Eighth Sunday in Ordinary Time

LAST WEEK’S NEWS. A lot of interesting news last week. Let’s look at some of it
briefly.
Vatican Summit. The Summit on child abuse ended last Sunday without
producing any important results. While it might have been helpful to bishops from
countries where child abuse issues haven’t been addressed, in my opinion it really did
nothing but waste time in solving the problem in the U.S.. Recall that the Pope had
ordered the U.S. Bishops wait to see what this Summit came up with before proposing
new rules to apply to lying and abusing Bishops. Okay, so with no results, the Bishops
have wasted the last 7 months or so. Now what?
Bishop Zanchetta. Under the cloud of allegations of sexual abuse Bishop Gustavo
Zanchetta resigned as Bishop of Orán, Argentina, in August 2017, and was appointed by
Pope Francis to a newly-created position in the Vatican. The Vatican has repeatedly
denied knowing about the accusations at the time of the appointment, but this week an
Argentine newspaper has published documents purporting to show the opposite. Did the
Summit really matter?
Cardinal Pell. It was announced this week that an Australian jury had found
Cardinal George Pell, (the Cardinal in charge of Vatican finances) guilty of sexually
abusing two 13-year-old boys in 1996. However, grave doubts surround the conviction,
which Pell is appealing. For example, it rested almost entirely on the testimony of one of
the alleged victims, the second alleged victim had died in 2014, after telling his mother,
that Pell had not abused him. Moreover, as an Australian priest writes, “The proposition
that the offenses charged were committed immediately after Mass by a fully robed
archbishop in the sacristy with an open door and in full view from the corridor seemed
incredible to my mind.” Also, this was the second trial on these charges: the first trial
ended with a hung jury, with 10 of 12 jurors voting to acquit.
If Pell is guilty, he’s guilty, and he should be thrown into prison for a long time.
But many Australians believe the conviction completely unfounded and rooted in anti-
Catholic bias, and that the verdict will be overturned by the higher court.
Monsters Among Us. The “Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act” was
rejected in the US Senate along a mainly party line vote, with only 3 democrats voting in
favor of the bill. The legislation would have required that "any health care practitioner
present" at the time of a birth "exercise the same degree of professional skill, care, and
diligence to preserve the life and health of the child as … to any other child born alive at
the same gestational age." It should be noted that all the Democratic Senators running for
president in 2020 voted against the measure, including Senators Sanders, Harris, Booker,
Gillibrand, Klobuchar and Warren. Imagine, voting to allow a doctor to just let born
babies die on the table, or even be killed. What kind of monsters are these Democrats?
Abortion Clinics. Meanwhile, the Trump Administration announced it will bar
groups that provide abortions or abortion referrals from participating in federal family-
planning program. The new rule will redirect money from Planned Parenthood and
toward faith-based providers.
LENT. The Season of Lent begins this Wednesday with Ash Wednesday. As you know,

this is my favorite time of year, as it gives us the opportunity to meditate on the immense
love of God that would lead Him to suffer and die for our sins. At the same time, then,
it’s also a time to consider our sins and to work to overcome them, through our diligent
efforts and cooperating with His grace. In short, it can be a time of intense growth in our
personal relationship with Jesus Christ.
Lent, of course, brings a much busier parish schedule, which we’ve laid out in
detail in this week’s “Lenten Schedule” insert. Please keep this insert in a central place
in your home—maybe on your fridge door—to remind you of the many opportunities for
spiritual growth the parish offers this Lent.
Ash Wednesday. Ashes will be distributed at all Masses on Ash Wednesday (see
below). Since ashes are merely symbolic (a “sacramental” not a “Sacrament”) they may
be received by anyone who wishes to repent their sins, Catholic or not, in “good
standing” or not. Note: There are no confessions scheduled on Ash Wednesday.
Fasting and Abstinence. Ash Wednesday and Good Friday are days of both
fasting and abstinence, and every Friday in Lent is a day of abstinence. Failure to
“substantially” keep these penances is grave matter (e.g., potentially a mortal sin). The
law of abstinence requires that no meat may be eaten on these days, and binds all
Catholics who are 14 years old or older. No other penance may be substituted. The law of
fasting binds those who are between the ages of 18 and 59. The Church defines “fasting,”
for these purposes, as having only one full meal a day, with two additional smaller meals
permitted, but only as necessary to keep up strength and so small that if added together
they would not equal a full meal. Snacking is forbidden, but that does not include drinks
that are not of the nature of a meal. Even though these rules do not bind all age groups,
all are encouraged to follow them to the extent possible, including children. The sick,
pregnant and other folks with special physical circumstances may be partially or totally
exempt from these rules.
Doing Penance. Of course, all Catholics are encouraged to do personal acts of
penance throughout the season of Lent, traditionally of three types: almsgiving
(including acts of charity), sacrifice (what you “give up”), and prayer. Please choose
your penances carefully, considering your health and state in life. Challenge yourself, but
pick things you can actually do, rather than things that are so difficult that you may easily
give up on them.
Sacrament of Penance. Confession is key to a fruitful Lent. I strongly encourage
that you take advantage of our extended Lent confession schedule—confessions are
scheduled every single day in Lent, except Ash Wednesday and Holy Thursday (see
today’s “Lenten Schedule” insert for exact times—they’re a little different this year).
Lenten Series—A Little Different. When I was thinking about my topic for this
year’s series, “The Agony in the Garden,” and Jesus’ question to His apostles in the
Garden came to mind: “Could you not keep watch for one hour with me?” So it occurred
to me to give my talks in the church during a Holy Hour of Exposition of the Blessed
Sacrament, so we could “watch for one hour” in prayer and meditation with the Lord.
We’ll begin with Exposition, then I’ll give a half-hour talk, followed by praying the
Rosary and then Benediction.

