it is easy for him to look at you, and 1) be distracted by you and what you’re doing (or not doing), and 2) not to look at the Lord with his heart and mind. But don’t you want him looking at the Lord at the most holy parts of the Mass—don’t you want him to pray for you to Him?
Some would argue that by seeing every little thing that the priest is doing they are able to draw closer to what he’s doing, and to understand it better. There is something to that. But I would make two points in response. First, you see what the priest does at all the many Masses he celebrates facing you, so that once a month when he is not facing you, you still know what he’s doing. But more importantly, I would suggest that sometimes when we watch every little thing the priest is doing we can be distracted from seeing the COLOSSAL thing Christ is doing: by focusing on the minutia of the priest’s movements we can lose site of the enormity of Christ’s movements.
In this regard, as I mentioned last week when I discussed the use of Latin at Mass, some things at Mass can be understood as a “veil that sets these sacred actions and prayers apart from the mundane things of this world.” Latin can serve as this veil, and so can the fact that you cannot see all the minute actions of the priest as he turns toward the Lord. This veil (in effect, his body) “serves not to hide the Eucharist from us but to set it apart as sacred.” Rather than hide the actions of the priest it can draw our attention to the hidden actions of Christ, and enable us to see and hear something beyond what we would normally. “So that through faith, we can pierce the veils of appearances…and truly see…the Lord.”
So, my main reason of introducing “ad orientem” at 10:30 once a month is to help enhance the sense of prayerfulness and focus on God. And isn’t that what we want at Mass? It’s only once a month, but I think it that can help us at all the other Masses we attend.
Finally, I remind you that this practice is strongly encouraged by the man Pope Francis has put in charge of the liturgy of the whole Church, Cardinal Robert Sarah. Consider what Cardinal Sarah has had to say:
“To convert is to turn towards God. I am profoundly convinced that our bodies must participate in this conversion. The best way is certainly to celebrate — priests and faithful — turned together in the same direction: toward the Lord who comes. It isn’t, as one hears sometimes, to celebrate with the back turned toward the faithful or facing them. That isn’t the problem. It’s to turn together toward the apse, which symbolizes the East, where the cross of the risen Lord is enthroned.
“By this manner of celebrating, we experience, even in our bodies, the primacy of God and of adoration…. The Liturgy of the Word justifies the face-to-face…dialogue and the teaching between the priest and his people. But from the moment that we begin to address God — starting with the Offertory — it is essential that the priest and the faithful turn together toward the East….
“…A Church closed in on herself in a circle will have lost her reason for being. For to be herself, the Church must live facing God… One must not allow God reason to complain constantly against us: “They turn their backs toward me, instead of turning their faces!” (Jeremiah 2:27).”

Parish Pictorial Directory. Don’t forget to sign up to have your picture and information in the Directory. You can do so on our parish website or in the narthex after Mass today.

Oremus pro invicem. Fr. De Celles

Twentieth Sunday in Ordinary Time

IMPORTANT: Special Election. Fairfax County School Board at-large Member, Jeanette Hough, recently had to resign her position when her husband was transferred out of country. Remember, Hough was elected 2 years ago to oppose the pro-transgender policies of the Board. This sets up a special county-wide election on August 29 to elect a replacement at-large Member. The only candidate who has stated his opposition to the pro-transgender policy of the current board is Chris Grisafe, who is also pro-life. You decide, you vote. But vote like a Catholic on August 29.

