TEXT: 28th Sunday in Ordinary Time, October 15, 2017

28th Sunday in Ordinary Time

October 15, 2017

Homily by Fr. John De Celles

St. Raymond of Peñafort Catholic Church

Springfield, VA

 

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if somehow everyday we could go to heaven,

and not have to die?

If we could be with our friends and family one minute,

and then with God in heaven the next?

And then back with our family again the next?

 

But the thing is, we can do that—and we do do that

every time we come here to enter into the mystery of the Mass.

 

In today’s Gospel Jesus tells us:

“The kingdom of heaven may be likened to a king

who gave a wedding feast for his son.”

Throughout the Old Testament one of the primary symbols

God uses to explain his relationship with Israel is the image of marriage:

over and over again God calls Himself the Bridegroom,

and Israel His Bride,

using the image of husband and wife to explain

His deep and undying love for His people.

In fact, there are two Old Testament books

that are almost entirely dedicated to this theme:

the Song of Songs and the book of the prophet Hosea.

 

So, we can see that even your average pious Jew listening to Jesus

would have clearly recognized something very important

in the parable in today’s Gospel.

For months they’d been hearing Jesus specifically calling God his “Father”,

and Himself “the son of the father”.

And now they hear Him say:

“The kingdom of heaven may be likened to a king

who gave a wedding feast for his son.”

Not only would they understand that God was the father in the story,

and that Jesus was the son,

but also that Jesus was making Himself

the Bridegroom at the heavenly wedding feast.

And to the pious Jew, the Bridegroom of heaven was God!

–so what they hear is Jesus calling Himself God!!

 

____

This imagery of the Bridegroom and Bride continues to show up

in the Gospel and the rest of the New Testament.

Two important examples are found

in St. Paul’s Letter to the Ephesians and St. John’s Book of Revelation.

 

In Ephesians St. Paul tells husbands:

“Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church

and gave himself up for her.”

At every wedding the groom is supposed to give himself to his bride completely,

to enter into an attitude of loving her that is at its heart self-sacrificing.

On a daily basis he’s supposed to sacrifice his whole life,

giving himself even bodily

–in his physical work for her, and in his physical love for her

and even in being willing to literally die to protect her.

St. Paul tells us that this is what Christ does for His Bride, the Church:

He gave Himself entirely up for and to His Bride, the Church,

when He laid down His life, body and soul,

in the Sacrifice of the Cross.

 

In the Book of Revelation

St. John picks up on this theme of the Bridegroom’s sacrifice,

and ties it back to Jesus’ theme of the wedding feast.

In his vision of heaven,

John tells us that he sees Jesus in heaven standing as

“a Lamb who was slain.”

a reference to the fact that Jesus offered his sacrifice on the Cross

on the very same day as the Jews were offering

the most important sacrifice of the Old Testament:

the sacrifice of the Passover Lamb.

But John also sees a heavenly banquet,

recalling to mind the passage from Isaiah that we read today,

that in heaven:

“the LORD of hosts will provide for all peoples

a feast of rich food and choice wines.”

But this is no ordinary banquet: it is, as St. John tells us:

“the wedding feast of the Lamb” and His Bride the Church.

 

In all this we see the sacrifice of the Cross,

as the total self gift of love of Jesus to and for his Bride,

and the “heavenly wedding feast” as our participation

in that gift of Jesus’ love:

in other words,

our sharing in every good thing God can give us.

 

But the thing is, we don’t have to wait to die to go to this wedding feast.

Because we begin to share in that feast right here on earth,

as we come to participate in the Eucharist.

We remember that on the night before his sacrifice on the Cross,

while He was eating the passover meal with his apostles,

He replaced the sacrificed Lamb of the Jewish Passover meal

with the Bread that he assured his apostles

was his very own Body.

And so every time we come to Holy Mass

and offer and consume the sacrificed lamb of the Cross,

“the lamb of God,”

it’s as if time is suspended,

and heaven opens up, and we’re swept up into the mystery of

the heavenly wedding feast of the Lamb

—the great gift of love between Christ and his Church.

 

____

The thing is, this marital love is not a one-way street:

as Christ gives himself to his Bride,

the Church is also called to give herself completely to her Husband

—to dedicate her whole life to loving him.

And Jesus tells us how to love Him at the last supper.

Just minutes before He gave us the Eucharist,

and only hours before He went to the Cross,

He tells the apostles the secret to loving Him:

          “If you love me, you will keep my commandments.”

So that Jesus makes it absolutely clear:

His bride must keep the commandments if she is to be His loving bride,

if she is to enter into the wedding feast

—in heaven and in the Eucharist.

 

Now, one of the problems with the wedding analogy

is that it applies to the Church as whole—one bride–

so that individuals might have a hard time easily relating to it.

It’s true we can say each Christian is part of the Bride,

and in a certain way each one of us is a Bride of Christ.

But it’s not the easiest analogy to relate to—especially for men.

 

It seems to me that Jesus, who knows everything, understood this,

and because He wanted to make the point

that the invitation to the wedding feast

extends to each and every individual human being,

He added the twist of the “invited guests.

And this works, because each guest at the feast

is invited to join in the love of the couple

and share in all the good things that flow from that love–the feast.

 

_____

In today’s Gospel we read how at the wedding feast of heaven

the Father sends His servants out saying:

“The feast is ready…. Invite…whomever you find.’

The servants …gathered all they found, bad and good alike.”

This reminds us how generous the Lord is

to invite both the righteous and sinners to come to His kingdom.

Unfortunately, sometimes we can delude ourselves with this passage,

thinking that since God invites everyone to heaven and to Mass,

that everyone should actually enter heaven

and receive Holy Communion.