Please join us every Thursday during Lent, beginning next Thursday, March 14,
and continuing through April 11, from 7pm to 8pm. If you’ve never been to a Holy Hour
or one to the Lenten Series, please come—you’ll be glad you did.
 
Oremus pro invicem. Fr. De Celles

Seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time

List of Accused Priests. Last week Bishop Michael Burbidge, Bishop of Arlington,
released a list of 16 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 these sins are despicable, and deserve every punishment they get in this world
and in the next. As Jesus says: “whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in
me to sin, it would be better for him to have a great millstone fastened around his neck
and to be drowned in the depth of the sea.”
But as you consider that list, it’s important for your own wellbeing of spirit, your
own peace of heart, 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 begin a trial, it is not a final verdict of “guilty” in that trial. But about
half of the priests on the list 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 is at least 1 on the list who maintains his innocence and his
case is still being considered (i.e., no “verdict” yet). And there is 1 on the list that Rome
has decided that there’s not enough evidence to find him guilty, and they have allowed
him to take medical retirement, as a priest, albeit without any public ministry–case
closed.
Nevertheless, I’m not making excuses for anyone, and 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, according to God’s justice and mercy.
 
Vatican Summit on Abuse. As I write this on Wednesday, the leaders of the Bishops’
conferences from around the world are assembling in Rome for their summit meeting
with the Pope to discuss clerical sex abuse. The meeting runs from Thursday, February
21 to Sunday, February 24. You will remember that when the American Bishops were
assembled last November, to put into place rules addressing abusive or lying bishops, at
the last-minute Pope Francis ordered them not to pass any rules, but to wait for the
outcome of this week’s summit in Rome. Well, after so much delay in addressing the
open and bleeding wound, the summit now takes place.
Sadly, as I remarked last week, it doesn’t look like this will be a very productive
meeting, if for no other reason that many of the bishops come from countries where
sexual abuse hasn’t become an open issue as it has in the U.S., and so it seems to me that
a lot of time will be spent on convincing them that this is a huge problem, instead of
spending necessary time on fixing the problem. Even the Pope has told us that
"expectations need to be deflated.”
Nevertheless, we need to pray that the Lord brings something out of this
conference. And that the purification of the Church will continue to expand in the coming
months.
St. Peter Damien. Importantly, the summit begins on February 21, the Feast day
of St. Peter Damien, the great reformer of the clergy in the 11 th century. His letter to Pope
Leo IX, sometimes called “The Book of Gomorrah,” is a full-throated attack on the
sexual depravity, especially homosexuality (“sodomy”), of the clerics of his day.

