June 9, 2013

FATHER BARNES! Congratulations to our own Fr. Nicolas Barnes, upon his ordination to the Holy Priesthood. Fr. Barnes, son of parishioner Donald Barnes, was ordained yesterday (Saturday, June 9) by Bishop Loverde, and will say his first Mass here at St. Raymond’s today at 12:15. All are invited to that Mass and to the reception afterwards in the Parish Hall.

Father is a fine young man, and I know he will make an excellent and holy priest. After two years at St. Charles Seminary in Philadelphia, he has spent the last four years studying in Rome. Now the Bishop has assigned him to return to Rome for one more year to finish work on his Licentiate in Sacred Theology (STL) in Dogmatics. After that it is anticipated he will return to the Diocese for priestly service.

The Sacrament of Holy Orders. Speaking from personal experience, I can attest that the priesthood is a wonderful gift. But it is not a gift given to a man for his own good or purposes, but rather for the good of the whole Church and for God’s purposes. So it is really a gift to the whole Church.

Although we sometimes rightly refer to the “sacrament of the priesthood” it is more proper to refer to the “Sacrament of Holy Orders.” But this can be confusing, since Holy Orders can be received in three way, or “degrees”: the diaconate (“deacons”), the presbyterate (“priests”) and the episcopacy (“bishops”). As the Catechism (1554) teaches:

Catholic doctrine…recognizes that there are two degrees of ministerial participation in the priesthood of Christ: the episcopacy and the presbyterate . The diaconate is intended to help and serve them. For this reason the term sacerdos [priest] in current usage denotes bishops and priests but not deacons. Yet Catholic doctrine teaches that the degrees of priestly participation (episcopate and presbyterate) and the degree of service (diaconate) are all three conferred by a sacramental act called “ordination,” that is, by the sacrament of Holy Orders.

By his priestly ordination the priest receives the permanent grace to act in persona Christi capitis—in the person of (in the place of, representing) Christ the Head (of the body/Church). He is, for the good of the whole Church, ontologically configured to Christ: priest, prophet and king, and so shares, with the Apostles, in Jesus’ threefold ministry to sanctify, teach and govern the Church. As such, the priest shares in Christ’s shepherdhood as “pastor.” Moreover, in this sacrament he receives the special graces to both fulfill these duties and to live the life of holiness his office demands.

To be ordained a priest today a man must normally be unmarried and undergo at least 6 years of intense full-time human, spiritual, intellectual, and academic formation in the seminary. Unlike “religious” priests (Dominicans, Jesuits, etc.), a diocesan (or “secular”) priest, does not take vows of poverty, chastity and obedience, but rather makes promises of 1) obedience to their bishop and 2) to live a life of chaste celibacy, and is required to live a “simple life.” (Actually, the priest’s promise of celibacy is made at his ordination to deacon about a year before he becomes a priest).

After 17 years as a priest, I can unreservedly say that I have thanked the Good Lord every day for the incredible gift of my priesthood. Although there are many crosses, there are so many blessings I can’t begin to describe them. Let me borrow the words of the great Dominican preacher, Fr. Henri-Dominique Lacordaire (1802-1861), in his poem, “A Priest.”

To live in the midst of the world // without wishing its pleasures;
To be a member of each family, // yet belonging to none;
To share all suffering; // to penetrate all secrets;
To heal all wounds; // to go from men to God // and offer Him their prayers;
To return from God to men // to bring pardon and hope;
To have a heart of fire for Charity, // and a heart of bronze for Chastity;
To teach and to pardon, // console and bless always.
My God, what a life; // and it is yours, // O priest of Jesus Christ.

I am so happy for Fr. Barnes today, and pray that he will persevere in accepting this great gift and mystery. May he be a holy, brave, loving and humble priest and spiritual father. Let’s all keep him in our prayers, thank the Lord for this gift, and pray that many other young men from our parish will soon join him in accepting the call to Holy Priesthood.

Corpus Christi Procession. If you missed last Sunday’s Eucharistic procession, you missed a great treat. What a beautiful thing to see so many parishioners giving such public witness to their faith in the Real Presence of our Lord Jesus in the Eucharist! Once again attendance was up from last year—I would guess somewhere around 250 came out. Let me thank all of you who came, but especially those who worked so hard to make things run so smoothly: the parish staff, the choir, the altar boys, the sacristans, the flower ladies, the Knights of Columbus, the youth group, and so many other volunteers—forgive me for not naming you all. And let me express special appreciation to Patrick O’Brien, who once again stepped up to coordinate everything. May our Eucharistic Lord shower you with His blessings.

Save the dates for “Fortnight for Freedom.” Beginning Friday June 21 (the vigil of the Feast of St. Thomas More) and running through July 4 (Independence Day), St. Raymond’s will join Catholics across the country in keeping a “Fortnight for Freedom” to pray and fast for the protection of Religious Liberty, especially with regarding the so called “contraceptive mandate” of Obamacare regulations, and challenges to traditional marriage. In addition to praying special prayers (and fasting) at home we will again have Eucharistic Holy Hours every day during the fortnight (some including “Exposition”). Please see next week’s bulletin for more details.

New Assignments for Priests. The annual re-assignments of priests were announced yesterday (Saturday). As I write this (on “deadline Wednesday”) I do not anticipate that we will be effected by the changes, although I am always hopeful that we will find another priest-student to live in residence. Please pray for the priests who do receive new assignments, which can be difficult—“To be a member of each family, yet belonging to none.”