CHANGES AT MASSES (continued). Two weeks ago, I announced some changes in the way we offer Sunday Mass at St. Raymond’s. Today I want to explain my reasons for the changes I’m making at the 8:45 Mass.
Latin at 8:45. For several years now we’ve incorporated more Latin in this Mass than at other Masses. As I explained last week, this is because this is what the Church (Vatican II, the Popes) wants us to do. Moreover, Latin has been the common language of the Catholic Church for 16 centuries, and so, is dramatic sign of our communion with Catholics around the world today and in past centuries. Also, the shift away from our “every-day” language (English) emphasizes that what we are doing is not something ordinary of this world, but a heavenly mystery. Latin is not a barrier that cuts us off, but a veil that sets these sacred actions and prayers apart from the mundane things of this world.
In deciding how we would expand the use of Latin at the 8:45 Mass my first concern was to try to make it as easy for you as possible. So, first I focused on Latin parts that I felt were easy to learn and that it would be good for all Catholics to know. So, we will begin Mass by making the Sign of the Cross in Latin (Actually, I will say it, and you will simply respond, “Amen”). And then we will greet each other in our common language: I will say, “Dominus vobis cum,” and you will respond, “Et cum spiritu tuo” (“The Lord be with you…. And with your spirit”). And we will end Mass in basically the same way, with few additional final words to say goodbye: I say, “Ite missa est,” and you respond, “Deo Gratias” (“Go you are sent out…. Thanks be to God.” How many of you know how to say hello and goodbye in a foreign language: “Hola/Adios,” “Bonjour/Au Revoir,” “Aloha”? Now you will know how to do it in the native tongue of our Catholic family.
I then thought, what is the most common and important Catholic prayer: the “Our Father.” Why don’t we all know it in Latin, so we could say it together throughout the world and throughout the centuries? So, we will sing the “Pater Noster.”
Then I added two parts that you don’t have to say in Latin. The priest will sing: the “Mysterium Fidei” (“The Mystery of Faith”), and the “Per Ipsum” (“Through Him and with Him….”), and you will simply respond in the usual English, “Save us, Savior of the world…” and “Amen.” I added these with the simple idea that we would have Latin at the beginning (the “Sanctus”), middle (“Mysterium Fidei”) and end (“Per Ipsum”) of the Eucharistic Prayer. Again, this will hopefully emphasize the dimensions of unity/communion, mystery and sacredness inherent in the Eucharistic Prayer.
Finally, beginning October 8, on the 2nd Sunday of every month (and only on the 2nd Sunday) the priest will pray the Eucharist Prayer in Latin. This will be the hardest thing to get used to—but it will only be once a month, and it will be an experiment for a few months. But why will we do it? First of all, the “Roman Canon” (Eucharistic Prayer #1) is the most ancient of the various Eucharistic Prayers, originating in Latin in the actual city of Rome, the See of the Pope, around the 5th century. As such, it is a powerful sign of the communion I have written about.
More important, though, is the sense of sacredness and mystery it introduces. This is the most holy, most “otherly,” part of the Mass, and the Latin can help us remember this. It serves as a veil, not to hide the Eucharist from us but to remind us it is set apart as sacred. And it reminds us that this is not everyday event of this world, but an eternal mystery which brings heaven to earth.
Communion Rail. Beginning September 10, there will be a portable altar rail/kneelers in front of the sanctuary. At Communion, the people will come up the main aisle as usual, but then spread out at the altar rail, either kneeling or standing (their choice), to receive Communion. (Note: Communion will continue to be distributed in the transepts as usual).
My 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. Now, it’s true that you don’t need a kneeler to kneel to receive Communion. But without a kneeler it is much more difficult, clumsy, time-consuming and conspicuous than it should be, and therefore discourages most people who would like to kneel. This is really unfair.
But when there’s a kneeler/rail it is much easier for people to kneel down and get up again. 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. Finally, with everyone at the rail, if two people kneel and two people stand, no one stands out. So by adding the Communion Rail, everyone can receive comfortably the way they want, kneeling or standing.
But let me be clear, and not disingenuous: there are great spiritual reasons for kneeling to receive Our Lord. Kneeling is well-established as an important expression of adoration of the Eucharist—and so the Church requires us to kneel during the Eucharistic Prayer and for the “Behold the Lamb of God…” As St. Augustine, taught: “No one eats that flesh without first adoring it; we should sin were we not to adore it.”
Cardinal Robert Sarah (in charge of the liturgy for the whole Church) reminds us of how Pope St. John Paul II gave us an amazing example of this, as he writes: “I simply ask you to recall that at the end of his life of service, a man in a body wracked with sickness, John Paul II could never sit in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament. He forced his broken body to kneel. He needed the help of others to bend his knees, and again to stand. What more profound testimony could he give to the reverence due to the Blessed Sacrament than this, right up until his very last days.”
Taking his great predecessor’s example to heart, in 2008 Pope Benedict XVI required the faithful who received Communion from him to do so kneeling at a kneeler, and Pope Francis has continued this practice.