But according to the parable,

not everyone who is invited to the wedding,

gets to stay for supper.

Jesus goes on to explain that when the king discovered a guest

“not dressed in a wedding garment”

he had him bound and “cast him into the darkness outside.”

And He concludes: “Many are invited, but few are chosen.”

 

God invites all of us to His Son’s wedding banquet,

both in heaven, and in the Eucharist.

But He also tells us to prepare ourselves for the banquet

—and if we’re not prepared, He will not let us take part in, or eat, the feast.

 

____

Consider how the parable tells us how God judges who is prepared:

he looks at his wedding garment.

 

What is the wedding garment?

In the Book of Revelation, St. John tells us that the saints in heaven

wear white robes, as an angel explains:

“they have washed their robes and made them white

in the blood of the Lamb.”

Because of this, at our baptism, each of us was physically clothed in white,

symbolizing that we had been washed clean in the blood of the Lamb.

And that’s why the priest and the servers wear white garments:

to symbolize their baptism,

and to symbolize that at Mass they are standing with the saints in heaven,

clothed in white at the wedding feast of the Lamb.

 

These outward white garments are only symbols,

but they remind us of how all of who wish to partake

of the wedding feast of heaven

—either when we die, or right here at Holy Mass—

must prepare beforehand, and present ourselves cleaned from sin,

especially the grotesque stains of mortal sins.

 

So How do you prepare yourself for Heaven and for Mass?

Is your spiritual garment the glorious white robe of the saints—unstained by sin?

 

Now, most of come here with at least some, if not many,

venial, or small, sins on our souls

–like specks of dirt or lent or crumbs, they don’t ruin the garment completely,

but we need to brush them off so we can be presentable.

And so we ask the Lord to forgive them all through the Mass,

especially in prayers like the Confiteor,

or the “Lord I am not worthy…” right before Communion.

And like a friend who puts the final touches

on the bride’s gown or the groom’s suit right before the wedding,

Christ will forgive them.

 

Sadly, though, sometimes we come to Mass with unrepented mortal sins,

which so disfigure the wedding garment that it’s not fit to be worn to the feast.

Like a white suit or dress that’s been rolled in the mud

and needs to go to a dry cleaner, and maybe even to a seamstress,

this garment has to go through the special cleaning and repair process

–given to us by Jesus Himself–

of a confessing and repenting before a priest, and being absolved by him,

in the Sacrament of Penance.

Otherwise, it really isn’t a wedding garment,

it looks nothing like the white robes of the saints at the heavenly feast.

 

Most of us would never go to a wedding

dressed in anything less than our absolutely best clothes.

But all too many Catholics expect to come and eat

at the wedding feast of the Lamb,

wearing the spiritually and morally tattered rags that are their mortal sins.

 

____

In a few minutes I will hold up the Body of Jesus Christ for all to see

and proclaim:

“Behold the Lamb of God,

behold Him who takes away the sins of the world.

Blessed are those called to the supper of the Lamb.”

–a direct reference to the heavenly wedding feast

come down to this altar.

Think carefully, and search your soul, and ask yourself:

have I prepared well for the wedding feast,

have I been living the life of love

in truly keeping with the Commandments,

have I been purified of mortal sins by the sacrament of Confession,

and do I now repent all my venial sins?

Do I present myself in the wedding garment of the saints,

or I clothed in the rags of sin.

 

____

The Lord Jesus tells us, “The kingdom of heaven may be likened to a king

who gave a wedding feast for his son”

But he also says of those who are not prepared for the feast:

“Many are invited, but few are chosen.”

As we move more deeply into the mystery of this Holy Mass, this Eucharist,

this foretaste of heavenly wedding feast,

let us rejoice and give thanks for this invitation

to share in the Love of the Bridegroom and His Bride.

But let us also examine ourselves with all truth and humility.

May we never either be emboldened by our sins so as to ignore them,

or be discouraged by our sins so as to allow them

to keep us from preparing for the feast.

May all receive the Lord Jesus worthily, at every Mass, and for eternity in Heaven.

Twenty Eighth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Another Promise Kept. President Trump’s personal behavior continues to cause me angst: his caustic insults, his petty attacks (even against his allies), his egotistical sense of humor, etc. But, love him or hate him, he keeps coming through on campaign promises that caused many good Catholics to vote for him. Last week he kept another, officially creating a valid and workable conscience-clause exception to his predecessor’s despicable “Contraceptive mandate,” an exception that would apply to every business and organization. As the Washington Times reported:
“The Health and Human Services Department said colleges, faith-based nonprofits and for-profit companies can now avoid the mandate by claiming a religious or moral objection and without submitting a form. Publicly traded companies must pinpoint a religious objection to claim an exemption. “We will not allow people of faith to be targeted, bullied or silenced anymore,” said Roger Severino, director of HHS’s Office of Civil Rights.”
The Little Sisters of the Poor and all Catholic employers are no longer required to compromise their moral beliefs to satisfy the secular god of contraception/abortion/sexual-promiscuity. Praised be Jesus Christ! And God bless the President for keeping his word.

