Thirtieth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Halloween. This coming Tuesday, October 31, most people will be celebrating “Halloween.” Sadly, for some—such as satanic cults and witches—it is an evening to celebrate evil. But, thankfully, for most people its simply a day to pretend to be something they’re not. Not much harm in that, unless we pretend to be something evil. This is especially the case with children—I pray none my children at St. Raymond’s would honor evil (even unintentionally) by dressing up as devils, vampires and the like. Dress up like a superhero, or better yet, a great Saint. Let’s keep this an uplifting and wholesome day, mainly for kids to pretend and eat candy. And pray for those who turn it to some other less moral purpose.

A Holy Week. With all the attention on “Halloween” this week, most people will forget what this week is really about: All Saints Day and All Souls Day. These days are particularly important because they remind us that the Church of Jesus Christ is more than just the people we see at Mass, or even the 2 billion plus Christians on Earth. Because countless numbers of Christians have lived and died before us, and many of those are in Heaven, or on their way there.
This is what the Church means when it speaks of the “Communion of Saints”—using the word “saint” as it is most commonly used in Scripture, to refer to all Christians, both those living and those who have died in Christ. And so, the one Church of Christ has three states, or parts: first, all Christians on Earth (“The Pilgrim Church” or “The Church Militant”), second, all those in Heaven (“The Church in Glory” or “The Church Triumphant”), and third, all the souls in Purgatory (“The Church Being Purified” or “The Church Suffering”).

All Saints Day, Wednesday, November 1, is a holy day of obligation (you must go to Mass, under pain of mortal sin) reminds us of our unity with the Church in Heaven. Throughout the year we celebrate the feasts of particular “saints” whom the Church officially recognizes as now living in Heaven—these are “canonized saints”. But on ALL Saints’ Day we also remember ALL the other countless numbers of souls who have gone to Heaven, including, hopefully, many of our deceased parents and grandparents, and so many of our little children who have gone before us. This is their feast day! So, we honor them, and pray to them, asking the whole multitude in Heaven to assist us on our way to join them.
All Souls Day, Thursday, November 2, remembers our unity with the Church in Purgatory. Unfortunately, nowadays even the mention of Purgatory often triggers reactions of disbelief or even ridicule—even among Catholics. Yet this dogma goes back to the Old Testament, as 2 Maccabees 12:39-46 makes very clear. Some see Purgatory as a place of horrible torture, or even a part of Hell, and the thought that their deceased loved ones could be there seems disrespectful, or even unbearable: they want to think of them as being happy in Heaven.
But remember, St. John tells us in Rev. 21:27 that “nothing imperfect shall enter into” Heaven. The thing is, who do you know that is perfect? Almost all of us have at least some venial sin we cling to, or have some inordinate attachment to earthly things. Does that mean that all of us imperfect people will not enter Heaven, and so go to Hell? Not at all. In His great love and mercy, the Lord takes all of us who die with any imperfections on our souls (but having, before dying, properly repented of any mortal—“deadly”—sins) and He perfects, or purifies, us. Another word for purification is “purgation,” so this time/place/state of purification is called “Purgatory.”
It is true that Purgatory is a place of suffering, hence it is referred to as the “Church Suffering.” Perhaps this suffering is best understood in the light of the suffering that comes with any change. For example, when we try to get into better physical shape, or when we try to learn a new subject, it’s difficult, “painful” (“no pain, no gain”). But this pain is not something we should shun—in fact, the pain becomes a source of joy, as we begin to recognize it as a sign of change to a better state.
So, is it a surprise that the change from imperfect to perfect will be painful? Or that in spite of their suffering, St. Catherine of Genoa, after receiving a vision of Purgatory from Our Lord, wrote: “I believe no happiness can be …compared with that of a soul in Purgatory except that of the saints in Paradise.” The souls in Purgatory suffer, but they rejoice as it brings them closer to Heaven.
Even so, we must pray for the Souls in Purgatory—because they do suffer. Just as we try to help those we love on Earth by praying for them, we should continue to pray for them after death to help them on their way to perfection. Even if we hope or think they’re already in heaven, we still owe them whatever help, in prayer, we can give them in death. So, even though it is not a day of obligation, the Church encourages us to go to Mass on All Souls Day to offer that greatest prayer possible for the “Holy Souls.”

Election. State elections are now only 9 days away. Sadly, many Virginians will not vote in this so-called “off year election,” even though it will decide who writes and executes the laws and policies that govern most of our daily lives at the county and state level. So, I ask all of you to join me in voting, and also praying from now until November 7, begging Our Lord to give us the best leaders possible. Please consider praying the daily Rosary and/or the Novena prayer(s) to St. Thomas More, and offering up small sacrifices.