Oremus pro invicem. Fr. De Celles

Nineteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

CHANGES AT MASSES. Last week I announced some changes in the way we offer
Mass at St. Raymond’s, and I promised to give more detailed explanations of my reasons
for the changes in the coming weeks. So, let me begin by explaining the addition of more
Latin Prayers.
Latin. Why am I adding the “Sanctus” to all Masses where we normally would sing the
“Holy, Holy, Holy,” and adding other Latin prayers to the 8:45 Mass? The reason is
simple: this is what the Church wants us to do.
In 1963, when the bishops at the Second Vatican Council (“Vatican II”) issued
their instructions on the reform of the liturgy, they did not, as most people think, forbid or
otherwise discourage the use of Latin at Mass. In fact, the opposite is true: they decreed
that while the vernacular (e.g., English) could be allowed for few parts of the Mass, Latin
would remain the language of the Mass:
“The use of the Latin language…is to be preserved in the Latin rites…A
suitable place may be allotted to the vernacular in Masses…. Nevertheless,
care must be taken to ensure that the faithful may also be able to say or sing
together in Latin those parts of the Ordinary of the Mass which pertain to
them.” (Sacrosanctum Concilium, 36 and 34, December 4, 1963).
Seeing that the Council’s instruction was largely being ignored, in 1974 Pope Paul
VI sent all the bishops of the world a booklet of the Latin chants of Mass parts that
clearly “pertain” to the faithful, and encouraged the bishops to put them to use.
“This was done in response to a desire which the Holy Father had frequently
expressed, that all the faithful should know at least some Latin Gregorian chants, such
as, for example, the “Gloria”, the “Credo”, the “Sanctus”, and the “Agnus Dei”.
…[W]hen the faithful gather together for prayer … their unity finds particularly apt and
even sensible expression through the use of Latin Gregorian chant.” (Voluntati
Obsequens, Sacred Congregation for Divine Worship, 1974).
Sadly, these instructions continued to be ignored. So, in revising the Roman
Missal in 2000, Pope St. John Paul II added a specific norm, or law, to it:
“….no Catholic would now deny the lawfulness and efficacy of a sacred rite
celebrated in Latin… Gregorian chant should hold a privileged place…It is desirable that
they [the faithful] know how to sing at least some parts of the Ordinary of the Mass in
Latin…” (2000 General Instruction of the Roman Missal, 12 and 41).
Pope Benedict XVI was well known for advocacy of Latin at Mass, and while
Pope Francis has not spoken much about the liturgy, the man he placed in charge of the
liturgy of the whole church, Cardinal Robert Sarah, is very vocal about using Latin at the
Even so, why does the Church want us to use Latin?
A Dramatic Sign of Communion. At the Last Supper, as He instituted the
Eucharist, Jesus repeatedly prayed for unity between Him, His Father, His apostles and
all His disciples. And the Eucharist He gave us that night expresses and brings about this
unity/communion: that’s why we call It “Holy Communion.”
The Mass continuously and unceasingly reflects and expresses this communion.
On any given Sunday, at Masses throughout the world all Catholics see the same types of
vestments, say the same prayers, read the same readings, and kneel, sit and stand at the
