Supreme Court: Religious Liberty. In an amazing 7-2 decision, the Supreme Court last week defended the religious freedom of the baker in Colorado who had refused to bake a cake for a same-sex “wedding,” on the grounds that it was contrary to his religious beliefs. Although the ruling was very narrow in the legal precedent it set, it nevertheless strongly defended the baker’s rights. One part of the opinion, written by the ever-surprising Justice Anthony Kennedy, particularly struck me:
“To describe a man’s faith as “one of the most despicable pieces of rhetoric that people can use” [as one of Colorado official did] is to disparage his religion in at least two distinct ways: by describing it as despicable, and also by characterizing it as merely rhetorical—something insubstantial and even insincere. The commissioner even went so far as to compare Phillips’ invocation of his sincerely held religious beliefs to defenses of slavery and the Holocaust. This sentiment is inappropriate for a Commission charged with the solemn responsibility of fair and neutral enforcement of Colorado’s antidiscrimination law—a law that protects discrimination on the basis of religion as well as sexual orientation.”
While some are concerned that the Court did not go far enough, and that other cases might fail if the fact pattern is different (which I concede), it seems to me that a win is a win. Considering that Justice Kennedy also gave us the “right” to “gay marriage” in his Obergefell opinion, this is a huge step away from the apparent trending of the Court. Moreover, with Trump appointee Justice Neil Gorsuch writing a very strong pro-religious freedom “concurring opinion,” and with rumors abounding that Kennedy will retire this summer and so be replaced with another Gorsuch-like justice, there is great hope that the trend will continue, at least to defend religious liberty. So, thanks be to God, and keep on praying.
North Korea. Love him or hate him, we all have to pray for our President, Donald Trump, as he meets with Chairman Kim Jong-un of North Korea. I’m not by nature an optimist, nor am I pollyannish, naïve or politically or historically ignorant. But if our President can pull off a wise and just deal, we will all be better off. So, let us pray for President Trump, and Chairman Kim. Please God, grant us peace, even in this world.
Corpus Christi. Thanks to all who worked so hard to make our Corpus Christi Procession so beautiful last Sunday, particularly Patrick O’Brien who coordinated everything. Of course, due to the rain, we decided to not to process outside, so I especially thank all those who did preparatory work that wound up being unnecessary: that can be frustrating, and seem to be unappreciated, but I truly appreciated it.
Instead of going outdoors we simply processed with the Blessed Sacrament around the interior of the church and then spent some time praying the Rosary, the Litany of the Blessed Sacrament and private prayers. It actually ended up being a very fruitful time of devotion, I think. While the physical effort and work of processing outside in public can be very edifying and provides not only a public witness but a blessing of our grounds, by staying inside the church many people noted that they were able to focus more on Our Eucharistic Lord with prayers and hymns, without being distracted by the heat and logistics of the outdoor procession. It might also have increased attendance: walking around prayerfully in heat is not so easy for families with little ones, and older folks as well. So, I’m thinking maybe next year we might do the same thing. I will pray and think about it.
Choir. Thanks to the Choir for all their great work these last nine months—and thanks be to God for this gift. Not just the extraordinary efforts during the special liturgical seasons (e.g., Holy Week, etc.) and special liturgies (e.g., First Holy Communion) but for coming out every Sunday to help us to pray in song. Honestly, I think we have one of the best music programs of any parish in the Diocese—I am constantly receiving compliments from parishioners, visitors, priests and even the Bishop.
As in the past, the Choir is on hiatus for the Summer now. As they say, absence makes the heart grow fonder. But when they return in the Fall we will be missing a few of our outstanding voices, as some are moving from the area. Thanks to them for all they’ve given us, and God bless them as they go forward. But for us that leaves a great need for new voices to join the choir in the Fall. Please, consider joining and contact Elisabeth Turco at 703-506-4644 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
End of the School Year and Graduations. Well, the school year is finally coming to an end. Congratulations to all those who are graduating from High School or University. This is a great accomplishment and the beginning of exciting new stage in your life time for all of you. Special felicitations to parishioner Katherine Taylor, daughter of Ed and Eileen Taylor, who was named Valedictorian at St. John Paul the Great High School.
(Interesting fact #1: Katherine went to grade school at Angelus Academy, an excellent preparation for high school. Interesting fact #2: St. Raymond parishioners were SJPG valedictorian 4 years ago and salutatorian 3 years ago!).
As summer begins, let me remind you of three things. First, school is over, not your faith. So keep coming to Mass on Sundays and praying every day. And don’t forget to go to Confession. Second, enjoy yourself, but don’t squander your time sitting around doing nothing or playing on the computer. Play sports, and games with your friends, especially outdoors; get a job and earn some money and good experience; take part in our activities at the parish; visit relatives and friends. Enjoy, but don’t waste or abuse. Third, be safe. Don’t do stupid things or take foolish risks. Have fun, but don’t hurt yourself or others. We love you and want to watch you grow and fulfill your potential for years to come. God bless you!
Public School Teachers. I am well aware that several of our parishioners teach or otherwise work for area public schools. I have often spoken with some of them about the trials they encounter as faithful Catholics in a very often hostile environment. They need our prayers and encouragement as they try to bring Christ and Truth to their schools.
So it occurred to me that maybe these folks could join with me to form a parish group that would serve to not only to advise me, but also to assist each other in prayer and practice. So, if you are one of these folks, please let me know if you’d be interested in participating by contacting me at the office or through email at email@example.com.
New Priests. Please pray for the three men ordained to the Holy Priesthood for the Diocese of Arlington yesterday (Saturday, June 9): Father Michael Folmar, Father Nicholas Schierer, and Father Christopher Tipton. Praised be Jesus Christ for their vocations! And pray for more vocations to the priesthood!
Oremus pro invicem. Fr. De Celles