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

Fourteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Nota bene: Our Bulletin company’s deadline requires that I submit this column on Friday, June 30, so …


REFLECTIONS ON SEVEN YEARS. On Friday, July 7th, I will begin my eighth year here at St. Raymond’s. In so many ways seven years seems to have passed in the blink of an eye, and yet in other ways it has been a long haul. There have been many, many joys along the way, but a few struggles as well. Continue reading