Some thoughts about Columbus Day. In the last few decades some have called for the end of the celebration of Columbus Day, as they have either accused Christopher Columbus of personal atrocities and racism against the indigenous people he encountered, or simply cast him essentially as a symbol of the European “invasion” of the Americas and the subsequent “oppression” of the indigenous peoples.
There is no doubt that Columbus was no saint: although a man of great faith, he was a deeply flawed sinner. Which is why the Church has never canonized him. And the colonization of the Americas was not without flaws and atrocities.
But Columbus was also a great man in many ways: he was amazingly courageous, with an indefatigable zeal for exploration and an indomitable resolve. He truly discovered a whole “New World,” both for the Europeans, in an obvious sense, but also for the indigenous peoples of North and South America who also had a whole “new world” open to them. And the exploration of the New Word that he initiated brought about great things, not the least of which was ending the indigenous atrocities like human sacrifice. In any case, it dramatically changed the world forever.
So, Columbus is not honored for his despicable sins, either personal or symbolic, but for his noble achievements, and the world-changing effect they had on history.
Consider this: In the course of my dozen or so trips to Rome, as I’ve explored that ancient city I’ve seen statues of dozens of Roman Emperors—even statues of some of the most vicious anti-Christian Emperors. Now, these statues stand in Catholic Rome not because the Romans admire the ancient emperors for cruelly conquering and oppressing most of the known world at the time, or for persecuting Jews and Christians for three centuries. And they honor them not because it was Cesar’s representative in Jerusalem who condemned Jesus to death, or because Cesar’s soldiers nailed Him to the cross.
No, the Romans honor the noble accomplishments of their ancient emperors, e.g., ultimately bringing peace to a savage and violent world, building a system of safe transportation, establishing commerce and amicable relations between various peoples, establishing a logical system of just laws, etc. They celebrate and are inspired by these accomplishments, while also recognizing and abhorring their atrocities. These are the flawed but “great” figures of their storied and amazing history— “great” not simply in the sense of “good” or “noble,” but in the sense of momentous and history-making/defining.
If each of us could remember only the evil we had done in our past, our lives would be devoid of hope, and we’d be stuck wallowing in despair. But we don’t do that. Rather, each of us looks to the times when we were good and when we accomplished what we set out to, and while we remember and repent our sins and failures, these successes encourage us to try again, to strive to be as good as we know we can be.
The same is true with history and historical characters. Imagine if history remembered only the bad things historical characters had done in their lives. We would have no heroes, no one to look to for inspiration or emulation (except, of course, Jesus, and Mary). But we need heroes, and we need to remember the great feats they did so that we can be encouraged to imitate them and strive for great feats ourselves.
All of our historic heroes are flawed, some deeply. But while recognizing their flaws, we do not let those stop us from holding up their great accomplishments for admiration and inspiration. Whether it’s Christopher Columbus or George Washington or Franklin Roosevelt—or our parents or grandparents. Or even, our better selves.

Feast of St. John XXIII. Last Wednesday, October 11, was the feast day of Pope St. John XXIII (“the 23rd”). Pope for less than 5 years, from 1958-1963, he is probably most famous for his amiable disposition (they called him “good Pope John”), and for convening the Second Vatican Council. On a personal note, born in the middle of his papacy, I was named after him.
It always amuses me to note how Pope St. John is considered to be sort of the patron saint of all those who think the Church has to change its dogmas and doctrines, and has to discard everything that came before Vatican II. Clearly, they really don’t know St. John, or the Council, as both loved and embraced Catholic tradition, and merely wanted to proclaim that tradition in new ways that modern man could better understand.
When I receive the occasional letter/email complaining about something I say or do, it seems inevitably to include something like, “Vatican II changed all that.” I have to smile, because they are usually espousing the exact opposite of the Council. This is often the case when someone is upset about our liturgies, especially our use of Latin at Mass. Again, I smile, remembering that the Council wrote: “The use of the Latin language…is to be preserved in the Latin rites… [C]are must be taken to ensure that the faithful may also be able to say or sing together in Latin … [the prayers] of the Mass” [Sacrosanctum Concilium, 36, 1963]. And I am inspired by my namesake, “good Pope John,” who wrote: “[Bishops] shall be on their guard lest anyone under their jurisdiction…writes against the use of Latin …in the liturgy….” [Veterum Sapientia, 2, 1962].

Oktoberfest. Next Saturday evening, October 21, our Knights of Columbus are sponsoring an evening of delicious German food and live music. Besides being a very fun event, this is a great way to meet new friends and become more involved in the parish. Please join us!

Oremus pro invicem. Fr. De Celles

TEXT: 27th Sunday in Ordinary, October 8, 2017

27th Sunday in Ordinary Time

October 8, 2017

Homily by Fr. John De Celles

St. Raymond of Peñafort Catholic Church

Springfield, VA

 

October, has, for years,

been designated by the Catholic Bishops in America

as “Respect Life Month.”

So, as I have for the last 22 years,

this month, particularly today, I will preach on the topic of respecting life:

specifically, on the evil of abortion.

 

But I gotta tell you, part of me wonders: Why? What good does it do?

After all these years of 1000’s of priests, bishops and Popes,

proclaiming the Gospel of Life

so many Catholics still don’t understand

that abortion is destroying not only

the lives of millions of unborn babies, and their mothers,

but also, mankind’s fundamental respect for all aspects human life.

 

Sometimes I feel a bit like those servants we read about in today’s Gospel:

“he sent his servants to the tenants ….

But … one they beat,

another they killed,

and a third they stoned.

Again, he sent other servants…. but they treated them in the same way.”

 

Now, it’s true, no one has stoned or killed me

or any other priest I know for preaching pro-life.

True: but they’ve done worse: they don’t listen, and

continue to either support or to vote for those who support

the killing of the most innocent human beings in abortion.

 

Why don’t Catholics get it?

The last few years one particular reason seems to stand out.

It seems that sometimes we allow the term “pro-life” or “respect-life”

to have a mixed or ambiguous meaning

that winds up confusing Catholics

regarding the fundamental issues and priorities involved.

 

So, let’s clarify something: what does it mean to “respect life”?

 

Now, as Christians, we are called to respect the life of all human beings

because each one of us is created in the image of God,

and shares a unique dignity and life given by God himself.

But it doesn’t take a Christian or even a religious person to see this:

every rational human being should understand

that the life of every human being demands respect.