By the age 25 Peter Damian was already a famous professor at the Universities of
Parma and Ravenna. But, he could not endure the scandals and distractions of university
life and decided (about 1035) to retire from the world, entering the hermitage of Fonte-
Avellana, where he became prior in 1043 until his death in 1072. In 1057 he was
reluctantly made Cardinal-Bishop of Ostia.
Living in the seclusion of the cloister, he watched closely the fortunes of the
Church, and strove for her purification in those deplorable times. From 1045 till his death
he cajoled and worked with the various popes for the purification of priests and bishops.
And in 1051 he published the “Book of Gomorrah,” which caused a great stir and aroused
widespread enmity against Peter, and still does today. Although sometimes harsh in
rhetoric, it is also compassionate, especially to innocent victims and truly repentant
sinners. It is filled with penetrating insights and lessons that would seem to apply aptly to
the Church today.
So I encourage you to pray to St. Peter Damien, today and in the future, for the
purification of the priests, bishops and cardinals of the Church.
Some quotations from the Book of Gomorrah:
— “For God's sake, why do you damnable sodomites pursue the heights of
ecclesiastical dignity with such fiery ambition?”
— “Listen, you do-nothing superiors of clerics and priests. Listen, and even though
you feel sure of yourselves, tremble at the thought that you are partners in the guilt of
others; those, I mean, who wink at the sins of their subjects that need correction and who
by ill-considered silence allow them license to sin.”
— “But if the doctor fears the virus of the plague, who will apply the cauterization?
If he is nauseated by those whom he is to cure, who will lead sick souls back to the state
of health?”
— “It is not sinners, but the wicked who should despair; it is not the magnitude of
one’s crime, but contempt of God that dashes one’s hopes.”
 
Security Cameras. For years I have been increasingly concerned about the safety and
security of parishioners and visitors to our church. I especially worry about unattended
children being in the downstairs hall and hallways, especially during Sunday Mass. Also,
as time has gone on, I have been made aware that there are sometimes drug deals done in
our parking lot at night, and I worry that a parishioner might stumble upon these or other
unsavory activities. So, after an extensive process of consultation with police, insurers
and other security experts, and evaluating several bids from reputable security
companies, I have signed a contract to install multiple security cameras on our property.
Cameras will cover almost the whole outside property, as well as most of the interior of
the public spaces of the buildings.
For security purposes, I am not inclined to reveal more information about the
system, lest any “bad guys” find out information useful to them. Suffice it to say, we will
have the cameras, and they will be on 24 hours a day. If any parishioners want more
information, or have any concerns, please feel free to contact me or Tom Browne in the
office.

I will make a further announcement about this at Masses once we have the
cameras in place.
 
Oremus pro invicem. Fr. De Celles

TEXT: 7th Sunday in Ordinary Time, February 24, 2019

7th Sunday in Ordinary Time

February 24, 2019

Homily by Fr. John De Celles

St. Raymond of Peñafort Catholic Church

Springfield, VA

 

 

Today’s Gospel reading is really one of the most beautiful texts in Scripture:

everything from the radically profound concept to

“Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you”,

to the wonderful promise:

“Give, and it shall be given to you.

Good measure pressed down, shaken together, running over,

will they pour into the fold of your garment.”

But as wonderful as these sayings are,

they are also very hard sayings to apply and live out:

“When someone slaps you on one cheek, turn and give him the other;”

“Do not judge, …Do not condemn, ….Pardon, and you shall be pardoned.”

 

If we’re honest with ourselves,

the whole idea of loving our enemy is very intimidating.

Why must we love our enemy?

In today’s 1st reading from Samuel,

we’re reminded of the story of Saul searching out David, to kill him.

And in this particular passage we see

where God has presented David with the perfect opportunity

to end his troubles as he comes across his enemy Saul

when Saul is asleep and completely vulnerable.

But David refuses to kill King Saul:

“Do not harm him,” he says,

“for who can lay hands on the Lord’s anointed.”

But, as we read elsewhere,

while David will not do anything to harm God’s anointed,

he does not hesitate to kill his other enemies

–in fact as he’s dying he tells his son Solomon to continue killing his enemies.

Clearly, King David has not yet understood the concept of loving his enemies,

or turning the other cheek.

 

It takes another son of David, the one who is the anointed one

–the Messiah or Christ–to introduce this teaching and to give it meaning.

At the last Supper Jesus told His apostles:

“Greater love has no man than this,

that a man lay down his life for his friends.”

Here, Christ calls us to love our friends even to this radical extent, to die for them.

But what about our enemies?

The thing is, that at the Last Supper,

Jesus is speaking in the context of His knowledge

of the death that awaits Him the next day.

A death He endures, not just for His friends, but even for His enemies.

It’s true that only those who are His friends

can benefit from His death and resurrection,

but the thing is that in His death He invites all mankind

–His friends and His enemies–

to be not only His friends, but also His brothers and sisters,

sons and daughters of His Heavenly father.

He dies so that even His enemies can share in His very own life

–to truly become, through Him,  “God’s anointed”.

 

So in today’s Gospel we hear Jesus tell us that if we love our enemies:

“You will rightly be called sons of the Most High,

since he himself is good to the ungrateful and the wicked.”

