Solemnity of the Nativity of Saint John the Baptist

Religious Freedom Week. This week we continue Religious Freedom Week, which runs from June 22 through June 29. The week begins with the Feast of 2 saints who were killed by their king to silence their religious opposition to his policies, especially with regard to marriage: St. Thomas More and St. John Fisher. Normally these two saints are celebrated as one feast, but since St. Thomas is our Diocesan Patron Saint, we celebrate his feast alone, and move St. John to another day (I celebrated his votive Mass yesterday morning, Saturday). Today we celebrate another saint who was killed by his king to silence his religious opposition: St. John the Baptist, who, in preparing the way for Jesus publicly condemned King Herod’s public incestuous marriage. Then we end the week on the 29th, the Feast of Sts. Peter and Paul, two saints who not only represent the persisting teaching authority of the Church, but who were also put to death by a king for their leadership of the Church, which he saw as leading people away from absolute obedience to his supposed divine authority. Like many people of our time, Emperor Nero and many Romans blamed Christians for many of the problems of their age. And all during this week let’s keep in mind St. Raymond of Peñafort, who also got in trouble with a king. Very briefly, we recall how when our saint condemned King James of Spain’s consorting with his mistress on the island of Majorca. When the King tried to keep Raymond from leaving the island by threatening to punish any ship who took him aboard, St. Raymond, went to the shore, said a prayer, and famously and miraculously sailed 160 miles back to Spain using just his great cape as both a skiff and a sail. Let us look to these great saints for intercession and as examples of peacefully opposing unjust laws that seek to oppress us in living our Christian faith in every day life.
Fairfax Schools. This last year has seen a lot of victories for Religious Liberty—changes brought about largely by the new Trump administration. But the oppression still continues. An excellent example of that is found in last week’s long expected decision by the Fairfax County Public School Board to finally approve their new Family Life Education curriculum and related policies that further implement their “transgendered” agenda in our schools. The vote was unanimous, except for the 2 pro-family Catholics on the Board, Elizabeth Schultz and Tom Wilson. This was even though 90% of the public respondents disapproved of the changes. So much for representative government. Parents and taxpayers admit it: you’re too stupid to know what’s best for your kids or your tax dollars. Thank goodness for elite leftist totalitarians. Now, you might say this is not a religious liberty issue, and in part you’d be correct. But only in that it involves several other types of liberty and rights as well. This includes the freedom of parents to educate their children as they see fit, and to be the primarily educators of their children; the freedom to elect truly representative government, and the right to have their representatives listen to them and enact laws that the voters approve of. But it is also definitely a religious liberty issue in that these elitist board members
are purposefully trying to teach our children to reject the moral values of the religions that their parents are raising them in. It’s as if they say, “Sure, parents, you can do and say whatever you want at homes or in your churches, that’s okay. We have them all day, five days a week (sometimes 6 or 7 with extracurriculars) so we can undo all the BAD stuff you taught them and teach them CORRECT values.” So we have to keep fighting. It’s not just enough to win a pro-religious-liberty seat on the Supreme Court, we need to keep fighting to make the Court, the Congress and the Presidency solidly pro-religious-liberty. And we need to win back control of our schools by running more and electing pro-religious liberty candidates like Schultz and Wilson. But more than that, we have to be involve ourselves. Parents, you must be actively involved in your kid’s schools and classrooms. You must organize with other parents and taxpayers and work with organizations that support your values. And perhaps its time to stop supporting government run schools by removing your kids from them. And of course, we have to pray. So please join in our prayers this week for Religious Liberty, both at Mass and in your homes. And join us for this Wednesday’s Holy Hour for Life, Liberty and Marriage from 6pm to 7pm in the church.
Youth Group Activities this Summer. Our teens are at WorkCamp this week, so please keep them in your prayers, that they may be safe and come to know the Lord more intimately through the ancient practice of “ora et labora”—pray and work. Pray also that they may come to appreciate the dignity and needs of those less fortunate, and so grow in true love of neighbor. From July 13 – 15, a group of our kids will also be off for a weekend spiritual conference at Franciscan University. These are great weekends that can have a profound effect on their lives for years, and decades to come. So keep them in your prayers then too. And there are lots of other activities going on for them this summer, thanks to Jeanne Sause and our adult volunteers. Make sure your kids don’t miss out.
Special Thanks. After many years of service, two of our outstanding parishioners are retiring from the Parish Finance Council: Joe Cox and Matt Wheeler. Matt and Joe have been on the council almost since the beginning of our parish, long before I got here. I can’t tell you how much I appreciate all the hard work they’ve done, and the invaluable assistance and advice they’ve given me. The Finance Council is a committee required by Canon Law to give advice to the Pastor on financial matters of the parish, but I rely them to advise me on a wide variety of parish issues.
Thanks to Graduating Altar Servers. Fr. Smith and I ask you to join us in thanking the four young men who have served at the altar for so many years, and are now preparing to go off to college: John Paul Spinelli, Michael Weyrich, Jarod Slaton, and Brendan Kapp. They are fine young Catholic men, and I’m very proud of them. We’re going to miss them, but we wish them the very best, and promise them our prayers.
Lighting Project. Remember that the work to install our new lighting will begin in one week, on Monday, July 2, and will finish by September 1. The Blessed Sacrament, Masses, etc., will be moved to the Parish Hall during the week. All weekend Masses etc. will be in the church as usual.
Oremus pro invicem. Fr. De Celles

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