 

But how far do the demands of respect go?

Does respect for human life demand that if someone attacks me,

I can’t defend myself,

even if they’re trying to kill me?

What about if they’re trying to kill my children?

 

Does it mean countries can’t go to war for a grave reason,

even if their attacked or fight to liberate the oppressed?

Does it mean that we can never punish a criminal,

or deny immigration to an alien?

Going even further, does it mean you can’t provide for yourself or your family

before you provide for a stranger?

 

“Respect” is a big word, and respect for human life is very demanding.

But there are limitations.

Common sense, and the Church, teach us that there is

a certain hierarchy and order in human life, and so in the ways of respect.

For example:

we place duty to family ahead of duty to strangers,

we respect individual responsibility and free will,

and we recognize that some human choices don’t deserve respect

because they are contrary to human dignity.

 

Now, it can be very confusing to figure out all the various duties and demands

of respecting human life.

But to begin to do this we need to keep in mind the fundamentals

—the most basic and important principles

set the priority and order of everything that follows.

 

So what is the most fundamental demand of respecting human life?

It’s not to hard to figure out on our own, but again God helps us by commanding:

“thou shall not kill.”

If we look carefully at Scripture

we discover that this has a precise but pretty basic common sense meaning:

one can never ever intentionally and directly

kill an innocent human being.

Notice the three key terms: intentionally, directly and innocent.

This is the most fundamental principle of respecting human life.

And so it is absolute and without exception.

 

And as we sort of move away from situations

where this fundamental principle directly applies

we see that all the other demands of respect for life

come from it and relate back to it,

even as they become more subtle,

allowing for different non-absolute responses.

 

So, for example, the first step away might be the case of self-defense.

If someone is trying to kill you he is not innocent,

so the principle in it’s most absolute form does not apply.

You still have to respect the person’s non-innocent life,

but not at the cost of your own innocent life:

you can fight back, even taking his life to save yours.

 

Or take another step.

You’re driving at a normal speed

and suddenly someone rushes into the road and you hit him.

Respect for life requires you to try not to hit him

—but if it’s unavoidable,

if you un-intentionally hit him, you have not failed to respect his life.

 

Walk way down that road now.

Say a man comes to you demanding money for food.

You know he’s healthy and employable, but he’s lazy and chosen not to work.

If you refuse his request for help do you fail to respect life?

He was not innocent, and you did not intend for him to starve.

So respect for his life did not require that you help him.

In fact, you could reasonably argue that respect required you to scold him,

to have more respect for himself: “go get a job.”

As St. Paul says elsewhere: “If any one will not work, let him not eat.”

 

The point is: we begin with the fundamental rule, and that orders all the rest.

And the flipside of this is equally important:

if we don’t observe the fundamental rule,

none of the rest have any order or make any sense.

 

____

Elsewhere in Scripture Jesus talks about:

“a foolish man who built his house upon the sand;

the rain fell, and the floods came, and …that house, …fell.”

And in today’s Gospel Jesus reminds us:

“The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone.”

The cornerstone of respecting human life

is the absolute right to life of innocent human beings.

Pull that cornerstone out, and like a house built on sand in a flood,

the whole house will fall.

 

If we don’t understand that duty to protect innocent human life,

what would ever make us think we’re required us to,

for example, feed the hungry,

even when they truly cannot help themselves?

How do we know that one nation may not attack another without a just cause?

All of our high-minded ideals of justice and duty and respect

are nonsense, if not grounded in the most simple, basic and fundamental

principle of respect for innocent life.

 

_____

And so we come to abortion, which is unarguably the killing of

the most innocent and defenseless of human beings.

And talk about abortion obviously has public and even political ramifications,

especially just one month before state elections.

 

Some people argue that there are more important issues at stake than abortion.

But what can be more important than the systematic promotion

of the abuse of most fundamental moral principle,

attacking the most fundamentally innocent?

A million abortions a year, more than 50 million in 38 years,

and millions more to come?

 

Or they say that even if abortion is the most important single issue,

lots of other smaller issues combine to outweigh it.

Some people say they show their respect for life by working for

the end of the death penalty,

health care for the uninsured,

prosperity for the poor and middle classes,

and for the rights of immigrants.

Let’s set aside the fact that good people—even Good Catholics—

can disagree about each of these issues and others like them;

for example, contrary to what some bishops and priests think,

the Church officially teaches that sometimes

the death penalty is allowed and even necessary.

But what sense do these lesser issues make

and how can we understand the right way to approach them,

if our understanding of them is not founded upon the issue:

absolute respect for the right to life of innocent human beings?

And how can we trust someone to promote and value these subsidiary issues,

when he rejects the cornerstone issue?

It’s like putting up the windows or the doors of a house

before you lay the foundation

—they’ll either blow away in the wind

or some dishonest person will come and walk off with them.

 

For example, how can we trust a politician

with making the right decision about health care rights

—a decision that embodies a true respect for life—

when the politician can’t understand that a baby’s right to health care

exists only when it has life,

that health without life is literally meaningless.

 

Some argue that we need to fix our immigration policy:

some say we need to crack down and seal the borders,

others say we need to open the borders and end alleged discrimination.

Again, contrary what some bishops and priests seem to think,

good Catholics can disagree with on this issue,

and question each other’s judgments,

but why would we think politicians

who enthusiastically embrace unquestionably unjust attacks

on the most defenseless and innocent members

of our own society—the unborn—

would avoid unjustly harming immigrants in the future?

It’s like voting for a member of the Klan

because he claims to support minority voting rights.

 

Some even argue that current economic issues require us

to ignore abortion in order to fix our fiscal house

–and I agree that our fiscal problems are hugely important.

But how do you begin to count the cost of millions of aborted innocents?

