Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Returning from Vacation. You may have noticed I was
gone from the parish from January 12th to the 20th.
Unfortunately, this meant that I missed the March for
Life, and I apologize for that. I’ve made most of the
Marches for the last 25 years, the exceptions being
when I was sick, but this is the first I’ve missed because
I was on vacation. Unfortunately, all things considered, it
couldn’t be helped.
Ever since moving from Texas 25 years ago, I’ve
noticed that the long cold winter “up here” really wears
on my health, both physically and mentally. So, for more
than a decade I’ve made it a point to take a week off in
January to go south to warmer climes. This has a
dramatic positive effect on my health, especially as I
prepare for and take on the added tasks of Lent.
This year, the date of my vacation was
determined by my niece’s wedding on January 13. It was
a beautiful great wedding at which I was blessed to be
the officiant and celebrant of the Mass: my wonderful
niece, Bethy, was even more lovely than usual, and the
church was the absolutely magnificent 140-year-old procathedral—
almost as beautiful as ours! Unfortunately,
the wedding was in Indianapolis, which was colder and
snowier than Virginia (0 degrees on my last morning
there)! But the next day I was able to fly down to Florida
for 6 days of golf with some priest-friends of mine (one
of the priest’s parents have a time-sharing deal there, so
we stay free, which is really nice).
I’m sure you’re all fascinated by my travels, but
the actual point of me writing this is to tell you about my
return. I have been assigned to some parishes that were
really hard to return to after vacation—one in particular
was such a difficult assignment for me that I felt
physically ill every time I came “home”. But I just want to
tell you that as much as I really enjoy and need to get
away (especially in the winter) I also really enjoy coming
home to our parish. My work here is challenging, but not
in many negative ways. And there are so many positive
things here for me. I have a talented and faithful staff, a
hardworking and kind vicar, and a beautiful church to
work and worship in. But most of all, I have so many
kind, loving and devout parishioners, who are
cooperative with my efforts, eager to grow in love and
knowledge of Jesus and His Church, patient with my
shortcomings, and forgiving of my mistakes.
I just wanted you to know that.
Blessing of Throats. This Saturday, February 3, is the
Feast of St. Blaise, which means it’s time for the
blessing of throats. St. Blaise was bishop of Sebaste
and was martyred about A.D. 316. Legend has it that
one day Bishop Blaise restored a pig (alive) to its owner,
a poor woman, after it had been eaten by a wolf. A few
days later, when Bishop was imprisoned for his Catholic
faith, the woman brought him candles to light the
darkness of his cell. In that same prison, he miraculously
cured a boy who was choking to death from a fishbone
lodged in his throat. Thus, the custom arose of using
candles and invoking the Saint to bless throats against
all sorts of ailments. We will give the blessing of throats
this Saturday, at the end of the 9am Mass and
immediately following the 5pm Vigil Mass.
First Confessions. Please keep our second graders in
your prayers this week as they prepare to receive the
Sacrament of Penance for the first time next Saturday,
February 3. First Confession is a beautiful thing, but it
can be a little scary for some. So pray that the little ones
are not too nervous, make good confessions, accept
God’s grace and develop a true love for this sacrament.
Plan Ahead to Attend the Lenten Series. Lent is still
two-and-a-half weeks away, but I’d like you to plan ahead
a little this year, so you can attend our Thursday evening
Lenten Series. I always like to bring in a guest speaker to
give these talks, a priest who is a learned, holy and gifted
speaker. I thought had such a priest lined up to give the
talks this year, I just recently found out he would not be
able to do it. So, I have decided to give the series myself.
The talks will be on a topic near and dear to my
heart, and which I consider of great importance for you:
the Mass and the Eucharist. I know this is not exactly a
unique topic, especially for me. But I think many of you
would find a systematic and detailed explanation of the
Mass and Eucharist extremely helpful to your spiritual
life: after all, for many, Sunday Mass is the main, or even
only, extended time they dedicate to spending with the
Lord. I think this series will really help you to get much
more out of that experience, and put much more into it.
I especially invite the folks who never come to
these kinds of talks. I’m always struck by how so many of
our talks, lectures and conferences are attended by the
same 200-300 people. That’s good for them, but what
about the rest of the parish? I know you’re very busy, but
please take time this Lent to attend these talks—I
promise they will be interesting and truly helpful, both to
those who have a strong understanding of the faith, and
those who sometimes struggle. Not because I’m such a
good speaker, but because the material I’ll be working
with is so rich.
To make attendance a little easier on parents, we
plan to provide free “babysitting” on site—bring your
kids, leave them with our care-givers, and go to the talk. I
don’t have all the details worked out yet, but I’ll let you
know when I do.
I haven’t finalized my talks, yet, but I hope to give
one talk on the doctrine of the Eucharist, especially it’s
Biblical basis. Then probably talk about the development
of the Mass from the Early Church and through the
centuries. Then maybe a couple of talks on the rituals
and prayers of the Mass itself, going from beginning to
end, in detail, to show the meaning and beauty of the
prayers, gestures and symbols of the Mass.
If you can’t come to all the talks, come to the
ones you can. I look forward to seeing your there—so
plan ahead!
Oremus pro invicem. Fr. De Celles

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