TEXT: 6th Sunday in Ordinary Time, February 17, 2019

6th Sunday in Ordinary Time

February 17, 2019

Homily by Fr. John De Celles

St. Raymond of Peñafort Catholic Church

Springfield, VA

 

“Blessed are you who are poor, for the kingdom of God is yours.

… But woe to you who are rich, for you have received your consolation.”

 

I suppose we could use this verse

to talk about a lot of problems in the world today.

But let me focus on one you might not expect: the treasures of the Church.

 

If you think about, it would be pretty hard to call the Catholic Church “poor.”

In fact, we’re pretty rich.

Which might seem to run afoul of the saying “blessed are the poor, woe to the rich.

But of course, the wealth of the Church is not a problem in itself,

just as being poor is not a good thing in itself.

After all if being poor were in itself a good thing,

then we should never try to help the poor out of poverty.

 

Of course, Jesus is talking about how riches can corrupt us so easily,

as it’s so easy to love money more than God,

so that we must all be, as St. Matthew clarifies, “poor in spirit.”

 

And really, to some extent it’s good that the Church is wealthy.

For example, our wealth helps keep us independent from governments.

Or more importantly, most of the wealth we hold

is largely in beautiful religious art and magnificent churches,

built, often by the faithful poor,

as a sign of our love and praise for God.

But, given that, it wouldn’t be the worst thing if we lost all that

—we’d survive with God’s grace.

 

Because the Church really has two great treasures:

first, its material wealth,

but there’s a second treasure, much much more important.

 

You’ve all heard the story of the 3rd century martyr, St. Lawrence,

who was in charge of the finances of the Church in Rome.

One day the emperor demanded he turn over all the Church’s treasury to him.

So St. Lawrence came to before the emperor

and pointed outside to a huge crowd of poor, sick and suffering people, and said “These are the true treasures of the Church,”

The second treasure of the church is its people: you and me.

 

___

So clearly there’s nothing wrong with the Church having treasures of either kind.

The problem comes when priests and bishops use those treasures

for their own personal selfish gain or satisfaction.

 

Sometimes, this happens in simple and very common ways.

For example, using the money of the Church to build an opulent rectory.

Or…when a priest uses the people,

by avoiding preaching any hard teachings of the faith from the pulpit,

because he wants them to like him,

even at the risk of neglecting their souls.

He uses them for selfish emotional comfort.

 

___

But sadly, we also see it in more dramatic, terrible ways.

We see priests and bishops actually stealing money from the Church

to pay for extravagant hidden lifestyles.

And most horribly, we see it when priests and bishops abuse their people,

especially by stealing the innocence of the most vulnerable,

particularly children.

 

Of course of the abuses of the 2 kinds of treasures of the church,

the second, the abuse of the people, is by far the worst.

 

This last week our Bishop Burbidge, the Bishop of Arlington,

released a list of priests of the diocese

who have been at least, as he says, “credibly accused” of abuse of minors.

I hope you know that I believe strongly

that priests who are guilty of this sin are despicable,

and deserve every punishment they get in this world and in the next.

As Jesus says today:

“Woe to you who are filled now, for you will be hungry.

“Woe to you who laugh now, for you will grieve and weep.”

 

But as you consider that list, it’s important for your wellbeing of spirit

to remember a few things,

First, a “credible accusation” is not the same as being found guilty

—it might be compared to a civil judge saying

there’s enough evidence to have a trial.

But about half of these priests never had any kind of trial

in the church or in civil courts,

because they were accused after they had already died,

and so never had a chance to defend themselves.

And there are at least 2 who maintain their innocence.

In the case of one of those 2,

Rome has decided that there’s not enough evidence to find him guilty,

and they have allowed him to retire, as a priest, without any public ministry

–case closed.

 

Nevertheless, some of those on the list were found guilty by the Church.

Again, if they are guilty, let them be punished on earth and in hell or purgatory.

 

____

But as horrible as they are,

worse than the crimes and sins of mere priests

against the vulnerable in the Church

are sins and crimes of those who have been given

the highest responsibility to protect and care for

these treasures of the Church—bishops and cardinals.

Whether these sins are lying and covering up and facilitating the sins of priests,

or the bishop’s own actual assaulting or manipulating of the innocent.

 

If there was a list of these of offenders, which there isn’t,

right at the top of the list would be

the former Cardinal Archbishop of Washington, Theodore McCarrick.

Today/yesterday (Saturday) the Vatican finally announced

that he had been found guilty of sexual abuse

of minors and adult seminarians, including in the confessional.

Guilty as charged of the worst kind of abuse, as a high-ranking churchman.

Thanks be to God!

Now, don’t get me wrong, I don’t revel in his crime, or even in his misfortunate,

but I do rejoice that justice has finally been served

and this evil tumor is ripped from the bowls of the Church.

 

___

That’s a good start.

But as I told you months ago,

Mister McCarrick’s abuse had been widely known

among seminarians, priests and bishops for almost 30 years,

but most of us couldn’t do anything about it

because we had no evidence, only persistent third hand accounts.

But the thing is, people who were in a position to know,

and could have investigated with authority, did nothing about it.

And he kept rising in the Church, from bishop, to archbishop to cardinal.

 

Finally someone did something about it—Pope Benedict XVI prohibited

the retired McCarrick from exercising public ministry,

requiring him to live a life of seclusion and penance.

But for some reason Pope Francis lifted those sanctions

and made McCarrick one of his trusted advisors,

some say giving him great influence on the selection

of new bishops and even cardinals in America.

 

Now, we shouldn’t assume a person’s guilt

until it’s been proven in a legitimate trial, or until they admit it themselves.

But there are accusations that specific named Vatican officials

ignored or hid official internal reports about McCarrick’s crimes

to support his promotion up the ranks.

And there are even accusations that this is part of a wide-ranging

sub-culture of homosexuals in the hierarchy.

I don’t know if any of that is true,

but since these accusations come from several highly placed sources,

including the former nuncio, to the United States, Archbishop Vigano,

it would seem that those accusations are at least as “credible”

as the “credible accusations” against the priests on the list released this week.

So, in justice they also must be thoroughly investigated,

or it’s all a bunch of hypocrisy.

 

____

But if Mr. McCarrick is simply a scapegoat–“move along, nothing to see here”–

then we are only allowing the cancerous filth to continue

to corrupt the body of the Church.

And we are begging for even great disaster.

 

___

This week the leaders of all the Bishops Conferences around the world

will gather in Rome for a Summit with the Pope

to discuss the problem of clerical child abuse,

especially the role of the bishops.

Many people hope this will be the beginning of a true reform.

 

But the signs are discouraging.