How do you weigh on a scale

10’s of millions of babies against trillions of dollars of debt?

Would you take a trillion dollars to kill your neighbor’s child?

Sounds a bit like Judas accepting 30 pieces of silver

for betraying the perfectly innocent one.

“What does it profit a man, to gain the whole world and forfeit his life?”

 

And in a certain sense, it doesn’t matter if it’s 1 million babies or only 1 baby:

anyone who’s moral system,

whose sense of respecting human life,

promotes and defends the death of even one innocent human life

in order to achieve some perceived good of many others

is a fool and a reprobate.

This logic is nothing new:

Caiaphas, the high priest who condemned Jesus to death, once said:

“it is better that one man should die for the people,

than the whole nation perish.”

One wonders if Caiaphas was in the group of “chief priests”

that Jesus was talking to in today’s Gospel.

 

____

Speaking of priests,

some of you may be tired of priests preaching about abortion.

Friends, frankly, I agree with you.

But remember how Jesus chastised the Jewish priests for their failures:

for rejecting the prophets—and him!

So as long as human life is so fundamentally disrespected by so many Catholics

that they fail to rise up with all other like-minded pro-life Americans,

and crush the plague of abortion in this country,

God Himself will continue to send His servants, His priests,

and they must do their best to try to collect what is due Him:

respect for the truth, and respect for human life.

 

_____

But priests are not the only servants He sends.

Each of you is also His servant.

So act like it, and go out into the world you live in

and proclaim the Gospel of Life.

Demand, with charity and clarity—and never with violence—

that human life be respected, especially in the most fundamental way:

respect for the life of the innocent and defenseless unborn.

And make that demand known wherever God sends you

—at home, at work, at school, at play,

and in the voting booth.

 

_____

Friends, Christ is the cornerstone of our faith and of our life itself.

And He has taught us to recognize that common sense dictates

we must respect every human being

as having a unique dignity and life given by God himself.

And He has taught us that the cornerstone of that respect for life

is respect for the right to life of the most innocent and defenseless among us.

If we would not reject Christ the cornerstone,

let us not reject this cornerstone of respect for human life.

 

Twenty Seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time

Las Vegas. Our hearts go out to all the victims and their families of the Las Vegas mass shooting last week. Most especially, we pray for the souls of the dead, who died so unexpectantly without a chance to confess their sins or otherwise repent before the Lord.
And let us pray also for the shooter. We should not forget the horror of what he did or deny the pain he has caused. But as the Lord reminds us we must love even our enemies. So, in love, we pray for his soul: love the sinner, hate the sin. Although we can and should objectively judge him to be a terrible sinner, we cannot pass final judgment on whether God will forgive him somehow, knowing that God alone knows the fullness of our hearts and the freedom with which we act. So, while his acts themselves clearly merit eternal damnation to hell, God may see something else we don’t see—He might even have seen him sincerely repent as the last bullet fired. So we pray for him, even as we recognize clearly the terrible sins he committed.
And we pray for ourselves: that we may not meet our death without the ability to confess or repent. By the way: go to confession!
It is hard to understand what is happening to our nation and culture that things like this keep happening. We can sort of wrap our minds around assaults by Islamist terrorists—they have declared war and we understand (at least intellectually) their irrational and hateful motivation. But this kind of mass violence, whether for political purposes or for no apparent reason, is just mind boggling.
But I can’t help but think it is the reflection of the culture of death built up by society’s rejection of the foundational respect for innocent human life, especially of the unborn. A society that encourages the murder of innocent babies necessarily undermines respect for all innocent life.
There will be a lot of calls in the coming days for increased gun control. Since the Church has no traditional teaching directly governing this, it is clearly largely a matter for individual consciences. But I will remind you that Church tradition does teach two important principles which apply in this debate: on the one hand, we have a duty to protect innocent human life through reasonable laws constraining dangerous behavior, and on the other hand, we have a personal duty and right to use necessary force to personally protect innocent life (ourselves and others). So, while some weapon restrictions are morally justified, we cannot ignore the moral right to defend ourselves and others. Finding the proper balance of these two principles is up for reasoned and charitable debate. As for the constitutional question, that is another matter….
But regardless of gun laws, as long as our society continues to promote abortion, not to mention the murder of the sick or elderly in euthanasia, it seems to me we will continue to see the terrible effects on our cultural. So let’s work on this above all: building a culture of life that respects all innocent human life, beginning with the unborn, that makes it unthinkable for anyone, anywhere, to intentionally kill any innocent human life.

Ambulance at Mass. At last Sunday’s 8:45 Mass one of our parishioners had an emergency that necessitated the intervention of the County EMS and a ride to the hospital. I’m glad to report that the woman was only suffering from a temporary illness, and is at home now, safe and sound. But let me share with you part of the note she sent to me:
“The parishioners around me were so helpful and comforting. One of the ushers…held my hand, told me I was going to be just fine, very reassuring.…He then came onto the ambulance… He called my friend and gave her hospital information. An angel on earth. I wanted to let you know how grateful I am to be part of such a wonderful parish community.”
We are part of a “wonderful parish.” Thanks to all who were helpful to her, especially the ushers (and that particular usher) for their calm and kind intervention. In fraternal charity let us keep her in prayer.
One more thing. I’m told Fr. Smith was unaware of what had happened during the Mass, and continued offering the Mass without interruption. This is actually not unusual or unexpected. The priest tries to focus on the Mass itself, to be taken up and totally absorbed in the prayer, sacrifice and adoration, so that he would normally not notice something unusual in the congregation. Moreover, since most present couldn’t directly help the woman, the greatest things they could do, especially the priest, was/is to pray for them—and so continue with the Mass.