same times. All this expresses our communion, and not just with Catholics today, but also
with all those Catholics who lived over the last 15 centuries, including almost all the
great saints we love and cherish, and so many of our beloved ancestors. Because they
also used the same vestments, prayers and gestures we do.
Strange though, that in the midst of all this “sameness” we nevertheless speak
different languages. But that’s not the way it was for so many centuries: wherever you
were in the world, you could go to Mass and speak the same language as at your home
parish. Latin is a sign of the same unity and communion that permeates the rest of the
Mass, a fundamental sign because it is the most important way we communicate with
each other. In short, Latin is a dramatic expression of Eucharistic Communion.
A Dramatic Sign of the Sacred Mysteries. Even so, while Latin is the “common
language” of most of Catholicism, it is not the language in everyday use. But because of
that, Latin helps remind us that the Mass is not an everyday event, but rather an eternal
mystery defying time and space. Latin, especially as the language of centuries and
centuries of Masses offered by so many saints, has the ability to lift us out of the
“everyday” and the “today,” into eternity, past, present and future without end. To take us
out of the mundanity of the world, and move us to the sacredness of heaven. And so, for
example, it makes great sense to sing the song of the angels in heaven (Isaiah 6:3 and
Revelation 4:8), “Holy, Holy, Holy…,” in the sacred language of so many saints,
“Sanctus, Sanctus, Sanctus…”
It is true that our unfamiliarity with Latin can be perceived by some as a sort of
barrier that hides the liturgy. To the extent that is true, the “hiddenness” need not be a bad
thing. Think about it: because of the radical Holiness of God, only Moses was allowed to
go into the Tent of the Lord, and only the priest was allowed to go into the Holy of Holies
in the Temple. While most of the Mass is not hidden from the people, some aspects of
“hiddenness” are still very important to our experience of the Sacred at Mass. Most
importantly, Our Lord Himself is, in a certain sense, hidden from us under the veil of the
appearance of bread. This hiddenness also is found in the silent prayers, and even in the
chanting of the choir, wherein the sacred is hidden, but not to be kept from us, but to
draw us into it. The “veil” acts not so much to hide what is holy, but to “set it apart.” It
draws our attention to what is apparently hidden, and enables us to see, hear and say
something beyond what we would normally do. So that through faith, we can pierce the
veils of appearances, silence and chant, and truly see, speak to and hear from the Lord.
And pierce the veil of Latin and join the Church throughout the world and throughout the
centuries in singing the praises of the Most High God.
Our Seminarian. This is Mike Nugent’s last Sunday with us, as he takes a few weeks off
before returning to St. Charles’ Seminary in Philadelphia at the end of the month. He’s
been a big help these last few weeks, and I think he’s learned a lot as well. I thank him
for his dedication, and promise him that we will all keep him in our prayers as he goes
forward to the priesthood.
Oremus pro invicem. Fr. De Celles

