June 2, 2013

Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ. Today is “Corpus Christi Sunday, a feast established to remind us that, even as Lent and Easter are over, the mystery of Christ’s death and resurrection and his continued presence on Earth remains with us in a most sublime way in the Eucharist. In particular, we remember that the bread and wine really become the very Body and Blood of Jesus Christ himself—His Real Presence among us. Just as surely as he was bodily present on the Cross, at the Resurrection, and as He ascended to His Father in Heaven, he is also surely present on the altar under the appearance of bread and wine.

The Book of Revelation tells us that the angels and saints in heaven continually “fell down and worshipped” Jesus. So let’s consider how we react to Our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament.
— Do we genuflect before Our Lord present in the tabernacle whenever we enter the church (usually before sitting in our pew) or whenever we pass in front of the tabernacle?
— Do we chat loudly in church as if the Lord of Heaven were not present?
— Do we drop by church during the day or evening to visit Our Lord in the tabernacle?
— Do we spend time with Our Lord during Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament?
— How do we dress at Mass?
— Like we are going to the Wedding Feast of Our King, or going to the beach?
— Do we remember that skimpy clothing can be a near occasion of sin for others, and so dress modestly at Mass?
— During Mass, do we focus prayerfully on the miracle transpiring on the altar, especially during and after the consecration?
— Do we receive Holy Communion reverently?
— Do we observe the Eucharist fast for one hour before Communion?
— Do we examine our consciences so we don’t receive unworthily (i.e., if we need to confess mortal sins or are otherwise prohibited from receiving)?
— Do we approach prayerfully, or are we looking around or laughing?
— Do we show some sign of reverence immediately before receiving Holy Communion: bowing or genuflecting, or even kneeling?
— If we receive on the tongue, to avoid any chance of the Host being dropped:
— Do we stand close enough to the priest, open our mouths and extend our tongues?
— Do we hold still our heads, tongues and mouths (not lurching, licking or biting) until we receive and the priest removes his hand?
— If we receive in our hand:
— Do we wash our hands before Mass?
— Do we extend both hands, one on top of the other, forming a throne for Our King?
— Do we immediately step aside and reverently consume the Host in the sight of the priest?
— Do we examine our hands to make sure no particles remain?
— Do we stay until Mass is over, even staying afterwards to give thanks, or do we rush out of church as soon as possible?
— Do we share our faith in the Eucharist with others?
— Do we teach our children to do these things?

I am continually moved by the Eucharistic reverence at St. Raymond’s. But sometimes we forget—myself included. And so we redouble our efforts so as to give Him due worship.

Eucharistic Procession. To help us to refocus on our faith in the Real Presence, today, Sunday, June 2, immediately after the 12:15 Mass, we will have our annual Corpus Christi Eucharistic Procession, walking with the Eucharist outside of the church while singing the Lord’s praises. Please join us in this ancient and eloquent witness to our faith in and love of our Eucharistic Lord—and bring the children!

Priesthood Ordinations. Next Saturday, 7 deacons, including our own parishioner, Deacon Nicolas Barnes, will be ordained to the Holy Priesthood for the Diocese of Arlington. We pray for them in this last week of preparation, that they may be good, holy and courageous priests. “Father Barnes” will celebrate his First Mass the following day, Sunday, June 9, at 12:15, here at St. Raymond’s. There will be a light reception in the Parish Hall immediately afterward. All are invited to both the Mass and reception!

Some have asked for gift suggestions for “Fr. Barnes.” Here’s my best advice. Since a priest promises to live a “simple life,” it’s usually best to let him choose for himself the possessions he has. That and the fact that he will need many things of a more personal nature, I strongly recommend simply giving cash. Not very personal, I know, but much appreciated and much more helpful than a giving something he will never use.

Boy Scouts. Last week the Scouts changed their policy regarding “gays.” Like most of you, I was very disappointed by this. I have stated my position previously, but Bishop Loverde, who shares my disappointment, has asked all the pastors to refrain from further statements or changes for a few weeks until he has decided on his recommendations or policies for us. I gladly yield to His Excellency’s request.

Summer Begins. I hope that all of you have a wonderful summer with restful vacations, or productive work in summer jobs or new careers. I also remind you of a few things:
— There is no vacation from Jesus, so keep up your prayer and moral life, and go to Sunday Mass, unless it is really seriously impractical when you’re travelling.
— Remember to try to dress properly for Mass, as noted above.
— Please try to keep up your regular financial support for the parish—the bills have to be paid whether you’re here or not. Thanks!

My Dad. Last week many of you prayed for my Dad, Dan De Celles, who was very sick. It seems to have worked: Dad is on the mend. Thanks for your prayers, and for your patience as I was rather distracted from my regular pastoral duties.