Lighting and Mural Capital Campaign. In the last few days all registered parishioners should have received a letter/packet in the mail explaining the renovations we plan to make in the church next summer—replacing/upgrading all our existing lighting and installing two new beautiful murals (paintings) of St. Raymond. This project will be expensive, about $400,000. So I am asking all of you to make a special donation to help pay for it.
I will speak briefly about this at all Masses this Sunday and write more here in the coming weeks, but please read over the packets we sent to see all the details. There are also some pictures and diagrams in the narthex this week that might help you get a better understanding of the project. If you haven’t received the mailing yet, please call or email the parish office. Thanks for your generosity. Please pray to St. Raymond for the success of this work.

Oremus pro invicem. Fr. De Celles

Twenty Ninth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Rosary. As most of you know October is the “Month of the Rosary.” Tradition attributes the Rosary to an apparition of the Blessed Mother to St. Dominic around the year 1200. The use of strings of beads to count prayers dates back to pre-Christian times and to the first centuries of the Church. By the end of the 8th century the beads were used to count the praying of the 150 psalms. In the 10th and 11th century the strings of beads were commonly used to count Our Fathers, but by the 12th century they were more widely used to count the 150, or 50, Hail Marys. In the 15th century the practice of meditating on the mysteries of the life of Christ while praying the Hail Marys became popular, and the devotion began to be called the Rosarium, (“garland of roses”). By the 16th century the division of the Rosary into the 5 decades of the Joyful, Sorrowful and Glorious mysteries became set. In 1999 Pope John Paul II proposed the “Luminous mysteries.”
October’s particular association with the Rosary goes back at least to October 7, 1571, when Pope Pius V attributed the miraculous defeat of the invading Muslim fleet in the Battle of Lepanto to the praying of the Rosary, and declared that day the “Feast of Our Lady of Victory.” Two years later this was changed to the “Feast of Our Lady of the Rosary.” In 1883 Pope Leo XIII dedicated the whole month of October to the Queen of the Holy Rosary.
The Rosary remains a devotion that should be dear to the hearts of all Catholics, and Our Lady of Fatima reminded us to pray it daily. For centuries successive popes have recommended it. If anyone asks me how to improve their prayer life, my first response is always, “pray the Rosary”—every day, or at least once a week. Especially in October!

Fr. Smith’s Fatima Talk. Fr. Smith’s talk on Fatima on Friday, October 13, was well received by a large crowd of parishioners. Thanks to him for sharing his knowledge and experiences of Fatima, and thanks to all who attended.

Feast of St. John Paul II. Today, October 22, is the feast day of St. John Paul II. I’m always surprised how many people do not remember him or know much about him. They should.
Born in Wadowice, Poland on May 18, 1920, Karol Jozef Wojtyla was one of three children. Sadly, he lost his mother when he was about 9 years old, and all of his immediately family members were deceased by the time he was 21. His career as a young university student, and amateur actor, was interrupted by the German invasion of Poland in 1939, and he spent the next few years working in forced labor in a quarry. Eventually he entered the underground seminary run by Krakow’s archbishop, and was ordained a priest on November 1, 1946. He went on to earn his doctorate in theology in Rome, and his doctorate in philosophy in Krakow. He then served as a parish priest, university chaplain, and seminary and university professor. He was ordained auxiliary bishop of Krakow on September 28, 1958. In 1964 he was named Archbishop of Krakow (at age 43) and became a cardinal in 1967. As a bishop and archbishop, he took an active role at the Second Vatican Council, making important contributions to the constitution Gaudium et Spes. As the popular young Cardinal-Archbishop of Krakow he became the nemesis of the Communist government of Poland.
During his years as a professor he was dearly loved by his students and their friends. Working with other Catholic theologians he developed a unique approach to teaching about the dignity of the human person, his relationship to God and the meaning of family, marriage and sexuality. This later came to be known as the “Theology of the Body,” which he presented as a gift to the whole Church when he was elected Pope on October 16, 1978.
His papacy began dramatically, as he was elected after the sudden death of Pope John Paul I, who reigned for only 30 days—some seeing this as part of a direct and extraordinary intervention of the Holy Spirit in choosing Wojtyla. This dramatic beginning, along with the fact that he was the first non-Italian pope in over 400 years, as well as his obvious physical vigor, keen intellect, and personal magnetism, made him an instant focus of world attention.
His 27 year reign was marked by innumerable and great accomplishments, including: being a critical figure in the fall of the Iron Curtain and Soviet Communism; clarification of Church doctrine in his prolific speeches and writings; promulgation of the Catechism of the Catholic Church; complete revision of the Code of Canon Law; pastoral visits to 129 countries (8 million saw him at one event in the Philippines); reform of the liturgy; establishment of World Youth Day; complete reorganization of the Roman Curia; canonization of 480 saints; and his unrelenting and outspoken defense of the unborn and marriage.
His example of personal holiness and prayer (spending hours every day in prayer, he seems to be a genuine contemplative and mystic) were a lesson to us all. But perhaps his most amazing accomplishment was attracting young people to the Church, who loved him for clearly speaking the truth to them.
There is not enough space here to explain all he did or what a great and holy man and Pope he was. At the end of his funeral four million mourners in Rome spontaneously and enthusiastically shouted, “Santo subito!”—“a saint right now!” Many call him “the Great,” and I am personally convinced that he will eventually receive this as a formal title (given only to 3 of his predecessors), and also be named a “Doctor of the Church.”
Saint John Paul, pray for us!