Feast of the Transfiguration of the Lord

PARISH PICTORIAL DIRECTORY. I am happy to announce that we will be publishing a parish Pictorial Directory sometime in the Fall. My main purpose in commissioning this directory is to help us all draw closer to the parish and to each other. The last time we did this was in 2008, and that directory still helps those who have it to match names and faces with folks they see at Mass: maybe someone they’re friendly with but never learned their names, or someone mentioned in the bulletin. In short, it helps us to know each other a little better. I always talk about the parish as a family, the local branch God’s larger family, the Church. But families should know each other’s names, and be able to contact each other. And the directory will help us do this.
But we can’t do this if you don’t come and have your (family’s) picture taken. So, please see the insert in this bulletin, or one of the signs around the church, and schedule an appointment for your picture.
CHANGES AT MASSES. For some time, I’ve been contemplating making a few changes at our Masses at St. Raymond’s. This summer I’ve had some time to seriously think, pray and consult about exactly what I want to do, and how to do it in way that is both beneficial and least disconcerting. Part of me would really like to make a lot more changes, but I know how hard change is on folks.
So, I’ve decided on the changes below, most of which go into effect on and after September 9. I will explain the more important ones in more detail in the coming weeks. Also, to help you with the extra Latin, we will publish a laminated pew-card with side-by-side Latin and English.
All Sunday and Saturday Vigil Masses:
— Communion to Disabled. Beginning this weekend, instead of waiting until the end of Communion to take Communion to the disabled sitting near the middle and back of the church, we will do so at the very beginning of Communion.
— Latin. Beginning September 9 and 10, we will sing the “Holy, Holy, Holy” (the “Sanctus”) in Latin at all Masses with music, in the same way we currently sing the Agnus Dei and Kyrie at those Masses.
Sunday 10:30 Masses:
— Music: Beginning September 9 and 10, the Choir will be moving permanently to 10:30 Mass.
— Latin. Beginning October 1, if the priest is able to, the 10:30 Mass on the 1st Sunday of every Month, will be celebrated “Ad Orientem,” that is, with the priest standing at the altar facing the same direction as the people (as we do at 8:45 Mass). I strongly agree with Cardinal Robert Sarah (the Vatican official in charge of liturgy for the whole Church) that occasional exposure to this form of praying will help us all to appreciate more profoundly several critical aspects of the Mass. Again, it will not be every Sunday, but only once a month on the 1st Sunday.
Sunday 8:45. With the exception of #6 below, the following changes will go into effect
beginning September 9 and 10.
— Music: The Schola (a chorus of 3 accomplished singers) will lead the singing at 8:45 Mass.
— Communion Rail: Before Mass we will set up portable altar rails/kneelers in front of the sanctuary so that the people will have the opportunity to receive Communion kneeling.
The people will come up the main aisle as usual, but then spread out at the altar rail, either kneeling or standing (their choice), to receive Communion. The priests will give Communion walking down the rail, from the outside to the center, and back again. (This is actually faster than the way we usually do it).
This will not affect the Communion lines in the transepts (the side pews by the Cry Room and the Groveland Drive entrance), where Communion will continue to be distributed in single-file lines as usual.
— Latin: A few more parts will be sung in Latin.
1) Opening Greeting: Instead of beginning Mass with, “In the name of the Father…,” the priest will begin saying, “In nómine Patris, et Fílii, et Spíritus Sancti,” and then greet the people with, “Dóminus vobíscum” (“The Lord be with you”). The people respond to the first with “Amen” (as usual) and to the second with, “Et cum spíritu tuo” (“And with your spirit”). Basically, I think it would be good to start things off with Latin, a symbol of our union with the whole Church, both today and through the centuries.
2) Mysterium Fidei: After the Consecration, instead of singing, “The Mystery of Faith,” the priest will sing, “Mysterium Fidei” in Latin, but the people will still respond in English.
3) Per Ipsum: At the end of the Eucharistic Prayer, instead of singing “Through Him and with Him and in Him….,” the priest will sing the prayer in Latin, “Per ipsum et cum ipso et in ipso….,” but the people will still respond with the usual, “Amen.”
4) Pater Noster: Both the priest and the people will sing the “Our Father” in Latin, “Pater Noster.” I know this will be difficult at first, but I really do think that we should all be able to say this most important prayer in Latin, as our favorite saints of centuries past did.
5) Final Blessing: After the closing prayer, instead of saying “The Lord be with you,” the priest will say, “Dominus vobiscum,” and the people will again respond, “Et cum spíritu tuo.” The priest will pronounce the final blessing in Latin, “Benedicat vos, omnipotens Deus, Pater et Fílius et Spíritus Sanctus” (“May Almighty God bless you, the Father…”). Then, instead of saying, “Go in peace” (or some other dismissal), he will say, “Ite missa est” (“Go, you are sent forth”). The people will respond, as usual, with, “Amen.” Just as we began the Mass in Latin, now we end the Mass in Latin.
6) The Roman Canon. Beginning October 8, on the 2nd Sunday of every month (and only on the 2nd Sunday) the priest will pray the Eucharist Prayer in Latin, if he is able. This will be very different, but will not require you to say any Latin, other than the response to the “Mysterium Fidei,” which the Schola will lead you in. I will do this as an experiment for a few months. After that, I will consult the congregation for your thoughts on whether it is prudent to continue.
My dear sons and daughters in Christ, I beg you to please open your minds and hearts to these changes, approaching them with a positive and pious attitude. They are really very few and small, but, I think helpful and important. As you feel free to give me your respectful feedback, be assured I do not make them lightly, but motivated by profound concern for your spiritual benefit. Thanks for your patience and trust.
Oremus pro invicem. Fr. De Celles