Welcome Back, Choir. I have forgotten to welcome back our choir after their summer off. I have to say I miss them at the 8:45 Mass, but I think moving them to the 10:30 Mass was the right thing, since they will be able to serve more folks in that larger congregation. Thanks to all choir members for all you do to add beauty to the celebration at our parish worship. As is the case every year, we lost a few members over the summer, folks who moved away from the area. I understand we picked up a couple of new members, but we still need more members.
Remember, you don’t have to be a virtuoso to be in the choir—Elisabeth Turco (our choir director) can do wonders bringing various talents and gifts together to give glory to God. Please contact to her to talk about joining the choir (703-506-4644, turcoe@aol.com).

Fairfax Public Schools. By now many of you have settled back into your classes at the Fairfax Public Schools. Remember to stand strong in your Catholic faith and common sense, especially against the brainwashing of the secular elites who want to bully you into supporting sexual promiscuity, same-sex sexual relationships and marriage, the transgender agenda, and abortion. In this regard, please (parents) consider “OPT-ing OUT” of the schools’ Family Life Education (FLE), at least those parts that specifically seek to undermine what we teach our kids about the true meaning of family life. Also, be supportive of good teachers and administrators who are trying to live their Christian faith and common reason in the schools. Many of our parishioners work and teach in FCPS trying to do the Lord’s work. So support them, with your kindness and with your prayers.

November 7 State Elections. On November 7 Virginians have the chance to vote for their next governor, lieutenant governor, attorney general, state senators and delegates. Remember what the Catechism of the Catholic Church (2240) teaches us that it is “morally obligatory …to exercise the right to vote…”
The deadline to register to vote is October 16th, and deadline to request an absentee ballot is October 31, 2017. For more information stop by the table in the narthex this weekend, or go to https://www.elections.virginia.gov/voter-outreach/.

Oremus pro invicem. Fr. De Celles

TEXT: 26th Sunday in Ordinary Time, October 1, 2017

26th  Sunday in Ordinary Time

October 1, 2017

Homily by Fr. John De Celles

St. Raymond of Peñafort Catholic Church

Springfield, VA

 

This last week I was on vacation with three of my brother priests.

I had a very relaxing time, playing golf, seeing some movies, watching sports,

and just goofing off.

It’s good to get away, to put the problems of the world around us aside,

and just relax and refresh.

 

And there are a lot of problems: the world seems to be in a mess.

On a global scale,

we have the threats of Islam-ist terrorism and nuclear proliferation,

not to mention the decline of Western culture and morality in general.

On a national level, we have the problems of

rising leftist-anarchism, anti-Americanism, racism, lawlessness,

and economic hardship,

not to mention the political confusion in Washington.

On a cultural level we have attacks against

freedom of speech, conscience and religion,

as well as on traditional moral values, and common sense itself.

Not to mention the promotion of greed and envy among both the rich and poor,

the glorification of hatred and destruction of those who disagree with you,

and redefinition of the meaning of words like love and truth.

And then we have increasing problems in the Church,

as confusion spreads over teaching and the papal authority.

 

Today, the American Bishops call us to reflect on

one of the most terrible problems in a particular way:

today is “Respect Life Sunday,”

and the beginning of “Respect Life Month,”

reminding us of a fundamental problem

that is both a symptom and a cause

of so many of our other terrible cultural problems today:

that is, the scourge of abortion,

the willful murder of the most innocent human life, an unborn baby.

 

Think about it.

Abortion erodes the fundamental respect

for the dignity and worth of every human life.

If you don’t have to protect an innocent baby, who do you have to protect?

If you don’t have a right to life, what other right do you really have?

—without life, no other rights exist!

If mothers and fathers can be convinced it’s okay to kill their own children,

what is the worth and meaning of being a mother or father,

or being a family?

 

And if babies have no value, then it’s ridiculous to argue,

as society has for thousands of years,

that marriage and sex are largely about having and protecting babies

—if babies are useless, then how can marriage and sex

gain any meaning from them,

so sex and marriage have nothing to do with

the reproductive union of male and female,

and so you can have sex with or marry anyone you want

–males can marry males, mothers can marry their daughters.

And really then, sexuality, or “gender,” loses a lot of its meaning too.

 

And then of course, if babies are useless and without dignity or rights,

what could be wrong with killing unborn Black babies:

so even though Blacks make up only 13 percent of our population

35 percent of abortions in the U.S. are of Black babies.

 

Abortion, as I say, is both a symptom and a cause

of many of the other terrible problems today:

it is related to the rise of racism, sexism, pornography, homosexuality,

transgenderism, divorce, greed, envy, poverty, violence,

religious persecution,

and a general decline in patriotism and respect for the rule of law.

 

____

Of course, abortion is not the cause of every problem, directly or indirectly.

But the same things that cause abortion

also cause most of our most terrible problems

—that’s what I mean by abortion being a “symptom.”

So, abortion doesn’t cause terrorism,

but abortion and terrorism are both caused by

the same profound lack of respect for innocent human life.

 

And that in turn is rooted in a fundamental lack of understanding

of why human life is so important.

All decent people, in our guts, by our nature, by common sense,

seem to understand that innocent human life is different from other life:

human life is different, better, higher

than the life of trees, or bugs, or cows.

And innocent human life is different from non-innocent human life,

life corrupted by willful evil choices:

it’s natural, common sense, to think that

it’s okay to do violence to a person who’s about to murder your son, and not okay to do violence to a child playing on a swing.

 

But why is that—why is human life special?

Christians and Jews, and the cultures they formed all over the world,

tell us it’s because God made us different

“little less than the angels” …. “in the image and likeness of God.”

And governments throughout the last 1600 years are founded on this principle.