Parish Finances. Last week we published our “Annual Parish Financial Report” for the fiscal year ended June 30, 2017, as an insert in the bulletin. Operating Income (mainly from offertory and debt-reduction collections, and other donations) was $2,351,131, only $5,587 (or .2%) less than the prior year, while OPERATING EXPENSES were $1,914,681, up $57,253 (or 3%) from the prior year, leaving us a Net Operating Income of $436,450, down $62,842. Most of the increase in expenses was due to increased salaries and benefits ($48,000), mainly relating to increased cost of medical benefits and an accounting anomaly of extra pay period (27 vs. 26).
We also had Capital Improvement Expenditures of $102,590, mainly related to the confessionals ($18,000), the new “donor wall” ($18,000), and office renovations ($54,000). This left us with a Net Surplus (the bottom line) of $333,860.
On the Balance Sheet side of things, we had $1,078,487 in savings (up $28,829, due to interest) and a loan balance of $387,917 (down $297,096 from the prior year). Note: we are on target to pay off the parish debt (the “building loan”) next summer, June 2018.
Please feel free to contact me or Kirsti Tyson in the parish office with any questions about the report.

Oremus pro invicem. Fr. De Celles

MODIFIED Weekday Mass Schedule 12-19 September

St. Raymond’s will be following a Modified WEEKDAY Mass Schedule
Tuesday, September 12th – 6:30am Mass ONLY
Wednesday, September 13th – 8am Mass and 7pm Mass
Thursday, September 14th – 6:30am Mass ONLY
Friday, September 15th – 8am Mass and 7pm EFM (Latin) Mass
Monday, September 18th – 8am Mass ONLY
Tuesday, September 19th – 6:30am Mass ONLY

Modified Mass Schedule August 16th- August 23rd

MODIFIED
Weekday Mass Schedule
August 16th – August 23rd

St. Raymond’s will be following a
Modified WEEKDAY Mass Schedule

Wednesday, August 16th through
Friday, August 18th

Wednesday, August 16th – 8am Mass and 7pm Mass
Thursday, August 17th – 6:30am Mass ONLY
Friday, August 18th – 8am Mass and 7pm EFM (Latin) Mass

Monday, August 21st
through Wednesday, August 23rd

Monday, August 21st – 8am Mass ONLY
Tuesday, August 22nd – 6:30am Mass ONLY
Wednesday, August 23rd – 8am Mass and 7pm Mass

BISHOP BURBIDGE’S STATEMENT ON VIOLENCE IN CHARLOTTESVILLE, August 14, 2017

Seeing the violence in Charlottesville was saddening and disheartening. The more we read about the demonstration of racism, bigotry and self-proclaimed superiority made it seem as though we were living in a different time. So much progress has been made since the Civil Rights Movement. And yet, there are some who cling to misguided and evil beliefs about what makes American unique and remarkable.

Any discussion of this sensitive topic must begin by condemning all forms of bigotry and hatred. For Christians, any form of hatred, no matter who it is against, is an offense—a sin—against the Body of Christ. Each person is created by God and bestowed with his unyielding love. Anyone who treats one of those creations with disrespect, disdain or violence, has offended not just that person, but also the creator of that individual. When we witness destructive behavior, such as racism or hatred, we might naturally respond with righteous anger, but we must not respond with our own form of hatred. Hating those who hate us offers no possibility of authentic conversion or growth as sons and daughters of God.

We should be grateful to live in a country where the freedom of speech and assembly is cherished and protected in a constitution. This right protects religious expression, for example. At the same time, these rights also open the opportunity for those with evil intent and backward thinking to demonstrate and share what they believe as well. The question we must ask, especially after seeing our rights misused to the point that violence erupts leaving many injured and a young woman dead, is: what do we do now?

We must find unity as a country. Unity does not mean we all believe the same things. Likewise, the freedom to express differing views or opinions does not mean we reject our unity as God’s family. The Catholic Church is rooted in fundamental principles that make us authentically Catholic—but apart from them, there are issues that allow for debate and discussion, which is normal within any family. Our country is the same in many ways. We must be united by a shared interest in freedom, liberty, and love for our neighbor. Beyond those unifying principles, there will be disagreements and differing beliefs. But our unity is in our shared values and, and perhaps more importantly, the respect we show to one another. Without respect for each other, even when we adamantly disagree, we will see more violence and discord in this great nation.

At this time, I call upon all Catholics in the Diocese or Arlington to turn to the patroness of our nation, Mary under the title of the Immaculate Conception, and Saint Michael the Archangel, and pray for unity, respect, and peace in our communities.