For example, Pope Francis said last week that

“The expectations need to be deflated…

The problems of abuse will continue.

It is a human problem, everywhere….

 

Moreover, the Pope named one of McCarrick’s alleged protégés,

Cardinal Cupich of Chicago,

to be one of the cardinals in charge of the summit.

Much as McCarrick was one of the bishops in charge of the Dallas meeting

17 years ago, when the bishops exempted themselves from the rules

they wrote for investigating abusive priests.

 

And lastly, last week, the Pope named another McCarrick protégé,

Cardinal Kevin Farrell,

to be the Vatican Camerlengo: the Cardinal who will be

temporarily in charge of the Church when the Pope dies or retires.

As they say, the optics are bad.

 

____

Now, maybe I’ve depressed you.

Some days I get a little depressed too.

Some of you may even be tempted to give up hope.

Be we can’t do that.

 

Earlier I mentioned that the Church has 2 treasures:

material wealth and the people of God.

But I intentionally left out the 3rd and by far the greatest treasure we have:

          Jesus.

Jesus, and His Body on earth, the Church, that contains and hands down to us

all the spiritual gifts of Christ, including Scripture Tradition, Doctrines,

the sacraments, His Grace, and all the great Catholic saints.

 

As Jeremiah tells us in today’s first reading:

Cursed is the one who trusts in human beings,

who seeks his strength in flesh.

but, “Blessed is the one who trusts in the LORD,

whose hope is the LORD.”

 

I’ve said it before, we trust and follow Jesus and His Church

–we do not follow mere human beings,

even if they are bishops or priests, or cardinals, or even popes,

Yes, trust bishops and priests if they are they are following Jesus,

and helping you to do so also.

And thank God for them, and love them, respect them, and support them.

But in the end, we all, laity and priest alike,

must place our hope and trust together in Jesus and His Church.

And if we do that, as Jeremiah says today, we will be:

“like a tree planted beside the waters

that stretches out its roots to the stream:

it fears not the heat when it comes;

its leaves stay green;

in the year of drought it shows no distress,

but still bears fruit.”

 

____

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

let us thank the Lord for the purification He is manifesting in His Church.

But let us pray that by His almighty power,

He will continue to cleanse the filth from His Church.

And let us pray for all priests, bishops and cardinals,

that they always recognize that the treasures of the Church

are not theirs for plundering,

but they are merely poor stewards of these riches

that Christ hands on to us.

 

 

Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Washington. Tomorrow, Monday, 2/18, is the national holiday most people seem to call “President’s Day,” but which is actually officially called “Washington’s Birthday.” It’s sad that we forget this, because we should celebrate the birth and life of the Father of our country. He was a remarkable man. An intelligent man, largely self-educated, an industrious and successful farmer, business man and entrepreneur, a loving husband and father, a loyal friend, a victorious general and unrivaled statesman. But above all, he was a patriot—he loved his native Virginia and the new nation he helped found, making great sacrifices for both. And while certainly being an ambitious man, after winning the Revolutionary War the victorious and beloved general could have contrived to have himself named king. But instead, he worked for the establishment of a federal republic. And while achieving so many great things for his country, he repeatedly and strongly credited the intervention of God for the success of the Revolution and Founding.
It is true that he was a slave owner. But he also advocated for the abolition of slavery. Like many well-meaning men of his times, he struggled to find a solution to the issue that would be just for the slaves and still not rip apart the peace and unity, and so the very survival, of the fragile new nation.
Humble, dedicated, industrious, loyal, intelligent, courageous, moral, and God-fearing, but also flawed like all of us. He stood head and shoulders above his peers, literally and figuratively, and so became the only American president elected unanimously by the electoral college, without an opponent.
I wish the leadership of our nation today would take their example from him—in all parties and all branches of government. And I hope that we all remember that example as we celebrate his birthday, and pray for our leaders today.

McCarrick. As I write this on Wednesday, the rumors abound that sometime in the next few days—maybe before you read this—the Vatican trial of former cardinal Theodore McCarrick, will conclude, finding him guilty of various charges of sexual misconduct/abuse. Word is that his punishment will be the harshest penalty the Church can give a priest: laicization/defrocking. The rumors seem to come from every credible source in Rome, and so I can’t help but think they’re true.
If this IS true, thank God! If he has been found guilty and defrocked, the damage this villainous priest has perpetrated be finally be recognized, and he will be driven from the ranks of active priests. And the Pope would have taken decisive action against one of the powerful leaders of the homosexual cadre of priests, bishops and cardinals that have had so much influence behind the scenes in the halls of power in the Church.
However…Much is left to be done. McCarrick may have been a leader of the “lavender mafia,” or “gay mafia,” but he was old, 88. It may turn out that he is merely a sacrificial goat, and his punishment may end any further investigation into the other members of the cadre, which will go on, unhampered in power and influence. Recall that the sexual accusations against McCarrick came with three other accusations: that 1) Vatican officials knew and covered up his sins and crimes, 2) Pope Francis undid the punishment/sanctions that Pope Benedict had imposed on McCarrick and restored him to powerful influence in the Church, 3) McCarrick had influenced the Pope in promoting other homosexual (or homosexual-friendly) priests to become bishops, and cardinals.
Will there be any follow up investigation to these accusations? Whenever Pope Francis has spoken about McCarrick he has treated it as an isolated case, as if it has no consequences beyond this one offender. And as if there has been no coverup, and no cadre behind him.
Since 2002, when the American bishops came up with new rules under the so-called “Dallas Charter,” the bishops have largely dealt with the problem of abusive priests relatively effectively (note: the vast majority of the cases in last summer’s Pennsylvania Grand Jury report were cases arising before 2002). But their effort hasn’t been entirely successful with regards to offending priests, and it has not been successful at all with regard to bishops and cardinals who are themselves predators or have protected predators. Literally, the rules that have applied to priests since 2002 in no way apply to bishops.
Vatican Summit, This Week. Many hoped that would change when the American bishops met last November in Baltimore, specifically to enact rules to punish offending bishops and cardinals. But that hope was dashed on the night before the bishops’ conference, as the Pope ordered them not to vote on any changes, but to wait for the results and conclusions of a special summit of bishops from all over the world that he was convoking in Rome from February 21 to 24—this coming week.
Since then, however, hopes have dimmed that that summit will yield any immediate meaningful changes. In November, Pope Francis announced that Cardinal Blase Cupich would be one of the leaders of the summit; recall that it has been alleged that Cupich was appointed Cardinal-Archbishop of Chicago through the efforts of none other than McCarrick. Cupich also publicly stated about the accusations surrounding McCarrick: “The Pope has a bigger agenda. He’s got to get on with other things, of talking about the environment and protecting migrants …”
Moreover, in the last few weeks Pope Francis himself has made it clear that not much is going to happen at the summit. On his flight back from Panama on January 27, the Pope told reporters: “The expectations need to be deflated…The problems of abuse will continue. It is a human problem, everywhere….We felt the need to give a ‘catechesis’ on this problem to the bishops’ conferences.” Not very encouraging.
Let us pray that the Holy Spirit intervenes to bring some good out of the summit this week. And let us pray, and advocate, that a full investigation be done into the web of sins and lies exposed by the McCarrick case. Enough is enough.