The concept of loving our enemies

is not built on some sort of sick divine masochism,

but on the fact that these are the ones whom Christ

invites or calls to be his family,

to become “anointed ones of God” with Him.

 

____

Christ died for us all–friends and enemies—

and invites us to share in His sacrificial death–His greatest act of love for us.

And so just as He allowed His enemies to not only crucify Him but also

to curse Him, and to strip Him and take all of His clothes

                   –even to slap His cheek,

He tells us in turn to:

“bless those who curse you…

when someone takes your coat, let him have your shirt as well…

When someone slaps you on one cheek, turn and give him the other.”

And even though He is falsely judged and condemned, He said on the Cross:

“Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do.”

So He tells us today: “Pardon, and you shall be pardoned.”

 

____

Jesus goes on and on with examples of loving our enemy,

because He wants this love to permeate every aspect of our lives.

This, as I said can be intimidating.

But we have to remember 2 very important things.

First of all, the examples Christ gives here are just that: examples.

Sometimes when our enemy strikes us

we should not simply silently let him strike us again.

For example, when Christ is being tried before the Sanhedrin, Scripture tells us:

“one of the officers standing by struck Jesus with his hand….

Jesus answered him,

“If I have spoken wrongly, bear witness to the wrong;

but if I have spoken rightly, why do you strike me?”

Think about this: Jesus doesn’t just silently turn the other cheek to be slapped

–He asks, “why are you hitting me?”

He verbally and with reason pushes back

—because in His divine wisdom

and in love for the guard, the people around and for us,

He sees it as necessary that we hear Him correct the guard.

But also in love, He restrains Himself:

He could have hit the guard back, but He doesn’t.

In fact, as He told Peter just minutes before this,

He could have called down “more than twelve legions of angels”

to strike down the whole place.

 

____

What Christ is demanding in these examples

is that all of our actions should be made in the context of love

–even when dealing with our enemies.

The first response in love is patience and humility,

but sometimes, IN LOVE, for either the person, or the whole community,

we have to respond in another way.

Maybe we have to turn the other cheek, or walk away, or remain silent,

or maybe we have to speak up and correct, or even chastise,

or fight or even punish.

But whatever we do, it must not be done with hatred, bitterness or malice,

but in love, even if it’s painful to us personally.

 

____

There’s also a second more important factor to consider

when we think of the hardness of these sayings.

In Chapter 19 of St. Matthew’s Gospel, Jesus gives another set of hard sayings.

When the apostles show their frustration with the difficulties He’s presenting,

saying, “Who then can be saved?”

Jesus tells them:

“With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”

For man, loving our enemies is impossible.

For some of us, turning the other cheek, or pardoning or not passing judgment,

may seem impossible.

But for Christ, our Lord and God, nothing is impossible.

–His incarnation, His death and resurrection show us this very clearly.

 

But think now: by our baptism we have been born again into a  new life

which is a participation in the very life of Christ Himself.

We have become not only friends, but family, and not only family,

but members of  Christ’s Body.

And in the Eucharist we are present once again

at the death and resurrection of our Lord,

His sacrificial laying down of His life for us and for all.

And in the Eucharist He calls us to take our sacrifices made in love

–the times we’ve turned the other cheek, given our coat or been patient,

or even painfully corrected someone in love—

and offer these to be united with His own sacrifice

so that they and we can be transformed by the love of the Cross,

and enter more fully into the life of the risen Lord.

Through the power of the Holy Spirit working in this sacrament of the Eucharist,

and in all the sacraments, we receive the power to live the life of Christ,

to love our enemies, and do good to those who hate us.

 

Because it’s not merely our love at work, but the love of Christ Himself.

So that even if these things are impossible for us,

nothing is impossible for us when we live in Jesus Christ.

As St. Paul says in today’s 2nd reading:

“Earthly men are like the man of earth,

heavenly men are like the man of heaven“—Jesus.

 

___

Christ’s call to “love our enemies” is at one and the same time

sublimely beautiful, and devastatingly hard.

But if the Cross is hard, so also is it beautiful

as the act of perfect love that leads us to the resurrection and eternal life.

As we now begin to enter into the mystery of the Holy Eucharist

let us ask Christ to unite our sacrifices to His own,

that we may have the strength to see everyone we meet as called to be

“God’s anointed” and so

–to turn the other cheek, to pardon and not condemn

–to lay down our lives as Christ lays down His life,

for those who are His friends

and those who are now His enemies

but whom He calls to be His friends.

And let us praise Him,

knowing that in that in this giving of ourselves in the life of Christ’s love,

He in turn gives us all  good things, in

“Good measure pressed down, shaken together, running over.”

 

 

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