Parish Debt. Before I get to the really important stuff, I want to tell you some great financial news. To build this beautiful church and the rectory in 2006 we had to borrow $11.5 million. I’m very happy to announce that, due to your faithful giving to the parish, this last week we made our final payment on our bank loan, more than 2 years earlier than scheduled (when a $240,000 balloon payment would have been due )! Praised be Jesus Christ!
Unfortunately, we still owe the Diocese of Arlington about $1.4 million. Up until now we haven’t had to make any payments on this loan, but now we will be required to begin paying based on a 10 year amortization. However, we should be able to pay this off in a little under 3 years, thanks to your support and God’s grace. Please God.
On the Sunday Before Christmas. I hope all of you have had a good and holy Advent preparing for the worthy celebration of the birth of our Savior. Even so, it’s so easy at the last minute to lose sight of that if you’re not careful.
I know that many of you, especially parents of little ones, will be so concerned about making everything perfect for your families and loved ones that you will wind up being very stressed out and exhausted by the time Christmas Day arrives. This in turn can lead to a less than Merry Christmas for you, and for those you’re trying so hard to please.
So I ask you all, to remember that the only thing that we really need to try to make perfect on Christmas is our love—our love for Jesus and His heavenly Father, and our love for those around us He has given to love.
So keep your eyes fixed on Jesus in the next 4 days, and your heart fixed on His love. The love that was so boundless that it led Him to strip himself of the magnificent glory and beauty of His heavenly throne to descend to earth to become a poor, vulnerable human baby. How He must love us! Especially knowing beforehand that His pilgrimage to earth would ultimately culminate in not only His salvific suffering and death on the cross, but in the rejection of His love and salvation by so many people over thousands of years.
So keep the Baby Jesus in the center of everything you do, and let His love for us be the standard by which we judge and measure every act we do in the next 4 days and beyond. Let our goal not be to have the best secular or cultural or material Christmas, but to love Jesus with all our heart, mind, souls and strength. Make sure you pray, and lead others to prayer; come to Mass on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day; and keep His commandments, both in the letter of the law and in spirit. And love your neighbors, especially your families, not only as you love yourself, but as He has loved us. Remember to be kind and patient. To be not the cause of stress, but the bringer of peace. To be not selfish, greedy or envious, but selfless, grateful and magnanimous. And to not worry if the presents aren’t wrapped just so, or if the dinner is a little overcooked, or if you didn’t get exactly what you wanted from Santa. Your only concern should be celebrating this most holy Day, the dawn of our salvation, in a way worthy of the love of one of whom Isaiah once said:
“For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.”
Thanks. Thanks to all of you who have done so much to make this Advent a season of holiness, joy, and charity. I thank all those who have given so generously to the various second collections, and, of course, to our Offertory Campaign. And thanks to all those who made the Seniors’ Lunch and Breakfast with Santa such a success, especially all the Middle School kids who pitched in. And of course, thanks to the choir and lectors who gave us such a wonderful musical and spiritual experience at last Sunday’s Lessons and Carols (it was amazing!).
Catholic Charities. I sincerely thank you for your generosity in giving to last week’s second collection for Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Arlington. Unfortunately, the amount we collected, $6,538.00, was only about half of what we collected last year. I’m pretty sure the reason for the difference is my fault. Last year a representative of CCDA spoke at all the Masses the week before to personally tell you about all the important work they do. This year we weren’t able to schedule this because I had scheduled the Little Sisters of the Poor to be here making their own personal appeal (to which you responded with great enthusiasm). Very poor planning on my part.
But as you know, Catholic Charities is the right arm of charitable activities of the Catholic Church in Northern Virginia. Last year over 94,000 lives were directly affected by their programs which include Christ House Men’s Shelter (Alexandria), St. Margaret of Cortona Transitional Family Residences (Woodbridge), St. Martin de Porres Senior Center (Alexandria), St. Lucy Project (food pantries), adoption services, family and personal counselling… The list goes on and on. Their work is critically important, and I can’t think of any charity which is more worthy of our support.
So I hope you will consider helping me to make up for my mistake. I ask you to please consider giving a little more to Catholic Charities, mailing your donation to the parish (checks payable either to the parish or Catholic Charities of the Diocese Arlington) or dropping a check made out to CCDA in the regular collection this week or next. Thanks again for your patience with me and your generosity to this important charity.
Oremus pro invicem. Fr. De Celles
( Don’t Read This Until Christmas!:
My dearest sons and daughters in Christ: I pray that this Christmas will be a time of true holiness and joy for you and your families. That you will rediscover the pure, innocent love of God made flesh in the face of the tiny Baby Jesus. May He shower you and yours with his love, grace and “every heavenly blessing.” And may His Holy Mother hold you in her loving arms, as she once so tenderly held Him. For those who are traveling, may He send His holy angels to protect you on your way, and lead you safely home to us. And may the holy birth we celebrate this Christmas be a new beginning in righteousness and happiness for all of us. On behalf of myself, Fr. Kenna, Fr. Nguyen, Fr. Daly, and Fr. Scalia, I wish you all a blessed and happy Christmas! Your father in Christ, Fr. De Celles)