Correction. Last week I referred to “Senator Harry Byrd” of West Virginia as being a former leader of the KKK. That was my typo: I meant to write “Senator Robert Byrd”. My apologies.

Clarification. Three weeks ago, in my homily on volunteering, I made the claim, “I don’t need your help.” Since then, several parishioners have made it clear to me that they were so stunned and upset by that isolated statement that they didn’t hear very clearly what I said right after that. And that’s my fault: I was probably not very prudent in the way I presented it.
But when I said, “I don’t need your help,” I immediately went on to say, essentially, that my request for volunteers isn’t about helping me to make my life easier, it’s about making the parish better. And I then concluded, by saying, “And for that, I do need your help!”
So, to be clear: I ABSOLUTELY DO NEED YOUR HELP to make this the best parish possible. My apologies if wording or approach was clumsy.

Oremus pro invicem. Fr. De Celles
Washington. Tomorrow, Monday, 2/18, is the national holiday most people seem to call “President’s Day,” but which is actually officially called “Washington’s Birthday.” It’s sad that we forget this, because we should celebrate the birth and life of the Father of our country. He was a remarkable man. An intelligent man, largely self-educated, an industrious and successful farmer, business man and entrepreneur, a loving husband and father, a loyal friend, a victorious general and unrivaled statesman. But above all, he was a patriot—he loved his native Virginia and the new nation he helped found, making great sacrifices for both. And while certainly being an ambitious man, after winning the Revolutionary War the victorious and beloved general could have contrived to have himself named king. But instead, he worked for the establishment of a federal republic. And while achieving so many great things for his country, he repeatedly and strongly credited the intervention of God for the success of the Revolution and Founding of our nation..
It is true that he was a slave owner. But he also advocated for the abolition of slavery. Like many well-meaning men of his times, he struggled to find a solution to the issue that would be just for the slaves and still not rip apart the peace and unity, and so the very survival, of the fragile new nation.
Humble, dedicated, industrious, loyal, intelligent, courageous, moral, and God-fearing, but also flawed like all of us. He stood head and shoulders above his peers, literally and figuratively, and so became the only American president elected unanimously by the electoral college, without an opponent.
I wish the leadership of our nation today would take their example from him—in all parties and all branches of government. And I hope that we all remember that example as we celebrate his birthday, and pray for our leaders today.

McCarrick. As I write this on Wednesday, the rumors abound that sometime in the next few days—maybe before you read this—the Vatican trial of former cardinal Theodore McCarrick, will conclude, finding him guilty of various charges of sexual misconduct/abuse. Word is that his punishment will be the harshest penalty the Church can give a priest: laicization/defrocking. The rumors seem to come from every credible source in Rome, and so I can’t help but think they’re true.
If this IS true, thank God! If he has been found guilty and defrocked, the damage this villainous priest has perpetrated will finally be recognized, and he will be driven from the ranks of active priests. And the Pope would have taken decisive action against one of the powerful leaders of the homosexual cadre of priests, bishops and cardinals that have had so much influence behind the scenes in the halls of power in the Church.
However…Much is left to be done. McCarrick may have been a leader of the “lavender mafia,” or “gay mafia,” but he was old, 88. It may turn out that he is merely a sacrificial goat, and his punishment may end any further investigation into the other members of the cadre, which will go on, unhampered in power and influence. Recall that the sexual accusations against McCarrick came with three other accusations: that 1) Vatican officials knew and covered up his sins and crimes, 2) Pope Francis undid the punishment/sanctions that Pope Benedict had imposed on McCarrick and restored him to powerful influence in the Church, 3) McCarrick had influenced the Pope in promoting other homosexual (or homosexual-friendly) priests to become bishops, and cardinals.
Will there be any follow up investigation to these accusations? Whenever Pope Francis has spoken about McCarrick he has treated it as an isolated case, as if it has no consequences beyond this one offender. And as if there has been no coverup, and no cadre behind him.
Since 2002, when the American bishops came up with new rules under the so-called “Dallas Charter,” the bishops have largely dealt with the problem of abusive priests relatively effectively (note: the vast majority of the cases in last summer’s Pennsylvania Grand Jury report were cases arising before 2002). But their effort hasn’t been entirely successful with regards to offending priests, and it has not been successful at all with regard to bishops and cardinals who are themselves predators or have protected predators. Literally, the rules that have applied to priests since 2002 in no way apply to bishops.
Vatican Summit, This Week. Many hoped that would change when the American bishops met last November in Baltimore, specifically to enact rules to punish offending bishops and cardinals. But that hope was dashed on the night before the bishops’ conference, as the Pope ordered them not to vote on any changes, but to wait for the results and conclusions of a special summit of bishops from all over the world that he was convoking in Rome from February 21 to 24—this coming week.
Since then, however, hopes have dimmed that the summit will yield any immediate meaningful changes. In November, Pope Francis announced that Cardinal Blase Cupich would be one of the leaders of the summit; recall that it has been alleged that Cupich was appointed Cardinal-Archbishop of Chicago through the efforts of none other than McCarrick. Cupich also publicly stated about the accusations surrounding McCarrick: “The Pope has a bigger agenda. He’s got to get on with other things, of talking about the environment and protecting migrants …”
Moreover, in the last few weeks Pope Francis himself has made it clear that not much is going to happen at the summit. On his flight back from Panama on January 27, the Pope told reporters: “The expectations need to be deflated…The problems of abuse will continue. It is a human problem, everywhere….We felt the need to give a ‘catechesis’ on this problem to the bishops’ conferences.” Not very encouraging.
Let us pray that the Holy Spirit intervenes to bring some good out of the summit this week. And let us pray, and advocate, that a full investigation be done into the web of sins and lies exposed by the McCarrick case. Enough is enough.

Correction. Last week I referred to “Senator Harry Byrd” of West Virginia as being a former leader of the KKK. That was my typo: I meant to write “Senator Robert Byrd”. My apologies.