Even our own government, as we read in the Declaration of Independence:

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, [common sense]

that all men are created equal, …endowed by their Creator

with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life….”

 

Sadly, the world had lost sight of both

this common sense/natural understanding of the dignity of human life,

and the Judeo-Christian explanation of where it comes from.

So that is not surprising that the rise of so many of our terrible problems

we have today

coincides with the rise the rejection of traditional Christianity,

that began in the early 1900s and is reaching its new highs today.

 

Man has turned away from God,

or perhaps turned toward a different kind of god.

 

The very first Commandment of the Judeo-Christian Decalogue is:

“I am the LORD your God: you shall not have strange Gods before me.”

More and more our society is turning away from the God of the Bible,

and even the God of the Declaration of Independence,

and turning toward other false gods.

The false gods of wealth, pleasure and selfishness.

The false god of a total license to do whatever you want.

The false god of hatred against those who disagree with you.

And most especially, the false gods of popular opinion,

or our own personal opinion.

 

And so more and more we turn away from God

and toward ourselves, as a group or as individuals.

But we are not God—and so disaster.

 

____

How do we fix this?

Well, we begin by turning back to God.

Specifically, we Christians turn back to Christ

and invite everyone we know to join us.

 

In today’s first reading St. Paul tells us:

“Have in you the same attitude that is also in Christ Jesus,

Who, though he was in the form of God,

did not regard equality with God something to be grasped.

Rather, he emptied himself…coming in human likeness;

…he humbled himself, becoming obedient to…death,…death on a cross.”

 

Jesus was truly God the Son, but he didn’t cling to his Divine Rights

when it was time for Him to humbly obey His Father

and become a human being to die on the Cross for us.

 

And yet we, who are merely lowly creatures created by God,

pretend to be equal to God.

 

_____

If this doesn’t change, the problems that plague us will only get worse

and destroy us—in this life and in the life to come.

But it can change.

 

In today’s Gospel Jesus tells the parable of

a son who first tells his father “no,” “but afterwards changed his mind”

and obeyed his father.

Jesus goes on to point out that sinners can change their minds too,

and be saved.

 

And today’s first reading from the Prophet Ezekiel tells us the same thing:

“if [a man] turns from the wickedness he has committed,

and does what is right and just,

he shall preserve his life;

since he has turned away from …sins …he shall not die.”

 

Friends, what our world, nation and culture, and even our Church, needs

is for us all to turn away from the false gods we’ve created

that lead us to sins and the terrible consequences that come from them,

and to turn back to the true God, revealed to us in Jesus Christ.

We have to stop clinging to the false gods we have made ourselves out to be

—either individually or as a society or community—

and take on the same attitude as Jesus,

not grasping on to some ridiculously false sense of equality with God

but rather humbling ourselves, becoming obedient,

even if it means we have to suffer a little, or even a lot,

even as became “obedient to the point of death…. on a cross.”

 

We need to turn away from these false gods and turn toward the Lord,

turn toward God the Father and His Son Jesus Christ,

at whose name

“every knee should bend, …

in heaven and on earth and under the earth.”

 

____

For some time now, great men in the Church have been promoting the idea

that a powerful way to remind ourselves of this “turning toward the Lord”

is to revive the centuries old tradition

of the Church of turning toward the Lord at Mass.

That is, the whole Church, people and priest, gathered at the Mass together,

turning together to face the same direction

as a sign of their unity in turning together to worship the Father,

through Jesus, in the Holy Spirit.

Great men from the very-white German theologian-turned-Pope, Benedict XVI,

to the very-black African pastor-turned-Prefect for Divine Worship,

Cardinal Robert Sarah,

have called us to this practice.

 

In doing so they have repeatedly pointed out

that the overemphasis on the priest turning to face the people

during the Mass

reflects our overemphasis on turning toward each other

to find the answer to our problems.

They point out how the turning together toward God in prayer,

in humility, in obedience,

can help us to regain the proper attitude of Christ,

of not clinging to a false divinity, but embracing obedience to the true God.

Symbolically recognizing that all of us, including the priest,

need to, as Ezekiel reminds us today,

turn from the wickedness we have committed.

Not to turn our backs on each other, but to turn with each other toward God.

 

____

For some time now, we’ve celebrated our Sunday 8:45 Mass this way,

where after the Prayer of the Faithful,

during the most important prayers of the Mass,

including the offering of the sacrifice and the Consecration,

the priests stands at the altar facing the same direction as the people

—we usually call it “facing east” or “ad orientem.”

Today, we expand that practice to this/the 10:30 Mass

—and will do this from now on the first Sunday of every month.

 

There are lots of reasons for doing this,

but I think this counterculture symbolism I’ve just discussed

may be the most important

—at least the most powerful on a practical level.

I know it’s not easy for everyone to get used to

—that’s why most of our Masses will continue as usual,

with the priest facing the people.

But I think that having this symbol at some of our Masses

can be a powerful reminder of the need for all of us

not to depend merely or primarily on ourselves, individually or together,

to solve our problems.

Yes, we need to work together,

but depending primarily on the power, wisdom and mercy of God.

 

_____

The world is mess—from terrorism, to sexual immorality,

to killing our own unborn babies.

And all this is because of sin—because we have made ourselves into gods.

As we now move more deeply into the great and holy mystery of this Holy Mass,

let us remember that in the Eucharist we stand at the very foot of the Cross,

where Jesus once

“humbled himself, becoming obedient to the point of death,

even death on a cross.”

And so let us turn together toward the Lord,

either physically, or metaphorically.

So that we may leave here today and go out into our very troubled world,

always turning toward the Lord,

by taking on the attitude of Jesus,

not clinging to some false equality with God,

but humbling ourselves and becoming obedient to Him.