Oremus pro invicem. Fr. De Celles

May 19, 2013

Pentecost. Today we celebrate the Solemnity of Pentecost, remembering the day, fifty days after Easter, when God the Father and God the Son, Jesus, sent their Holy Spirit to the first Christians—the apostles, Mary and other disciples totaling “in all about a hundred and twenty.” As the Acts of the Apostles records (Ch. 2):

“When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place. And suddenly a sound came from heaven like the rush of a mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. And there appeared to them tongues as of fire, distributed and resting on each one of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit…Now there were dwelling in Jerusalem Jews, devout men from every nation under heaven. And …each one heard them speaking in his own language. …Parthians…Medes… Elamites…residents of Mesopotamia, Judea…Cappadocia, Pontus…Asia, Phrygia…Pamphylia, Egypt…Libya,…visitors from Rome…Cretans and Arabians….”

No longer did the disciples hide behind the closed doors, or go to the temple to pray quietly. Suddenly, filled with the fire of the Holy Spirit, the disciples threw open the doors and began to preach to passersby. And as a great crowd gathered Peter, the first Pope, “standing with the eleven, lifted up his voice and addressed them …” telling them all about Jesus and His salvific death, resurrection and ascension. So powerful were his words, inspired by the Holy Spirit, that: “those who received his word were baptized, and there were added that day about three thousand souls.”

What an amazing day—what an amazing gift! The Holy Spirit of God dwelling inside the Church and individual Christians, manifesting in such powerful ways, most especially in the bold preaching that “cut to the heart.” But equally amazing is the fact that the Holy Spirit has remained and acted powerfully in and through the Church for the last 2000 years. We may not have tongues of fire, but by the power of the Holy Spirit the Gospel has spread throughout the world and dominated world history for the last 17 centuries, and today remains the largest religion in the world.

And most amazing of all: that same Holy Spirit given at the first Pentecost resides in each and every Christian who has received the Sacrament of Confirmation. As the Catechism teaches: “the effect of the sacrament of Confirmation is the special outpouring of the Holy Spirit as once granted to the apostles on the day of Pentecost [1302].”

The Catechism goes on to teach us that this Sacrament has particular effects on the confirmed [1303]: it increases and deepens baptismal grace; roots us more deeply in the divine sonship; unites us more firmly to Christ; increases the gifts of the Holy Spirit in us (wisdom, understanding, knowledge, counsel, fortitude reverence and piety); renders our bond with the Church more perfect; gives us a special strength of the Holy Spirit to spread and defend the faith as true witnesses of Christ.

This Wednesday, May 22, 80 of our teenagers will be confirmed here at St. Raymond’s. Let us pray for our young brothers and sisters, that they may be open to the power of the Holy Spirit that will come to them on this their own “personal Pentecost.” And let us also pray that we who have already been confirmed may open our hearts, minds and lives to that same power, no matter how neglected, dormant or rejected we have allowed it to become.

Come, Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your faithful and enkindle in them the fire of your love.
V. Send forth your Spirit and they shall be created.
R. And you shall renew the face of the earth.
Let us pray. O God, Who instructed the hearts of the faithful by the light of the Holy Spirit, grant us in the same Spirit to be truly wise, and ever to rejoice in His consolation. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.

Gosnell is Guilty. This last Monday, on the Feast of Our Lady of Fatima, a Philadelphia jury found abortionist Dr. Kermit Gosnell guilty of first degree murder of 3 infants born alive after his failed attempt to abort them in their mothers’ wombs, and also guilty of involuntary manslaughter of a 41 year old woman, one of his abortion patients.

Gosnell apparently still does not believe he did anything wrong. Doesn’t this reveal the truth about abortion: if you don’t understand that it is wrong to kill a baby in the womb you will not understand that it is wrong to kill a baby just a few seconds after it has left the womb and is lying on an operating table. This is why the media and pro-abortion activists refused to publicize this case for months: it strips away the veil of legal propriety given to legal abortions and reveals them for what they are: killing a baby.

It was interesting to see how the pro-abortion folks responded to the decision. In particular Planned Parenthood of America (PPA), the country’s no. 1 provider of abortions, said, “This verdict will ensure that no woman is victimized by Kermit Gosnell ever again.” No mention of the babies who were “victimized,” nor the women who survived his abortions but were nevertheless Gosnell’s victims whose hearts are broken by their “choice.”

PPA went on to say: “we must reject misguided laws that would limit women’s options and force them to seek treatment from criminals like Kermit Gosnell.” But up until 2 years ago Gosnell was considered a hero by pro-abortion activists, not a criminal. Moreover, these deaths were made possible largely because for years basic health and safety laws were not applied to practices like Gosnell’s because state officials believed that enforcing those “misguided laws… would limit women’s options” with regard to abortion.

We pray that this guilty verdict will force Gosnell to face the terrible reality of what he’s done, and to repent. And that other abortionists and abortion supporters may follow suit. And we pray for the victims: the post-abortive mothers and their babies. May all find their way to the ever-waiting mercy of Jesus Christ.

Boy Scout Vote. Later this week (Thursday?) the Boy Scouts of America will vote on whether to change their policy regarding “gays” in scouting. Let us pray, that they may protect our boys and keep scouting “morally straight.” Our Lady of Fatima, pray for us—again!

Save the Date: First Mass. On a much happier note, our parishioner, Deacon Nicolas Barnes will be ordained a Priest this coming June 8. The following day, Sunday, June 9, at 12:15, the new “Father Barnes” will celebrate his first Mass here at St. Raymond’s. All are invited.

Oremus pro invicem. Fr. De Celles