Clarification. Three weeks ago, in my homily on volunteering, I made the claim, “I don’t need your help.” Since then, several parishioners have made it clear to me that they were so stunned and upset by that isolated statement that they didn’t hear very clearly what I said right after that. And that’s my fault: I was probably not very prudent in the way I presented it.
But when I said, “I don’t need your help,” I immediately went on to say, essentially, that my request for volunteers isn’t about helping me to make my life easier, it’s about making the parish better. And I then concluded, by saying, “And for that, I do need your help!”
So, to be clear: I ABSOLUTELY DO NEED YOUR HELP to make this the best parish possible. My apologies if my wording or approach was clumsy.

Oremus pro invicem. Fr. De Celles

Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Pro-Life Rally at South County. Last week I wrote about Springfield State Delegate
Kathy Tran’s barbaric proposed legislation which would have essentially legalized
abortion on demand up to full term. After I wrote that on Wednesday, the folks at the
Susan B. Anthony Foundation (SBA) sent out the word that Tran had scheduled a
Townhall meeting for that Saturday. Long story short, the word got around and pretty
soon it seems so many pro-lifers would be there that Tran cancelled the meeting
(although she said it was for safety and security reasons, as if pro-lifers are a risk to
safety). In any case, SBA went on with the press conference they had scheduled before
the townhall, and between 700 and 1000 pro-lifers showed up, standing outside the
school in freezing temperatures for almost an hour, to support them and speakers from
various other pro-life organizations in the Commonwealth. Thanks to all the St. Raymond
parishoners who showed up. We cannot back down from our defense of life against of the
radical agenda of so many of the extremists in Richmond and Washington.

Northam Troubles. Of course last week I also wrote about how our governor had made
a gruesome statement about what happens when a late-term abortion fails, and the baby is
born alive. How he basically said the decision to let it live outside the womb was up to
the mother—which is pretty much an endorsement of infanticide.
But soon after that, news came out of a picture in his medical school year book
supposedly depicting him as wearing “black face” or a KKK costume. Of course, in the
eyes of the leftist media a 30-year-old horribly racist joke is much worse than last week’s
endorsement of killing a baby on the operating table, so that latter story took over the
news, pushing infanticide to the side.
It seems unnecessary, except in these hypercritical times, for me to state the
obvious: this kind of racist activity, whether joking or serious, is disgusting and
unequivocally unchristian, and to remind you that racism is a sin, and often a mortal sin.
And a racist should not be given a place in modern representative government.
But it does worry me a bit that a sin or mistake someone committed 30 years ago,
is used so readily as a bludgeon to attack any politician. I recall that when former Senator
Harry Byrd died in 2010 he was treated as a venerable statesman, even though he had
been an actual leader of the KKK in West Virginia in the 1950s. In this case, he had
repented long ago, and his sin had largely been forgiven by virtually everyone. Which
goes to show that people change over time—I know I have. And when that change shows
in the way they live, I think they deserve some credit for that, and forgiveness of the old
sin.
That is not to say that I am minimizing Northam’s bad behavior of 30 years ago.
Rather, I am simply encouraging us all to consider that people can change. I am certainly
not supporting him, especially considering his embrace of abortion and infanticide. In
fact, it occurs to me that his indifference to the dignity of some human life may have,
over time, simply switched over time from targeting African Americans to targeting
another vulnerable group: unborn babies.

Lieutenant Governor Justin Fairfax. With calls for Governor Northam’s resignation

pouring in from all sides, especially from his own Democratic Party, attention shifted to
the possibility of Lt. Gov. Fairfax stepping up to take his place. But then it came out that
Fairfax has been accused of sexually assaulting a woman 15 years ago, when he was a
young lawyer and Democratic Party operative. It’s interesting to compare that case to
another similar case: when Judge Brett Kavanaugh was accused of a similar offense that
had happened 35 years ago, when he was an 18-year-old. Both charges are leveled by
very credible women, both college professors, but it is strange how the leaders of the
Democratic party have responded so differently to the 2 allegations. In Kavanaugh’s case
we kept hearing senators and congressmen say, “I believe the accuser,” even before
hearing any evidence or testimony. But in Fairfax’s case, we hear nothing like that.
Instead, the Democratic Party of Virginia issued a statement saying only that the
allegation against Fairfax, should be "taken with profound gravity….We will continue to
evaluate the situation regarding Lieutenant Governor Fairfax.”
Why would they be treated so differently? Could it be their different stands on
abortion? Clearly that was why they attacked Kavanaugh so severely. Perhaps the
opposite is true with Fairfax, who is a strong supporter of abortion and in 2016 served as
the board vice-chair of the Planned Parenthood Metropolitan Washington Action Fund.

Altar Rail and Pulpit. I want to reiterate my request for comments about my proposal to
install a permanent altar rail and replace the current pulpit with a smaller but beautiful
new one. See last weeks column for more details. But I really would like your comments
and advice. My mind is not made up, and I want to know what your thinking, email me at
fr.decelles@gmail.com.

Vestments. I mentioned a few weeks ago that I would be discussing the vestments of the
priest at Mass. Today I’d like to discuss the amice.
The amice is the first vestment the priest puts on for Mass. It is a piece of linen or
cotton cloth, about 30” by 20”, that is draped over the shoulders and wrapped around the
neck, usually tucked in to cover the collar. It is then tied in place by two attached
cords/ribbons that wrap around the back and tie in front of the chest.
The origins of the amice date at least to the 10 th century, and various sources
propose that it was introduced either to cover the regular clothing of the priest, to protect
the costlier vestments from the perspiration of the face or neck, or as a winter muffler
protecting the throat of those who had to take care of their voices for singing the Mass.
These are all still part of its practical purpose.
From the middle ages the amice was also often ample enough to be used to cover
the head of priest at certain points of the Mass like a hood (later this would normally be
replaced by the biretta) or a helmet. This practice is still in place in some religious orders.
From this it derives its spiritual symbolism as a spiritual helmet of the “armor of God.”
Today this is seen in the custom of the priest to lay the amice first over the head before
sliding it to his shoulders, as he prays, the prayer, “"Impone, Domine, capiti meo galeam
salutis, ad expugnandos diabolicos incursus" –Place upon me, O Lord, the helmet of
salvation, that I may overcome the assaults of the devil.”

Note the amice is required, unless the alb is designed to “completely cover the
ordinary clothing at the neck” (i.e., the black and white “roman collar” of the priest’s
normal shirt or cassock should not be visible).

Oremus pro invicem. Fr. De Celles

TEXT: 4th Sunday in Ordinary Time, February 3, 2019

4th Sunday in Ordinary Time

February 3, 2019

Homily by Fr. John De Celles

St. Raymond of Peñafort Catholic Church

Springfield, VA

 

“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you,

before you were born I dedicated you,

a prophet to the nations I appointed you.”