Twenty Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Today is “Respect Life Sunday,” beginning “Respect Life Month,” in which the American Bishops call us to remember that thousands of innocent American babies are killed every day by abortions, over 1 million a year, for a total of almost 60 million dead since 1973. How can this happen in America, to innocent babies?
Even as we mourn the death of all these babies, we also can’t forget that abortion has other consequences as well. First and foremost, we can never forget or fail to have compassion for those women who have had abortions. The toll it takes on them physically, emotionally and spiritually is devastating. And so, we must help them in any way you can: showing them personal compassion, leading them to Christ and His love and mercy, keeping them in prayer, and continuing to fight to end abortion. And we must do everything we can, with charity compassion, and patience, to help those women who are considering abortions, and to give them clear options to help them to carry their babies to term.
Life Chain. To kick off this “Respect Life Month” today, October 1, our parishioners will join thousands of Americans in the “Life Chain.” This year, as in the past, over 100 St. Raymond parishioners will join other local pro-lifers lining up on the sidewalk of Franconia Road in front of Key Middle School from 2:30 to 3:30 PM to simply stand peacefully and quietly praying, maybe holding a sign, as a public witness to our respect for the dignity of human life. It is always a very spiritually rewarding event. Please join in. Parking is available at the school, and Pro-Life signs will be available.
40 Days for Life. The Fall “40 Days for Life” Campaign, a similar but more prolonged public witness to the right to life, has already begun, and St. Raymond’s will be taking responsibility for this peaceful vigil on the weekend of October 28 and 29. Please visit the display and sign-up sheet in the narthex this weekend and sign up.

St. Francis of Assisi. This Wednesday, October 4, is the Feast of St. Francis of Assisi. Although most people think of him primarily for his love of poverty and nature, it is really his love for God who entered into creation in the Incarnation, Jesus Christ, that formed his vocation. This in turn motivated Francis to profound devotion to the mysteries of Jesus’ life and His sacraments, especially His real presence in the Blessed Sacrament. This led him to promote the popular pious devotion to the crucifix, the Christmas crèche, the stations of the Cross, and to Eucharistic adoration. This is reflected in the prayer he composed that is said so often today, “We adore You O Christ, and we praise You, because by Your holy cross You have redeemed the world.” (Note: as lovely as it is, St. Francis did not actually compose the prayer so often attributed to him, “Make me a channel of Your peace,” which was written several centuries after his death).
Nevertheless, he is most well-known for his teaching and personal example emphasizing poverty, a disposition which turns the heart not to love of creatures but first to the love of the Creator—God is all he wished to possess. But because he loved God, the Creator, he gained a more perfect appreciation and rightly ordered love for God’s creation, gifts from God.
In honor of this great saint then, and appreciating of the gifts God has given us in creation, we continue our custom of Blessing the Animals, next Sunday, October 8, at 2:30, in front of the rectory. Please feel free to bring any pets you have to receive this special blessing. St. Francis, pray for us.

THE GOSPEL OF LIFE. As we begin this Respect Life Month, consider carefully the teaching of Pope St. John Paul II, in his monumental encyclical, Evangelium Vitae (The Gospel of Life), March 25, 1995:
“61. …. Christian Tradition….is clear and unanimous, from the beginning up to our own day, in describing abortion as a particularly grave moral disorder. From its first contacts with the Greco-Roman world, where abortion and infanticide were widely practised, the first Christian community, by its teaching and practice, radically opposed the customs rampant in that society, as is clearly shown by the Didache [c. 80 AD] mentioned earlier. …Among the Latin authors, Tertullian affirms: ‘It is anticipated murder to prevent someone from being born; it makes little difference whether one kills a soul already born or puts it to death at birth. He who will one day be a man is a man already’.
“Throughout Christianity’s two thousand year history, this same doctrine has been constantly taught by the Fathers of the Church and by her Pastors and Doctors. Even scientific and philosophical discussions about the precise moment of the infusion of the spiritual soul have never given rise to any hesitation about the moral condemnation of abortion.
“62. The more recent Papal Magisterium has vigorously reaffirmed this common doctrine. …The Second Vatican Council…sternly condemned abortion: ‘From the moment of its conception life must be guarded with the greatest care, while abortion and infanticide are unspeakable crimes’.
“…. Given such unanimity in the doctrinal and disciplinary tradition of the Church, Paul VI was able to declare that this tradition is unchanged and unchangeable. Therefore, by the authority which Christ conferred upon Peter and his Successors, in communion with the Bishops–who on various occasions have condemned abortion and who in the aforementioned consultation, albeit dispersed throughout the world, have shown unanimous agreement concerning this doctrine–I declare that direct abortion, that is, abortion willed as an end or as a means, always constitutes a grave moral disorder, since it is the deliberate killing of an innocent human being. This doctrine is based upon the natural law and upon the written Word of God, is transmitted by the Church’s Tradition and taught by the ordinary and universal Magisterium.
“No circumstance, no purpose, no law whatsoever can ever make licit an act which is intrinsically illicit, since it is contrary to the Law of God which is written in every human heart, knowable by reason itself, and proclaimed by the Church.
“99…. I would now like to say a special word to women who have had an abortion. The Church is aware of the many factors which may have influenced your decision, and she does not doubt that in many cases it was a painful and even shattering decision. The wound in your heart may not yet have healed. Certainly what happened was and remains terribly wrong. But do not give in to discouragement and do not lose hope. Try rather to understand what happened and face it honestly. If you have not already done so, give yourselves over with humility and trust to repentance. The Father of mercies is ready to give you His forgiveness and His peace in the Sacrament of Reconciliation. To the same Father and His mercy you can with sure hope entrust your child….”

Oremus pro invicem. Fr. De Celles

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