Oremus pro invicem. Fr. De Celles

May 26, 2013

Newly Confirmed. Last Wednesday Archbishop Timothy Broglio, of the Military Archdiocese, gave the Sacrament of Confirmation to 84 of our teenagers. What a great day in the life of the parish, and in the life of these young men and women. In my interviews with the candidates in the last few weeks I asked them to “define the Sacrament of Confirmation,” and one of the answers I often heard was: “it makes us soldiers for Christ.” The world is getting to be a tough place for Christians, and there is a battle already raging for the souls of our children. Thanks be to God for this great sacrament to strengthen them to fight this battle—and win. A battle fought not with guns or bombs, but with prayer, wit, reason and love. And with the grace and gifts of the Holy Spirit. May they always “fight the good fight” and know the peace that comes from the love of God.

Special thanks to all the catechists and assistants who worked so hard and so well to prepare them for this Holy Sacrament, and to Maria Ammirati and Patti Eckles for their hard work in bringing it all together.

Parish Staff Addition and Change. I am pleased to announce that long-time parishioner Mary Butler will be joining our office staff as parish secretary. Mary is a graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy, and has loads of experience that I’m sure will make her an outstanding addition to our staff.

With Mary taking over the position of secretary, Paul DeRosa will become full-time plant manager. Paul has done this job on a part-time basis for years, but now he will be free to do some projects around the buildings and grounds that we’ve been wanting to do for some time.

I’m looking forward to both of these moves, and am hopeful that they will help us serve Our Lord and our parishioners more effectively.

Eucharistic Procession. Next Sunday, June 2, immediately after the 12:15 Mass, we will have our annual Corpus Christi Eucharistic Procession. Processing with the Eucharist outside of the church building while singing the Lord’s praises is an ancient practice dating back at least to the early 12th century. By bringing the Eucharist outside of the church building and walking and singing through the streets (or, as we do here, the parking lot) with the Blessed Sacrament, believers give public witness to their faith in Jesus Christ in general, and in the His Real Presence in the Eucharist in particular. Moreover, such processions remind us that having received Christ in Communion at Mass we are sent out with Him in us, to bring Him to the world we live in—the streets, the house, the businesses, and, yes, the parking lots. Please join us in this ancient and eloquent witness to our faith in and love of our Eucharistic Lord.

The Rosary. Another pious custom of the Church is praying the Rosary. I encourage all of you to pray the Rosary every day, especially in this Month of May, Mary’s month. Last Sunday the Legion of Mary distributed free Rosaries in the narthex. If you don’t have a Rosary, you can always come by the rectory and we’ll give you one. If you don’t know how to pray the Rosary there are brochures by the doors of the church, or, again, you can get one at the parish office. Or you can go to various websites for instructions (e.g.: http://legionofmary.org/rosary.htm or http://www.rosary-center.org/howto.htm)

A Personal Request for Prayer. We should always keep the sick in our prayers, but this week I ask you to pray especially for the sick of our parish, and in the families of our parishioners, especially those who are in danger of death or in great pain.

Most Holy Trinity Sunday. I leave you with the beautiful teaching of Pope Benedict XVI in his Angelus address of Trinity Sunday, June 7, 2009:

…Today we contemplate the Most Holy Trinity as Jesus introduced us to it. He revealed to us that God is love “not in the oneness of a single Person, but in the Trinity of one substance” (Preface). He is the Creator and merciful Father; he is the Only-Begotten Son, eternal Wisdom incarnate, who died and rose for us; he is the Holy Spirit who moves all things, cosmos and history, toward their final, full recapitulation. Three Persons who are one God because the Father is love, the Son is love, the Spirit is love. God is wholly and only love, the purest, infinite and eternal love. He does not live in splendid solitude but rather is an inexhaustible source of life that is ceaselessly given and communicated. To a certain extent we can perceive this by observing both the macro-universe: our earth, the planets, the stars, the galaxies; and the micro-universe: cells, atoms, elementary particles. The “name” of the Blessed Trinity is, in a certain sense, imprinted upon all things because all that exists, down to the last particle, is in relation; in this way we catch a glimpse of God as relationship and ultimately, Creator Love. All things derive from love, aspire to love and move impelled by love, though naturally with varying degrees of awareness and freedom. “O Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth!” (Ps 8: 1) the Psalmist exclaims. In speaking of the “name”, the Bible refers to God himself, his truest identity. It is an identity that shines upon the whole of Creation, in which all beings for the very fact that they exist and because of the “fabric” of which they are made point to a transcendent Principle, to eternal and infinite Life which is given, in a word, to Love. “In him we live and move and have our being”, St Paul said at the Areopagus of Athens (Acts 17: 28). The strongest proof that we are made in the image of the Trinity is this: love alone makes us happy because we live in a relationship, and we live to love and to be loved. Borrowing an analogy from biology, we could say that imprinted upon his “genome”, the human being bears a profound mark of the Trinity, of God as Love.

The Virgin Mary, in her docile humility…accepted the Father’s will and conceived the Son by the power of the Holy Spirit…May Mary, mirror of the Blessed Trinity, help us to grow in faith in the Trinitarian mystery.

Oremus pro invicem. Fr. De Celles