 

These words of God flowing from the pen of the prophet Jeremiah,

give a strong and unambiguous testimony of our faith

in God’s love and His creation of each and every human life.

“Before I formed you…I knew you…”

And to the personal identity of every human life

from the beginning in a mother’s womb:

“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you,

before you were born I dedicated you…

Not a blob of flesh, not a tumor…

Not an ambiguous IT, but a personal individual YOU.

 

And so as believing Christians, Catholics, we hold as a matter of faith,

that a baby in the womb is a human being, an individual person,

right from the moment HE or SHE exists in the womb.

And because of that, when God tells us, “you shall not kill”

and applies it to every single innocent human life,

all of us embrace that and understand it to apply

to the most innocent human life: you shall not commit abortion.

 

____

Now, right about now, some of you are already tuning me out.

“There he goes again, talking about abortion.”

Or, maybe, “yeah, yeah father, I’m pro-life too,

but why are you preaching about it AGAIN?”

You know what?

I’m tired of preaching about abortion:

I wish it could just go away I could preach about

how love is patient, love is kind.

But it won’t go away.

And this week it took a terrible turn for the worse, and right here in Springfield.

So we can’t afford to be tired of talking about abortion.

Not today.

 

____

You see, our belief in isn’t just a religious belief.

Certainly our faith clarifies, informs and helps us to understand

the significance of this belief.

But really, our understanding is rooted in science.

And that understanding through science

has becoming clearer and clearer in the last few years.

For decades abortion defenders use to say,

“Oh, that’s not a baby, it’s just a meaningless, parasitical blob of flesh.”

But science always told a different story.

And now it tells it even more clearly.

For example, scientists can take the DNA from a zygote

—the tiny one celled creature that after 2 weeks is called an embryo,

and after 11 weeks is called a fetus,

and after 20 years is called a man or woman.

Scientists can take the DNA from a zygote

and they find not the DNA of the mother, not the DNA of the father,

but the DNA of a brand new individual personal human being.

The identical DNA they will find in that same person if they test it

20 years or 90 years later.

 

Or, for example, at about 3 weeks after that one celled zygote is formed,

doctors can take an ultrasound of a mother’s womb

and see a live picture of an embryo

with a head and arms and legs and fingers and toes.

And at about 5-6 weeks they can see the little heart pumping,

although science also tells us it actually started pumping

about 3 weeks earlier.

 

Science shows us that that thing in the woman’s tummy

is not a mere “blastocyst”, but a real-life baby.

 

Now over the years, this has usually been the most important fact

to make to most people who called themselves “pro-choice.”

And if you talked to them, calmly, reasonably, and respectfully,

once you showed this to them,

you could usually move them to be at least a little more “pro-life.”

 

In fact, that has actually happened on a societal scale.

Because while different polls go back and forth about the country being

51% percent pro-choice or 51% percent pro-life,

if you dig a little deeper into those polls, they tell a different story.

 

For example, a recent Marist poll showed that over 50% of Americans

self-identify as “pro-choice.”

But, that same poll found the following:

  • 61% of Americans want abortion prohibited after the first 3 months of pregnancy
  • 65% want the Supreme Court to substantially overturn their decision in Roe v. Wade, either outlawing abortion altogether, or turning it back to the states to decide
  • 75% want substantial limitations on abortion

 

So pro-life is actually winning little by little, and in a landslide.

Except with certain extremists who insist on abortion on demand,

without any restrictions or regulations or protections whatsoever.

 

Extremists, like the former Senator from New York who ran for president 2 years ago,

who was a champion for partial birth abortion

—aborting the baby as it is being born.

Or Extremists, like those in the New York legislatures

and the governor of New York,

who just passed a law that made abortion legal up until

40 weeks of pregnancy—full term.

 

But these extremists aren’t just aren’t just up in New York.

Sadly, they are right in in Virginia,

as this week our Governor defended his support for late term abortion:

“If a mother is in labor,” he said,

“The infant would be delivered…

“The infant would be resuscitated

if that’s what the mother and the family desired…..”

 

Think of this: after the baby is born alive,

it would still be up to the mother whether to let it live.

That’s not just late term abortion…

Our governor was supporting infanticide.

 

And sadly, extremism is right here in Springfield.

Last week our delegate, Kathy Tran, introduced a bill

essentially calling for abortion on demand

up until the full 40-week term of gestation.

So when asked the question,

“So where it’s obvious that a woman is about to give birth,

…would that still be a point at which she could still request an abortion

She’s dilating?…

Tran responded: “My bill would allow that, yes.”

 

____

So it doesn’t matter that God and His Church tells us

it’s a human being that we shall not kill.

And it doesn’t matter that DNA, and ultrasound and medical science tells us

this is a living human baby, just as human as you or me.

And it doesn’t matter that the vast majority of Americans and Virginias

agree with all that.

All that matters is that these barbarians think

that it’s okay to kill any baby whenever you want,

up to the point of natural birth,

and you can let it die of neglect even after being born.

Thanks be to God they didn’t have the votes to pass their gruesome agenda.

Yet.

 

____

I’m tired of talking about abortion, and your tired of hearing about it.

But that doesn’t really matter: what matters is the lives of BABIES!

1 minute before they’re born, and 1 minute after they’re born.

And 3 months, and 6 months and 9 months before they’re born,

or 3, 6 and 9 months after they’re born.

 

___

So have courage and zeal.

Don’t let these barbarians drive us into silence,

whether out of fear or out of simple weariness.

Rather, take these new threats against the unborn as a rallying call,

and as we read in today’s first reading:

“gird your loins; stand up and tell them all that I command you…

for it is [God]…who have made you …a pillar of iron, a wall of brass,

against the whole land…”

 

Now sometimes when I or you get all riled up like this,

some people mistake it for hatred.

Let me be clear: hatred has no place in the pro-life movement.

We must stand up and defend babies, but not with hatred against our enemies,

but with the love of Christ.

 

Because as St. Paul tells us today,

“if I have all faith so as to move mountains,

but do not have love, I am nothing.”

I love babies.

And I love their mothers.

But we must also love people who don’t care one whit for them at all.

So even as we stand up in righteous anger against extremist,

we remember that Christ tells us, “love your enemies.”

And so we fight them, all the while remembering that,

“Love is patient, love is kind… it is not rude….it is not quick-tempered,

And when we get discouraged or weary, remember, love,

“… bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

Love never fails.”

 

___

Let us beg our Lord Jesus Christ to shower his love and grace

on our great Nation and our beloved Commonwealth of Virginia,

and on Springfield itself.

May he make us strong in his love, to stand up for the right to life,

And may we leave here today, sent by God, strong in his love,

to proclaim the truth about the dignity of unborn babies to all who will hear.

Remembering the word of God given to the prophet Jeremiah:

“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you,

before you were born I dedicated you,

a prophet to the nations I appointed you.”

 

Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Never Let Up the Pro-Life Fight. The last few days have been a reminder to all of us that we can never stop fighting the good fight to defend the right to life, especially for unborn children.
New York. On January 23rd, one day after the 46th anniversary of Roe vs. Wade, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo signed a bill that will allow unborn babies to be aborted at any stage of the pregnancy, even just before full-term birth. It also allows non-doctors to perform abortions, redefines a “person” as “a human being who has been born and is alive,” and describes abortion as a “fundamental right.”
One of the side-effects of the law is that it will no longer be a crime for someone to kill an unborn child even if the mother is not seeking an abortion, e.g., if unborn baby dies as the result of an assault on 40-week pregnant woman, the baby’s death is not a crime.
This is nothing short of barbarism. Think of this: a healthy unborn baby, who comes to full term, one day before his mother would normally give birth, may be killed with the state’s approval. One day later, that same baby, now born, is a human being and killing it is the crime of murder. One day. Nonsense.
Cuomo, a baptized Catholic, went on to brag about his barbarity, and to mock his Catholic faith: “The Catholic Church doesn’t believe in a woman’s right to choose…I understand their religious view…I’m not here to represent a religion.” Let’s rephrase that for him properly (my own rephrasing): “The Catholic Church doesn’t believe that anyone has a right to kill an unborn human being,…I understand their rational human view…but I’m not here to represent rational humans.” Killing babies, born or unborn, is wrong because they are human beings, “persons”, no matter what the law of New York says. It is not simply a religious view, it is the scientifically informed rational truth. And Cuomo is a bloody barbarian, and he should be excommunicated, for his own good and the good of God’s people.
Virginia, and Springfield. Then comes the news this week that our very own state Delegate from Springfield, Kathy Tran, freshman Democrat, has introduced a bill similar to the one in New York, HB2491. It would allow abortion up to 40 weeks (including outpatient late term abortions), repeal informed consent and abdominal ultrasound requirements, eliminate the 24-hour waiting period, allow abortionists to self-certify third trimester abortions, and exempt abortion clinics from health and safety standards.
This is just sickening. Consider this back-and-forth between Republican Delegate Todd Gilbert and Tran on the House floor last week:
Gilbert: “So how late in the third trimester could a physician perform an abortion if he indicated it would impair the mental health of the woman?”…
Tran: “I mean, through the third trimester. The third trimester goes all the way up to 40 weeks.”…
Gilbert: “So where it’s obvious that a woman is about to give birth, she has physical signs that she’s about give birth, would that still be a point at which she could still request an abortion if she was so certified? [pause] She’s dilating?…
Tran: “My bill would allow that, yes.”

We must stop this. Did you vote in the state elections in November 2017? Or did you stay at home? Did you vote for this woman who thinks it’s okay, a right, to kill a baby when it’s ready to be born? Who even wants to do away with all common-sense medical protections for the mother’s physical health?
Please contact Delegate Kathy Tran to voice your rejection of this abhorrent bill. Contact info:
Richmond: Pocahontas Building, 900 E. Main St, Richmond, Virginia 23219; Phone: (804) 698-1042.
Springfield: P.O. Box 2731, Springfield, Virginia 22152; Phone: (703) 828-7173.
Email Address:DelKTran@house.virginia.gov

Thanks be to God, the small pro-life majority in the House of Delegates will most certainly not pass this bill. But our narrow advantage could easily be wiped out in the state elections this coming November. If we don’t stop them. Peacefully, with charity and reason, but also forthrightly, with clarity and truth. And with speaking out in the public square, to our friends and in the voting booth!

March for Life—Thanks. Thanks to all parishioners and friends who participated in this year’s March for Life on the Washington Mall on January 18. Once again it was a great success for us, as we took 4 bus loads to the March, and were joined by dozens of other parishioners who drove or “metroed” in. Not to mention all who participated at home, work or in church, by praying, and all those who prepared a wonderful chili dinner for the marchers in the parish hall afterwards. Special thanks to Liz Hildebrand and Sherri Burns for all their hard work in organizing things.

New Altar Rail and Pulpit. Over the last few months I have been approached by many parishioners asking me to make the altar rail more permanent. So I’ve asked a church designer to come up with some proposals. We would most likely install a marble rail, and extend the sanctuary out a few feet to where the current wooden rails are now. To ease the flow of traffic a bit, we would probably remove the first row in front of the sanctuary (this would eliminate only 10 – 12 seats, which would only affect us on Christmas and Easter). I’m also thinking of installing altar rails in front of the statues of Mary and Joseph, so that folks sitting in the side transepts could also make use of the altar rail. If I do that, I will also replace the carpeting in front of those statues with marble, so as to make that area more a part of the sanctuary (while still allowing access to the votive candles).
Also, I am considering replacing our pulpit. Unfortunately, our current pulpit presents several problems: 1) it is not constructed very well (as you can see if you actually stand near or especially at the pulpit); 2) it is oversized and does not fit aesthetically with the rest of our sanctuary; 3) its size tends to unnecessarily block the view of the sanctuary from the pews on the “Mary”-side transept; 4) although large on the “outside”, it is actually rather narrow for someone standing inside of it (and so uncomfortable for larger readers and priests).
So I’m thinking of commissioning a local marble worker to design and craft a new smaller but beautiful pulpit.
I’m not sure when we would do the work on this in the church, but I would hope it would happen this summer. Also, before that we would have to raise the money from a special fund drive/capital campaign.
But it’s just in the planning and thinking stage now. Nothing is final. I want your input. Always with charity and respect. But tell me what you think—email, write or call me. I’ll report back to you in a few weeks when I have a better feel for what the parishioners are thinking, and what the designers, etc. are proposing.

Oremus pro invicem. Fr. De Celles

TEXT: 3rd Sunday in Ordinary Time, January 27, 2019

3rd Sunday in Ordinary Time

January 27, 2019

Homily by Fr. John De Celles

St. Raymond of Peñafort Catholic Church

Springfield, VA

 

“As a body is one though it has many parts,

and all the parts of the body, though many, are one body,

so also Christ.”

These are words of great joy and hope.

But they are also words of great grief and anguish.

Because even as Christ calls His Church to be His one body,

we look around and we see that in so many ways

the Church doesn’t look or act like “one body in Christ.”

 

Most obviously we see this in the divisions that appear

between the Catholic Church, the Eastern Orthodox,

and the many various Protestant denominations.

More subtly we see this even within our own Catholic Church.

 

This last week we’ve celebrated a week of prayer for Christian Unity.

But before we’ll ever achieve real Christian unity,

we have to come to understand 2 things:

first we have to understand what one set of beliefs unites us,

and second, we have to understand how to

                             live out that belief together as one body.

 

Of course the core belief that unites all Christians

is faith in the revelation of Jesus Christ.

But that’s also where all the divisions start.

The Catholic Church has always believed that

while there is only one revelation of Christ,

it comes to us in two complementary ways:

in Sacred Scripture and Sacred Tradition,

or the oral teaching handed down by the Apostles.

And we also believe that Christ has protected this revelation

by having the Holy Spirit guide his apostles and  their successors,

the popes and bishop,

in authoritatively interpreting Tradition and Scripture

–we call this the “teaching office” of the bishops,

or the “magisterium.”

 

The original great division in the Western Church in the 16th century came

when MARTIN LUTHER and his followers argued

that Christ’s revelation comes to us in Scripture alone,

and rejected Tradition and the teaching authority, the magisterium,

of the pope and bishops.

But what they soon found out is that

when you eliminate the Tradition and magisterium,

you can wind up with as many different interpretations of Scripture

as you have individual Christians.

And so today we see 10s of 1000’s of separate Protestant denominations

interpreting Scripture as they see fit.

And, unfortunately, we also now so many Catholics who do the same.

 

____

Today’s Gospel tells us that Jesus Himself showed how necessary it is

to have someone who can interpret Scripture with authority.

It tells us that after He had read the scriptures in the synagogue

He went on to explain their meaning to the people.

 

And elsewhere we find that Jesus passed this authority on to His Church

through the ministry of the apostles, telling them:

“What every you bind on earth will be bound in heaven,

and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.”

And at the Last Supper, Jesus prayed:

“I do not pray for [the apostles] only, but also

for those who believe in me through their word,

that they may all be one.”

 

____

But as I said earlier, unity comes not just in being one body in belief,

but also in acting and living together as one body.

St. Paul tells us in today’s 2nd reading that:

“God placed the parts, each one of them, in the body as He intended.”

And elsewhere in St. Paul’s writings about the body of Christ, he says that

“Christ is the head of the body, the Church.”

So, remembering that Jesus has sent the apostles out to speak for Him,

the Church has always referred to them and their successors in ministry

—the popes, bishops and priests—

as standing “in persona Christi capitis

—”in the person of Christ the head” of the body.

 

___

But clearly, the head is not the only member of the body.

St. Paul goes on to say:

“Indeed, the parts of the body that seem to be weaker

are all the more necessary.”

and “The head [cannot say] to the feet, ‘I do not need you.'”

And so the Church recognizes that every Christian

has a special vocation within the Church,

and that no matter how important or unimportant it may seem,

it is still indispensable in God’s plan.

 

The thing is, for the Church to be like Christ’s perfect body,

its members must live and work together,

respecting their own and each other’s dignified place in the body.

And so, for example, the [Second Vatican] Council taught us that:

Pastors should recognize and promote

the dignity and responsibility of the laity in the Church.

They should willingly use their prudent advice…. ”

And it went on to tell us that:

“the laity are empowered–indeed sometimes obliged

–to manifest their opinion on those things

which pertain to the good of the Church.”

 

_____

Now, of course, this doesn’t mean we can believe or do whatever we want,

no matter what the Pope or Bishops say.

In particular, we’re never free to disagree with the Pope or bishops

when it comes to matters

of settled doctrine or official magisterial teaching in faith and morals,

when they teach what has clearly been handed on to them

from centuries of Tradition, or Scripture itself.

So when the Pope says the Eucharist is really the body of Christ,

or that abortion is always wrong and a grave sin,

we can’t disagree with him, and still call ourselves practicing Catholics.

 

___

But we can certainly disagree with bishops and priests, and even the Pope,

when it doesn’t involve doctrine or official teaching.

For example, when it comes to the mere discipline of the Church,

the Church laws that govern the daily peaceful and orderly functioning

of the Church as one Body,

we can disagree, even though we still have to obey.

For example, a few months ago I decided that we’d start using an altar rail.

Some parishioners respectfully disagreed at first, which was fine,

but in the end almost everyone accepted it charitably,

which I greatly appreciated.

In doing that, they did what Vatican II called on them to do,

when it said they should always act:

“with reverence and charity towards those who…

represent the person of Christ” [the priests and bishops],

and “should promptly accept in Christian obedience

what is decided by the pastors.”

 

______

But then there are also many areas not involving official doctrine

or legitimate internal discipline,

where you cannot only disagree with but even not obey

the bishops and priests, and even the Pope.

So, for example, Vatican II taught that in the politics of nations and states,

“All Christians …must recognize the legitimacy of different opinions

with regard to temporal solutions.”

So a bishop or priest can tell you that it’s a grave sin

to support or promote abortion or “gay-marriage”

—since these always directly involve settled doctrine.

But, that same priest or bishop cannot to tell you

what your position should be on every issue in the public square,

whether it be health care, taxes, the government shutdown,

immigration, the wall, or climate change.

Because while all of those problems involve morality,

they do not clearly have only one morally correct solution.

And if a priest or bishop or pope pretends that they do,

you are not absolutely free to disagree.

 

[It’s like the old question of whether to give a fish to a hungry man,

or teach him how to fish

—there is no sin in disagreeing over which is the wiser choice:

both are trying to feed the man.]

 

And in fact, a priest or bishop who tries to impose his mere opinion on his flock

may actually be committing a sin, and perhaps a grave sin,

at least objectively—we can never judge their souls.

For example, last week the bishop of Covington, Kentucky,

clearly unjustly condemned some high school boys in his diocese

for an act of abuse they obviously didn’t do

—in fact, they were the ones who were abused.

And then his neighboring Bishop, in Lexington, Kentucky,

also condemned those teenagers,

treating as Church doctrine his own mere opinion

that you can’t be “pro-life” if wear a “make America great again” hat.

 

We can not only disagree with bishops who do and teach things like that,

we can publicly, though with respect and charity, call them on it.

Because by doing that, they are attacking the unity of the Church.

They are the dissenters, not us who disagree with them.

As St. Paul tells, us: “The head [cannot say] to the feet, ‘I do not need you.’”

And neither can any bishop or priest

assault the dignity of his people by judging them unjustly

or pretending his mere political opinion is more holy than theirs.

 

______

“There are many parts, yet one body…. God placed the parts, each one of them,

in the body as He intended….”

Any time Christians ignore the God-given roles

of the other members of the body of Christ,

–whether it’s laity ignoring the role and dignity of the bishops and priests,

or bishops or priests ignoring the role and dignity of the laity—

there will be problems, threats to the true unity of the one Body of Christ.

As St. Paul says:

“If one part suffers, all the parts suffer with it…”

______

The call unity in the body of Christ is a source of great joy,

but also great suffering,

as the pain of divisions and dissension causes us to realize

that we are not living the oneness, the unity, that Christ calls us to.

As we come together today to celebrate the sacrament of the Eucharist,

the greatest sign and source of unity

–the sacrament of the actual personal Body of Christ

–let us pray for true unity among all Christians—

throughout the world,

and in our own midst.

Let us look for that unity first and foremost in unity of belief in the word of God

protected by the Holy Spirit through 2000 years of apostolic succession.

And let us pray for the guidance of the Holy Spirit

so that we may recognize and accept

the part each of us is to play in bringing about and living that unity.

Because division among the members of the body,

is a rejection of Christ’s prayer at the first Eucharist

“that they may all be one.”

And dissension is a rejection of the promise that:

“As a body is one though it has many parts,

and all the parts of the body, though many, are one body,

so also Christ.”

Third Sunday in Ordinary Time

Shutdown Troubles? I encourage all of you to pray for a just end to the federal partial shutdown, and for all those directly affected by the shutdown. Please be aware if that if any parishioner directly affected by the shutdown needs financial help, even a short-term loan, the parish can help. Just contact me or Eva in the parish office.

Gillette Commercial. I must say something about Gillette’s new commercial lecturing men about what it refers to as “toxic masculinity.” While perhaps in some ways well intentioned, Gillette has clearly bought in to the popular and false ideological notion behind the term “toxic masculinity.” That is, first of all, that all traits that we traditionally have defined as being clearly masculine (or feminine) are actually merely culturally or socially conditioned (i.e., learned, not genetic/natural). Second, it is held that certain “learned masculine” traits are inherently destructive and must be suppressed, including aggression/violence, hypersexuality, competitiveness, and suppression of emotions/feelings.
It is well documented that males and females are very different physically, mentally, and emotionally, and this is rooted in their male or female genetics—they were born this way. I commend you to the work of anthropologist Lionel Tiger (The Decline of Males and Men in Groups) and philosopher Christina Hoff Summers (Who Stole Feminism? and The War Against Boys). And I would argue that each of these so-called “learned” “toxic masculine” qualities are rooted in good healthy masculine traits which are defined in male genetics.
For example, aggression/violence. Although this trait is often discussed in a negative-pejorative sense, no one thinks it evil when a security guard aggressively disarms a crazed school shooter by force (i.e., “violence”) When we see little boys playfully wrestling with each other or pretending to shoot at each other using their fingers as guns, that is not toxic. Rather, it is an expression of a natural and good masculine trait.
The key is understanding that they gifted with this violent/aggressive tendency not in order to hurt innocent people, but rather to readily defend self, family and community. This is a good and natural thing. And it is the corruption of this good trait that is the problem. Which is why Jesus and His Catholic Church have never rejected aggressiveness or violence, but rather promoted self-discipline and self-control, to govern these traits with reason and with love. This has been one of the great contributions Christianity has brought to the world, and it is the loss of this Christian perspective that have led to the abuse of these traits.
So while men should exercise self-control in reason and charity, especially in their treatment of women—in particular by following the teachings of Jesus—but they should not be ashamed of being masculinity.

Covington Catholic Boys. By now you’ve probably heard about the controversy surrounding the boys from Covington Catholic High School (Covington, Kentucky) at the March for Life on January 18. While it was first reported that the boys were insulting to an old Indigenous American Indian, the facts eventually proved they were innocent, and were in fact themselves the victims of abuse by two different radical groups.
Of course, everyone ran with the original false story of the boys abusing the old man, and condemnations rained down on them from all over the place. Most despicable was the almost immediate condemnation by their school and by the spokesperson for their Diocese of Covington, and so by their own Bishop.
This makes me ill. Isn’t this a form of “child abuse”? Why are Church officials increasingly so quick to blame or condemn their own, even our children, before the facts are known. It seems sometimes they are too afraid of being blamed for the bad behavior of others. Isn’t that a big part of the reason for the cover up of sexual abuse—officials trying to avoid looking bad?
Of course, fortunately, not all of our leaders are this way. But let us pray that all Catholic leaders will always have the courage and integrity it takes to apply true justice to all entrusted to their care. And let’s pray for the boys from Covington.

News you might have missed. Due to the snow on January 12-13 you might have missed these topics covered in my column that day. I want to re-publish them (abridged) for your benefit today:
Update on Lighting and Murals Project. I just wanted to let you know that our lighting project, which was complete in August, is completely paid for and came in under budget. The total actual costs were $363,831.80 (including the millwork and initial costs for the paintings), compared to our budget of $372,207.90. The only thing that remains to be paid for is the murals themselves and their installation, which is fixed at a cost of $67,200.00.
Offertory Collection. I want to thank all of you for giving so generously to various collections over the last few weeks, and for your special year-end donations to the parish.
But I’m a little concerned too. Because for the last few months I’ve been watching our collections and other donations very carefully and, unfortunately, they’ve been going down. For the six months ended December 31, 2018, we’ve seen a decline in “revenue” of $93,000, or down 8% from last year at this time. That’s a lot of money.
Now, frankly, I have been expecting something like this for years: I figured once the building loan was paid off some of you would stop seeing the need to give as much.
But there is probably another factor affecting this: the abuse-coverup scandal. A lot of people think the only way to get the bishops and the pope to do something is to hit them in their pocketbooks, so they’ve decided not to give to the Church, or not to give as much as before.
I understand that. But only 8% of the parish offertory collection (we call it the “cathedraticum tax”) goes to the Bishop for diocesan expenses. So by decreasing your donations to the parish you are affecting the parish much more than you are affecting the Bishop/Diocese. So if this a concern, please reconsider. And remember, contributions to the Maintenance Fund or to the parish separately from the Offertory Collection are not subject to the cathedraticum tax, and 100% goes to the parish. [To be clear: I am not in any way expressing support for withholding donations to the Bishop].
The thing is, we will survive and be okay with the decline in contributions. But we will be limited in our planning for the future, and in what we can do today. And I don’t want the parish to be just “okay,” even financially. I want us to flourish.
So I once again thank you all for your generosity. And I just ask you to please prayerfully consider the level of your giving, and give what you think is right to the parish.

Oremus pro invicem. Fr. De Celles